Wednesday, April 29, 2015
"On Fire": Relationships Require MUTUAL SELF-CONFIDENCE
I was talking to my Baba (my mother's husband) about relationships. Almost every time the topic comes up, he says something that I find myself jotting down. This time, it was this:
"A lot of people focus on what is in their bank account without thinking about what is in their 'emotional bank'. And what they don't realize is that in a marriage, withdrawals are made from their spouse, emotionally, every day. While people are single, their emotional state is what they need to really think about."
While I was running errands, I gave that even more thought because if there's one thing that I realize is a "common thread of lack" with a lot of married couples that I deal with is the fact that one or both people failed to go into their marriage as emotionally healthy individuals. And one of the traits of that is having *self-confidence*.
Before we get into all of that, let's explore what some of the signs of an emotionally healthy person are (these are excerpts):
You treat others well. Viewing other people with compassion and treating them with kindness is a hallmark of your own well-being.
You like who you are. When you're emotionally healthy, you generally feel pretty good about who you are. You know yourself -- foibles, quirks and strengths and you're okay with what's inside. You're also congruent: congruency means that the person you show to the outside world is reflective of who you are on the inside.
You're flexible. People who have emotional wellness have an ability to adapt to all kinds of situations that life throws at us. You're able to assess a situation mindfully -- you notice your surroundings, your emotions and other's reactions to a given situation -- and then you use these factors to decide what the best course of action is.
You hold gratitude for your loved ones. If you're emotionally healthy, it's likely you easily feel and show gratitude for the people and the things in your life. Holding gratitude is a way of purposefully looking at your life with a sense of appreciation for what you have, rather than focusing on what you are lacking. And indeed, research has shown that counting your blessings has strong benefits for emotional well-being.
You're in touch with your emotions. Another sign of emotional wellness is that you embrace your emotions -- sadness, anger, anxiety, joy, fear, excitement -- as a natural and normal part of life. You handle and acknowledge your difficult emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them or by denying that your emotions exist. You know it's normal to have periods of stress, you know how to manage and express yourself when you feel upset, and you know who you can go to get comfort or help.
You have meaning in your life. Leading a purposeful life is about having a passion, a mission or larger meaning to your life. This happens when you use your strengths to help something you believe in.
You value experiences more than possessions. The final component is considering the types of values you have in life. People who tend to highly value attaining wealth, popularity, or attractiveness tend to be less well-off emotionally than people who value self-fulfillment and being there for others. This means that while you might have goals for career and financial security, you also may highly value time with your family and friends. Additionally, people with high levels of well-being tend to spend their money on experiences, like going to a concert or going on a trip, rather than material possessions such as clothes or furniture.
One of the things that the author of Conversations with God says in his book is “The purpose of a relationship is not to have another who might complete you; but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.” And you know what? If you don't like who you are, if you're not in touch with your emotions (including if you're erratic when it comes to dealing with your emotions), if you seem to believe that the only way your life will have meaning is if you have a husband to share it with, there is a lot more "completing" that needs to be done...there is a lot more that needs to go into your "emotional bank".
After all, you need to be in a position in your life where you're sharing "the surplus of your love", not grasping at another person so that they can "fill up your tank". That's too much pressure for any human being to have to deal with.
For the record, confidence is not arrogance. In fact, *arrogance is confidence's counterfeit*. Confident first means "having strong belief or full assurance; sure". And so, in order to develop a healthy sense of self-confidence, it's important to first do what King David resolved within himself: "But I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God." (Psalm 31:14-AMP) When it comes to your health, your job and most certainly the one who is best for you, you're going to need to love God with your all (Mark 12:30-31) and then have confidence in his abilities bless you abundantly (Ephesians 3:20-21). You also have to have enough confidence to *be content* (Hebrews 13:5) with where you are in the meantime. The Word does tell us that patience leads to completion (James 1:4). Patience requires getting on God's timetable and off of your own clock (Acts 1:7-Message, Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Another definition of confident is "sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one's own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.; self-confident; bold". Again, being confident doesn't mean you lack humility (in fact, humility is what elevates you--Luke 14:11). At the same time, being humble doesn't mean that you cannot (or should not) be confident. From a spiritual perspective, being sure of yourself is simply being aware of the fact that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), that you were fashioned individually (Psalm 33:15), that you have your own calling (Romans 11:29) and purpose (Psalm 20:4), that you have spiritual gifts and talents, that you were created to be truly special (I Peter 2:9-10) and that God loves you (Jeremiah 31:3).
