Hi! Happy New Year!
Below is my recent article published in Elephant Journal. Wishing you all joy and love for 2019.
For many years of my life I had extremely low self-esteem without any awareness around it. If someone had asked me at the time, I would probably have said that I have high self-esteem.
The truth is that I had poor boundaries, was afraid to say no, gave too much of myself too soon, accepted crumbs, and made what others said about me a fact.
As women, we have a tendency to internalize what others say about us. We are often taught growing up to just go along, don’t make a fuss, and put our feelings aside.
This then negatively impacts our ability to maintain our personal boundaries and to say no to what we don’t want.
We are often taught early on that we can’t say no because it will hurt someone’s feelings. We start to learn we should put others’ feelings ahead of our own.
As I was on my own healing journey I started to become painfully aware of this in my own life. I had a relationship pattern with my partner that showed me very clearly that I was not a woman with high self-esteem.
My thoughts would go to what he may feel, trumping any reflection on how I was feeling and needing. I was overly concerned with others’ emotional state.
If someone was in a bad mood, I made it myfault or something about me. If someone seemed irritable or short with me, I unconsciously made myself bad or wrong. I often labeled myself and my behaviors as annoying, unlovable, overbearing, and unworthy. Since this is what I was telling myself on a subconscious level, it played out in many areas of my life.
I didn’t know that if I learned how to value and respect myself, others would better see myvalue too. I thought for many years it was the other way around: once others valued and respected me, I would too. I didn’t understand that, by putting my feelings first, others would better respect my boundaries. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t my responsibility to own the emotions others may experience as a result of enforcing my boundaries. I didn’t know that what I felt mattered, let alone that this would free me from the dependency I had on what others did or didn’t do to make themselves feel okay.
The thoughts we choose to think matter. We are energy, and if our energy is negative and not in alignment with our authentic self, we are going to feel heavy, negative, and at a low vibrational level. I am not an advocate for forcing positive thinking in a way where we are telling ourselves everything is just great while feeling anything but great on the inside! This is about starting to bring awareness to what we say about ourselves and how much we allow others to determine our self-worth.
This is about allowing emotions to come to the surface so that they can heal. This is about learning to tap into how we feel and to work through our own fears and discomfort around saying no. Lastly, this is about taking accountability for our own happiness.
All of those items were challenging for me. I used to have so much fear come up around setting boundaries and saying no, especially with men. If a man I cared about asked something of me, I felt like I had to say yes because if I said no, they would go away or start to feel like I wasn’t worth being with.
This was my inner story. I didn’t know that it actually works the exact opposite. I never connected that the men I wasn’t interested in did not give up easily. They worked really hard to win me over and get my attention! Because I couldn’t see my own value, I felt like I had to always be in a position of agreement so as to not rock the boat or I would lose the love and intimacy I wanted. I didn’t realize that this was making me a doormat and my partner saw that they had a hold over me that killed the attraction.
There was this unspoken energy of fear they would leave, and this energy was palpable. This fear of course would eventually lead to them leaving or pulling away. When we put that sense of obligation on our partner or potential partner, they suddenly have a lot less to give.
I have learned that a high quality man does not want a woman who can’t say no.
They want a woman who knows her worth and isn’t afraid to lose them by honoring it.
It conveys an energy of choice and freedom. This is a woman who is confident and loves herself! This also opens up the heart in a way where love just continues to expand.
This is because there is no dependency around it.
Sex is a great example of having boundaries in a relationship. So often we can feel pressure to have sex before ready out of fear of “losing” someone. We may start to put how this may make him feel over our own boundaries. We tell ourselves it’s okay because we don’t want to lose him or hurt his feelings. We rationalize and dismiss our feelings as not being valid or as important as his. As we learn to put our feelings first, we make decisions based off what is right for us, vs. a fear of how our partner may react or feel as a result of our boundary.
Putting our feelings first is what attracts a high quality partner to us.
This is attractive. The ability to do this begins with learning to live inside of ourselves rather than making decisions based on what our partner may think or feel.
As I started to bring awareness to situations where I was in someone else’s head vs. myown, I started to learn boundaries.
When I learned to let go of what others’ needs were and focus on my own needs, I started to take action based on how I felt and what I needed. I spoke my boundaries respectfully.
I continued to put my own feelings and needs first even when it felt strange or selfish.
I realized that making myself “selfish” forhaving boundaries was a story I told myself out of fear, and I had to push through some of the discomfort to reestablish my sense of self.
The more I practiced saying no to what I didn’t want and staying in my own head after doing so, the more my self-worth increased. I felt less fear; I felt more alive and worthy ofeverything I wanted. I realized that the voice offear was just that: a habitual voice, not something should be guiding me or leading mydecisions!
Once I developed this awareness and continued to practice it, everything changed. I went from taking crumbs to being treated with so much love and respect my heart felt like it would burst. This was because I finally decided I deserved it, and I was no longer afraid to say no to what wasn’t right for me.
Setting boundaries is a huge step in reclaiming self-worth and becoming a high value woman. Putting our feelings first is respected and valued by our partner.
Being a doormat or going along to get along will never get us what we want.