Having healthy self-esteem is important for any relationship. When you don’t value yourself, it can lead to insecurity, neediness and toxicity in your connections with others. Improving your self-esteem takes work, but it allows you to show up as your best self in your relationships and feel confident that you deserve love. Here are some tips on how to boost self-esteem in relationships:
1. Identify Core Beliefs
The first step is identifying any negative core beliefs you have about yourself that affect your self-image and confidence. These usually stem from childhood experiences, trauma or critical messages we received growing up. Some examples:
- I’m unworthy of love
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t deserve happiness
- I’m unlovable
Bring awareness to these beliefs and how they make you feel. Then, begin re-scripting more positive beliefs to replace them:
- I am worthy of love and belonging
- I am enough just as I am
- I deserve to be happy
- I am lovable
2. Practice Self-Compassion
Many of us are far kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same caring attitude you show a friend. It helps quiet your inner critic and builds emotional resilience. Some ways to practice:
- Write a letter to yourself from a place of gentleness and understanding when you’re feeling bad.
- Notice judgmental thoughts and respond with kindness. “It’s okay, this is new for me, I’m still learning.”
- Treat yourself with care – take a bath, get a massage, savor a good meal. Do things that feel nourishing.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
People pleasing and poor boundaries diminish self-worth over time. Learning to set firm yet compassionate boundaries safeguards your self-esteem. Examples:
- Say no to requests that drain you.
- Be assertive about your values, needs and priorities.
- Leave situations where you feel disrespected.
- Limit time with critical people.
- Ask for what you want directly.
Sticking to your boundaries boosts self-trust and self-respect.
4. Make Self-Care a Priority
When your own needs are regularly bottom of the list, you implicitly send yourself the message that you’re not worth caring for. Practicing good self-care realigns your self-perception. Important self-care habits:
- Get enough sleep
- Eat nutritious meals
- Schedule fun and relaxation
- Reflect on things you appreciate about yourself
- Spend time in nature
- Do things you love that light you up inside
5. Change Negative Self-Talk
The way we talk to ourselves powerfully influences our self-image. Notice when your inner voice is harsh, mean or pessimistic. Actively reframe negative self-talk:
|I’m so stupid||I’m human, we all make mistakes|
|I’m a failure||I’m learning, progress takes time|
|I’m ugly/unattractive||All bodies are beautiful in their own way|
|I don’t know what I’m doing||I’m challenging myself to learn new skills|
|I’ll never find love||My person is out there, I just haven’t met them yet|
Speaking kindly helps reinforce your worth.
6. Identify Your Strengths
Make a list of your positive qualities, talents, skills and values. What do you appreciate about yourself? What are you good at? What values guide you? Refer back to this when you’re feeling down to remind yourself of your inner riches.
- Sense of humor
7. Do Esteemable Acts
Contribute to causes and communities you care about. Use your time and skills to help others. Express your talents. Creating positive change builds self-worth and meaning.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Make art and share it
- Join a social justice group
- Help a neighbor in need
- Start a community garden
- Teach children a new skill
Being of service taps into your worth.
8. Practice Gratitude
It’s easy to fixate on negatives and take the good things for granted. Appreciating abundant blessings counteracts this. Ways to cultivate gratitude:
- Keep a thankfulness journal
- Share 3 daily appreciations with your partner
- Write thank you notes
- Express gratitude and praise to loved ones
- Tell others what you admire about them
Gratitude helps you recognize the value you add.
9. Be Assertive
Passivity and repression feed low self-esteem. Assertiveness builds confidence through honest self-expression. Ways to be assertive:
- Share your thoughts, feelings and needs
- Set boundaries
- Give direct feedback
- Ask for help when needed
- Negotiate conflict constructively
- Advocate for your rights
Assertiveness strengthens self-respect.
10. Seek Therapy
If you have trauma, mental health issues or ingrained negative beliefs, therapy can help unravel these. A skilled therapist provides perspective, healing and practical strategies for building self-worth. Benefits include:
- Processing past hurts
- Changing self-sabotaging patterns
- Building self-acceptance
- Developing self-compassion
- Finding purpose and meaning
Therapy is investment in valuing yourself.
Common Questions and Answers About Improving Self-Esteem in Relationships
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about building self-esteem in relationships:
Q: Why is self-esteem important in relationships?
A: Healthy self-esteem allows you to communicate effectively, set boundaries, and accept love. When you value yourself, you set the stage for mutual respect, caretaking, and growth with your partner.
Q: How do I stop needing validation from my partner?
A: Find internal sources of validation by making a list of your strengths, pursuing interests that energize you, and spending time with uplifting friends. Do nice things for yourself. Start countering negative self-talk.
Q: What if my partner says things that hurt my self-esteem?
A: Have an honest discussion about how their words affect you. If they continue to be detrimental to your self-image, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. Don’t stay somewhere that damages your self-worth.
Q: Is low self-esteem sabotaging my relationships?
A: Yes, self-doubt can strain bonds in many ways, from clinging to your partner to seeking their constant reassurance. Building self-esteem for yourself is key to creating healthy relationships.
Q: How long does it take to improve self-esteem?
A: It depends on the individual, but allow yourself time. Changing negative self-talk patterns doesn’t happen overnight. With consistency in using self-compassion, seeking therapy, and unwinding childhood programming, self-esteem can grow.