I’ve never considered myself to be a person with low self-esteem. I mean, I’m not the most confident person in the world but I certainly don’t hang my head low when I walk.
Sometimes I go to my therapist when life’s proverbial sh*t hits the fan. Other times I go when there’s a much-welcomed lull; but just like going to the hairdresser for a trim every 6 to 8 weeks, maintenance is important to prevent future damage.
Experience has taught me that therapists are especially beneficial when it comes to evaluating my romantic relationships, particularly those I’ve needed to release. It’s no secret that a lot of people stay in relationships not because of love, but because of fear… fear of starting over, fear of being alone, or a fear of failure.
If you ask anyone who regularly sees a therapist, they’ll probably tell you that you can’t expect to walk out of every appointment feeling like you’ve experienced the most earth-shattering epiphanies or breakthroughs. When this does happen though, it’s a euphoric feeling of immense clarity.
These sessions can be so impactful that you emerge with a clear sense of focus and a plan on how to take your next steps. Periodically, though, it’s helpful just to have a safe place to release your thoughts with no judgment.
Therapy sessions can become a blur and start to feel repetitive, making one appointment feel like the rest.
But for me, there is one particular session that stands out more than the others.
Let’s rewind back 4 years ago.
On this particular day, I’d been lamenting about a
romantic relationship that I knew needed to end, though I was not quite ready. It was a situation where my close friends could see that the relationship was not going to mature as I’d hoped it would (I think I even knew it myself), but because there were strong feelings involved, I stayed hoping that things would get better. (I’m cringing as I type this, but we live, and we learn. I share 20 Love Lessons from My 20s over on this post.)
“I just don’t know what I should do”, I whined.
What my therapist asked me next made me stop in my tracks.
The question that she asked me is something that stuck with me long after I walked out of her office.
“What would a person with self-esteem do in this situation?”
I sat there, stunned.
When she asked me this question, the answer I gave did not align with how I’d been behaving. I’d been acting like a loser, and it became incredibly clear in that moment.
“What would a person with self-esteem do in this situation?” has become a staple question that I ask myself whenever I’m unsure how to proceed, or if I don’t necessarily trust that I’m capable of making the best decision.
It’s also helped me become a better listener. This question works particularly well if one of my friends is complaining about a guy she’s dating that I may not necessarily like. Instead of interjecting with my personal opinions, I might simply ask her, “What would a person with self-esteem do?” and then allow her to figure it out on her own. This removes my own personal judgment and allows her to draw her own conclusions.
Why You Should Ask Yourself This Question
When we’re in the midst of a life altering or painful decision, it can be very difficult to remove ourselves from the chaos and make a decision that’s based on our greatest good.
When we’re clouded with emotion, it seems nearly impossible to push our thoughts aside and look at the situation clearly.
If we’re prone to caving into fear, we let that fear become the auto-pilot of our decision. And most of us know that fear based decisions rarely results in a positive outcome. By asking yourself what would a person with self-esteem do, you remove yourself (and your biases) from the situation.
Compass for a Healthy Decision:
By using “What would a person with self-esteem do?” as your baseline, you create an internal measuring stick for weighing if a decision is healthy.
If your self-esteem answer does not align with your own personal behavior, it’s probably a good indication that you’re heading in the wrong direction.
Some people might argue that when it comes to relationships, sometimes logic goes out of the window and you have to make personal sacrifices for a relationship to work. You might feel like when you love someone that you are more likely to put up with certain behaviors, but it also comes down to what feels right.
Decisions that are made from a place of low self-esteem typically don’t feel good. Decisions that don’t feel good are typically a red flag.
Allows You to Be Your Own Guide:
Have you ever heard of that saying fake it till you make it? Let that saying be your guide.
Even though you may find that you’re not behaving in the same manner as someone who has a healthy level of self-esteem, you CAN try to mirror how you think someone with self-esteem would behave. Keep at it until it becomes second nature.
Life isn’t always easy, and sometimes we may be tempted to take the easy way out. But from what I’ve seen, the right decision is usually the hardest. Maybe we can bridge the gap between the right decision and the easy decision but first taking a clear look at ourselves and deciding if we’re making a decision from a healthy place.
May our behaviors closely match those of a person with self-esteem.