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Success and Self-Esteem

While reading my American Psychological Association publication I stumbled across this interesting research study.  Scientists at the University of Florida found that men’s subconscious self-esteem may be injured by their female partner’s success.  The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , online Aug.5, found that men were negatively affected by their female partner’s successes, but women were unaffected by their male partner’s successes.  The researchers further concluded that men’s self-esteem took an even bigger hit when their partner succeeded at something when they had failed.  Why do you think this exists even today?

Men continue to associate their identity and self-esteem with achievement, performance, and productivity.  We also tend to be competitive beings and define our worth with accomplishment and success.  For some men, winning is the only option and failure is unacceptable.  We may also have a difficult time acknowledging, accepting, and celebrating our female partner’s successes because somehow it threatens our ego and sense of self-worth.  Couples in my practice struggle with this issue especially when one or both partners are stubborn, hard-headed, and strong-willed personality types.  In some cases, partners are interacting more like adversaries instead of allies and struggle with being on the same team.

We need to find a better way to encourage, support, and reinforce our partner’s success.  We all have different strengths and attributes which can motivate us to grow and stretch our abilities.  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17 NIRV.  Our partner should be our greatest supporter and encourager.  We can be better when we learn from each other, rely on one another, and value our unique qualities.  Celebrating each others successes and  comforting each other at times of failure contribute to healthy relationships.  Next week I will discuss ways to appreciate, respect, and value our differences.

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