I thought marriage would save me. I believed all my problems would go away. Not just the external ones, but the internal ones too. Problems like insecurity, loneliness, and lack of love for myself. I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’m not the only one. People make this mistake all the time. Problems don’t just ‘go away’. You must deal with them.
My most memorable wrestling match in high school was against the toughest kid I had ever met. This guy had muscles growing on top of his muscles. Before the match, he was across the gymnasium, mouthing curse words that I hadn’t even heard before. I was intimidated. But something in me snapped in that moment and I realized that there was every possibility in the world that my best was good enough.
Every man has a little boy inside of him that desires to be seen for who he is and to hear that he is enough. Likewise, every woman has a little girl inside of her that wants to be seen for who she truly is and deemed beautiful. I believe this. No amount of success, fame, sex, makeup, plastic surgery, cocaine, alcohol, money, recognition, travel, gambling, porn, reading, or knowledge will convince you that you are enough or that you are valued or that you are loved if you don’t value and love yourself. It just won’t. As John Eldredge wrote, “It’s like asking a pearl to give you a buffalo. It’s like asking a field of wildflowers to give you a ’57 Chevy.” It’s not going to happen
You just won’t believe it and therefore it will never be enough. The man that tells you you’re beautiful over and over again won’t be enough if you don’t believe deep in your heart that you are beautiful. If the little girl within you doesn’t accept that and believe it she will come up with the most ridiculous ways in which the man in her life will have to prove it. And then when he does prove it by jumping through an assortment of hoops and running the emotional obstacle course… she’ll just come up with a new one. Because she doesn’t believe it.
In the same way, no matter what kind of success a man has in his career or how much ‘stuff’ he has, he will always want for more if the little boy inside him doesn’t believe that he has what it takes or that he is enough just the way he is. He will continually keep accumulating cars, employees, sexual encounters, etc., with an insatiable appetite because he’s always trying to prove that to himself.
But when you believe that you are enough, that you have nothing to prove to yourself, you gain a sense of freedom that is empowering. It frees you to pursue those purposes that you were created for. It’s a different kind of ‘drive’ and a different way of being. And you can always recognize the person who accepts themself with two very distinct characteristics.
First, they aren’t always trying to win an argument. They don’t care so much about arguments because they are content with the truth that they’ve realized. They aren’t compelled to win because they are right. They are more interested in connecting with other human beings on a deep level and they are all about doing the work they’ve been called to do. Creating is extremely important to them and they’d rather do that than argue with someone. Secondly, their work produces value that benefits others. It doesn’t matter if their work is creating music, repairing cars, or styling hair. It’s done in such a fashion and with such passion that other’s lives are made better because of it.
If you don’t believe that you’re worth being ‘seen’, no amount of overtures will convince you otherwise.. People will break themselves against you trying to convince you that you are loved for who you are. If you don’t believe that you are enough, that you have what it takes, nothing you do or accumulate will prove it to you. You will always feel a sense of emptiness that you seemingly just can’t put your finger on.
Do you have that haunting emptiness? Have your choices repeatedly left you wondering why you do what you do, compulsively at times? Consider that a shift may need to occur where you begin accepting and loving yourself just the way you were created. Give that little girl or boy the greatest gift you possibly could… a little bit of grace.
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"To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance." - Oscar Wilde
"When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier." - Diane Von Furstenberg
"And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning." - Isaac Asimov
"It's not vanity to feel you have a right to be beautiful. Women are taught to feel we're not good enough, that we must live up to someone else's standards. But my aim is to cherish myself as I am." - Elle Macpherson
Everyone has a recurring thought… or two… or thousands. Similar thoughts bind together after being laid one on top of the other over the years to form a strong belief system. The incredible thing about belief systems is that they serve as a map to interpret the world around us, including our place in the world, and have the incredible power to shape our decisions in life. The power of a strongly held belief has exponential implications for the life of an individual and a community. Take Vera for example. She is in her late twenties and has come to believe that… “I’m just not that smart.” Why does she believe this? Why does she choose to see herself this way? If you asked her she would tell you that it’s mere fact. She never excelled in academics and was always in the middle to lower end of her class in terms of performance. She would tell you that there are certain books she just shouldn’t waste her time reading because there are some concepts that are ‘beyond’ her scope. With this belief entrenched in Vera’s mind, emotions and body, she limits her potential career opportunities, relationship dynamics, and possibility for growth in almost every area of her life. Exponential implications.
But if you press the question ‘why do you believe this’, there are all sorts of alternative possibilities to the opinion that she holds to so firmly.
Is it possible that Vera had an incredibly negative experience with an educator at an early age and always associated emotionally negative feelings with school, in turn tainting her desire to study or learn in that environment? Is it possible that one or both of her parents sent her the message that ‘no one in our family is all that smart and that’s just fine with us because no one likes a know-it-all.’ Could it be that different people learn and grow intellectually in various ways and the particular methods in which Vera is challenged intellectually were never afforded her along her educational path? Is it possible that the structure of western education is so focused on conformity to specific methods of education that often those who don’t conform as well to these methods are improperly labeled or mistakenly diagnosed with a disability? How many times would a young, impressionable mind have to be told this by an authority figure before they owned it as truth?
