Most living creatures naturally stay together as a close family, group or unit. Humans are the most evolved and populated creatures on earth yet they still retain the natural inclination of living and interacting together in terms of friendship, relationship, and family. Humans by nature are social beings; we need each other for the satisfaction of our physical, material, social and emotional needs, thus relationship is important for our overall well-being. A lack of proper human relationship has led to depression, suicide, crime and mental illness in some individuals. Achieving a proper relationship starts with the individual person; one must first groom his/herself. The essence of grooming the self is linked to the fact that relationships are a mutual self-giving; the giving of a balanced self, which is aimed at growth and fruitfulness. Thus it is required that each partner gives his/her best and also receive the other person’s best too, however one cannot give what they don’t have. If sour grapes are planted, sour grapes will be reaped; if sweet oranges are planted, sweet oranges will be reaped. What we bring to the table will determine to a large extent what we get. How can we then achieve this balanced self? This is where self-esteem and emotional maturity sets in; they are the balancing wheel of the human person and the foundation for fruitful relationships.
To achieve a fruitful interpersonal relationship, one has to cultivate a healthy self-esteem and a balanced emotional maturity. These two are important because they build up the individual to attain self-actualization and become a balanced person. It is only stable and balanced people that can achieve working and fruitful relationships. Stability refers to being firm and resistant to external forces and internal conflicts that can upset us and change our personality. As a person, there is a considerable amount of stability that is required, and this stability defines and mirrors the personality. Self-actualization makes us understand our emotions and our actions such that we are not alien to ourselves: we have a firm connection to the inner self. Self-esteem and emotional maturity are key to being at home with ourselves and relating appropriately with ourselves such as to grow in our self-actualization and our self-efficacy.
BOOSTING OUR SELF-ESTEEM
Self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value, that is, how much one appreciates and likes his/herself. It involves a variety of convictions about the self as regards appearance, beliefs, emotions, and behaviours; playing a significant role in our motivations, successes and relationships. One notable fact about self-esteem is the duration of its efficacy in us. Its effect endures throughout the life of a person because it is a personality trait; a relatively stable human characteristic influenced by our life experiences; the feedback we get from life, people and work whether positive or negative; including our inner thinking, age, disabilities, illnesses or physical limitations. A healthy self-esteem builds up an individual and creates a flexible and matured personality; it makes us at feel at home with ourselves.
We cannot afford not to have a healthy self-esteem because it functions the way a healthy physical body functions. Just as an unhealthy body is a liability to a person, so also is an unhealthy self-esteem. The road to actualizing a healthy self-esteem starts with the acceptance of oneself as a unique and special personality not to be compare with or substituted with another person. Everyone is unique and have special potentials and gifts, but no one is perfect; we do have our individual flaws. Realizing this fact will lift the pressure of appearing perfect and make us accept our mistakes, focusing on what we can change to be a better version of ourselves. Once we are able to recognize our mistakes and grow to overcome them, we begin to appreciate and celebrate ourselves and the gifts inherent in us, creating our own image and living life to the fullest. Signs of healthy self-esteem include confidence, positive outlook, ability to see overall strength and weaknesses and accept them, impervious to negative experiences and ability to express needs. When we master ourselves and have a high self-esteem we are at home with ourselves, then and only then can we seek to master our emotions.
ACHIEVING EMOTIONAL MATURITY
Emotional maturity refers to the ability to understand, and manage our emotions. It is the mental capacity to cope with tough situations and to manage them without unnecessarily escalating them or apportioning blames to others. It serves as the controller and regulator of our actions and responses. To be emotional matured, we have to cultivate a growth mindset and be able to make explorations in personal development in all areas of life. This feat furnishes us with an independent mindset which helps to build personal principles and shape our personality; we are thus able to exercise self-control and delay gratification, putting our time and energy into useful ventures that require our patience, persistence and effort. More so, we gain emotional intelligence needed for scaling life’s difficulties while still retaining a calm demeanor. Those things that hurt and instruct, the emotionally mature learn not to dread, but to welcome and engage it. This is so because they have cultivated a positive attitude to life. They have faith in the concept that with enough hard work, patience and persistence things will work out. This spirit of faith and work commits one to trustfulness and responsibility.
