Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 17, 2018

How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

Self-esteem is a driving force behind our confidence, how we see and feel about ourselves, and encompasses our sense of value, significance, and self-worth.

Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem. Yet, having a solid sense of self-esteem has the chance to positively impact and powerfully transform every area of your life – from your relationships to your career, from your health and well-being, to your fulfillment and levels of success.

A deep feeling of self-esteem is something that needs to grow and be nurtured over time. In this article I will show you the things you can do right now to improve your self esteem. Then, you will realize your hidden potential and your self worth.

What is self-esteem

While the dictionary defines it as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect”, put simply, self-esteem is the overall sense or feeling you have about your own self-worth or self-value.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more about how you feel about your abilities and will vary from situation to situation. You can have great self-esteem (feeling good about yourself overall) but low self-confidence about a particular situation or event (e.g. public speaking). Or, maybe you’ve got great self-confidence in an area (e.g. a sport that you play) but low self-esteem overall.

A strong and solid sense of self-esteem comes from deep within. From a belief in your importance, your value and your worthiness.

Where does low self-esteem come from

Low self-esteem can stem from many areas. It is largely influenced by how other people see and treat us, and our relationships, which is why the influence of our parents has the most significant impact on our self-esteem.

  • An unhappy childhood – Those who grew up with critical, abusive or neglectful parents are more likely to face challenges with their own self-worth; while those who experienced acceptance, approval and affection are more likely to have a higher sense of self-value.
  • Traumatic experiences – Lower levels of self-esteem can also stem from bad experiences or traumatic events, such as something someone said to you or something someone did. Essentially, it can stem from anything that has brought up feelings of shame, guilt or lack of worth.
  • Experiences of failure – For some, lower self-esteem is connected to their success and accomplishments or lack thereof – including experiences of failure, not achieving goals or expectations.
  • Negative self-talk – Many ‘cases’ of low self-esteem are perpetuated by negative self-talk. This could be a story that you have created yourself or that someone else created for you long ago that you continue to believe.

Maybe for you, like for many others, low self-esteem is rooted in your feelings about your appearance or body image. It’s not just about how you look, it’s about how you feel about how you look. We are bombarded with messages from an early age about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too much of anything really, or not enough of something else.

What happens when you lack self-esteem

Low self-esteem can lead to significant physical and mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and addiction. In fact, research shows that adolescents who suffered from low self-esteem grew up to have more physical and mental problems, higher rates of criminal convictions, lower earnings and challenges with long-term unemployment.

On the flipside, a strong sense of self-esteem will help you experience greater health and well-being, better relationships, and higher levels of happiness, fulfillment and success. One study even correlated higher levels of self-esteem with higher earning potential.

Assess your own self-esteem

Individuals with low, or compromised self-esteem can see themselves as inadequate, incompetent and even unlovable. While they often know at a ‘conscious’ level these things aren’t true, they still feel that way deeply within. That’s what makes challenges with self-esteem so tricky. It’s often not about the reality of what is, but the perception of what someone feels.

Those with low self-esteem may appear socially withdrawn or quiet, negative, insecure, indecisive, unhappy or even angry. They are more likely to find themselves in unhealthy relationships, have a fear of failure and worry about what others think.

On the flipside, those with high self-esteem, more often than not, feel a strong sense of self-worth and value, feelings of confidence and acceptance. They tend to find themselves in healthy relationships (and ditch the bad ones), take care of themselves, and are more resilient when faced with setbacks, obstacles and failures. In general, they tend to stand up more for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

Self-esteem can be measured on a scale of high to low: while too little has its obvious downsides, you can also have too much of a good thing. Those with an overly strong sense of self-esteem may appear ‘cocky’, narcissistic and self-important.

Advertising

This infographic has illustrated the differences between people with high self-esteem people and people with low self-esteem:[1]

    Finding the balance of a strong sense self of self-worth and humility is an important as we go through life.

