Conversations about dating usually center on the elusive person you're hoping to meet, but according to Yvonne Williams Casaus, counselor and author of A Drop of Water, the most important person to focus on isn't your future S.O.—it's you. "Our self-worth and self-esteem definitely influence the kind of people we attract into our lives," she tells MyDomaine.
Drawing on her experience as a clinical mental health counselor, Casaus notes subtle self-sabotaging behavior can have a real impact on your relationships. "If we do not think of ourselves as good enough or worthy, we are more likely to settle for less than we deserve," she says.
If you're unsure whether your habits might be holding you back from a healthy relationship, Casaus says to ask yourself one simple question: Are you the kind of person you want to attract? "When you are good to yourself, you set the standard on how others should treat you," she says. "Like-minded people will want to be around you."
Follow her five tips to understand yourself better and attract positive people into your life.
Reframe Negative Thoughts
Your internal monolog can have a powerful impact on your sense of self-worth and how you let others treat you, explains Casaus. "When you start a new relationship, notice what you are telling yourself." If that language is negative, it might be a sign you need to reframe your self-talk.
Try it now: The first step is to recognize negative self-talk and then rephrase it. "A lot of people tell themselves they'll never find the one or they're not good enough," she says. To counter this negative default response, Casaus tells clients to use affirmations. "I know it can seem cheesy, but we have to put out there what we want," she says. If you need guidance, she recommends downloading an affirmation app, like ThinkUp.
Define Your Strengths and Passions
"Looking outside [yourself] for acceptance can easily lead to feelings of insecurity," says Casaus. Before you enter into a relationship, she stresses that it's important to define what makes you happy, what you're passionate about, and what strengths you possess. "You want to attract someone who is confident in who they are. They should know what their interests are and be able to identify what makes them feel alive and passionate," she says. "Do you know what you like?"
Try it now: "Take inventory of your strengths," she recommends. Remind yourself of your true value so that when you do enter a new relationship you don't seek validation. To discover your passion, ask yourself what feeds your soul, she says. "If you don’t know, I recommend a little exercise to get started. Grab some old magazines and cut out anything that jumps out at you. Don’t put too much thought into it—just have fun," she says. "It is an easy way to get the creativity flowing," and it will help you discover what sparks interest and excitement.
Go on a Solo Date
Kindness and compassion are key in any relationship, but Casaus says you shouldn't wait until you're dating to develop these qualities. "Before you start looking for the right partner, be your own best friend. I often tell my clients to take themselves on a date. Do kind things for yourself!" she says.
Try it now: Prioritize an activity that's important to you, and spend time doing it alone once per week. "Do things that open your heart: Meditate, pray, or spend time in nature." This will encourage you to treat yourself with kindness and could even "create more opportunities to meet people with similar interests or hobbies."
Do a Relationship Inventory
Past relationships can be shrouded in negativity, but Casaus says there's an important lesson to be learned from each. "All relationships are an opportunity for growth. Use the things that you did not like or did not work in past relationships to identify what you do want," she recommends.
Try it now: "It sometimes helps to take a relationship inventory and notice any patterns in previous relationships. Did any past partners have traits in common? Why were you drawn to those traits?" Pen a list so that you're aware of what you do and don't want in your next relationship.
Detach From the Outcome
"Once you are clear with the kind of relationship you want, detach from the outcome and trust that it will happen," says Casaus. It's important to be reflective and self-aware, but don't let yourself overthink every situation.
Try it now: Focus on what's in your control: your attitude, self-talk, friendships, and schedule. "When you are living the life you really want, you can’t help but attract people like a magnet," she says.
During this last step, try to be conscious about the people around you and know what you get to decide who adds to your life. "Start noticing now how some people give you energy while others drain you. Trust in yourself, and you will attract the right people into your life."
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