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What is the key to finding love? I asked a client of mine, "Ray", a native to Colombia, to write a blog about FINDING LOVE. The below is the beautiful thoughts and blog that he wrote for me. It is extremely cute, to the point, and poignant. He is definitely on to something here. I hope you enjoy!
A couple of months ago, after my boyfriend and I split up, I started questioning if I would ever find true love and a life partner ever again. I loved him initially but the love disappeared with time. I was feeling lonely, having doubts about my ability to love. I had fears about the future and felt disappointed in myself. I gave room in my mind to many negative thoughts. My life coach suggested I remain open about my feelings with close friends. I have kept things to myself, perhaps because I did not want to feel weak and I thought I could overcome the issues on my own.
Two conversations had a special impact on me. The first conversation that impacted me was from a friend who had problems in her marriage. She arrived at a point where she asked her husband to move out. Her issues where similar to mine. After a final ultimatum, her husband apologized, started to change, and they are now enjoying a better relationship. It seems that that what was needed -- the expression of her boundaries, i.e. how much are we willing to tolerate. I hope it lasts.
The second one came from a confident and expressive female friend. After complaining about the things I did not like about my boyfriend, she told me "the problem is you". I was shocked! I was not expecting that! I wanted to hear that I was right. She explained that I let things build up, that I did not set up boundaries, and that I had given permission for him to "abuse" my space. She said I needed to love myself first before I could have a successful relationship. I never thought I had to confront those words. How do I love myself? Where do I even start? Is it was easy as a trip to the mall to purchase some amazing gifts for myself or as easy as the wonderful distraction of spending time with friends? I felt there had to be something deeper. She suggested me a couple books to read, and, as it turns out, they worked for me and I hope they are valuable to someone else.
Those books are the following two books by Walter Riso, "Enamorate de ti" (Fall in Love with Yourself) and "Cuestión de dignidad" (The Question of Dignity). In these books, Riso explains that there are five key concepts to falling in love with yourself. I explore them below.
1. Self-awareness. This is the first key element to loving yourself. I value myself because we are / I am a creation of God. My strengths and weakness make me who I am. I will love my uniqueness and never consider that I am less valuable than any other person. I deserve respect as much as I give respect to others. I avoid comparisons and general critical statements about myself (ex. I am boring! but instead replacing them with, I do not like this situation or this behavior). I need to avoid the too many rules in life.
2. Self- image. Beauty is an attitude. If you feel pretty, then you are, and you will transmit that to others. If we accept the external models of beauty, we will never be happy. We need to forget about perfection and define our own criteria of beauty. Find the things that we like about ourselves and do not magnify what you do not like. Most people do not even care! Finally, beauty is not just physical, it is as well who we are inside. (AMEN!)
3. Reinforcement. It is important to be conscious about our internal dialog. Think about how much we praise ourselves. Perhaps we do not say anything? Maybe it is punitive? Do not wait for external approval, praise yourself and treat yourself to only the best! This is where pampering ourselves come into place. It is one of the most important aspects of loving ourselves.
4. Confidence. To build confidence, it is important to set up goals. As long as we keep fighting, there will be always hope. If you lose, at least you know, you have tried your very best. Let's recognize that our goals are the result of our own efforts. Let's not punish ourselves unnecessarily for the mistakes we make, instead let's use them as learnings. The only way to learn how to overcome fear... is to face it! Expose yourself! Take risks and put your misconceptions to the test!
5. Respect. It is about being assertive to demand and defend our rights. It is about saying "no", expressing disagreement, and expressing an opinion (especially a contrary one). To expressing your feelings is transformative and gives all of us emotional health. Respect strengthens self-esteem. However, one should be sensitive, because the pain of others is not necessarily compatible with defending our rights. We need to learn to recognize our rights to be able to defend them. Respect yourself and speak up! One way to do this is to recognize your internal anger/compass when something is not right. If there is more sense of dignity than fear, assertiveness wins.
I was working on all these themes and, with a little help and support of others, I felt transformed. I discovered that first I have to search for the love inside of me. I could not fully love and be loved because I had not fully embraced the essence of me as a unique and valuable person.
I started to express out loud that I am a great catch and worthy of the best person. I treated myself to better things because I deserve the best, of course, as I can afford them. I repurposed negative thoughts for a can-do attitude. I set up new and lasting goals!
After these aforementioned subtle changes, I ended up telling my boyfriend in a letter what was not working for me in the relationship, what parts of his behaviors upset me, and those behaviors that I needed to change myself. By his response, he demonstrated to me that he cared deeply about us by recognizing the problem and therefore, likewise, started changing some of his attitudes. We mutually agreed to try the relationship again, this time with an intelligent awareness of what had not worked the last time.
My self-esteem has increased and I have become more confident. I am able me to express my feelings and as a result I have a much healthier relationship now. I also removed some of my barriers or rules, those of which were not core to my essence. We are back together and hope for better times to come.
Remember, loving yourself first is the most important. Good luck to all of you. Love, R.
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A Smile From The Inside Production :)