Building Self-Esteem - Personal Boundaries
Article by Steve Roberts
The quickest way to increase your self-esteem is to work on your boundaries with the world around you. This means developing the ability to know yourself apart from those around you. You really don't have to take everything personally. You can evaluate whether someone is speaking the truth before taking it inside and having feelings about it.
Imagine yourself mentally slowing the conversation down. As the words come out of your partner's mouth, first pause, then consider their truth. Are the words true about you, or, are they really a personal perspective that says more about how this person sees the world?
The difficult part is that you will discover a seed of truth in most of these discussions. However, having one part of the sentence or paragraph reflect truth does not make the whole thing true. What is true, and what is the other person's "spin?"
Once you've discovered the other person's perspective, notice the emotions you begin to have. I'll bet these feelings derive from your own "spin" on the world. Do you believe that your perspectives are the whole truth of things? Not likely. So, back down the power of those feelings. Be responsible for your own perspective.
Good boundaries are meant to protect you from the other person's "stuff" slopping over onto you. In addition, they are also meant to protect the other person from your "stuff" slopping over onto them. It's both protection and containment. You get to take responsibility for yourself by practicing both.
The cool part?
You discover deep down that you actually have a self to esteem. You're not open to every poke the world sends your way. And, you are responsible about not sending pokes back out to the world. Feel some pride. You're beginning to do a good job of taking care of yourself.
You can begin to see that boundaries have a lot to do with being responsible for self-care.
Self-care includes the food we eat, our exercise and the time we take for ourselves. It's also clothes, dental and medical care, and mental hygiene. Everything that goes into keeping us healthy has a boundary component.
As adults we are individually responsible to make sure these needs are well taken care of. It is not appropriate to expect someone else to take care of them for us. We may need help to get them met, but it is not the other person's responsibility. It is ours.
If I need a hug, it is my job to ask for one. My partner may or may not be open to give me one. It can be delightful if that hug is available. If it is not, then it is still my responsibility to find a way to meet my need. My care is my job.
Don't fall into the romance trap. It feels wonderful to have your partner anticipate your needs and to feel like the two of you are "joined at the hip." But, if it continues this way your feeling of self worth will start to depend on him or her, not on you. It's only a matter of time before it gets damaged.
So stay real.
You can enjoy your partner while holding yourself accountable for your own self esteem. All it takes is attention to a self-responsible perspective. It's not exactly easy, but then, what is when it comes to relationships?