Developing Intimacy and Support Part III

self esteem lonely picSelf Esteem-Just as important as intimacy is the need for each of us to maintain appropriate boundaries within both intimate and other relationships.

Boundaries simply mean that you know where you end and the other person begins. You don’t define your identity in terms of the other person. And above all, you don’t derive your sense of self-worth and self-authority by attempting to take care of, rescue, change, or control the other person. In the past few years, the terms “women who love too much” and “co-dependency” have been used to define those people who, because they lack a solid, internal basis of self-worth, attempt to validate themselves through taking care of, rescuing, or simply pleasing another person. A good indication of loss of boundaries is spending more time talking or thinking about another’s needs or problems than your own and this can be detrimental on your self esteem.

In her best selling book, Women Who Love Too Much, Robin Norwood advocates the following steps in overcoming co-dependency in a close relationship:

Going for help – giving up the idea you can handle it alone

Making recovery from co-dependency your highest priority

Finding a support group of peers who understand the problem

Developing a personal spiritual life where you can let go of self-will and rely on a “Higher Power”

Learning  to stop managing, controlling, or “running the life” of another or others you love

Learning to let go of playing the game of “rescuer” and/or “victim” with the other person

Facing and exploring your own personal problems and pain in depth

Sharing what you have learned with others

Developing Support and Intimacy Part I
Developing Support and Intimacy Part II

Developing Intimacy and Support Part II

self esteem love picSelf Esteem – While some people  seem content to go through life with a few close friends, most of us seek a special relationship with one particular person. It is in intimate relationships that we open ourselves most deeply and have the chance to discover the most about ourselves. Such relationships help overcome a certain loneliness that most of us would eventually feel – no matter how self-sufficient and strong we may be – without intimacy. The sense of belonging that we gain from intimate relationships contributes substantially to our feelings of self-worth. I want to reemphasize, however, that self esteem cannot be derived entirely from someone else. A health intimate relationship simply reinforces your own self-acceptance, and belief in yourself.

Here is a list of some ingredients that contribute to lasting intimate relationships:

Common interests, especially leisure time and recreational interests

A sense of romance or “magic” between you and your partner. This is an intangible quality of attraction that goes well beyond the physical level. It’s usually very strong and steady in the first three to six months of a relationship. The relationship then requires the ability to renew, refresh, and rediscover this magic as it mutures.

Mutual acceptance and support of each other’s personal growth and change. It is well known that when only one person is growing in a relationship, or feels invalidated in their growth by the other, the relationship often ends.

Mutual acceptance of each other’s faults and weaknesses. After the initial romantic months of a relationship are over, each partner must find enough good in the other to tolerate and accept the other’s faults and weaknesses.

Sharing of feelings. Genuine closeness between two people requires emotional vulnerability and a willingness to open up and share your deepest feelings.

Developing Intimacy and Support Part I
Developing Intimacy and Support Part III

Developing Support and Intimacy Part I

self esteem friends picSelf-esteem is something we build within ourselves, much of our feelings of self-worth is determined by our significant personal relationships. Others cannot give you a feeling of adequacy and confidence, but their acceptance, respect, and validation of you can reaffirm and strengthen your own positive attitude and feelings about yourself. Self-love becomes narcissistic in isolation from others. Let’s consider four pathways to self-esteem that involve relationships with others.


Close friends and support




Close Friends and Support
Having close friends and support is very important when trying to improve your self-esteem. When surveys of human values have been done, many people rank close friends near the top, along with career, a happy family life, and health. Each of us needs a support system of at least two or three close friends in addition to our immediate family. A close friend is someone you can deeply trust and confide in. It is someone who comfortably accepts you as you are in all your moods, behaviors, and roles. And it is someone who will stand by you no matter what is happening in your life. A close friend allows you the opportunity to share your feelings and perceptions about your life outside your immediate family. Such a person can help bring out aspects of your personality that might not be expressed with your spouse, children, or parents. At least two or three close friends of this sort, whom you can confide in on a regular basis, are an essential part of an adequate support system. Such friends can help provide continuity in your life through times of great transition such as moving away from home, divorce, death of a family member, and so on.

Cultivating assertiveness is critical to self-esteem. If you’re unable to clearly get across to others what you want or do not want, you will end up feeling frustrated, helpless and powerless. If you do nothing else, the practice of assertive behavior in and of itself can increase your feeling of self-respect. Honoring your own needs with other people in an assertive manner also increases their respect for you, and quickly overcomes any tendency on their part to take advantage of you.

Developing Support and Intimacy Part II
Developing Support and Intimacy Part III