    How to be build self-esteem (a step-by-step guide)

    Self-esteem issues essentially are found in the gap between who you presently ARE and who you think you SHOULD be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you, yet the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

    Building your self-esteem is not an easy task. While I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, what I’ve learned is that building and nurturing your self-esteem takes time. But, it is a worthwhile investment. Once you’ve done the work, you’ll reap the many rewards and benefits for a lifetime.

    Below are some great strategies to start your journey.

    1. Get to the root cause, the real issue

    Identifying the real, root cause(s) for your low self-esteem is one of the most important things you can do to build it back up.

    We named many reasons above. Maybe one of them, in particular, resonated with you? Perhaps your parents said you were ‘never good enough’ or that you wouldn’t amount to anything. I work with clients all the time who share stories of their parents’ behavior and the significant impact it has had on their self esteem.

    Whatever experiences you may have had, and whatever the root issue might be for you, I strongly recommend you get someone to support you through the process to identify and deal with it. Find a counselor, therapist, coach or someone who is trained in helping uncover and address these traumas, past experiences and root issues. These folks have proven tools, tactics and strategies – and best of all, they help you experiment in a safe space.

    While you may be able to do a lot of work on your own, my experience is that if you don’t address the root cause, that feeling will creep back in over time. You can’t run away from the truth. You can’t band-aid over old wounds. You’ve got to get to the source. It won’t’ be easy, but if you want to build your self-esteem, it needs to be done.

    2. See yourself how others see you

    See yourself how others see you, and talk to yourself as others would talk to you. What do I mean by this? Think about the person who loves you the most in this world. Unconditionally.

    Now, take a moment, zoom out, and imagine you are standing in their shoes and watching through their eyes. Look from their perspective and see yourself as they see you. What do you notice about you? What would they say to you? What do they love about you? What do they see in you?

    3. Do your best

    “Do your best every day” — My Dad

    Simple advice is often the best advice. When you do your best and place your full effort into each and every day, you start to feel better about yourself.

    Advertising

    Now, your best might change from day to day – and some days, your best won’t be as good as it was the day before. That’s ok. It’s important to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, right now – at that moment, on that day, in that situation, with that time frame, your level of skill or knowledge, you name it.

    When you know you’ve done your best, you have no regrets and nothing about which to feel bad or guilty. If you do your best and then someone criticizes you, it’s easier to brush off when you know you did the best you can.

    I ask my clients (and myself) this question all the time, whether they’re ruminating over something they’ve said, thinking about what they could have done better, or just disappointed about an outcome they had hoped to achieve. Did you do your best? If the answer is Yes, then there’s nothing more you can do – until next time.

    4. Engage in activities that satisfy you

    They key word here is satisfy. Find things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness and purpose.

    Too often we engage in activities or relationships that leave us feeling self-conscious, empty or terrible about ourselves. It’s time to put more focus, time and effort to do those things that feel good for your body, mind and spirit; and to engage in things that make you feel whole and full.

    Identify what satisfies you mentally (e.g. solving a big problem or creating something new), emotionally (e.g. hanging out with friends or volunteering), physically (e.g. exercising, eating right or taking care of your body) and spiritually (e.g. meditation or going to your place of worship).

    When you engage in something that makes you feel good and even more importantly, makes you feel worthwhile, you will experience greater self-esteem.

    5. Identify who YOU are and be true to you

    Self-awareness and a little soul searching are critical to your success in life and your self-esteem. In some cases, lack of self-esteem stems from a lack of knowing who you truly are, and the value you bring. Many of us have spent so much time trying to fit in and please that we’ve completely lost our sense of self.

    Spend time getting to know yourself. Take time to identify who you are. Some things to think about include

    • identifying your strengths and talents
    • acknowledging your value and worth, uncovering your passions
    • understanding your values and what’s important to you
    • thinking about how you want to serve or contribute to the world
    • acknowledging your blind spots

    6. Accept yourself

    Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have.