There are so many variations of these restricting views of ourselves that we tend to accept as fact, when in all likelihood, they are just opinions formed over time. Thoughts that we bought into enough times that they grew into a belief system, which we now whole-heartedly subscribe to.
I’m no good at math.
I can’t write to save my life.
I just can’t stop myself from eating.
I am not very coordinated.
My brother is the creative one.
I’m incapable of getting organized.
I can’t follow through on things.
I don’t have what it takes.
I’m not a good communicator.
I’m terrible at relationships and always will be.
Today I just want to call to your attention that there may be some beliefs you hold as truth about yourself and they are limiting you. Further, these beliefs aren’t based on reality, but are based on the collection of some data you’ve incorrectly extrapolated from some recurring experiences in your past. I would like you to list 3 beliefs you’ve held onto for almost as long as you can remember that you know limit you. And ask this question about each of of the beliefs you’ve listed… “Is it possible that it isn’t true?”
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____________________________________________________________________________ "Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives."
"What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are." - Anthony Robbins
"Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them." - William James
“Never limit your view of life by any past experience” - Ernest Holmes
A couple of months ago I mentioned a trip to Laguna Beach with several forward thinking, open hearted, inspirational people. 50 of them to be exact. It was such an incredible time and space for connecting with humanity, conversing about social and theological dynamics, and exploring futurist topics and trends. The people that showed up there were highly intellectual and creatively charged folks. Or as we say in Boston, “these peeps are wicked smaht”. I remember spending most of my time dealing with a running inner dialogue. That guy is so much smarter than me. That girl is so much more creative than me. He writes so much better than I do. She is such a better orator than I am. I’m not as wealthy as that guy. She is such a better organizational person than I am. He is so much more deep than me. And on and on. My inner dialogue quickly lead me to one conclusion… “I don’t belong with these people.” Fortunately the love I felt from them destroyed that conclusion.
You know this inner dialogue don’t you? I wish I was as good looking as that guy. I wish my body was as toned and petite as hers. I wish my bank account looked like theirs. I could never be as smart as them. I wasn’t blessed with his charm. This inner dialogue is one of the most ungrateful and limiting dialogues you can participate in. These kind of negative, limiting beliefs can send us into a holding pattern for months, years, even decades. If we don’t process our way out of it, we will literally never grow past it.
But during one of our sessions, our leader made a profound statement. He said… “Who you aren’t, isn’t interesting”. No one is interested in hearing about who I am not. So why would I be interested in it? I decided right then that of critical importance to my growth was to stop listening to this inner dialogue. How did I do that? It’s taken some time. I’ve read many books. I’ve noticed right away when that dialogue starts and try to identify the triggers that cause it. Then I stop listening. But one more thing has worked extremely well for me. I’d like to share that with you.
I’ve stayed in contact with those remarkable people and I just spent the last few days in Denver with them. We’ve conversed together, eaten together, laughed together, opened our hearts to each other, listened to each other, cried together, and had our minds blown apart by some pretty heavy conversations and ideas. We’ve welcomed some new people into our family and we’ve loved together. And not one time did I even hear the beginning of that inner dialogue. Not one time did I begin to think that I wasn’t smart enough, creative enough, interesting enough, __________ enough, or that I didn't belong.
Do you know why? First, many months ago I decided that I wanted to rid myself of that inner dialogue and limiting beliefs and I sought out how to do that. Secondly, and more powerfully, I was too busy loving with these people. I literally shared and received so much love over the last few days that I had no room for comparing myself to them. Or comparing myself with anyone for that matter. The love came in all forms. Particularly being transferred through all the ways I spoke of in the previous paragraph.
I am convinced that love is saving the world and will continue to. That’s a whole other post. But for now I am glad to say that love has saved me. Love for myself to decide to make changes, Love for the people that I spent my time with, and Love from those people who aren’t looking to get anything out of me. They just are loving people. I type these words with tears in my eyes because of the great depths that love has moved me.
Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Are you way to interested in who you aren’t? When was the last time you stopped and were grateful for who you are? You are a wonderful, unique, inspirational person. You are filled with so much of the Divine that you can change the world. You can Love. Get loving.
Have you ever tried to love someone only to find out that there is no way they are going to allow you in? Do you know someone who seemingly had it all together and then started behaving in ways that destroyed their success? You show me a person who constantly sabotages the relationships that mean the most to them and I will show you a person who doesn’t think they deserve to be loved. That is lack of love for self. Oh yes, maybe they are afraid. Aren’t we all afraid of letting others in? Afraid of letting others be close to us? Aren’t we all afraid that if others find out who we really are they will see that we are a fraud? That we don’t have it all together? That we’ve made mistakes? That we’ll make mistakes again?
