Witty, self-deprecating humor may have attracted to you to your partner, but if that shtick turns out to be a mask for self-esteem, you could have some serious problems. Finding creative ways to help a partner with low self-esteem will improve your relationship in countless ways. According to Dr. Suzanne Philips, a psychologist and writer for the PBS relationship blog for This Emotional Life, low self-esteem is a relationship killer. It makes you doubt yourself and your partner's love. It makes you lower your expectations in terms of how you should be treated. It also affects how you communicate and deal with conflict. Basically, all of the most important components of a healthy relationship suffer.
While improving your partner's self-esteem is ultimately your partner's job, as a loving and supportive partner, there are plenty of things you can do to support that process. At the very least, you can be a source of love, acceptance, and positivity. But doing the work of helping to boost your partner's self-esteem requires a more creative approach than simply giving compliments. You'll need to change your own behaviors while you're encouraging your partner to do the same. In some ways, you'll be changing the entire climate of your relationship until you've created a warm cocoon of support, affirmation, acceptance, and love.
1. Brag About Your Partner
Whenever you get a chance, brag to your friends and family about your partner, recommends Jerry Stumpf of the Good Man Project, a site that gives lifestyle advice to millennial men. Stumpf enjoys telling people about his wife's kind heart and how she uses that kind heart to make people's lives better. Do this both in front of your partner and when he or she is not around. This will not only help improve your partner's self-esteem, but it will improve the way his or her friends and family see your partner. You're basically helping to write the story of who your partner is when you talk about him or her. Make that story an awesome one.
2. Practice Unconditional Acceptance
Unconditional love is important, but so is the concept of unconditional acceptance. According to success website Manage Your Life Now, "complete and unconditional acceptance is the most stable foundation to build the self-esteem." Unconditional acceptance means you promise to have your partner's back, no matter what. You promise to love them, including their flaws, failures, shortcomings, mistakes, and problems.
3. Use Your "I" Statements
"I" statements are an important part of compassionate communication that helps to build elf-esteem, according to Denise W. Anderson of Family Share. These statements force you to focus on your own feelings instead of placing blame on your partner. A quick example is to say "I'm worried about our bank account balance" or "it would make me feel less nervous about bills if we made a budget together" instead of saying "you spend way too much money" or "you suck at handling money."
4. Become A Body Positive Warrior
For many people, especially women, self-esteem is intimately connected to body image. Helping your partner to be more comfortable in his or her own skin is a vital part of boosting self-esteem. According to Couple Connection, Dr. Charlotte Markey and Dr. Patrick Markey, relationship researchers, discovered that our partners are usually happier with our bodies than we are. So put this body love to good use. Flatter your partner, but more importantly, stop any negative self-talk you hear and replace it with body positive messages.
5. Volunteer Together
According to PsychCentral, it's hard to hold negative views of yourself while you're helping other people. Doing charity work together helps in cases of even the lowest self-esteem, because, "it’s tougher for people to rationalize that they’re terrible if they’re helping others, thereby helping to quell negative self-talk," says PsychCentral. Bonus points if your volunteer work involves puppies and kittens.
6. Separate Self-Worth From Success
People who become successful did so because they weren't afraid to try and fail. If your practice celebrating effort in your relationships instead of only celebrating successes, you'll build self-esteem for both partners, according to Rachel Van Beaver for Huffington Post. For example, if you finish a marathon, but don't win, celebrate the heck out of the fact that you finished a marathon instead of beating yourself up for not winning.
Don't forget to keep your own self-esteem in check. Self-care is one of the most important parts of a good relationship and a happy life. You have to take care of yourself just as much as you take care of others.
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