Want Better Relationships? Seek Out Those with Low Self-Esteem
In many instances, like seeks like. The people you choose to surround yourself with often reflect the way you see yourself. If you have low self-esteem, the chances are pretty good that those in your social circle also don’t feel so fantastic about themselves. Or perhaps your self-esteem is so low that you don’t have any real friendships or meaningful relationships to speak of. Maybe you’re afraid to venture out into new social environments because you fear rejection or criticism. If you want to improve your relationships and take steps toward cultivating more meaningful interactions with others, you might think seeking out people who have low self-esteem is counter-intuitive. After all, if you have low self-esteem, surrounding yourself with people who also feel poorly about themselves should logically make you feel even worse, right? When you seek out those relationships with the wrong mindset, then yes, you probably will end up getting together with your new friends and throwing self-pity parties on a regular basis. But if you can view this process as a learning experience, those relationships might actually end up being quite rewarding. By using others as a mirror, you can identify the triggers for your own low self-esteem and begin to feel an improved sense of self-worth.
Identify Your Self-Esteem Triggers
When you have low self-esteem, it can seem like it’s easier — at least on the surface — to have relationships with people who feel good about themselves. You might subconsciously start to leech off of the good feelings of others in an attempt to make yourself feel better. And that might last for a little while, until your feelings of inferiority arise. You might start comparing yourself to your new friends and end up feeling even worse. The trick is to learn to separate yourself from the world around you. In an ideal scenario, their self-esteem — high or low — shouldn’t have any impact on you at all. Develop healthy boundaries — relationships with people who have low self-esteem are ideal for learning this lesson as they may become codependent on you or try to keep you down in the dumps. You’ll need to develop healthy self-esteem to set proper limits and to avoid becoming engulfed by their needs.
Work on Early Childhood Issues
Remember that the goal of relationships isn’t to make you feel better about yourself — relationships are about enjoying each other’s company and experiencing and sharing life together. If you have the fantasy that friends or romantic partners are going to magically “fix” your problems, you, like many others, are probably dealing with issues of rejection from your parents or other early childhood relationships. People with low self-esteem can be the perfect mirrors for helping you identify issues from your past. For example, you might find yourself repeating old, unhealthy patterns of unworthiness or self-criticism in your new relationships. Inevitably, you’re going to have to develop insight into these issues if you expect to grow and develop healthier levels of self-worth. Psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication can be helpful in terms of helping you reach a place where you can start to work on improving your self-esteem.
Don’t Take it Personally
It can be tricky to not fall into a pit of negativity with friends who have low self-esteem. If they start to judge you or act critically toward themselves, you might automatically jump on their bandwagon and start bashing yourself — figuratively speaking –into the ground. A more evolved way to approach these relationships is to start thinking about yourself. Realize that the way they feel about themselves has nothing to do with you. Try to change the situation into an experience for growth and development. Use these relationships as a way to help you identify your own internal issues and negative self-talk. For example, start thinking about whether there are things you strongly dislike about your new friends or relationships. Often, the things we like least in others are the things we like least in ourselves. View these relationships as vehicles to start the process of self-examination and to help repair and rebuild your self-esteem.