If you are anything like me, then you have gotten to that point where you’re all done with the “I have to unconditionally love myself first before I can unconditionally love another person” bullsh*t.
You know what that does? Feeds into my insecurities of lack and unworthiness. It’s a blanket statement that provides no way of understanding what the roadmap to self-love looks like. By the way, self-love looks different to everyone—our own paths are unique.
I can guarantee there is someone out there right now who believes that unless they are perfect and have it all figured out, then they can’t be unconditionally loved, and vice versa.
How can I say this with such certainty? I was that person. I felt fairly certain that love would only come to me if I unconditionally loved myself—yet I had no idea how to do that. It made me feel like crap.
And the worst part is that it wasn’t true. I had to be willing to receive unconditional love. I was great at giving unconditional love, but horrible at receiving any kind of love. I mean, like, I had a brick wall with a door around my heart at all times. I opened the door to let love out, but rarely let love in.
I can honestly say I’ve unconditionally loved two men in my short life thus far on this spinning blue planet. However, I could not accept nor receive their love. And I definitely did not know how to effectively communicate, which ultimately contributed to the ending of these relationships.
Why? What was holding me back?
It stole my voice and kept me trapped in an endless cycle of pain and self-ridicule for most of my life. Fear isolated and disconnected me from myself, others, and the world. But where did this fear come from? How did it get here? And why won’t it just go away?
Fear, although a common thread amongst people, is different for everyone and is rooted in something, most commonly from childhood. The key is getting to the where and why. Fear loves hiding in our shadow, dark side, or subconscious. I like to refer to mine as the dank, dark corner of my inner psyche that few dare to tread.
But trust me, there are just as many golden nuggets of wisdom hidden in the dark as there are in the light. I just had to be willing to step into the dark to find them. You can’t communicate or heal what you aren’t willing to see, hear, or feel.
How could I communicate what I wanted or needed to another person if I didn’t even know what I wanted or needed? Or better yet, whether that want or need was rooted in truth or fear. Confronting my fear—whether it was fear of abandonment, rejection, being too much, not being enough, or whatever the case was—allowed me to stand in my truth.
The truth feels and sounds different. It holds a different, higher vibration and energy than fear. And once I did that, the communication with myself and others not only became easier but healthier. The communication is more honest, fulfilling, and intimate. That’s how you gain the connection between two people.
However, we get so concerned about what the other person wants, is thinking, or how to even communicate at all that we lose ourselves in the process. I have found that bringing myself back to my truth and self-worth is where the words of being enough, worthy, and lovable find me—not me trying to find the words. When I stay true to myself, my connection to my wants, needs, and values are maintained, and ultimately the connection to the other person as well.
So, how do you start?
1. First, it starts with open, honest communication with yourself. Get real with yourself. Start digging into your fear. When something comes up, ask yourself: Why? Where did this come from? How does this make me feel? Why do I feel this way?
Self-talk helps in these situations. It feels weird at first, but you get used to it eventually.
2. Start a journal or write a letter. Let go and write whatever comes up and out.
Journaling or free-writing can help clear the clutter in your mind and allows you to drop into your heart space to say the things you’ve been holding back in a safe way. Think of it as practice before speaking your words into existence.
Same goes for a letter. It helps you flush out what you want to say to the person, without actually sending it.
3. Speak to a trusted friend, family member, mentor, or spiritual advisor. The caveat to this is to make sure you speak to someone who will keep it real with you and provide honest feedback. No small talk. Save that for work functions.
Get into your heart and out of your head. It gets in the way. When I started speaking from my heart, it changed all my relationships and strengthened our connections.
4. If you feel as if you need more support or guidance then consider seeing a licensed professional counselor or coach. Cognitive behavioral therapy changed my life. It was like learning an entirely new language while simultaneously digging into my traumas. I also worked with two coaches who taught me how to get out of my own way.
The key to all of this is to get talking! It won’t be easy at first. You will most likely feel uncomfortable and make mistakes, but that’s how you learn, grow, and change. You won’t find the gold or root cause of your fear by staying mute. Remember, everyone is perfectly imperfect, including the person you’ve been eyeing.
So just start. Start communicating with yourself first. Ask yourself: What do I truly want and/or need right now? What do I value? The person inside yourself is waiting for you to ask. Your inner voice or intuition may have even been screaming it at you for years, but you weren’t listening (that was me).
The confronting part about all this is being open to receiving what you hear without judgment. Once you do that, you’ll find yourself more aligned with your truth and at ease communicating with others because you will have gotten clear on your own values, wants, and needs.
Let’s face it, all the good stuff in life is on the other side of fear: honest communication, healthier connections, and intimacy.
The real question is whether or not you are ready to lean into your fear. The answer to that will tell you if you’re really ready to find out what is holding you back in life, and in love.