How to deal with losing self-esteem in a relationship

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Self-esteem is an inside job!

If you find yourself feeling as though you’re losing self-esteem, only you can do something about it. 

The good news is you can do something to change things…

I’ve been in your position and I turned things around by working on myself. 

This is how to deal with losing self-esteem in a relationship.

1) Focus on self-love

Self-love is so closely linked to your sense of self-esteem.

Now, if you find yourself feeling as though you’re struggling with your sense of worthiness, it’s time to up the self-love.

These days, we hear people talking about self-love a lot. 

You can find people talking about self-love everywhere from Instagram to retail adverts.

But do you really know what self-love is?

It begins with how you talk to yourself first thing in the morning, and it’s about how well you treat yourself throughout the day. 

Yes, having a bubble bath can be an act of self-love and care…

…However, self-love is something that we check-in with regularly and we embody throughout the day.

Let’s look at what I mean by thinking about how you talk to yourself in the morning. 

You see, from the second we wake up, a tape starts running.

We’re often not aware of this tape and the things that are playing on repeat. 

It might be thoughts like: 

“Another day spent wasting my time” or “I’m not even good enough to be doing this job”.

There are so many thoughts that we think on repeat that can negatively impact how we see ourselves in the world.

What’s more, your esteem will be affected badly over time… 

…And if you’re in a relationship, it will have a direct impact on your experience of being with someone! 

If you don’t feel good about yourself, your partner will be picking up on this. For example, it might manifest as feeling insecure or anxious.

On the other hand, self-love allows you to take control of your thoughts and to override negativity with positive thoughts about yourself

Ensuring I start the day with self-love, each morning I always tell myself:

“I’m proud of myself for doing my best” and “I love myself”

It might feel cheesy at first but try it – it will allow you to feel more in control of your thoughts!

What’s more, you can also ensure you’re incorporating self-love through small actions throughout the day that make you feel good. 

You could:

  • Take a break and walk in nature 
  • Buy yourself your favorite hot drink 
  • Say ‘no’ to things you don’t want to do

2) Journal positive affirmations 

Going hand-in-hand with bringing in more acts of self-love throughout the day, journaling positive affirmations is something you should do if you want to boost your self-esteem!

I mentioned a couple of statements that I say to myself when I feel my mind going to a negative place, but there’s something else you should do:

Write them down!

Ideally, affirmations should be something you do each and every day for the maximum impact.

You see, the more we repeat something… The higher the chance we have of it going in!

So what should you affirm?

What you repeat to yourself will be personal to you, but there are some affirmations I always love to use when it comes to helping my esteem in a relationship. 

These include:

  • I am worthy of love
  • I am worthy of being treated well
  • I am deserving of all of the goodness in life
  • I am worthy of respect 

Every time you return to these affirmations, you will be signaling that you are deserving of a healthy relationship where you feel valued and recognized.

Believe me, affirmations do powerful things!

So where should you write and keep these?

In my experience, I find it beneficial looking at my affirmations next to my bedside table each day.

I also like to keep them on my phone, and to set notification reminders where they ping up!

Find whatever works for you and don’t be afraid to try different options.

3) Think about your strengths

We all have strengths and weaknesses…

…This is just a fact!

It’s unrealistic to think that we’re great at everything we put our minds to in life and that we always get everything right.

In fact, it’s the opposite! 

Although things can and do go our way, we can also go through life making a load of mistakes and feeling as though things just don’t go our way.

What does this mean for you?

Accept that you have weaknesses and things won’t go your way, and instead focus on your strengths. 

Think about what you are good at and what you do offer. 

In terms of your relationship, focus on all of the things you do bring to the relationship

…As opposed to the areas in which you believe you are lacking and ‘weaker’ in.

Return to your journal and make a list of these strengths.

Again, these will be personal to you… But they could be anything from how you communicate to how thoughtful you are. 

I’ll share a few of my strengths I’ve noted to help you with your list. 

For example, I consider my strengths to be:

  • Intuition 
  • Patience 
  • Bigger-picture thinking
  • Kindness 
  • Thoughtfulness 

Your list can be five, fifteen or even fifty things!

Through doing this exercise, you’ll come to realize that you do have a lot to offer and that your partner is incredibly lucky to be with someone like you.

It will undoubtedly give you the self-esteem boost you’ve been looking for.

4) Remember who you are

You might be thinking that of course you know who you are. 

Your name is this, you do this sort of job and live in this location.

But this isn’t what I’m talking about when I say remember who you are. 

I mean, remember who you are at your core. 

By this, I’m saying: remember what your values are if you find yourself feeling like your esteem is suffering

…And it’s affecting you while in your relationship.

Now, here’s the thing:

A lot of us don’t actually know what our values are because we haven’t taken the time to get clear on them.

If this is you, you’re not alone!

You see, it’s not something we’re taught to do in school or by our parents usually. 

