love small

Your task is not to seek love, but mearly to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.                                                                            Rumi  


Working with a client recently, we looked at patterns in past relationships: how things tended to start and end for this person. Like many friends and clients I know, this person is looking for someone with whom to share a deep and fulfilling relationship, and was wondering what keeps getting in the way.

That conversation, and many others about relationships, returns me to the question of self-acceptance.

In the past I’ve been asked if I have a “type” (ok it was in my 20s and no one asks this anymore) I have always answered: someone comfortable in their own skin. Genuinely cool is way sexier than a six pack. Though I’d take both.

This piece is about relationships but at its heart it’s about authenticity and that applies to every corner of your life. 

Although I’m a coach I don’t believe you need to change. There’s nothing you need to fix about yourself or your life. You are wonderful as you are, and actually your life as it is now is perfect for you. I believe that if you could see that, you would enjoy your life a whole lot more, and probably do more good in the world.

Owning how wonderful you are is a sure fire way to let people fall in love with you. That doesn’t mean you have to like everything about yourself – or your life. 

Simple, if not easy.

You have probably heard that to find love, you need to love yourself. You’ve probably vomited, cringed, or thought fuck off at the notion. I certainly have.

Owning, accepting, allowing, loving yourself, whatever language you can handle, it is how you get to be comfortable in your own skin. Cool. Not arrogant or bullish, but comfortable. And my god that’s sexy.

You won’t like everything about yourself. You are supposed to be imperfect, but you do have to allow it to exist and yes, love it – because it does exist and if you reject parts of yourself you are asking the world to do the same.

The place in our lives where we most fear rejection is in relationships. And it starts from the moment we set eyes on them and want, on some level, their approval, their admiration, their love.

I can easily spiral into people pleaser if I meet someone who’s approval I desire – whether that’s in the context of romance/work/family/social life. We all do it to some degree, we present the side of ourselves that we think will land us the job.

The ability to please can be skilful in a job interview but longterm unhealthy in a relationship. Humans are hardwired to fit in, so showing up warts and all does not come naturally. However if you are turned on by authenticity it’s worth trying!

Here are some questions to help you see where you might be hiding in all of this. Use the following questions but first pick a context, it can be a specific relationship whether that’s romantic, family, friend or work colleague, or a more general scenario of work or social encounter. Choose an area in which you would like to be more at ease.

What do I want the other to notice in me? What am I making effort to demonstrate so that they notice: intelligence, sex appeal, morality, knowledge, opinion, lifestyle choices, sense of humour, wealth, status, something else? You are putting somethings at the front of the shelf – what are they? Make your first list.

What do I comfortably “own”, take for granted, that I’m happy for them to notice but I’m not eager for them to: intelligence, sex appeal, morality, knowledge, opinion, lifestyle choices, sense of humour, wealth, status, something else? You are allowing parts of yourself to be seen without putting them on the front shelf – what are they? Make your second list.

What do I want them to not see in me? What would I cringe if they recognised and worse still, named: intelligence, sex appeal, morality, knowledge, opinion, lifestyle sense of humour, wealth, status? Fear, weakness, fragility, love of Disney films… You are hiding somethings – what are they? Make your third list.

Now you have 3 lists. One list of things you are at ease with, and two lists of things you are not at ease with. Now let’s play. It’s just a game so don’t take it too seriously but feel free to be sincere and kind.

Take list number 1. Ask yourself: what if I recognised these things in myself and knew them to be true? Undeniably true. And cherished them exactly as they are right now? How would I show up differently in the world if I didn’t need others to recognise these things?

Take list number 2. What if others thought these things were my super powers and regarded me highly for them?  

Take list number 3. What if everyone already had this list and loved me anyway? Or loved me because of these things? What if I didn’t give any energy to hiding these things? What could be different in my life?

What if just one thing hopped over into list 2? What could that look like for you? 

HOT TIP: Pick out 20 mins over the next week when you can sit, entirely undistracted, light a candle, and answer these questions. Better yet, get a friend to do the same and share your findings. 

Just play with these ideas and know that everyone has 3 lists, even those who seem comfortable in their own skin, even those who have actually learned how to be; they have just learned to soften in their responses to the needs both to be validated and to hide their shadows. Loving ourselves is about allowing all of ourselves to be. And I guarantee love will flow in return.

Questions? Email or leave a comment below. x    


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