Self-Esteem and Friendships: How Self-Esteem Influences the Kinds of Friends We Have & the Kind of Friend We Are

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I just finished reading this article about the different kinds of friendships and friendship break-ups. I related to so many of the examples of both the friendships and the breakup’s and it got me reflecting on the role self-esteem and self-worth play in our friendships.

Self-Worth and The Kind of Friend We Are

There is a direct connection between the kind of friend we are, and our self-worth.

In Brené Brown’s work, she speaks about how feeling “worth-it” influences on our ability to have fulfilling relationships. While self-worth definitely relates to what we get out of our relationships, it addresses what we are able to give to our friendships as well.

I like to picture friendships, and all relationships,  as a game of catch. They involve give and take, back and forth, talking and listening to keep the ball in play; the rally is what makes the game enjoyable.  Just like in a game of catch, if one person hog’s the ball, never throws it back, drops it often, or steals the ball and sits on it- the game, or friendship, becomes boring and falls apart. Our ability to play the game, get a rally going, give and receive comes from our self-worth.

When we feel worth-it we

  • Become genuinely curious about our friends lives
  • Participate in the friendship because we want to, not because we have to, or because we need something from it
  • Are able to notice what our friends bring to the friendship, instead of focusing on what they don’t
  • Are more able to open up, be vulnerable, and share our authentic selves with our friends which creates a deeper connection
  • Enjoy the “game of catch” instead of needing to control it or fix it
  • Welcome other “players” or people into our game without hesitation
  • Want to see our friends win & celebrate their victories without jealousy
  • Add to the conversation, and relationship, instead of sitting on the sidelines or steamrolling it

Self-Esteem and the Kinds of Friends We Have

Self-Esteem also directly relates to the friends we have in our live in numerous ways.

My mentor likes to say, “The only people that will be annoyed that you can’t be manipulated, are people trying to manipulate you.” I love the simplicity of this statement, and the truth behind it! Have you ever noticed, as we become stronger in who we are, the people we are friends with change too?

When we know ourselves better and pay attention to our intuition we…

  • Are better able to tell if someone is interested in getting a rally going or not
  • Are more skilled at detecting one-sided, needy, or untrustworthy people
  • Put up with less negative treatment from others
  • Are aware of, and able to say up front, what we want/need in a friendship
  • Expect better treatment from others
  • Communicate better and more clearly
  • Notice when/if they do treat us poorly & stand up for ourselves
  • Attract people who are in a more positive place

The Moral?

These list could go on and on, but both boil down to one thing- working on ourselves, developing our core-self, and uncovering our self-worth benefits our relationships and ourselves!

The next time you are feeling down about a friendship(s), considering a friendship breakup, or being dumped by a friend turn your focus inward.  Don’t get caught up in the panic, fighting, or telling the story over and over an over.  Instead, use it as an opportunity for growth by asking yourself these questions.

  1. How do I physically feel when I am with this person?
  2. Do I like how I physically feel when I am with this person?
  3. What attracted me to this friendship in the first place?
  4. Am I getting that from this friendship?
  5. Does my friend know what I want, need, hope for from this relationship?
  6. What do they want, need, hope for in a relationship

It doesn’t matter what the answers are to these questions.  The act of asking them, and finding the answers is already strengthening your self-esteem!

How Self-Esteem Helped Me Play Hooky

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On Friday I played hooky.

On Friday, because of my self-esteem, I played hooky and loved every minute of it!

The connection Between Self-esteem & Playing Hooky

Believe it or not, there is a huge connection between my self-esteem and playing hooky on Friday afternoon.

One Friday every month I attend my favorite training.  It’s 3 hours long.  It’s incredibly informative, helpful, inspiring and I normally look forward to it all month.  However, the past 2 months this training has fallen on a Friday in a week that I’ve just gotten home from a long family trip as it did this past Friday.

This week as I tried to get ready for this Friday afternoon training, I just wasn’t into it.  Even more than not being into it, I was feeling downright yucky.  It was my self-esteem that helped me realize I wasn’t sick, I just needed to play hooky.

Here’s How

Self-Esteem is a combination of knowing who we are, listening to our gut level responses, and believing we are worth-it.

Knowing who we are is about knowing as much as we can about ourselves.  Knowing every single little detail about us, and what makes us who we are.  This comes from paying attention to and working to learn everything about what makes us tick.  For example, knowing our strengths, weaknesses, wants, personalities, likes, dislikes, how we recover from things, what will tax us, what will fill us up, how we make decisions, what it feels like when we trust someone, what it feels like when we can’t trust someone, what we need to stay balanced.  The list could go on and on.

Listening to our gut level responses is such an important part of self-esteem!  I like to call this our visceral response to things.  By this I mean our physical sensations, gut level feelings, intuitions, and all those non-verbal things you can’t quite explain.  These messages, have SO MUCH information for us.  Paying attention to these responses not only keeps us safe but it also let’s us honor what we need in a particular moment.

Believing we are worth-it comes from paying attention to the above two and following through with their wants.  Self-Worth doesn’t just magically happen; and we can’t wish it into existence.  We have to work for it, by paying attention to ourselves, and noticing how we respond, feel, and perform when we do listen to ourselves and when we don’t.

When we actually pay attention to ourselves, what feels right for us, and use this information as part of our decision making we discover we have more clarity, power, and know-how then we ever realized. We begin to see and feel our self-worth.

So, How Did Self-Esteem Equal Playing Hooky?

Here’s what I know about myself:  I am an introvert.  I love people, socializing, chatting, talking, getting to know people, and helping my clients get to better know themselves.  However, in order to enjoy these things, I need some “me time” or “quiet time” each week.  Without that down time, my interactions feel more forced, like “have to’s” instead of “want to’s.”

