Do you feel like your partner and your kids are always making you feel bad about yourself? Or, does your mother-in-law's criticism send you running?
This can be because you are putting your self worth into the hands of others. You are making your happiness contingent on them.
When you do this, you are giving all your power away.
If you feel like your relationships with others are unfulfilling, and your self-worth is always in the control of other people, you can learn to be happier by learning to love yourself.
When you rely on other people for validation and love, it can be fleeting or subject to change based on the whims of the moment. This is especially true with your kids. One moment, they think you are the best mom ever, the next they are saying they hate you.
Putting your self-worth into the hands of toddlers or teenagers can be a dangerous game. Their feelings change from moment to moment, and so does their appraisal of you.
If you are relying on your partner too much emotionally, it can put a strain on your relationship with them too.
Constant approval-seeking behavior can also cause your own needs to be buried, and therefore go unmet. It is impossible to meet your emotional needs if you always put them in someone else's hands, then expect them to read your mind as to what you need.
If you feel like this is you, it is time to take your power back and put your self-image in your own hands, where it belongs.
Stop being codependent
When you are always relying on your relationships to feel good about yourself, then you are being what is called codependent. This means, your self-esteem is completely tied up to your relationships, and you are constantly seeking approval from another person.
This can be your partner, your kids, your boss, friends, family or social media.
Whichever form codependency takes for you, it is an unhealthy way to go through life, since you are anchoring yourself completely to others, instead of charting your own course through life.
When I was growing up, my family was completely codependently enmeshed with each other, and my sister and I were taught to constantly seek validation from our narcissistic parents.
My sister still has dinner with my mom every night, even in her 30's with her own family. They don't know how to function without the other, and my sister is constantly in need of my mom's help with basic adulting tasks.
I used to go to my mom's house every day too, for years, because she would get vindictive and upset if I missed a day. When it finally got to the point where that wasn't working with the rest of my life, I had to stop going so often, and I never heard the end of it.
If you grew up with narcissistic parents, or with another unhealthy family dynamic, it can make you feel like you constantly have to look for your self-image and validation outside yourself.
Living with a narcissist beats you down and makes you feel like you don't have any worth on your own. This teaches you to constantly look for self-worth outside yours
Your family growing up can have a large impact on how you view your relationships as an adult.
According to Very Well Mind,
People who are codependent may be psychologically predisposed to care for others. They might also be affected psychologically by negative life experiences, such as growing up with parents who fought a lot or if they are a victim of neglect or emotional abuse.
You don't have to be the child of narcissists to end up as a codependent person in adulthood, there are other unhealthy family dynamics that can lead to codependency in adulthood.
Now, in adulthood, it is time to develop healthier relationship patterns so that you will be able to find a lasting happiness that comes from within.
When you have been codependent for a long time, you may have been taught to believe that your own feelings aren't important.
This is not the case! Your feelings are important!
Your thoughts, wants, needs and desires are important. And, anyone who makes you feel otherwise, is not someone who it is healthy for you to be around.
As you begin to uncover your unhealthy relationship patterns, likely stemming from childhood, it is time for you to break these patterns, and create new templates for how you will carry out your relationships today.
The first step towards having healthier relationships with others is to have a healthier relationship with yourself. This is where self-love comes in.
According to Project Love,
When we practice self-love, we cultivate a loving and healthy relationship with ourselves and something magical happens – we become our own best friend.
Often, if we are codependent, or people-pleasers, we may be very unkind to ourselves or have a harsh inner-critic.
Our inner critic is a harsh inner voice that is always making us think negatively about ourselves. Have you ever thought, "I am so fat" or "I am so stupid?" Well, that is your inner critic talking.
As you learn to love yourself more, you will do so by honoring your own feelings, instead of always relying on others to make you feel good about yourself. You can feel good about yourself for your personal qualities (like kindness, etc.), for your accomplishments or skills, and most of all you know that you are worthy just as you are because you are a precious human being.
Everyone has innate worth, and nothing can or should take that away from you.
Project Love has 7 tips for beginning to learn self love:
Take yourself out on a date
Start a gratitude journal
Make your body happy
Write a love letter to yourself
Shower yourself in good vibes
Some of these are easy activities that you can do right where you are, without having to go anywhere. You can start a gratitude journal, and write a love letter to yourself right now! All you need is a pen, nothing fancy!
Learning to nourish yourself, express yourself, and shower yourself in good vibes may take more time and practice, but they are things you can incorporate into every day.
Expressing yourself is especially important if you have been codependent or a people-pleaser for a long time. By expressing your opinions, you are showing courage and self-love, instead of holding your opinions to yourself to gain external validation.
Each time you speak up about your needs or your feelings, it will help you to be more brave and courageous. Also, it is likely that you will get a positive reception from others in your life too about being more open. Odds are, the people in your life don't need or expect you to be codependent, it is something you are projecting onto them based on the past.
However, if you are met with resistance initially, that isn't surprising either. Sometimes, those with codependent tendencies attract relationships where they are taken advantage of by others.
As you learn to speak up and love yourself more, you will find out who really is a good influence in your life, and who just liked the fact that you were a doormat.
One way that you can shower yourself in good vibes is by doing a loving-kindness mediation.
A loving-kindness meditation is a way to cultivate inner happiness, love and joy through guided meditation and visualization. This can be a very helpful practice to help you learn self-love. You can do this meditation each day, and find your heart expanding.
According to Very Well Mind,
Loving kindness meditation (LKM) is a popular self-care technique that can be used to boost well-being and reduce stress.1 Those who regularly practice loving kindness meditation are able to increase their capacity for forgiveness, connection to others, self-acceptance, and more.
As you begin to practice self love in your daily life, you will begin to feel more secure in your own skin. The happier and more peaceful you are, the need from validation from others will begin to lessen, and then melt away as time goes by.
Self-validation is long lasting
Once you begin to love yourself more, you can get validation from yourself instead of from other people. You will no longer need constant reassurance that you are a good person. You will already know.
The great thing about self-validation is that no one can ever take it away from you. Only you get to choose if you approve of yourself.
Self-love and self-validation make you a stronger and more confident person. The more you love yourself, the more that love will radiate outward in the form of confidence. You will be showing the best in yourself more and more often instead of hiding out of fear.
The more you learn to believe in yourself, the happier you will be.
You will no longer be looking to other people in your life for approval about how well you are doing at the various tasks that you have to complete. You will know that you are working hard and doing a great job!
Self-validation gives you freedom from codependency. It allows you to live life on your own terms, without having to worry about what other people think, or how they feel about you.
Now, this is the time to leave all the negativity behind, tune it out, and live your best life!
If you have grown up in a household where you learned to be codependent, you may still be looking for constant validation from others as an adult. This can cause you to have a lack of self-confidence and to be very approval seeking or a people-pleaser.
In order to break out of the codependent cycle, it is important to find self-love and self-validation, so that you will no longer need constant validation from others.
Once you learn to love yourself and validate yourself, you will be a stronger, happier and more confident person.
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