Self Esteem Issues Living With a PA

I thought I would try to do something uplifting for us today who are living in a passive aggressive relationship instead of my usual bitching. LOL. One of the best sites I know for emotional support and uplifting articles is Belief Net . One of the best sites on there is “Beyond Blue” by Therese Borchard. She comes from a deep depression that she is still working through, and then I don’t know if it is her or her husband that is bipolar. I can’t  remember now, but she definitely comes from being in the trenches.

For any of us who have lived with a passive aggressive spouse or partner for any length of time we undoubtedly have a low self-esteem. It’s practically unavoidable given the circumstances because that’s what they do. They just wear you down until there isn’t much left. Therese suggests building a “self-esteem file”.  I’ll go through the steps with you here. Again, thank you Therese.

1) Make a list of  10 of my strengths–10 positive qualities about myself–and write them down on a piece of paper. This first step will help you to start to remember how many good things there are about you and help you start believing in yourself again. This is a hard first step when you’ve had someone telling you everything is your fault, or you’re the one that’s crazy all the time. I came up with 6 my first time through and I really had to dig. LOL.

Therese suggests thinking hard about your job and what you are good at there. Also try to remember some of the compliments you’ve received in the past when someone admired how you did something or something about you. Looks count. If there is something about your physical appearance that you feel good about, write it up!  

2) If after all your thought you still can’t come up with enough things to feel good about, have your friends do it.  That’s right. Ask your friends to come up with a list. Therese suggests asking your friends to come up with 10 things, but for me I think I would have a hard time with that. I could feel comfortable though just asking them why we’re friends, or what is it they like about me. I just feel funny putting a number on it. What if they can’t come up with 10 either? LOL. 

Anyone who is normally complimentary to you will do for this. It doesn’t neccessarily have to be a friend, just people in your life. Siblings, teachers, co-workers anyone, who knows you pretty well or has said nice things in the past. You can tell them you’re working on some kind of project or something. If they are really close friends, you can just be honest about what you’re doing.

3) If you haven’t got enough people in your life to put a list together, get more friends. I know, easier said than done, right? This is an important step even if it weren’t for this purpose. I truly believe friends and plenty of good activity can help you pull yourself out of just about anything.

There are so many great places to meet people! If you’ve read this blog much, you know I’m a firm believer in Al-Anon as a support group.  Also there are many support groups online. Believe it or not you really can make good friends online. I feel like I’m getting to know a few of you here that comment on my blog pretty well, and we already have something in common to get us started.

The same is true about joining a class about something you’re interested in, or a community group of some kind. Another place to meet people are conferences, conventions, or trade shows for a particular thing you’re interested in. Unless you totally sit against a wall and never interact with anyone, you’re bound to come away with either friends or contact information for potential friends. Start enjoying the things you used to enjoy before you quit. The friends will come. After all, you are in a group or environment with people that obviously enjoy at least one of the same things you do.

Dogs are a great people magnet. If you have a dog, go to a dog park or walk him in a fairly busy area.  I myself always want to pet a dog I’m passing on the street. Of course, I always ask if it bites first. LOL.

Therese has a list of 12 different ways to meet people. If these ideas don’t appeal to you, be sure and read her list. It’s very entertaining.

4) Make yourself a file. If you don’t have one, go buy one, any color, any style that suits you. On the front in BIG LETTERS write Self Esteem File. Decorate it if you wish. This is you’re “feel good about myself” file. Only positive things shall enter.

This is where you will put your list and your friends lists of all the wonderful things about you.  As Therese says  “Become an affirmation hoarder. That’s right. Whenever anyone says anything remotely positive (“You smell interesting today”), record it: on a Post-It, legal pad, receipt, or on anything that you can shove into your self-esteem file”.

Anything you have saved from the past that’s positive “proof” of how wonderful you are goes in here also. If you have good job reviews, cards, letters, anything that has a positive thing to say about you, it counts.

We all need to nurture ourselves and guard ourselves from the self-esteem stealers. As your folder gets thicker and thicker, you’ll have proof building before your eyes that you are worthy and you are a good person. As you start rebuilding your belief in yourself and your inner strength, you will be able to make or handle other changes and things in your life and feel so much more competent about decisions you are making, rebuilding your self-confidence at the same time. 

Okay, there you go. Get started today! If you’d like to read Therese’s article which is a little more in depth than I took room for here, please go to and enjoy!


10 Responses

  1. A great idea for anyone, really, isn’t it?!

  2. I don’t know if you already have these, but you might want to add honesty, forthrightness, and the ability to face difficult truths to your list? A lot of people living with a passive aggressive might spend years not knowing what’s going on, and you’ve moved past that for sure.

  3. Val- Thanks for your comment and encouragement. I don’t know if I’ve moved past as much as sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t cry. LOL.

    You are right. Many people think the term “passive aggressive” is just a term like “being obnoxious” or many others. They don’t realize it truly is a problem that people live out every day.

    Thanks for the add ons for the self esteem list. Anything that is a positive part of our wonderful, unique selves is important to hold on to.

  4. Good post. I like you objectives to try and get done. I reallly believe in writing down the 10 positives. That is good. It helped me out a ton.

  5. run4change- Thank you for stopping by. I really like your site. You’ll have to visit my weightloss blog so the people there can follow your link.

  6. […] you willing to put up with stuff you normally wouldn’t. I have a hard time wondering why her self-esteem doesn’t take over and tell her she’s worth so much more. Is that what she got from […]

  7. The self esteem file is a wonderful idea !!!!!

    • Hi LadyLane- So glad you like. I’m afraid I have to confess I stole the idea because I thought it was so great. Being involved with a passive aggressive we need to be able to remember the good things about who we were before them and who we are. The relationship is usually so “ball-busting” to use a rather vulgar expression, that we need that. After so long our self-esteem just seems to go in the toilet if we don’t guard it.

      Good luck with it. Build a big one! LOL

  8. […] great advice for picking yourself up and wiping off the dust. If you read my article on the “Self Esteem File” you may remember me mentioning her […]

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