However, it is something you can get clarity on through online tools.

I love using this free checklist by Jeanette Brown when I’m feeling stuck on my values and needing clarity.

In just a few minutes, you’ll get yourself thinking about the different categories that matter to you.

For example, it could be anything from:

  • Loyalty 
  • Selflessness
  • Kindness 
  • Honesty
  • Adventure 
  • Courage

There are hundreds of values that you could add to your list…

…And the best bit is that there’s no limit to the values you could add to your list.

Once you get clear on what you care about and remind yourself of these values, you’ll find yourself feeling more empowered than you have been.

You see, knowing yourself gives you a greater sense of self and empowerment…

…Which translates to self-esteem!

5) Set realistic goals

Goal setting is great and can be so empowering…

…But it can also have a negative effect on you if you find yourself setting loads of goals and not achieving them.

Simply put, setting unrealistic goals and not following through can actually cause you to feel worse about yourself. 

In my experience, setting too many goals and not hitting them makes me feel like a failure because I’m not achieving. 

Truth is, the goals have been unrealistic and unreachable, so I’ve set myself up for failure!

For example, I’ve tried to do things in tight timeframes when I’ve needed longer, or I’ve taken up a series of hobbies all at once and not been able to do any of them well. 

I once tried to learn two languages at once and failed at both because it was far too much, and I got super muddled! 

However, I have a completely different experience when it comes to setting realistic goals

I feel a sense of success and fulfillment from hitting smaller goals, which makes me feel good about myself…

…And it boosts my self-esteem!

Each time I hit a goal that is actually achievable, I celebrate myself for the small win!

I now realize that it’s better for my self-esteem to set a series of smaller goals and to enjoy celebrating along the journey – rather than trying to do too much at once or too quickly and feeling bad for not being able to follow through!

What does this mean for you?

When it comes to setting goals, in whatever area of your life, break them down into realistic, achievable goals so you can get satisfaction along the journey.

Remember, it’s the journey and not the destination that ultimately matters!

By feeling good about yourself and your achievements, you’ll be showing up to your relationship as the best version of yourself

Instead of feeling like you’re a failure, your mindset will be entirely different!

6) Care for yourself

Caring for yourself is super important when it comes to your self-esteem.

You see, every time we don’t care for ourselves, we affirm that we don’t deserve to be treated well. 

On the other hand, when we care for ourselves, we signal that we are deserving of care and feeling well. 

Truth is, the little things we do for ourselves each and every day can have a massive impact on how we feel about ourselves. 

Caring about yourself well begins from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed.

Just like self-love, care for yourself shouldn’t be something that you switch on and off… 

…But it should be your default that you always return to. 

In other words, it’s essential to be focused on self-care and to not just see it as an afterthought.

Now, there are so basic acts of care that you should ensure you’re meeting in order to keep your self-esteem high. These include:

  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Exercising
  • Sleeping well 
  • Managing stress

As I say, these are the very basics!

Simply put, these should be the non-negotiable things in your life. 

They should be top of mind, and things you’re aware of each and every day.

What’s more, there are so many things we can be doing as acts of care.

For example, doing the things you love to do is an act of self-care. 

It could mean taking yourself to a coffee shop and sitting quietly with a book, going to a yoga studio or fitness class, or doing a hobby you love.

Truth is, there is no rulebook to what self-care looks like! 

The only rule is that you commit to self-care if you want to keep your esteem high. 

In my experience, I’m always my best self when I’m in a good self-care routine…

…This means I’m happy, relaxed and not anxious.

However, when I neglect myself and don’t give myself the time and energy I need and deserve, I feel my self-esteem plummet.

And, naturally, it has a direct effect on my relationship!

What causes low self-esteem in relationships?

Your reasons for having low self-esteem will be personal to you.

For example, the reasons why I’ve struggled with my sense of worth is linked to the experiences I’ve had throughout my life.

This can be anything from little comments made to big, significant moments that can be considered traumatic.

The reasons for a sense of low self-esteem can be incredibly complex! 

As a Clarity Clinic relationship counselor explains:

“Having low self-worth and low self-esteem usually originates from traumatic childhood experiences such as abuse of neglect. If your parents often criticized you as a child, it probably left you with very low self-esteem, not believing in yourself, always doubting yourself, and questioning if you deserve what you have. Moreover, your parents likely have suffered from low self-worth and low self-esteem themselves hence were unable to model healthy communication, conflict management, assertiveness, and healthy boundaries.”

You see, it could have been that your parents told you that you were annoying or that you weren’t good at a hobby… 

…And it’s planted the seed that you simply aren’t worthy or good enough.

But it doesn’t have to be like this:

You can take control of your self-esteem and how you fundamentally feel about yourself through focusing on going through the actionable steps.

What’s more, seeking our support from a professional can also help you get to the root of feelings.

Remember that there are solutions and you have options!

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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