Through our thoughts and behaviours we express emotional maturity, we become approachable, flexible, responsible, resilient, and realistic. We experience personal growth and acquire self-belief and see things as an optimist. With this, we are able to recognize when we are going off limit, know when we are out of ourselves, and instead of trying to appear strong and independent, we are able to open up and reach out to seek help. When we are emotionally matured, we create the life we desire; a life defined on our own terms and not based on others; a life filled with happiness and fulfilment notwithstanding the array of life’s perplexities and troubles that comes to our path. The fruit of the self-esteem and emotional maturity is achieving a firm self-concept.
ACHIEVING A FIRM SELF-CONCEPT
As often as we need to adjust to relationships with all the perplexities it confronts us with, we will need to show self-actualization and maturity as regards our emotions. Our emotions belong to a fundamental level of being, for as they reflect who we are, they also shape who we are. They can either make us or mar us. This of course depends on whether we relate with them in a manner that suggests acceptance and integration. Unless we can so relate with them as to accept and integrate them into our broader experience, they are bound to impart negatively on our self-concept. And this in turn implies that we suffer a basic emotional instability. Now to be emotionally unstable immediately makes us to be alienated from our self and in this condition our natural condition of being at home with ourselves is upset. Managing our emotions and conflicts is the key to being at home with oneself. It is not so much the species of emotion we are dealing with, whether negative or positive, that matters but the way we relate with them. It is our mode of relating with them that determine whether they contribute to our integration or disintegration. To relate with them acceptingly brings integration and to relate with them negatively brings internal disintegration. And once the template of our self-concept is negatively conditioned as a result of lack of emotional integration, a lot can go wrong at the fundamental level of self’s relation to itself. The self has got to be at peace with itself. But this can hardly happen unless the self is able to integrate his emotion. We cannot run away from our emotion. It is our basic defining element. It will soon catch up with us if we tried to run away from it. Yet we must face it and make it to serve the cause of our inner peace, our mode of relation here must be wholly positive so as to create a firm self-concept.
One cannot build interpersonal relationship if one don’t have a good relationship with oneself. We deal with others in terms of how we perceive ourselves and this of course integrates the other’s perception of us into one basic amalgam, which we call our image. If we have a poor self-concept, this is bound to filter into our relations with others. The likelihood that we cannot be at home with the other is great indeed if we are not at home with ourselves. The correlation between self-esteem emotional maturity and being at home with the other means there is a basic continuity between the issue of managing our emotions and the issue of managing our relationship with the other. It is important we take time to get to know ourselves and also invest in self-care. This will strengthen the foundation and course of our relationships.
BUILDING INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIP
Integrating our emotions and having a firm self-concept is not only the key to being at home with ourselves and relating appropriately with ourselves, it is also a crucial factor in interpersonal relationship. This is understandable in view of the fact that our self-image is involved each time we relate with the other person. Our self-image, or, rather, our perception of ourselves, is the basis of our dealing with others. In interpersonal relationships the individuals are interdependent, and they interact with each other in a series of interactions that are interrelated and affect each other; the behavior of each affects the outcomes of the other. Interrelationships are vital and important for our physical and mental health. We are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, ill health, and other physical problems if we lack interpersonal relationships of high quality and quantity. Quality and quantity of relationships are critical for individuals’ overall health and well-being. We require quality relationship because through it we grow and develop our person and capacities. However we require more than one relationship, relationship is built with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and acquaintances.
Interpersonal relationship goes through acquaintance, buildup and continuation. Throughout the period of getting to know each other, building the relationship and making it stable, emotional integration and communication is the key. Grooming and maintaining relationship hinges on emotional compatibility, a mutual level of acceptance and interaction. Emotional compatibility doesn’t mean that the relationship becomes faultless and glorious like a bed of roses. Conflicts will arise in relationships, how we deal with it will determine whether the conflict strengthens the relationship or not. Rather than avoid the point of contention, we talk it through and listen to each other’s point of view. The ability to be calm, collective, responsive, and getting to seek positive results to the conflicts in relationship shows a high level of emotional maturity and integration.