One of the most profound experiences we can have in our lives is the connection we have with other human beings. Positive and supportive relationships will help us to feel healthier, happier, and more satisfied with our lives. Our relationships influence us, teach us new things, and lift us up when we feel down. The friendships we cultivate will shape our perspectives and determine how you interact with the world.
It’s no wonder that they have such a large effect on our physical and mental health!
But to maintain healthy relationships, and to be able to truly love someone, you must first recognize the importance of loving yourself, as well. For a happier life, it is crucial that we learn to improve our self-image. Nothing can be more crucial than what you think of yourself. It is the force that drives all your thoughts and actions.
Loving others begins with loving yourself
When you have a positive self-image, it is also accompanied with feelings of high self-esteem, popularity, happiness and competency. Developing a positive self-image can help you face and overcome life’s challenges. Those with poor self-image are often more critical of themselves. It is harder for them to bounce back from challenges and setbacks. This may lead them to avoid difficult situations entirely. People with good self-image generally feel positive about themselves, and about life. This makes them much more resilient, and better able to cope with negative situations. It also motivates them to chase success, have more ambition, and pursue healthy relationships.
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, and self-image is how you view yourself, or how you believe other people view or see you. An important thing to remember is that self-esteem is not constant, it is malleable and measurable, meaning we can assess it and improve it.
Talk to your inner critic
Some people think of self-esteem as their inner voice, the voice that nudges you and lets you know if you are good enough to accomplish or achieve something.
Researchers estimate that we think about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. What is shocking is that over 80% of those thoughts are negative. If you are like most people, you’ll immediately recognize that voice. It is the one in your head that judges you, criticizes you, and constantly tells you that you are not good enough. The key to rebuilding your confidence and developing a positive self-image is by changing your negative thoughts.
Self-talk is that inner dialogue that goes on in an endless loop in your mind. Everything you say to yourself shapes your perceptions. This harsh inner critic is far from harmless. It holds you back, limits you, and discourages you from pursuing the life you truly desire. It robs you of a sense of peace and emotional well-being and, if it isn’t dealt with, it can even lead to serious mental health problems.
You can’t have a good relationship with yourself if you’re constantly engaged in this internal struggle.
A positive self-esteem can be trained through the practice of deflecting, deleting, or silencing those negative thoughts or feelings. When you notice yourself thinking negatively about yourself, deal with it. Tell yourself that the negative talk is not realistic, but just a distortion. Then flip the script and say something positive about yourself. You can train your mind to have conscious, positive thoughts that will help you combat the barrage of negative thoughts. The more you practice, the more you’ll cultivate your confidence.
Cultivating Healthy Relationships with Others
Human beings are social creatures, we are meant to form intricate networks of friends and family. The power of social interaction goes beyond the happy feelings you get after you spend an evening laughing with friends. When surrounded by healthy relationships, it leads to building strong co-dependent bonds, and drives a common life mission shared by common values and goals.
Loving ourselves and having a healthy self-image makes us more healthy and whole people. We are more giving, more forgiving and more compassionate. Research has established the link between positive self-esteem and success in relationships. Self-esteem not only affects how we view ourselves, but also how much acceptance we’re able to receive from others, especially in intimate relationships.
It takes courage to communicate assertively in relationships. This courage comes with self-acceptance, which allows you to value and honor your feelings and needs. This also leads to you feeling like you deserve love, and are comfortable receiving it.
While our largest social environment is our friendships, on a daily basis, we interact with other relationships like our families, work environments, and our online community. For us to be our happiest, healthiest selves, these relationships need to be supportive, uplifting, and positive. When our social environments are stable, supportive, and healthy, they support our health and wellness.
We cannot give what we don’t have
Our first responsibility is to love ourselves. When we value ourselves, we can receive acceptance from others. You can have a better and happier life, but it begins with your self-image. How you see and project yourself is how the world will see you. Remember, that you are the only tool you need to accomplish your dreams.