The Disintegration of Conditional Love

Loving yourself isn't something that we are all naturally great at. Like anything else in this world, it comes more easily for some than for others. That's just the way things work and love really isn't any different. For me personally, it's something that I have always found incredibly difficult to do. I'm extremely hard on myself and critical that I can always do better. I'm a perfectionist and the type of person who can set a bar to reach but just as I get there and reach it, I have already moved it to the next level. You know, there are lots of reasons why I am like I am, some are experientially related from my childhood, however, a lot of it just has to do with my personality. Either way, it doesn't really matter, the result is the same. I just find it damn hard to love myself. 

For years, I've read books and heard people say that you must do the work on yourself because you cannot love another unless you love yourself. To be honest, that concept alone was just another reason I could be really hard on myself and make myself wrong about. I mean, I've done a bucket load of work and continue to do so, yet apparently, with this concept, my love is still pretty limited. I started to actually think about whether I believe this or not and reality is, I don't. What resonates as true for me is that my love for OTHERS is actually the thing that TEACHES me to love myself. I hope that by sharing this perspective, those of you who don't find it easy to love yourself can let yourselves off the hook and know that maybe your love grows from the outside in, rather than the inside out. 

So, I've never been any different in that I have always had more allowance for others than I do for myself. This being said, it stands to reason that it's a whole lot easier to love others. At times in my life, this has been to my own detriment however it's also the very special part of me that enables me to hold such a strong place for people to reconnect with themselves in my work. I think back to a time, over a decade ago when I was at my lowest. The level of hatred I had for myself, was, on a scale of 1 to 10, about a 50. What I was most frustrated with was that I couldn't express my feelings. I had been taught that there was only one positive emotion and that was happiness and joy, however, I had a truckload of every other emotion spilling out all over the place. I had absolutely no love for myself at all at that time. So with the concept of I couldn't possibly love anyone else if I didn't love myself, what do you think happened? Well, it just made me feel worse and hate myself even more. 

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I think about how I was then and ask myself, did I actually love anything or anyone? With not one ounce of hesitation, I can say YES! At a time when I had absolutely no love for myself, the thing that kept me going was the love I had for my children and my husband. Not only did it keep me going, but it was the love I had for them that actually made me want to feel better about myself. Even more than that, it was that love I had for them that kept me on my healing path, even when it was so very difficult and I thought I couldn't do it, it kept me going. That love that I had for them became my guide and teacher in bringing me out of the darkness I was in and into the light. It taught me to find love for myself again. 

You know this life we are living is fluid. Sometimes we will be up and other times we will be down. It's in those down times when we need love the most, however, it's also at these times that it can be hardest to give it to ourselves. That's not something to punish ourselves about or make ourselves believe that because we can't love ourselves right now, we don't love others. Rather, I like to think of it as receiving the gift of love from others at those times as a guide and helping hand back into the state of being able to have a love for ourselves. And just as we receive that gift from others, we, in turn, are able to give it to others in the times when they don't have it for themselves too. 

Love isn't something that is conditional, however, we as humans are the ones who make it so. Loving others isn't conditional on loving ourselves and it's not something that is fixed either. Like every other emotion, it is energy and sometimes it is bigger than at other times.  By freeing ourselves from these conditions we have been taught to place on love, it allows us to receive and give love in it's purest form just as it was always meant to be.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you know someone who you think could benefit from these words, please feel free to share. 

Until next time xxx

 

Embracing your INNER CRITIC

How do you feel about your inner critic? The most common response I have heard when I ask anyone this is along the lines of hating it, it's annoying, or I wish I could just get rid of it. But I want to offer you a bit of a different perspective in the hope that if I ask you the exact same question at the end of reading this, some of you may respond a whole lot different. 

So I'll make the claim right now that I am an EXPERT in the area of the inner critic! Why? My inner critic and I know each other INTIMATELY. She makes multiple daily appearances in my life and no amount of shooing her away or wishing she wasn't there makes ANY difference at all except maybe making her more persistent! The reality is, she's still there and wishing and wanting it not to be so is just a big waste of time and energy. I realised many years ago that for me, I really had to have a different approach and do something different so I decided to get to know the face behind the voice and start building a relationship with her. 

That face is that of my inner child. That shy, timid little girl who used to be afraid of EVERYTHING! That little girl who didn't know how to say no and just did what everyone told her because they knew better than she did. That little girl who was TERRIFIED of making a mistake, who was the ultimate perfectionist. The disempowered people pleaser. The little girl who was picked on and bullied because she was an easy target and never said anything back. Yep... that little girl. She was the voice of my inner critic. Naming her in this way and thinking about the little girl I was, I kinda felt a little sorry for her and it got me thinking as to how I treat her every time I hear her. Wishing her gone, hating her, hoping she'll disappear. it's just ignoring her all over again. 

What if all that little girl actually needed at that exact moment she was being critical was a little UNDERSTANDING and ACKNOWLEDGMENT? I decided to try it out and goodness me, let me tell you... it is a GAME CHANGER! 

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Reality is, you can't GET RID of your inner critic. It's a part of you. But what you can do is relate to it differently. These days, when she shows up as that little voice in my head, I acknowledge her and actually THANK her for being there and let her know that she can relax and I, AS THE ADULT have got this (This is SELF-PARENTING 101). After all, I don't actually think she is trying to be mean to me, I think she's just scared and it's her way of trying to keep me safe! This really does make sense as when I say I was scared of everything as a child, I pretty well was so it's no wonder she shows up so often. By doing this little process in my head, that inner child is able to relax and rather than pushing her away, I have actually shown myself the love, kindness, compassion and acknowledgment I need to alleviate my fear. 

Our inner critic isn't just some random pop up in our own head that is trying to hurt us but rather is our own fear presenting itself. It's a real opportunity for us to show ourselves love and compassion at a moment when we need it the most. This inner critic is an aspect of our inner child and we have to stop calling her mean and cruel and understand that she's just scared. A simple acknowledgment (or sometimes two or three) really can transform your whole relationship with this aspect of yourself and will not only provide you with the ability to move forward in a moment but also deepen the relationship you have with yourself as a whole. 

I do a lot of this work with my clients and I can tell you that being witness to people transforming this area of their relationship with themselves is one of the most beautiful and precious experiences. Reconnecting with aspects that are normally considered negative, bad or wrong and relating to them differently is where ultimate peace is experienced. 

Until next time xxx