Lightening the Load

Most of us can handle physical pain, at least up to a point. But when it comes to rejection or disapproval, it is often another story. Today, let’s talk more about handling psychological pain.

Most of us deal pretty well with the physical lumps and bumps of life. Even though we dislike them, we bear our falls, illnesses, broken bones, surgeries and the like with relative grace. However, when it comes to psychological hurts, like disapproval or rejection, we often behave like frightened children, or we seal ourselves away in isolation.

Now, on an intellectual level, we all know we can’t go through life without periodic disapproval or rejection. But the time when rejection’s sting becomes unbearable is when it joins our own self-rejection. Surely, closeness means hurt from time to time, but the hurt is less deep and less lasting when you basically affirm yourself.

This is why it is so important for us to behave in ways that build our self-image and self-esteem. It is also why our relationships improve when we begin to feel better about ourselves. Others see us respecting ourselves, and their respect for us increases as well. Inner confidence goes up, and we allow ourselves to give more, and receive more in return from our relationships.

To be fully alive is to be willing to risk pain and failure. To enter into a close relationship is to make one’s true self vulnerable. But, if we don’t take these risks, the alternative is loneliness and isolation, and a life half-lived. It is in our relationships that we are able to increase our inner well-being, balancing out some of the stresses of everyday living. When we can spread out the load with the help of others, the load gets lighter and easier to manage.

So, if your goal is to enjoy happier, more fulfilling relationships with others, first give some attention to the relationship you have with yourself. It is the foundation upon which we all build our relationships with others.