When you're sure of these things, *when you're really sure*, it helps you to make wiser choices...
This includes when it comes to choosing a mate.
This brings me to an interview that I recently read and a quote that came from actress Scarlett Johansson. She was commenting on why some relationships do not last. This part, I found to be particularly interesting:
"[Marriage] takes a lot of work," the 30-year-old actress continued. "It takes a man who's not only confident in the love that you have for one another, but confident in what he has going on in his own career. He has to be in a field that's completely different from yours."
As far as marriages not working unless the spouses are in a different field/industry, personally, I don't think that automatically applies across the board. I know some couples who not only work in the same field but also run businesses together and they've been able to make it work. Not only work, but thrive. What I do wholeheartedly agree with is it can be hard to separate home and business and even to even have a sense of competitiveness if both people are doing the same thing.
Actually, what I think is really important is what she said about confidence. That when you're married (shoot, even when you're in a serious relationship with a man), it's important that he's confident about his love for you; that he has *absolutely no uncertainty about that* and that you have no lack of confidence in your love for him either.
Not the "movie kind of love".
The *biblical kind of love*:
"Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]."---I Corinthians 13:4-8(AMP)
Be confident that you're willing to be patient with one another.
Be confident that you're secure enough to not be jealous.
Be confident that you will stand up for what's right, not what's wrong.
Be confident that the two of you will support one another through it all.
Be confident that your love will not fail. No matter what.
And yes, for a relationship to go well, it's also important to be confident in one's purpose...
As it relates to men, a part of the reason why *it's so important* to only consider a serious dating/courtship relationship with someone who has a relationship with God first and clarity of their purpose (along with a willingness to fulfill it) second (remember Adam had both of those things) is because that is what helps to develop a man's confidence. It's what helps them to have a healthier sense of self which makes it easier for them to love you---more and better.
And as a divine helper (Genesis 2:18-AMP), you are able to bring more to the relationship when you *also* have a strong relationship with God first and a clarity about your purpose second. If you're single right now and you're not *confident* in these things...this would be the time to focus your attention on both.
It's close to impossible to love well with low self-esteem, after all...
And just how do you increase your self-confidence? Well, other than getting closer to God and growing in your purpose, when you get a chance, check out the article "25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence". Here are five of its points:
Dress nicely. A corollary of the first item above … if you dress nicely, you’ll feel good about yourself. You’ll feel successful and presentable and ready to tackle the world. Now, dressing nicely means something different for everyone … it doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a $500 outfit, but could mean casual clothes that are nice looking and presentable.
Get to know yourself. When going into battle, the wisest general learns to know his enemy very, very well. You can’t defeat the enemy without knowing him. And when you’re trying to overcome a negative self-image and replace it with self-confidence, your enemy is yourself. Get to know yourself well. Start listening to your thoughts. Start writing a journal about yourself, and about the thoughts you have about yourself, and analyzing why you have such negative thoughts. And then think about the good things about yourself, the things you can do well, the things you like. Start thinking about your limitations, and whether they’re real limitations or just ones you’ve allowed to be placed there, artificially. Dig deep within yourself, and you’ll come out (eventually) with even greater self-confidence.
Know your principles and live them. What are the principles upon which your life is built? If you don’t know, you will have trouble, because your life will feel directionless. For myself, I try to live the Golden Rule (and fail often). This is my key principle, and I try to live my life in accordance with it. I have others, but they are mostly in some way related to this rule (the major exception being to “Live my Passion”). Think about your principles … you might have them but perhaps you haven’t given them much thought. Now think about whether you actually live these principles, or if you just believe in them but don’t act on them.
Change a small habit. Not a big one, like quitting smoking. Just a small one, like writing things down. Or waking up 10 minutes earlier. Or drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Something small that you know you can do. Do it for a month. When you’ve accomplished it, you’ll feel like a million bucks.
Focus on solutions. If you are a complainer, or focus on problems, change your focus now. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and your career. “I’m fat and lazy!” So how can you solve that? “But I can’t motivate myself!” So how can you solve that? “But I have no energy!” So what’s the solution?
For the record, the opposite of confident is insecure and here are some of the synonyms of that word:
What sounds healthy about being in a relationship with someone who is like that?!?
Relationships, especially marriages, need two self-confident people in them.
Grow in your own confidence...
And don't settle for anything less than a man who is self-confident too.