“Well if they really knew what I was like deep down, they would run as far away from me a possible.” So we lie. We deflect. We never really ‘show up’ and be present with them and allow them to see our true hearts. Below is an excerpt from an email I received from such a person. This person came to the realization that they had been putting on a ‘false self’ in order to try to make people happy. They have given me full permission to use this…
“I care way too much what everyone thinks of me. I act like I don’t, but I do. It affects everything that I do from counseling to being counseled. From my work life to, and especially in, my home life. With my family and friends and church. I want people to think well of me and I can’t stand when they don’t. I wish I cared less, but the monster in me that craves validation and affirmation is usually too hungry. I do so many things in a way that is rarely “true” and whole hearted. Usually I’m splitting part of my being up and spending energy on trying to present myself in a way that I’m liked.
I hide so many things from so many people. Who could I sit down and be honest with without the total fear that they would leave me and no longer love me. Then I feel as if I’d be ashamed of what everyone thought of me.”
Isn’t that the greatest fear that we all have? That we aren’t worth being loved and that we will be alone because of it. Isn’t this what every child fears on the first day of school? Isn’t this what every middle school child thinks the first time they send that text (or in my day, passed a note)? Isn’t that what adults think when they close themselves off from the one’s that love them most, engage in sabotaging behavior, and refuse to let love in?
It is hard to show our true selves. And where do we start? I think we start by realizing that we are hiding in the first place. Getting honest with ourselves first. Asking solid questions like, ‘am I a people pleaser?’ ‘Do I craft my life in a way to present myself to people in order to be liked?’
How do we move past trying to please people in order to soothe the fear that we won’t be liked? By believing we are worth being loved. Another way to say that is to love yourself. Value yourself. Believe that you truly do deserve to be loved and that you have something to offer other people that no one else can… yourself. If you love and value yourself, you won’t let yourself hide. You won’t let yourself sabotage relationships either. So how about it? Are you hiding? Are you sabotaging yourself and your relationships?
Full disclosure... I am unmistakably a believer. In this space I often use the term 'The Divine' to refer to the Higher Power. Please allow yourself to replace 'The Divine' with how you've come to know and understand God. ______________________________________________________________________________________
The world has a funny way of bumping into us and completely changing our inner state of being. One moment we’re happy and content, going through our day, and then BAM! Someone that we really don’t feel good being around runs into us with the kind of passing comment that can immediately derail us. We end up having 4 or 5 different conversations with that person in our head for the rest of the day. Maybe we tell them off. Maybe we logically box them into a corner and then knock them out with the tremendously practiced words we’ve worked so hard to come up with. All in our head of course, but knock them out none the less. The problem with this is that it takes up a tremendous amount of energy and time throughout the day! Also, we rarely end up having a conversation with the person, let alone along the vein of what we’ve rehearsed in our minds. There is another way, a way that doesn’t take our entire day hostage.
As painful and uncomfortable moments arise during our day, and they most certainly will, we must be aware that we are experiencing those feelings. Don’t engage them or try to change the world around you in order to make yourself feel more comfortable. Don’t spend your energy immediately, trying to do whatever it takes to make those feelings and pain go away. Instead, sit in rest and relaxation, being fully present with those feelings and allowing the old, hidden, suppressed pain that rises up to come up fully and release itself. This will take a tremendous amount of faith in the Divine. Faith that the Divine won’t allow us to be swallowed up by that pain. Faith that the Divine will provide for us emotionally what we need at that time.
When someone or some circumstance bumps into you and makes you extraordinarily uncomfortable, ask yourself… What is it I’m feeling? Inadequacy? Insecurity? Fear? What is behind that feeling? More of the same? Or something different. Let yourself be purified and healed as you allow yourself to go through the uncomfortable moments of fully recognizing your pain and discomfort emotionally, instead of suppressing those experiences and hiding from the truth. The Divine will care for you in those moments, even when its painful. You will come out the other side with great clarity and confidence of the Divine within your heart. It is only after you have been fully present with your discomfort and pain and that it has passed by without you being wrapped up in it, that you will have the clarity to decide what it is, if anything, that you want to change in your life. Maybe you just needed to have those emotions come up so that you could be fully present with them and allow those emotions to slip away. Or maybe when life bumped into me they came up to show me things about myself that I would like to change on a deep level.
One thing is for sure, if you spend your energy trying to keep yourself comfortable all of the time, you will be left with an empty life that is full of busy work and controlling/manipulative behavior… completely unaware of what is truly going on deep within your own heart. NO THANK YOU!
Today I will allow myself to have the courage to trust The Divine and relax as problems arise throughout my day. I won't hide from the discomfort or the pain that bump into me today. Instead, I will take a deep breathe, sit with my discomfort and ask myself... what is being revealed within me? Why is this so uncomfortable? How can I move forward? I will trust The Divine will provide the way for me.