How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Know How To Be Loved. ~ Tui Anderson

Via on Mar 21, 2014

Woman depressed

I read Sara Rodriguez’s recent article “How To Love a Girl Who Doesn’t Know How To Be Loved” and couldn’t remember when we had been separated at birth or how she got inside my head.

But there I was, laid out on paper (well, my computer screen).

As I was reading, I couldn’t help thinking that it would mostly be women like me reading the article—those of us who were living this, rather than those who may be loving us. I felt compelled to reply with my thoughts on how we can survive that journey.

“She’s the self-sufficient, somewhat mysterious, go-getter with big dreams and an even bigger heart, though not everyone sees it at first glance.

Some might see her as cold and distant, because she needs a significant amount of alone time to keep her from feeling scattered and spread so thin that she disappears. Sure, she has family and friends with whom she loves to spend much of her time, but it’s in her nature to crave those precious hours of solitude—being only with her thoughts, completely alone in a crowd or in the vastness of a quiet scene.”

I am that girl.

But I don’t mean to be that girl. I don’t try to be that girl. The fact is, I don’t know how to not be that girl.

I also can’t know what it is like to be the other person, so it always baffles me a little bit when I get feedback from friends and family, highlighting the way they perceive me, because it rarely matches what is going on in my head.

Sure, when I look at it, I can understand what they are saying and where they are coming from, but their experience does not fit with my intent, how I am meaning to connect.

I had a friend comment, upon meeting another friend of mine, “Wow, she must really overwhelm you.”

At first, I was a bit baffled because I am a strong and independent women, not really overwhelmed by anything or anyone, but then she explained, “You hold yourself back so much and she just keeps talking and talking, trying to connect. She must overwhelm you.”

I was fascinated and a little bit dumbstruck. I am used to studying others—I am not used to them studying me. I am unfamiliar with being seen.

But, that is all beside the point. What I really started thinking about was myself and how others see me. If you have read any of my work, you will know that I strongly advocate for recognizing that each of us can only control ourselves. We can’t change or control others. So, as much as I would love to believe that the love of my life will read Sara’s article and know exactly how to respond when we meet, that is out of my jurisdiction.

So here is my list of how to work with ourselves when we are hard to love:

1.      Be patient.

We need a lot of patience with ourselves to accept that we do not follow the ‘normal’ path. Sometimes we are completely fine with this and sometimes we just want to scream at the world and ask why we were made so differently. Forgive yourself. Our differences are beautiful. This may be easier on some days than others.

Be patient with others. They are just living their lives from the perspective they understand. They are not out to get us, reject us or be difficult. They are just working from their operating system as best they know how.

2.      Talk.

Take responsibility for meeting others half way. While we may be happy out there on our own unbeaten path, we need to remember that people care about us and are trying to connect. Try to share yourself with them as best as you can. They won’t always get us, but they will still love us.

We can practice opening ourselves up to being vulnerable by sharing the parts of ourselves that may be fragile when bumped up against another person. We are so brave on our own, now try to be a little braver with someone else.

3.      Support others.

Sometimes, we can go through the motions of supporting others without really getting involved.  In order to provide meaningful support and connection, we have to be willing to open our hearts. Get involved—this is your life and it’s real too.

4.      We are whole.

Sometimes we are so whole there is no space for anyone else. Soften your edges. Yes, I know this is hard, because the edges feel fine. Probably because we don’t really let anyone poke our edges much. But, even if we think they’re soft, it’s possible that our wholeness and independence has a few prickles that we don’t see.

Make space for others. They are a different shaped whole than us. This is okay too.

I am trying to learn that it not just about other people accepting and understanding me. The more I accept and understand myself, the more I can shed light into those dark corners and become more comfortable with other people. When I am comfortable with other people, I allow them in and we connect.

I have friends I have known for 15 years and I am just now allowing them to see me. For those who don’t make it that long, I am trying to take responsibility for my role in my sometimes isolation. After all, I am in charge of my life.

We, “Miss Independents,” design our lives to suit ourselves, sometimes a little too much. We might run off and travel or move to a new city for our jobs. We are so brave, so strong, so capable… and that is all amazing.

But we can also be a bit intimidating; a bit aloof, a bit elusive.

And while it is not up to us to change other people’s perceptions of us, perhaps we can work on gentling our corners, stretching our connections and opening our souls to be seen.

 

Relephant:

How to Actually Love Yourself. Like, Actually. For Real.

 

 

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Editorial Assistant: Brandie Smith/ Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

About Tui Anderson

Tui Anderson is a traveling homebody with a busy brain and a calm soul. She accidentally became a writer after the Universe answered a frustrated question with a profound thought. In the words of one Buddhist teacher, she is a “fluffy spiritualist” who believes there are no wrong roads to happiness. You can find her on her public Facebook page.

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30 Responses to “How to Love Yourself When You Don’t Know How To Be Loved. ~ Tui Anderson”

  1. Ali says:

    You nailed it … this is me! Thankyou for sharing and I have taken certain things on board.

    • Tui Anderson Tui Anderson says:

      Thank you Ali! It is always hard to know how much to "just be yourself" and where our behaviour needs to adapt a little to connect with others- good luck!

      • SammyMichaels says:

        Oh I've been taking long walks an rediscovering my creative soul listening to puppy dogs and their owners. Your writing I somehow stumbled upon makes me weep! There is someone out there so much like me! A distant companion who sees the universe as I see it, spend my nights walking alone and sleep away most days!
        You are a gentle,loving kind person, This is not, I repeat, not a sexual advance! This is just one Old Soul appreciating the existence of another! All my best to you and to anyone you love and those who love you, Denys ty0713@aol.com

        • SammyMichaels says:

          I am trying to learn here. Forgive me I suffer from an aging mind and hepatic encephalopathy

  2. Jodie H says:

    Your words made me cry Tui. I ‘don’t know how not to be that girl’ either. And am finding it hard to be patient right now, but also understanding that I need to be and getting frustrated with how I am is unhelpful. Learning to soften the edges slowly… Thank you.

