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We all have parts of ourselves that we believe to be unlovable.
We've been taught this—directly or indirectly—by our culture, our family, our peers, our friends, our religious tradition, our significant others, or others whose opinion mattered deeply to us. However it happened, our experiences have taught us that some part of us is unlovable and unacceptable.
Every time this happens, it sets up deep fractures in us as we attempt to cut off parts of who we are out of our deep need for love. We come to believe that the only way to be fully loved is to hide, suppress, or amputate pieces and parts of our true selves in order to "fix" what's wrong with us.
The problem is that this not only leaves us feeling broken and unlovable, it also causes us to distrust any love that does come our way because we don't believe they truly love us as we are because we know there are parts of ourselves we are hiding. This reinforces our belief in our unlovability, which leads to deeper fractures as we try even harder to be "good enough," and so the vicious cycle continues.
It leaves us in an unwinnable position in a perfect recipe for brokenness and heartache.
I spent many years desperately trying to find someone who would love me enough to prove that I was good enough to love myself. I thought that if I could contort myself into the shape of someone who was completely lovable, that would make it so.
The result was only more brokenness and an ever deeper conviction that I was unlovable for who I was.
For me, it took a brokenness beyond bearing to finally let go of this desperate chasing of love. It was only in that place of rock bottom that I discovered the path to wholeness did not have anything to do with making myself good enough or with eliminating the unlovable parts of me or with winning anyone else's love.
The path to wholeness turned out to be through re-integrating those parts of me that I believed were unlovable and learning to love myself as I am. Not as I may want to be or as who someone else wants me to be, but who I really am, warts and imperfections and eccentricities and all.
I'm still following that path to wholeness, but I've come a long way since that rock bottom place of such brokenness.
As our culture celebrates Valentine's Day tomorrow, which can trigger this vicious cycle of longing and feelings of unlovability in many, I want to share some of the things that have helped me on my own path back toward wholeness in the hopes that they might help you on that same journey.
Connecting to the source of love
All human love is limited by our own imperfect vision and understanding. Looking for unconditional love from other humans will always disappoint us (in big or small ways) in the end.
Connecting back to the source of love in that which is More, however you might define that in your own life, is the only way to experience the love that holds us always wrapped in unconditional, total, unswerving love that never ends.
It took stripping away many of my beliefs about the Divine to come to a place where I could begin to taste and see this love without the blinders of my religious beliefs obscuring my way with their baggage, but in that space of openness to the actual presence of the More which is the wellspring of love, I discovered the truth that I had been loved completely and unconditionally all along.
Tapping into this sources of love opened the well for self-love to begin to flow.
Intentionally practicing self-love
I had someone challenge me during that darkest of times to spend time every single day looking myself in the eye in the mirror and telling myself (out loud!), "I love you."
It was one of the most uncomfortable things I've ever done. It was also one of the most healing.
It sounds crazy, but I dare you to give it a try! I guarantee that it will be uncomfortable (at least initially), but I suspect you will also find something melting inside of you over time as those words of love seep into the fractures and begin knitting you back together.
If necessary, start out by speaking to the child-self in you. That's sometimes an easier place for us to start with sincerity.
Drop the messages of unworthiness
Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. When unkind, critical, and disempowering messages come up, replace them with ones that affirm your worth, your value, and your gifts.
Speak to yourself (even in the privacy of your own mind) as you would to someone you love.
At the same time, let go of the negative messages about your worth that you have received from others. Their opinions stem from their own places of suffering and pain. They never were about you anyway, so just let them go.
Re-embrace the shunned parts of yourself
Seek out those parts of yourself that you have shoved side, believing them unlovable. Those parts of yourself will need extra love and reassurance to blossom and grow, but as they do, you will discover that they have gifts for you as well.
As we accept those parts of ourselves back into the whole and find them loved both by ourselves and that which is More than us, the fractures we have created by their rejection will gradually stitch themselves back together.
If you're anything like me, you will find in that space of wholeness a rest from all the striving to be good enough, from all the fracturing and amputating of yourself, and from all the heartache of feeling unlovable into a place that is capable of holding all of you—even your imperfections—in the arms of unconditional love.
What parts of yourself have you rejected as unlovable?
How has that created fractures in yourself? How has that driven choices or behaviors that have not been in your best interests as you have chased love?
What one step are you willing to take today to begin to love yourself back to wholeness?
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