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Category Archives: self esteem

Lonnette Harrell

In this competitive world we live in, there are so many ways to feel inadequate. Images from magazines, television, and movies, tell us that our teeth have to be bright white, our bodies have to be pencil thin, our clothes have to be designer chic, our skin has to be flawless, and our hair has to be luxuriously thick and shiny. Anything less than perfect is not good enough. We often compare ourselves to others, and feel that we just don’t measure up, and that is when feelings of jealousy overtake us.

In order to feel truly secure in a relationship, we must, first of all, feel good about ourselves. Feeling confident from within, allows us to project a positive image to others. It is important to really like ourselves, and to be able to recognize the talents and abilities we have been given, that make us unique. Beauty is so much more than a pretty face. 

So often it is our own insecurities and fears that make us jealous. This generally goes back to what we’ve experienced earlier in life. Were the people in our life dependable? Did mom and dad fight a lot, or leave each other? Was a former girlfriend or boyfriend unfaithful? Do we fear losing those we love? Do we lack self-esteem? Sometimes the problem may come from within, rather than from the other person. We need to try and determine why we feel threatened.

Jealousy is the fear of losing love. Are you fearful? Are you angry? Why? When you can identify the reasons, then you can begin to work on solutions. If prior life experiences have left you afraid of rejection or abandonment, you need to find healing. Counseling may be a solution, because often jealousy is a way to protect yourself from further pain and disappointment.

Being able to communicate freely with your partner is also a way to overcome jealousy. If something bothers you, don’t simmer about it; talk about it. Sometimes it is good to say, “When you do so and so, it makes me feel uncomfortable.” Initially, admitting your feelings may make you feel vulnerable, but if your loved one really cares, they will listen and respond. It helps to say,”How would you feel if you were in my place and this happened?”

Sometimes, just being able to switch places for a moment, makes the other person understand why you are feeling jealous. Calmly discussing your feelings will achieve greater results than all the whining, nagging, accusations, and questioning ever could. Many times jealousy is the result of an overactive imagination or incorrect beliefs.

Create boundaries within the relationship. Decide together what you feel is appropriate behavior, and what is inappropriate. Is lunch with a business partner of the opposite sex admissible? What about dinner? How demonstrative should you be when greeting a friend, or saying goodbye? Is flirting okay, or does it create tension in the relationship? Should you have close friends of the opposite sex? These things should be negotiated together, and one person should not be trying to control the other. This can lead to irrational demands and restrictions. Excessive, unreasonable suspicion can devastate a relationship.

It’s very important to maintain your individuality. Sometimes it’s easy to become obsessive in love, not allowing each other enough space to breathe. Times of separation can enhance a relationship. No one can have all of their needs met by one person. Being together 24/7 does not allow time to develop individual interests, hobbies or friends. Don’t cling too tightly. You will be even more attractive to each other, if your interests are varied. But be considerate within this freedom. It is not an excuse to betray the trust that you have built together.

Game playing is out. Trying to make each other jealous is destructive and childish, and can often result in deep hurts that are not easily forgotten. Try to do everything in your power to make your partner feel valued and cherished. Reassure them when something may have caused concern. Be accountable when you are out of town, or out with your friends.

Don’t share personal details about your relationship with coworkers or friends. Revealing too much about yourself suggests a familiarity that can be misinterpreted. For some, this can lead to emotional infidelity, and is a betrayal of the closeness that only you and your significant other should be experiencing.

If your commitment to each other is genuine, honor it at all times. If someone seems to be blatantly making a move on you, let that person know that you are in a serious relationship. Don’t feed your ego (or theirs) by encouraging the attention.

Realize that every relationship will be tested. Things will not always be at a romantic peak day in and day out. But love and trust will carry you through many storms. Being a friend is just as important as being a lover. Demonstrating faithfulness and loyalty will sustain the closeness, even in times of fading passion.

It takes time to develop the trust and good communication that leads to true intimacy. Jealousy stalks each of us. But the solution to overcoming it is found by taking control of the raging emotions, calmly talking things over, establishing boundaries, getting in touch with our own insecurities and fears, and recognizing our immense self-worth.

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There’s an old children’s saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” If only that were true, but it’s a fable that needs to be laid to rest. Words can hurt a lot more than sticks and stones. They may not break bones, but they can surely break hearts. Words can devastate. Words can wound; words can kill. Words can ruin reputations and destroy relationships. There’s just no doubt about it-words hurt.

Judging, cruel, venomous, and hateful words are verbal abuse at its worst. They leave long lasting emotional cuts and bruises. When someone hurts us, we play the tape over and over. No matter how many times we try to dismiss the hurtful tirade, sometimes those words are with us forever. There may be words from your childhood that you still can’t escape. Stupid. Fatso. Ugly. Lazy. Crybaby. Dummy. Loser. Moron. Sissy. Chicken. And on and on. It starts with one word when we’re young, but as we grow, the hurtful sentiments become phrases and even paragraphs. If we don’t find a way to heal, they can cause lasting, permanent damage.

Some people are so angry and bitter that they are ready to strike out at everyone. Their words are a reflection of their souls.  The tongue only speaks what comes from the heart. Often they are angry, bitter, resentful people who want everyone to be as miserable as they are. They need healing and deliverance.  And they need to understand that so called “honesty” is never an excuse for rudeness or cruelty. 

I have felt my heart physically ache from the pain of hurtful words. I have cried myself to sleep when words have wounded me deeply. A broken spirit is much harder to heal than a broken bone.

Even strong people will often collapse under the continual verbal attack of someone who really wants to wound them. Proverbs 11: 9 says, “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys a neighbor.” Proverbs 12:18 reminds us, “Reckless words pierce like a sword…” Put-downs are designed to gain control over someone else. (Hence, a lot of the “bullying” that children face in school and elsewhere.) When the person is confronted for their inappropriate actions, and not allowed to be in control, they get even nastier. 

If someone continues to treat us with cruelty and disrespect, it is time to consider distancing ourselves from them. They are detrimental to our self-esteem, and quite frankly, we just don’t need those kind of people in our lives. It’s important to have boundaries, and to know your limits as to what you will allow.

Those closest to us have an extra advantage when it comes to wounding, because they know our vulnerabilities, and we care what they think of us. A few well chosen words can annihilate. When they use intimate knowledge of our weaknesses, it is the worst kind of betrayal.

Words are responsible for wars, and the end of friendships. Even the tone of the words can determine the meaning.

It may be one remark, thoughtlessly tossed our way, but it impacts our future happiness, because we just can’t get it out of our head. It becomes an inner dialogue with no “off” button.

Verbal abuse is more than an occasional raised voice. It can include intimidation, making fun of someone, threats, embarrassment, or an attempt to control, manipulate, or demean another. When these things occur, it is not okay; it is verbal abuse. Verbal abusers will try to put the blame on you, and make you feel like you did something to deserve their cruelty, when, in fact, you did not. They need to take responsibility for their actions. No one  has a right to verbally abuse you because you don’t agree with them. They intentionally use the words they do, because they know they cause pain.

I have been hurt, not only by words that were said, but also by words that weren’t said. When we see an injustice, we have a responsibility to stand up for what is right. So your silence can bring great sorrow as well.

Remember, words can be weapons. Words can destroy. The scars they leave can be more painful than a physical assault…

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