Self-esteem check 😎 | Issue #7
Your secret weapon to better relationships and a happier life
There's a saying which goes, "The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself." The way you think of yourself and treat yourself has a direct impact on your intimate relationships.
If you want to show your partner love, kindness, and respect, you first need to cultivate these feelings toward your persona. In other words, you need to build your self-esteem.
In honor of St. Valentine's day, let's explore:
the relationship between self-esteem and love
how poor self-esteem can undermine your intimate life without you even realizing it
what yoga pose to do to instantly pick yourself up
a simple daily practice to nourish self-acceptance and grow stronger.
🧘 Focus Pose
The mind-body connection is real, and it's no news that our emotional state shows in our body language.
Remember the last time you felt vulnerable or shy?
You probably wanted to curl into a little ball with your shoulders hunched over and your arms crossed at your chest.
What about feeling at-ease and confident? – Totally different story.
But guess what. This relationship is not one-sided.
Science says that our body language can also influence our emotional state.
When 80 students were asked to perform 8 different expansive and constricted poses (such as High Mountain vs. Eagle), most of them reported increased confidence and a sense of empowerment in as short as 2 minutes.
So whenever you're suffering from bouts of self-doubt, try holding Warrior I for two minutes.
Not only will it make you proud of yourself - let's face it, Warrior I is a real challenge! - but also it will make you feel as if you have brand new hips and shoulders.
Prep & How-To:
Step 1. Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lie on your back with your legs straight (you can also bend your knees if that feels more comfortable).
Breathe out and gently draw the right knee to the chest. Keep your elbows close to the sides.
Hold for one breath.
Straighten your right leg up to the sky, foot flexed. Use your hands as leverage by placing them wherever you can reach - back of the right thigh, shin, ankle, or maybe even your toes.
Keep your lower back on the mat and avoid rolling with your pelvis on one side.
If you have one available, use a strap or belt around the bottom of your foot for extra comfort.
Hold for three breaths and switch sides.
Step 2. Hero w/ Cow Face Arms
Kneel on the mat with your knees touching and the tops of the feet flat on the floor.
Without moving your knees, widen your feet so that they are about hip-distance apart.
Exhale and lower your buttocks between your heels.
Press into the tops of your feet and draw your chest open.
Raise your right arm towards the sky, palm facing back.
Bend your right arm down as you wrap your left arm behind you and reach for the right hand.
Clasp your palms together.
Inhale and lengthen your spine.
Hold a yoga strap between your hands if you have tight shoulders. It will help you connect the hands together behind your back.
Hold for three breaths and switch the clasp of the hands.
To release, come into the Tabletop position and alternate between stretching your legs back behind you.
Step 3. Runner’s Lunge Variation
From the Tabletop position, step the foot forward in-between your hands with your right knee positioned more or less over the right ankle.
Lift your back knee off the mat, straightening the back leg.
Engage your core muscles, drawing the belly up and in on every exhale.
Keep your hips square, and imagine that you're trying to scissor the front and back foot together.
Gaze forward between your palms.
Rather than relying on the strength of your arms, lift on your fingertips and root through your front and back feet.
Stay here for a breath.
For an additional challenge, extend your arms forward in line with your spine, fingers spread wide, and palms facing inward. You can also alternate between lifting one arm at a time.
Hold for three breaths and switch sides.
Step 4. Warrior I
Start in a standing position, feet hip-distance apart, hands on your hips.
Step your left foot back at about 45/60-degree angle.
Keep the staggered stance - this will help you keep the hips square.
Firmly anchor through the arch of your back foot.
Engage your belly by drawing it up and in on an exhale.
Start to slowly bend your front knee into Lunge. Your right thigh doesn't necessarily need to get parallel to the floor.
Left your arms up and overhead, keeping the shoulders relaxed. Move your torso slightly in front of the hips to protect your lower back.
Hold for three breaths and switch sides.
🧠 Brain Food
Self-esteem is not a gift of nature. It's the achievement, the result of hard work, meaning that self-esteem can be built and improved.
Nathaniel Branden, a psychotherapist and an author of the book Six Pillars of Self-Esteem believes self-esteem is a fundamental human need.
When we lack self-esteem, we won't necessarily die like we would from the lack of food or water, but we are impaired in our ability to function.
"To trust one's mind and to know that one is worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem." - Nathaniel Branden from the book Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.
Our self-esteem impacts every aspect of our life. From how we operate in the workplace and what we can achieve in personal and professional settings to how we deal with people and who we are going to fall in love with.
It works as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you believe in your right to be happy, you will be. If not, you'll find thousands of reasons to stay miserable.
This is especially vivid in the area of love and intimate relationships.
If you feel lovable and enjoy the sense of self-worth and efficacy, you'll choose a mate that supports this image. What's more, you'll have the energy to appreciate being loved and to love back.
"If my aim is to prove I am "enough," the project goes on to infinity - because the battle was already lost on the day I conceded the issue was debatable." - Nathaniel Branden from the book Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.
But if you lack respect toward yourself, you have very little to give - except your unfulfilled needs.
When you think of yourself as undeserving of love or doomed for pain, you behave in a way to make reality conform with your thinking.
In other words, you'll be self-sabotaging your happiness.
By always picking "the wrong person" - someone who will inevitably reject you or by behaving irrationally, such as seeking control of your partner or demanding excessive reassurances of love.
As Nathaniel Branden says, "the first love affair we must consummate successfully is with ourselves."
Unless we accept our body and our sexuality, learn to come to terms with our feelings, and attain a mature degree of autonomy, we'll overburden our relationships with unrealistic demands - "such as to create (rather than express) our self-esteem and our happiness."
Accepting your body is one of the first steps toward healthy self-esteem. Because how else can you start loving yourself while rejecting your physical being?
Try this simple exercise by Nathaniel Brandon to develop body self-acceptance. Do it daily for at least two weeks. You can also journal your thoughts every day to track your self-acceptance progress at the end.
Stand in front of a full-length mirror and look at your face and body. Notice your feelings as you do so.
Focus not on your clothes or your makeup but on you. It's even better to do this exercise naked.
Notice if this is difficult or makes you uncomfortable. If you're like most people, you'll probably find some parts hard to look at for long because they agitate or displease you.
You may find yourself protesting, "But I don't like certain things about my body, so how can I accept them unreservedly and completely?" But remember: "Accepting" does not necessarily mean "liking."
If you persist, if you surrender to the reality of what is, if you surrender to awareness (which is what "accepting" ultimately means), you may notice that you have begun to relax a bit and perhaps feel more comfortable with yourself and more real.
Only by having respect toward reality as it is, you have the power to change things you don't like.
And for those things that you cannot change, when you accept them rather than criticize, you grow stronger and more centered.
Got any questions, suggestions, or feedback? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.