    • Tui Anderson Tui Anderson says:

      Hang in there Jodie! It is ok to be us, it is just learning how to meet where others are too… :)

  3. Sarvasmarana Ma Nithya Sarvasmarana says:

    This is lovely! I can relate! Thanks for sharing!
    Sarvasmarana

  4. Heather Crespi says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing! <3

  5. I love this Tui, it's perfect. So well written. I'm honored to have reached you with my words; know that you have reached me with yours just the same. xo

  6. Shelly C says:

    It was like you were writing directly for me…thank you!

  7. Penelope Sell says:

    Thank you Tui (your name is a most beautiful and revered New Zealand native bird with a fabulous song). What you say I need to reread to sink in – be patient with yourself! I sabotage my relationships because they are never good enough, the men never 'get me' – what is the point when i would rather be alone?>?? (Of course I want true love like everyone else) And so true that the ones you want to read Sara's article won't – so this is perfect – well done – thankyou.

  8. Staci Carey says:

    Amazzzing! I just read the other article yesterday and thought the exact same thing you did, then logged on this morning and poof here it is….as stated above you nailed it. I too need to do some "work and get busy softening my edges" Thank you for the inspiration and insight.

  9. Tia says:

    These articles are so AMAZING. I am 20 and have never been in a relationship before. I subconsciously always critique and find ways of making sense to myself why I shouldn't let a guy in. I always thought that I'm just a late bloomer or haven't met the right one (Which are also true) but until now I never knew what it really was and this article felt like a psychic was telling me about myself! I can't thank you enough! My whole perspective is different now. It's always easier to not deal with letting people in but slowly I am trying to do that.

    ~Tia

  10. AnnaF says:

    This is absolutely wonderful and me to the T. Thank you for being able to put down in words what is in my head and more.

  11. jestrel says:

    So a concern friend sent me the one that Sara wrote..I didn't know exactly what to say. I thought, She was amazing for putting into writing something that can further help others understand the way we are..and I found myself to rather have a better understanding on why I am just that kind of girl..and Yes! Didn't mean to be that kind…and on my 3rd time to read it I found your response…She just nailed it I uttered…you guys are amazing…!! And I am awaken..thanks big time!

    • Tui Anderson Tui Anderson says:

      Thank you Jestrel… Yes, Sara's words are very inspiring and I am grateful to her for allowing me this one!

  12. Jen says:

    Thank you!

  13. Kasia says:

    I'm so grateful I stumbled upon this article at this point in my life. Thank you so much for this!

  14. Dawn says:

    Wow, thus is so on the money, me totally, I’m always portrayed as being stuck up, and always hear this after someone gets to know me. Just because were quiet & layed back, does not make us stuck-up or anti-social!

  15. Robin says:

    I am not an anomaly…..wow…..great article. love.

  16. Leigh says:

    The world very rarely matches what goes on in my head and I've never fully recovered from being called a cold fish by a friend who felt I wasn't engaging enough with her pain. I've learned a lot of lessons you write about over the years and they do work. Well done for articulating these for thoughts for the rest of the tribe.

  17. MeganW12 says:

    This describes me really well. I am 28 and have had only 1 serious relationship, and it was horrible, abusive, and I am going to be picking up the pieces of the aftermath for years to come. I think that my years of solitude are because I don't know how to be loved. I have a hard time accepting a compliment. I have always been very independent and have difficulty relating to other people. I always put others before me, but never expect others to do the same for me. People have referred to me as having an "I don't give a sh*t attitude" because I tend to just take the world in when I am in an unfamiliar situation (which is actually rarely because it is outside of my comfort zone). I was shocked to hear this! Is that how I am perceived? I have an abundance of things that I am passionate about and that I have opinions on. I hope that someday I learn to let people in and stay true to myself, rather than conforming to what I think "they" want from me. I get lonely, but I have accomplished a lot all on my own. I have to practice being proud of myself. Maybe then I will learn how to be loved. Everyone deserves that, right?

    • Tui Anderson Tui Anderson says:

      Hang in there Megan- you totally deserve to be loved.

    • Jason says:

      I'm a 30 yr old male and I'm the same way as you. I'm a codependent (which makes it much harder to let girls in since I struggle to let them out) and recently learned a lot about myself, but still have no idea how to let someone love me. I lose myself so there is no 'me'. If I can overcome this illusion, so can you. I don't want to keep living like this so I know I will.

      Cheers

  18. Lee says:

    I'm a 57 year old male and totally relate to this article, independant and self sufficient. I'm guessing this issue is not gender specific as I struggle to this day in my attempt to understand and accept my differences, iot has and continues to be an uphill struggle trying to find and connect with a partner that "gets me".. "I am that guy!".

    Lee

  19. dorothyl says:

    Total mirror image here. Excellent 'thy self' article~

  20. rogerr says:

    I found it short sighted of you to think that this conversation only applies to women. There are many men in this world who carry this same conversation. It would serve, I believe, the healing of many to include them in this dialogue and writing.
    Thanks for the words

    • Tui Anderson Tui Anderson says:

      Hi Rogerr- I guess I tend to write from the female perspective because that is my voice. I never discount that similar or the same things may apply to men and I love it when they read my words and can also relate. Cheers!

  21. Ruth says:

    This article nailed it. So much me and a me that I didn’t see. I feel crowded and run when there is too much pressure. I will read this a few more times to let it sink in and hope I can allow for healing to begin or to make changes.
    Thank you so much.

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