    We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

    7. Stop compromising yourself

    When you let others push you around, put everyone else’s needs before your own, or cave in to what everyone else wants because you don’t want to rock the boat, it lowers your self-esteem. You are putting their needs ahead of yours and your mind thinks to itself, “I guess I’m not that important”. I worked with two different clients just last week on this very thing. They were both putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own – and it was having a significant and negative impact on their health and well-being.

    Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t take care of your kids and spouse, meet your work deadlines or be there for your friends. But you’ve also got to take care of you. We compromise ourselves to fit in, to be loved and to be acknowledged. But if you are constantly compromising yourself, you will never truly feel satisfied.

    “Never chase love, affection or attention. If it isn’t given freely by another person, it isn’t worth having”

    Advertising

    How often do you let what others think of you or need from you dictate your actions or decisions?

    Be strong. Be assertive. Stand up for yourself. It’s time to identify what you need. Identify what you want in, and for, your life.

    Decide what is important to you. Naming these thing will give you an ‘inner compass’ to guide you. Then, identify your boundaries and the non-negotiables in your life. What are you not willing to put up with anymore? Get clear on these things now, so when the time comes to push back, stand up or politely say ‘no’, you have the ‘back-up’ and inner guidance to do so.

    8. Look for the good

    We tend to find what we are looking for. Put simply, people tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true.

    The same goes for how you see yourself. If you believe you are worthless or unlovable, you will find data to back that belief up. However, if you believe you are worthwhile and beautiful or courageous and strong, you will soon find data to back that up instead.

    The challenge with those who suffer from low self-esteem is that they have gotten into a habit of finding what’s wrong. Often, there is a negative message lodged in their subconscious mind. In some cases, they’ve just gotten really good at seeing all their faults and shortcomings.

    The easiest way to change what you see? Change what you’re looking for. Catch yourself doing something right.

    Try this: grab a journal, and for the next 21 days–each and every day–write down 3 things you value, appreciate or like about yourself. This might include acknowledging your wins or successes, things you are proud of, or noticing what you feel good about. While it may feel challenging at first, you’ll soon start to rewire your brain to see more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.

    9. Stop negative self-talk

    Much of your belief systems come from the negative ‘story’ you are telling yourself. Your mind believes what you tell it and if the story you are playing (over and over again) in your mind is one of the worthless mistakes you’ve made, that’s what you will continue to reinforce and strengthen in your belief systems.

    Tell yourself you are worthless and incapable; your mind will believe that. Tell yourself you are able and awesome; your mind will believe that, too.

    Catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk today.

    10. Find your tribe

    Since so much of our self-esteem is influenced by our relationships and how others see and treat us, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with healthy, uplifting, encouraging and supporting people.

    Now, I’m not saying you need to surround yourself with a bunch of Pollyannas who constantly throw sparkles and compliments your way. It has to be sincere and true.

    Find people who know the real you – people who can speak to the value you bring, your talents and worth; people who can be real with you, sharing the positive and the constructive in an uplifting way.

    Advertising

    Find your people. Find your tribe.

    11. Take chances

    Many great minds have shared that failure has been key to their success, the stepping stone to their greatness and the catalyst to their growth. You might have heard the stories about Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity basketball team, Oprah Winfrey being told she wasn’t ‘meant to be on TV’ and Steven Spielberg being rejected for film school not just once, but three times.

    Taking chances, experiencing failure and building resilience is key to increasing one’s self-esteem. After all, if you never take a chance, you will never know – and you’ll stay stuck in your story.

    Each time you overcome a small challenge or bounce back from a set-back, you build that muscle. People don’t regret failing, they regret not trying. The more you try, the more you put yourself out there – the stronger you and your self-worth will become.

    12. Find meaning and create goals

    As humans, we all need to learn, develop, grow and contribute. When you are suffering from low self-esteem, this can create a vicious cycle:

    You don’t feel great about yourself, so you don’t go out there and make stuff happen. Because you’re not being successful, you feel a lack of self-worth.

      It’s time to break the cycle.

      Take steps that allow you to become who you are truly capable of being. Perhaps this is about finding something that gives you meaning, or maybe it’s about the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. For example, the act of helping others–contributing, volunteering and being kind–have shown to not only increases self-esteem, but also happiness, health and satisfaction.

