What Impacts Relationships?

Contributor(s): Karen Lawson, MD
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Role of Self-Esteem

Self-esteem, simply defined, is the opinion people have of themselves. It plays a vital role in relationships, because it impacts the following:

  • Your ability to stand on your own and make decisions, take risks, and accept responsibility for your decisions
  • Your perceptions of your value as a person
  • How you think others see you and how that influences your decisions
  • How you view your purpose in life
  • How realistically you assess your strengths and weaknesses

Low self-esteem generally results from having a negative self-image. High (healthy) self-esteem results from having a positive self-image.

People with healthy self-esteem are often confident, sure of themselves, and highly motivated. Healthy self-esteem is a cornerstone to developing good relationships because it allows for a deeper connection with others. For more on this, see how can self-esteem impact our relationships?

Role of Acceptance

The concept of "acceptance" is very important in any discussion of relationship. It involves both self-acceptance and acceptance of the other person.

Self-Acceptance: A critical part of creating healthy relationships is being able to observe your feelings without judgment. People who accept themselves as they are, not as others may want them to be, are generally healthier and more content.

It is important to have a realistic sense of your strengths and weaknesses. While there is always room for improvement, it is damaging to be too self-critical. Change occurs over time, and it is important to allow yourself that time.

Acceptance of Other: It is also important to be accepting of the other person in the relationship. Obviously, this does not apply in situations of abuse or unhealthy control, where you need foremost to protect yourself. But otherwise, try to understand where the person is coming from rather than judge them. As you do for yourself, have a realistic acceptance of the other's strengths and weaknesses and remember that change occurs over time.