“Have you always felt this way” I asked after a long discussion on her ‘feeling stuck’ “I used to be very confident, I had a lot going on but I don’t know what happened.” She said. When did the self-doubt start? I asked “When I got married, I think I got comfortable.” She said “Does he support your growth” I asked. “He used to, he even encouraged me to go back to school. He however says am not the same any more, he has checked out. He criticizes everything that I do, He does not include me in any decision making. Am losing it trying to prove myself. I think that’s the issue.” She said in tears after a long thought. It took an hour for the discussion to unfold to this point.
Most of the time people are busy fighting the symptoms without understanding the root cause of the problem. We wonder why we are not putting our best foot forward at work or social circle. We ignore to find out what, when, how and why it is happening. My coachee was in this state. She sought coaching on career and finance goals while in essence the issue emanated from somewhere else. As she finally opened up, I felt like I was rereading a thriller, mystery novel that I read recently; I know who you are by Alice Feeney (I decided to be using thriller novels to excite my weekends and get more insights on human behavior to complement real crime documentaries.)
The opening statements in this book sounds like a case scenario in a psychology class. Allow me to quote the book;
“Nobody understands who I really am except him. My husband fell in love with a version of me that I was before. My success is relatively recent and my dreams coming true signaled the beginning of his nightmare. He tried to be supportive but am not something he wants to share with the world. Each time my anxiety tores me apart he stitches me back together, which is kind but also self-serving. He holds so tight that it hurts.
In order to get satisfaction from fixing something you have to leave it broken for a while first or break it again yourself. I have never felt so trapped in my own wrong turns. Money is a bandage but not a cure for broken promises. I think he needed to make me feel small in order for him to feel big again. Am not who he married, am more and I think he needed less.”
They say the person you spend most of the time with greatly influences who you become. Spouses and significant others hence take a lead here. Whether consciously or unconsciously your partner can be a threat to your level of self-confidence and self-esteem. It takes years to build self-esteem and days to destroy it. There are a lot of simple, everyday things we do and say that can have a negative impact on a partner’s self-esteem, and many of them are things that are so common and seemingly non-threatening;
- Redoing things & constant suggestions – If you re-check or re-do everything they just did, you are sending the message that they don’t ever do things right.
- Questioning Choices – when one partner always questions the choices of the other, that partner can start to think that they’re not capable of making good choices.
- Taking over tasks – You could be sending a message that you think they are incapable. Ask if they want help in the spirit of teamwork than to take over.
- Public call outs & unfunny jokes – You might think it’s funny to post something embarrassing your partner did, or find catharsis is discussing your partner’s bad habits with their family and friends, but you could actually be making your partner feel terrible.
- Laziness, selfishness or indifference – Being lazy about things that matter to your partner such as quality time, chores, parenting sends the message that your partner and their needs are not worth your effort.
- Refusing to ‘argue’ or Not listening – If you always shut down debate, or saying things like “I’m not arguing about this with you” you’re sending the message that you’re always right, or that you don’t care what your partner has to say. That can fuel a sense of worthlessness in your partner.
- Saying No – if you’re saying “no” to every idea your partner has, you’re not being encouraging or supportive, and that can damage self-esteem.
- Making all the decisions – If you make all the decisions, just because that’s what you do, you could be sending the message that your partner doesn’t make good decisions, isn’t smart enough to make the right decisions, or has opinions that don’t matter.
- Withholding information – If bad things happen and you keep it away from your partner you make them feel you don’t trust them, think they can handle it or respect them enough to be honest. Those types of feelings can negatively impact self-worth.
- Not sharing feelings – If you show your love more than you speak it, you’ll need to make sure your partner is totally aware of the things you do to express your feelings. Everyone needs to feel loved and appreciated.
- Playing busy – Always on phone, laptop especially when you’re having quality time, it can make your partner feel like they don’t matter, they’re uninteresting, and they’re not who you’d rather be with at the moment.
- Being Negative – Some people are just real glass-half-empty types. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a critical personality, but if you’re not careful, you could really dent your partner’s self-esteem with your negativity.
Becoming more mindful of these little confidence killers is more important than you might realize. Low self-esteem is a relationship poison, and it messes with how you trust, what decisions you make, why you make those decisions, what kind of sex you have, what kind of treatment you accept, and whether or not you’re able to give equally to the relationship. It’s at the base of all things; It affects your goals, your career, your friendships, and your overall happiness.
Relationships should enhance your self-esteem not chip it away.
Photo by Consoler creative257: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-sitting-on-stone-in-front-of-wooden-door-12528693/