      Start with something small and work your way up. Each small success will bring about greater confidence and ultimately, a stronger sense of self-esteem.

      Start your journey to increase self-esteem

      Let’s be honest, this is not an easy journey. It can be challenging, but the challenge is what builds depth, strength, character and resilience. If the reward is greater self-esteem, which leads to greater relationships, a better career, increased health and well being, more success, and a greater sense of self-worth, I’d say it’s worth it.

      While you live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with messages of not being enough and how you could be better, just remember this:

      You are awesome. You are deserving of love, happiness and success. You are worthy. You are imperfectly perfect. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time. You are not a mistake. And even if you feel inadequate, unlovable or unworthy, know that you are none of those things. You are enough! You may not be able to believe this just yet, but some part of you, deep down inside knows this to be true.

      Now, it’s time to take the steps above and realize it for yourself.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Tracy Kennedy

      I'm a results-driven life coach + consultant, dedicated to helping you achieve greater levels of happiness, fulfillment + success.

      The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day The Real Reason You Feel Exhausted (And How to Be Energetic Again) How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

      Trending in Mental Strength

      1Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly 215 Ways Meditation Benefits Your Brain Power and Your Mood 3How the Power of Positive Thinking Can Pay Off in Your Career 4Signs of Depression in Children (And How to Help Them to Overcome It) 5How to Forgive and Live a Happy Life Again (A Step-By-Step Guide)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on June 12, 2018

      Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

      Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

      A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

      You know how this looks:

      • Parents constantly comparing children.
      • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
      • Domestic violence.
      • Adultery…
      • And many others.

      For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

      Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

      Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

      This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

      In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

      If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

      How to fix a dysfunctional family

      In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

      And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

      Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

      It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

      Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

      Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

      There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

      Dysfunctional… Or just average?

      Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

      The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

      You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

      A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

      Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

      Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

      • Unrealistic expectations
      • Lack of interest and time spent together
      • Sexism
      • Utilitarianism
      • Lack of empathy
      • Unequal or unfair treatment
      • Disrespect towards boundaries
      • Control Issues
      • Jealousy
      • Verbal and physical abuse
      • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

      The link to productivity

      You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

      If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

      Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

      How to turn it around

      When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

      But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

      One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

      We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

      Advertising

      As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

      What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

      Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

      Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

      Correction is possible

      In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

      Verbalize it.

      All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

      Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

      This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

      But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

      So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

      Putting it to work in real life

      In real life it would be something like this:

      “OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

      Or:

      “Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

      Or:

      “Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

      As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

      This is what you have to remember:

      1-Stop.

      2-Why it’s wrong?

      3-What you need.

      And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

      It’s a family thing

      A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

      Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

      In other words, you will need cooperation…

      So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

      Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

      Advertising

      We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

      You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

      It’s not a free-for-all battle

      In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

      No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

      Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

      And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

      The method

      1. Drop the ego

      Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

      You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

      Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

      What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

      It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

      After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

      Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

      Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

      Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

      And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

      You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

      2. Not blame, but responsibility

      When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

      But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

      When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

      What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

      Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

      As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

      You will do something like this:

      “Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

      I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

      You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

      I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

      Advertising

      It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

      What happened here?

      We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

      We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

      We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

      And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

      You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

      This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

      3. Doing the work

      What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

      This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

      Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

      If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

      It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

      “When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

      I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

      But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

      You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

      Love is all you need

      You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

      That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

      And what happens if it simply is not there?

      What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

      What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

      There is only one thing you can do:

      To break away.

      Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

      There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

      “We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

      If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

      Advertising

      Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

      You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

      Putting distance

      So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

      What do I mean?

      Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

      Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

      Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

      Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

      They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

      Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

      I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

      I choose my peace of mind.

      And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

      Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

      Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

      How to prevent it

      There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

      • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
      • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

      Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

      You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

      Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

      Priorities and clear thought

      You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

      You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

      You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

      Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

      If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

      And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

      Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

      But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

      Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Read Next