February is one month of the year when many people focus their attention (at least for one day) on their love for and appreciation of, someone else. On Valentine’s Day I often wonder if, for some people, that is the only time, they show their loved ones how much they care for them. I also get curious about the impact it can have if, for some reason, a ‘significant other’ doesn’t show their love in some traditional way (insert here…card, chocolates, flowers, romantic gesture etc..). Would it ruin their day? Could it cause an argument? Might they feel taken for granted?
When we receive love and appreciation, we can experience positive states such as security, confidence, goodwill, comfort, contentment. Love and appreciation can significantly contribute to our sense of self-worth and elevate our self-esteem.
However, to rely, or depend upon others to supply us with love and approval, in order to feel good about ourselves, can be a risky strategy. What if, on February 14th, there is no card, no chocolates, or flowers, no attention? How do we interpret that? On a regular day, what if the validation, feedback or appreciation we seek wanes, is inconsistent, or is not as forthcoming in the way we would like it to be? What if we do not receive any of the attention or support we want or expect from someone else, be that at home, or at work ….what does all this do to our self-esteem and self-confidence? Do we feel less deserving? Less special?
This got me thinking about the importance of healthy relationships and interdependence, a topic we cover on The Winning Edge programme when discussing the principle of ‘Understanding and Working with Human Nature’. When we have healthy relationships with others both parties know they can depend on each other and both are willing to collaborate. We co-operate independently and dependently. I communicate my needs and expectations and take responsibility for meeting them and I care about how I can support you to fulfil your needs.
When we are in co-dependent, or one-sided, relationships we tend to blame another when we do not get what we want. We are so closely connected to their needs and wants that we disregard our own. We feel powerless to decide or think for ourselves. We may believe we are not good enough, or not deserving of more. We can become needy, reactive and overwhelmed. We live our life according to what others expect of us, rather than create a life that is true to who we are and what we want. Often this leads to a pity party, a victim mindset, and a life driven by guilt and fear. These types of thoughts, feelings and behaviours trigger the stress response (the fight-flight-freeze response) which changes our body’s biochemistry. Harmful stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline spike and, if left unchecked over time, can cause dis-ease and illness.
Interdependent relationships first require self-love. If we do not love ourselves, it is challenging to receive and give in relationships. Happiness really does exist inside not outside of us. Once we connect the dots between our thoughts, feelings and actions, we can access this source and find our voice to express what we want, without fear or guilt. This placebo effect triggers the relaxation response, raising those addictive, ‘feel-good’ hormones in the body such as dopamine and serotonin.
If you have attended a Winning Edge programme, you will know that the most important person in your life, as far as your emotional wellbeing is concerned, is you. To enjoy interdependent, or healthy, relationships do not hand over your self-esteem to someone else and cross your fingers, hoping they do a good job. Pour your emotional energy into being you, doing you. Fill your own bucket with approval and appreciation and enjoy this week of love.
By Hazel Morley
About the Author: Hazel has worked as a Trainer, Facilitator and Coach for over 25 years, a number of which were spent as an Associate for Mancroft International. She believes in an inside-out approach to personal development and change and thrives on helping others who are ready to exercise their response-ability for being the best version of themselves. Her mantra is ‘always do what you think you might regret not doing’.
Hazel transformed her lifestyle in 2009, when she relocated to beautiful British Columbia, Canada. She gives credit to the Winning Edge principles for the nudge to move to the mountains. Since living in Canada, Hazel has expanded her portfolio of enabling others to achieve their career goals to include ways to create optimal health and live with vitality. She is fascinated by the power of the mind-body-lifestyle connection and the body’s innate ability to protect and heal us from disease.