“Do you love yourself?” I asked a friend. But he had no idea what I meant. Having love for yourself is not about ego. It is about treating and caring for yourself as you would for someone you truly deeply love. It is not about vanity or pride, but self-respect and self-value. Self-worth issues often appear in relationships, and relationships are the context that you will often be confronted by this lack, if you have entered the relationship unprepared.

Mick’s self-worth issues

Mick had a handful of long term relationships since his divorce, including one who cheated on him. This was possibly the biggest shock to his self-esteem. But he soon found another partner and seemed to have left that shock, in the past. Eventually, Mick united with a long-term friend. They had been friends for decades, and they had tried at love twice previously, but then fell back into friendship. Third time lucky? Perhaps for a while. When it finally ended, there was no going back. Mick was bereaved that he had lost a friend, more than a partner.

By this stage, Mick was emotionally spent. When he met Cara eight months later, he felt hopeful. There was something different about her. He was curious to see where it went. Then one day, they began a debate about film actors. Mick became intensely suspicious that Cara was secretly obsessed with young, good looking men who sparkled on screen. Every time he raised the issue, which became obsessive for him, he only confirmed his fears that Cara would actually be happier with a younger man who carried that Hollywood look.

Cara found it absurd. Whenever she cited examples of actors, or actresses for that matter, that she liked equally, or even more, Mick would discount it and again focus back onto these Hollywood men. Over the span of the next few months, almost every day was punctured by the presence of these men, because of Mick’s relentless quest to prove to himself, and to Cara, that he could not compare. Cara had never had to think so much about these Hollywood men before in her entire life, and she found it extremely unpleasant.

Mick’s self-worth issues were being fully exercised here, and the behaviour needed to stop before it completely destroyed the couple. The trouble was that every thing Cara did or said to try to set him straight, backfired. Either her texts were completely misinterpreted, or she used the wrong emoji, by pure accident, or her innocent precis of a film was misconstrued into some kind of perverse fascination, or her words were manipulated to strengthen Mick’s claims that she really preferred younger, Hollywood looking men. He accused her of every little thing, all the time. He was in pain. She began to experience anxiety.

Ultimately there was absolutely nothing that Cara could do or say to help Mick understand that her feelings for him were true, and that, given the choice, she would choose him over one of these pin up boys, as ridiculous as this situation would be. It was a no-win situation. Mick argued that no-one had ever made him feel this way before, and that he had been right when he suspected his ex of cheating – it was in fact proven. Therefore, he must be correct, now.

To make matters worse for Mick’s self-worth, Cara had innocently commented on the performance of an actor that Mick’s cheating ex had also liked, but that the ex had liked in a more voyeuristic manner. There were other superficial similarities between them also, regarding music tastes and styles. To Mick, Cara was the cheating ex!

Uncovering the self-worth trail

So why now, after several long-term relationships would Mick’s self-worth be crashing? He was hoping that Cara would be the last stop for him, especially after his most recent relationship had ended. He had in fact fallen in love with Cara, and she with him. The stakes were high. Now Mick was forced to face his demons around his self-worth issues, which extended way back into his childhood due to excessive abuse, long before romantic relationships became apparent.

Only by exploring Mick’s core beliefs about himself could he deal with the present scenario. For such a strong and resilient man such as Mick, this was the hardest thing he had ever had to face.

Sometimes people like Mick simply stay in relationships that do not open their hearts, because that is where the pain is stored. It is safer to carry on in a less intense or emotional situation. Love is not for sissies. It exposes you to your own self-worth issues, to your vulnerabilities and to your pain. But once addressed, the prize is truly worth the ordeal.

If you have difficulty with self-worth issues, in relationships or otherwise, we can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast