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How to Love Yourself and Improve Relationships

How to Love Yourself and Improve Relationships

Does loving yourself improve relationships?

It should come as no surprise that there is a strong link between self-esteem and the health of our relationships. If you have a low sense of self-worth, that affects a lot of your behaviors, which in turn affect your connections with others.

Specifically, having little love for ourselves tends to make us more negative in general. Think about how you react when someone around you is negative about almost everything. In contrast, you probably prefer to be around people who are comfortable in their own skin.

Below are a few steps you can take to start implementing self-love in your life, whether you have low self-esteem or even too much of it. If you want to improve relationships with those closest to you, then I highly suggest you start here.

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7. Affirm yourself.

A common symptom of low self-worth is constantly seeking affirmation and validation. You don’t believe that the things you do are good enough, so you obsess over seeking compliments from others. What you may not realize is that this really bothers people and can damage your relationships with friends, coworkers or a significant other.

Even if you are doing so with the best of intentions, people will typically view your behavior as “fishing for compliments” in order to suit your ego. That said, you need to take a look at everything you’ve accomplished and give yourself some credit. Otherwise, you can become susceptible (down the road) to social anxieties and even phobias that will make it nearly impossible for you to be assertive.

I know for me, I fear letting pride inhibit my ability to relate and connect genuinely with others. But it’s also important for us to recognize the good we’ve done and let it sink in. Once you start doing this regularly, you’ll find yourself being less reliant on the validation of others.

6. Serve others.

It may seem counterintuitive, but pouring yourself into other people is a form of sharing your love with them. Numerous studies have shown that acts of service and charity benefit the giver more than the receiver, at least in the sense of positive and emotional gains.

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Developing a personality built on service translates to all of our relationships as a result. Being a dependable and giving friend fosters a relationship that is built on goodwill and loyalty. Even gestures in a romantic relationship fit into this paradigm, as they cultivate emotional benefits contributing to a larger motive (such as commitment).

5. Keep your eyes up.

One of the best ways to improve relationships (and communication) is to practice good posture and eye contact. When you slouch and look down, you are subconsciously communicating to yourself (and others) that you are being submissive to them. This is how someone is able to determine instantly whether or not they can a walk all over someone else. The result is that you aren’t respecting yourself, and you’re letting others disrespect you.

Displaying poise and self-discipline will lead to self-respect and confidence. If you start to make a habit out of this attitude, then you will start to build relationships with others that are on equal terms.

4. Exercise and eat healthy.

Love yourself by showing love to your body. Being fit physically makes us fit emotionally, improving our moods alongside our health. Going to the gym and eating right gives us energy and relieves stress. As a result, we feel good about ourselves, and these positive feelings carry over to the people who are around us.

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3. Practice good hygiene.

In case you aren’t doing so already, start taking good care of your hygienic needs. Take showers every day, wash your clothes, iron them, wear deodorant and do all of the things your parents told you to do that you stopped doing when you moved out.

Seriously though, taking care of yourself is a form of natural survival and health, and it makes us more desirable to be around. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re practicing good hygiene, ask someone who will give you an honest and objective opinion. Like your parents!

2. Create something.

Whether you’re a painter, writer, movie director, trapeze artist, construction worker or professional singer, creating something that is wholly yours is self-love. You don’t have to literally create something out of thin air; it’s as easy as doing something you love to do better than everyone else. That sense of accomplishment and pride in your work plays a huge part in personal growth and maturity.

Producing things, whether they be for work or art, shapes into a person who has something valuable to offer to others. As you can imagine, this makes you a person that attracts people.

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It’s difficult to admit, but our relationships with others are conditional to a point. We favor those who enrich our lives. You can be that person if you start putting in the effort necessary to create something no one else has.

1. Be self-aware.

Start looking at yourself as a whole and identify your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. If you happen to have a lot of confidence, you may be inclined to gloss over the things you say and do that alienate others. But if you start to learn more about yourself, such as how you come off to others and what you instinctively say in certain situations, you’ll start to gain a self-awareness that will further your appreciation for yourself, as well as the people around you.

Recognize the things about you that are different and unique. Accept them and consider them a benefit because you are “you” due to these quirks. If you’re a little weird, don’t feel bad about it. Embrace the weirdness.

Self-awareness leads to other strong concepts that facilitate having a “whole” being, such as integrity. Being honest and consistent shows that you love yourself enough to be real with others, and this is easily the best way to avoid needless conflicts that would otherwise inhibit a strong relationship with someone close to you.

To sum up, loving yourself is about accepting who you are and what you can strive to be. You don’t have to be complacent about becoming a better person, but you also don’t have to set unrealistic goals for yourself that will never get done. Once you’re at a place where you love yourself, only then are you ready to start giving everyone else more reasons than ever to love you too.

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Jon Negroni

An author and blogger who shares about lifestyle advice

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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