I’ve been in therapy for years, and the one thing I could never wrap my head around was being okay with me.
My therapist was constantly telling me I needed to love myself before anyone else could love me.
What? Love myself?
I would give him an eye roll in my mind and think to myself, that’s never gonna work, buddy. I always thought I had to be with someone else to fully be me, so how could I possibly love just me? He always asked me to love myself, but never really showed me how.
Fortunately, after years of soul-searching and often not liking myself very much at all, I happened upon a seminar that helped me to be “good” with me. I was asked to explore my deepest fear and ask the fear what it needs from me.
I know that sounds a bit nutty. I’m supposed to talk to fear and ask it what it needs? Huh? That seems almost crazier than the idea of loving myself. I was skeptical, but I gave it a shot.
My biggest fear is being alone. As instructed, I imagined curling up on my couch with “alone” and asking it what it needed from me. I found that I could tap into my feelings and listen internally for a message. Strange concept, I know, but in doing this I communicated with my fear—and the message I got was crystal clear.
The answer from “alone” was simply “me.” All “alone” needed from me was myself. Instead of feeling like I don’t have the tools I need to manage “alone,” I now realize I had them within me all along.
Now “alone” is no longer scary, and I’m actually learning to like and acquire love for myself. I’m perfectly okay with me, and it’s a wonderful feeling.
Rather than looking for a person, place, or thing to make me feel whole and lovable, I simply look to myself. By doing this, I realize I’m not half bad, and sometimes I feel pretty awesome about me. I have days when I struggle and forget this, of course. But I can take a moment and sit with my pain, fear, or anxiety and ask it what it needs. Incredibly, the answers seem to present themselves with ease.
As a psychotherapist, I use this technique with my clients and help them tap into the answers that are right there with them. Rather than pushing feelings away, I ask clients to ask those feelings to pull up a chair.
The next time you struggle with fear, I challenge you to ask it to dinner.
The answers will come.