NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Is Your Relationship Damaging Your Self Esteem? Part 2: Helpful Tips

In Part 1 of  Is Your Relationship Damaging Your Self Esteem?, I discussed the negative impact on self esteem where there is criticism, frequent put downs, and a lack of empathy.

In Part 2 of this article, I'll provide some tips on what you can do if you think you're in a relationship that is damaging your self esteem.

Is Your Relationship Damaging Your Self Esteem?

While it's true that your self esteem shouldn't be dependent upon your relationship (or whether you're in a relationship), being in a relationship with someone who is undermining you in various ways can have a negative impact on your self esteem, and you might not even realize it.

First , let's take a look at some of the signs that your relationship could be undermining your self esteem:

Does your spouse or partner:
  • constantly criticize you?
  • put you down?
  • call you names?
  • never compliment you?
  • make derogatory remarks about you in front of others?
  • lack empathy for a difficult situation that you're going through?
  • tell you how much s/he preferred other relationships before your relationship?
  • constantly put you last?
  • seem disinterested in you?
  • behave in a way that isn't emotionally supportive most of the time?
These are just some of the signs that your spouse or partner is undermining you and could be having a negative impact on your self esteem.

Any relationship can have some of these elements at various times, but if there is a pattern of some or all of these dynamics, this is a troubling sign.


Ask Yourself What Your Part in This Dynamic Might Be
After you've identified the particular patterns in your relationship, before you confront your partner, ask yourself what your contribution to the dynamic might be.

Be honest with yourself.  It's always easier to blame the other person, but if you're honest with yourself, you might discover that you're contributing to this unhealthy dynamic.

If, for example, you think about it and you realize that you've also been critical and engage in put downs, think about how this is affecting your relationship.  Before you ask your partner to change his or her behavior, think about how can you change your own behavior.

Stop Engaging in the Blame Game
Getting caught in a stalemate about whose fault it is that your relationship is in trouble won't solve your problems.

Since you can't change anyone else, admit your own mistakes and make commitment to change.

See my article:  Relationships: Moving Beyond the "Blame Game" for some tips on this particular dynamic.

Communicate With Your Partner in a Tactful Way and Learn to Listen
As difficult as this might seem, your partner might not even realize that s/he is being critical or having a negative impact on your self esteem.  Maybe s/he grew up in a household where family members were constantly putting each other down, so it has become the norm for him or her to communicate in this way.

Communicating with your partner in a tactful way and starting by admitting to your contribution to this negative dynamic could go a long way to helping your partner to open up to look at his or her own problems.

Communicate With Your Partner in a Tactful Way and Learn to Listen

A tactful way of communicating includes speaking from your own experience rather than being accusatory.  An accusatory tone will only put your partner on the defensive and you'll get nowhere.

Be specific, give examples and talk about how this dynamic is affecting you and the effect on the relationship.

Learn to listen, even if your first impulse is to shutdown.  You might learn something about how you're coming across that you need to change.

If the conversation gets too heated and leads to one or both of you hurling accusations at one each, take a "time out" to calm down and regroup.  Then, resume the conversation when you're both calmer.

Getting Help in Therapy
It can be difficult to work out this type of issue on their own, especially if this negative dynamic has been going on for a while.  Ingrained habits are often hard to change.

If you find that the two of you are unable to make changes in your relationship, you could benefit from attending couples counseling with a licensed mental health professional who has expertise in helping couples to work out their problems.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.