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Anne-France Huret, a psychologist who specialises in family and couple therapy, has some words of advice on making the transition from emotional dependence on the object of your affections (the intense “us” experienced at the start) to emotional independence; the “me / myself / I” which is more fulfilling in the long term. It’s a process with several stages, but working on your self-esteem is the most important of these. Emotional dependence is often just a reflection of low self-esteem. So, to love somebody without being dependent on them, you must first love yourself.
Self-esteem means making a positive assessment of yourself, of who you are and of what you’re worth. It changes during your life depending on the circumstances you find yourself in and the people around you. When things are good, we feel encouraged and our self-esteem is enhanced. The result is that we are better equipped to achieve our goals.
Enhanced self-esteem allows us to tackle our fears, and change our negative thought patterns (the false beliefs that we have about ourselves and about other people). This lets us understand and accept the ways in which people differ.
Here are some tips from Anne-France Huret for boosting your self-esteem:
- Don’t compare yourself with others; everybody is individual and unique.
- Don’t let negative comments get you down, particularly when they come from people who don’t know you well. Pay attention to constructive criticism, and disregard the rest.
- Self-esteem is not arrogance, even if, with some people, it soon crosses the boundary line. To start with, aim for moderation.
- Learn to identify your fears and your errors, and tackle them head-on.
- Learn how to say “no”, and don’t be afraid to give your opinion and say what you want, without upsetting the person you’re talking to.
This quest is a long haul, but it’s possible for everybody.
It leads us, each in his or her own way, to switch off many of our unconscious reactions, and to achieve not only peace of mind but also a state of “emotional independence” which allows us to love without being neurotically attached, and to be loved for who we really are.
It’s worth it.