The Relationship Between Infidelity and Low Self-Esteem
Self-esteem plays a large role in how we relate to others. From an early age, we’re taught to seek approval from our parents through our behaviors and achievements. As adults, we continue to pursue validation from friends, family, and other members of society. In doing so, we place our value in their hands and judge ourselves harshly when we don’t earn their approval. This pattern will often define our relationship to our significant others. From the moment we meet, we ask ourselves, “do they like me?” This question indicates a lack of self-esteem, and highlights the way we value the opinion of others above our own. However, when we marry, we enter into a union that we believe is unconditional and judgment-free. Instead of second guessing our worth, we assume that our significant other will accept us as we are, and encourage us to appreciate our inner value. Because of this expectation, which is contrary to the attention-seeking behavior that has been ingrained in us since childhood, infidelity can be an incomparable and crippling blow to our self-esteem.
Playing the Blame Game
When we experience a traumatic and shocking event like infidelity, our first instinct is to blame ourselves. There is often no concrete or tangible reason why our significant other committed infidelity. We live in a world where bad things can happen, and it is impossible to control every negative situation we encounter. However, we have a tendency to take negative comments or bad situations personally – and judge ourselves harshly when life doesn’t go according to plan. Based upon a lifetime of conditioning, victims of infidelity will understandably internalize their spouse’s actions and find ways to blame and devalue themselves. It is common for someone who has experienced infidelity to question whether or not they are attractive, smart, or desirable. Rather than recognizing and appreciating their value, they will often tell themselves that if they had done something differently their significant other would not have cheated.
Your Reaction Matters
This mindset is detrimental to our self-esteem. The way we react to infidelity can create undue levels of stress, anxiety, and worthlessness. When we blame ourselves for our spouse’s mistakes – mistakes that we cannot control – we are choosing to believe that we are not valuable. However, our attitude and reactions to the negativity that will inevitably surface throughout our lives, has a significant impact on our emotions. It is important to understand that many of life’s hardships are out of your control, and that as a result, you cannot judge yourself for every bad situation that comes your way. When you learn to accept life on its own terms – and take the good with the bad – you also learn that the power to determine your value is rooted in your own perception of your worth.
The Value of High Self-Esteem
When you stop allowing the judgment of others to determine your worth, you are choosing to find value in yourself. Recognizing your inner value will boost your self-esteem to new heights – because rather than seek approval and validation from others, you will understand your power to determine and control your worth. Having high self-esteem will arm you with the confidence you need to approach life’s challenges with ease. Bad situations may make you feel sad (we are only human, after all), but they will no longer control you.