The family trip we took the week before this training, while wonderful, did not allow me the “me time” I need to recharge my batteries and look forward to this highly social training.  I knew, because I know myself and what re-energizes me, that I was way overdue for some “me time.”

When I listened to my gut it was screaming. I was irritable; annoyed with things I usually love; feeling extremely anxious, which for me is out of the normal; had a stomach ache yet couldn’t sit still; and I was feeling like I “had to” attend the training.  Again, out of the normal for me as I was looking forward to this training all month.

Now, I have learned from experience that when I feel this annoyed and this yucky it means I need to check in with myself.  As I got quiet and listened to myself, and to what my body was telling me I knew what I needed to do in order to feel better.   I needed to put myself first, and give myself some “me time.”  So, I decided to take the afternoon off.

Listening to myself, and making this decision to play hooky, made me feel worth-it!

Why This is Self-Esteem

Even though I missed last month’s training.  Even though I know the trainer would be disappointed.  Even though I’d miss out on seeing the other members of my little group.  Even though I might have to take some sh*t next month.  Even though I had to make an uncomfortable phone call to say I wasn’t coming…. I took the afternoon off because it was what I needed.

Whenever I listen to myself, and give myself what I need, I feel worth-it.

When I feel worth-it, it’s easier to listen to myself, take care of myself, and enjoy my relationships with other people.

This decision wasn’t about avoiding responsibilities or people.  It wasn’t about being too nervous to leave the house or fearing an anxiety attack.  It wasn’t even about blowing anyone off, or disappointing the trainer (which I am sorry I did), or getting out of work.

This decision was about me listening to me.  Me knowing who I am and what I need.  Me taking care of myself, not the trainer or my group or anyone else… just me.

For me, playing hooky was just what I needed.  For me, playing hooky strengthened my self-worth and my understanding of me.

This is Self-Esteem.  This is Self-Worth.

What things do you know about yourself?  What’s your gut telling you?  Are you listening to these things?

(BTW, even though I didn’t attend the monthly training, I still payed for it.  Asking my trainer to take a financial hit at the last minute would not have been respectful to her.  Putting me first, does not mean ignoring or running over other people to do so.)

Self-Esteem: What Does it Look Like?

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I had a professor in Graduate school that called the love, support, nurture, guidance and structure we get from our parents “bubble wrap.”  The more of these things you got as a child, the more bubble wrap you have as an adult, which means just like a well packed wine glass on moving day, you’ve got more protection through life’s bumps.  I’ve always loved this imagery.

Over the years I’ve tried to come up with an equally elegant and correct representation of what self-esteem is for us. Here’s what I’ve decided: Self-Esteem is like those big, plastic, water-filled barrels that they carry in The World’s Strongest Men competitions, only it’s not around us or external to us like bubble wrap, it is our core.

Yep, I said it; Self-Esteem is a plastic water-filled barrel in our core.  Here’s how….

Self-Esteem so often gets incorrectly defined as “the way we think about ourselves;” that if we think we are pretty, successful, skinny, worthy, then we have high self-esteem.

In reality, self-esteem is having a Core-Self; a strong and flexible sense of self, confidence in our coping skills, and a solid grounded awareness of who we are.  Self-Esteem is knowing, not thinking, that we are unshakable, difficult to knock down, resilient, yet moveable just like those Big Plastic Water-Filled Barrels on The World’s Strongest Man!

The Big Plastic Water-Filled Break-Down

Big

We want our core-self to be big; after all it’s our foundation. Like building anything, the bigger, stronger and broader the foundation the more stable the object.  If our core-self takes up our whole torso for example, versus just a walnut sized place in our stomach, we have more strength, more staying power, more durability, and more support.

We want our self-esteem to be big enough to handle whatever is thrown at us and to be able to keep us grounded and balanced and not easily tipped over.   Just like those plastic barrels on the WSM Competitions, we want people to have to work to shake us and have a grueling time knocking us over!

Plastic

We want our core-selves to be plastic because so they are resilient.  Struggle is how we grow.  Struggle can’t always be avoided.  So, we want to be able to take few hits and go through some of life’s ups and downs without being left with permanent dents or scars.  We want to be like the super handy plastic bumper of a car that can absorb impact without being derailed, damaged, or dented.

Water-Filled

We want our core-selves to be water-filled because we want to be able to move.  Self-Esteem comes from a solid and flexible core-self; awkwardness, insecurity and limitations come from a solid and rigid core.

We want to be solid and be able to move, so we can grow.  So we can become the people we want to be.  So we can try new things, have new adventures, roll with the punches, and experience movement, not stagnation, in life.   This way, when life does knock us down, we can still roll and move forward instead of shattering, or getting stuck, like stone.

A Barrel

Finally, we want our core-self to be a barrel so that it has volume, and we can adjust its fullness.  Simply put, we want to have control over what stays with us, and what we let go of.  We want to be able to keep the good, release the bad, and sometimes drain the whole darn thing and start fresh!

The Strength in Self-Esteem

Now, I’ll give ya, the bubble wrap around a wine glass may be prettier than my big plastic water-filled barrel Self-Esteem but I love the strength that this image illustrates about self-esteem.  And really, that’s the whole point of self-esteem!

Self-Esteem not dainty, wimpy, unsure, or passive.  Much like the World’s Strongest Men competitors, our goal is to have our core-selves to be burly and sturdy and powerful.  We do this by pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone and learning to celebrate and look forward to the struggle, just like the WSM competitor’s do in their training.  I guarantee you they don’t become World’s Strongest Men by just thinking about it {wink}!