"I exist as I am. That is enough." ~Walt Whitman
I love that quote and absolutely agree with it! However, too often we put pressure on ourselves to perform and achieve in order to feel loved by someone.
Have you ever felt like you had to be a certain way, say a certain thing or meet some goal in order to be loved or be lovable? Maybe you have been told that you're too intense, or you need to be more driven. Maybe you got the most positive attention from your parents when you received an A in school or got that awesome win for your sports team.
Those are great things and totally worth celebrating! Although, too often that attention creates unnecessary pressure for happiness and acceptance based on external circumstances. Love is more about accepting ALL of yourself or someone else and love is completely imperfect because we humans are imperfect.
I know that might sound corny, but the more you can really love and appreciate all sides of yourself - the weaknesses and strengths - the more at ease you'll feel and the more you can connect with others. If you're trying to hide parts of yourself or feel ashamed of things from your past you are actually building subconscious walls. We are mirrors to each other. The person in front of you that you are trying to connect with is not seeing the real you if you're blocking parts out.
Think about what it's like to look into a funhouse mirror. You can move around and your reflection changes shape. No matter where you look in that mirror, however, will you ever see your true reflection. That's fun because you know that's what you're there for. If you were trying to get a look at your hair or wanted to know if there was something in your teeth it would be terribly difficult to tell! That's what it's like when you hide parts of yourself and try to connect with someone else. When you only love part of the self, your reflection becomes distorted.
So, how can you begin to acknowledge and accept those parts of you? It's a lifelong process, but here's an exercise to help you start:
Take out a sheet of paper and make two columns. On one side list out all the things you admire about yourself. On the other side list out all the qualities you dislike about yourself. Write out at least 5 and feel free to list as many as you want. Whatever comes up is OK and exactly what you need to hear. See the example below:
What I admire about myself | What I dislike about myself
I am outgoing
I am passionate
I am kind
I am stubborn
I am nerdy
I am selfish
Remember, you're all these things all the time, but only when you're triggered in certain situations do each of these sides come through.
Now, circle your top 2 or 3 qualities in each column - what qualities you admire the most, and what qualities you dislike the most. Think back to a situation when each of these dislikes have come up for you and ask yourself how they protected you in that situation.
For example, maybe you had a time when you didn't want to do something someone else was asking of you. In that moment your stubbornness could have protected you by letting you feel heard or helping you to feel more in control of your choice in the situation.
What we're doing is lessening the noise around all those perceived negative qualities you feel make you unlovable to see how they are actually honoring yourself. Once you can feel those characteristics can be seen in a positive light you'll be more willing to share them with someone else and let them in on the real you. Your confidence in who you are and the love you feel for yourself will show and be super attractive to those around you.
Share in the comments below how that felt for you. Were you able to shift your perspective on any perceived negative characteristics?