By Jasbina Ahluwalia
They say you can only love others as much as you love yourself, and as tired as that adage may be, the core of it rings quite true.
Think about it:
It can be hard enough understanding and accepting your own thoughts, feelings, words, and actions—let alone somebody else’s.
But if loving and accepting yourself—that is, having a strong sense of self-worth—directly influences the health of your intimate relationships, is it possible to learn how to recognize when that influence is negative? Consider the following five clues:
1. You don’t speak up for yourself.
This includes both small scale and large scale self-censorship. Mum’s the word…as long as you can avoid conflict and reduce the risk of being rejected, right? (But of course, this is never guaranteed anyway.)
2. You don’t set (and stick to) healthy boundaries.
You know what you are and aren’t comfortable with (in everything from sharing finances to sharing secrets), but it’s hard to stay true to you if your sense of self is more concerned about appeasing someone else.
3. You hold grudges and resentment.
We tend to judge others most harshly for the things we are judging ourselves about first. So when your partner “pushes your buttons,” you may fail to see it as a growth opportunity if your shaky self-worth prevents you from taking ownership of your feelings.
4. You don’t feel comfortable being alone.
While sharing mutual love and support with a partner can be a priority, it doesn’t take away from the importance of being able to genuinely enjoy your own company. “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” -Blaise Pascal, 17th century French mathematician and physicist
5. You stay in a relationship even if you know it’s not right for you.
If you don’t feel whole and complete as you are, then you may be more willing to tolerate unsatisfying, unpleasant, or even abusive behavior from another person.
Start Building Your Self-Worth—And Start Building Better Relationships, Too
A healthy sense of self-worth allows you to adopt, celebrate, and take root in the belief that you are inherently deserving of what life has to offer. When it comes to relationships in particular, loving and accepting yourself for who you are prevents you from “needing” validation from a romantic partner (or any other external source, for that matter).
Because you’re already able to validate your worthiness from within—something which, unlike other people, is actually under your control.
In this way, all the love, acceptance, and approval you receive from your partner become gifts to be enjoyed, not necessities to be depended on (the apparent loss of which can be distressing). In the mean time, your growing sense of self-worth almost immediately helps you free up a lot of emotional and mental energy that can be invested right back into the relationship itself.
So this year, for the sake of you and your loved ones, be kinder to you:
Speak your mind.
Be polite, but be honest.
Instead of judging your emotions, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, then simply let it go when you’re done.
Learn to enjoy your own company.
Do things that are personally meaningful.
Nourish and move your body.
Let go of what is no longer serving you.
And above all: know that by practicing self-care, you are giving a gift of love to both yourself and your partner.
(About Matchmaker & Dating Coach Jasbina Ahluwalia: She adds a unique contribution to the Matchmaking industry – she has pioneered an approach to matchmaking, which blends the best of The East and West. She is an Indian-American Attorney-turned-Entrepreneur, Relationship Expert, Radio Show Host and Matchmaker/Dating Coach.
She is the Founder & President of Intersections Match by Jasbina, the only Premier Matchmaking & Dating Coaching Firm for Indian Singles in the US, Canada & the UK. Jasbina previously practiced law in San Francisco and Chicago. She earned her B.A/M.A. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, and JD from the University of Michigan Law School.)