We accept the love we think we deserve
Can you love as if you've never been hurt before?
Most of us have built up barriers to love because we've been hurt in the past, either by love’s absence or departure. Maybe we were babies when we first felt the disconnection and made an unconscious decision to not feel that pain again. Or maybe it was emotional or physical abuse that led to the distrust of love. At some point we might have made an unconscious promise to ourselves to never love that much again because the fall was too traumatic.
And that's where it goes wrong. What happens as a result is that we stop allowing love in. To keep love out, we subconsciously choose partners who don't treat us right, and that creates more pain. Do this enough times and we begin to think we're unworthy of love because we can't maintain a relationship. Yet when the good ones come along, we can't connect to them because it's too scary. And if we continue in this downward spiral, we come to accept and expect very little, thinking it's what we deserve.
In the movie "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", young Charlie asks his English teacher why nice people date the wrong kind of people. The teacher replies, "We accept the love we think we deserve."
Hearing those words was an "a-ha" moment for me.
If it resonates with you, too, then somewhere along the line, someone taught you that you're not worthy of love and you bought into it because it was someone you loved, trusted, or considered an authority. It might have been a sibling, parent, or even your first love. It's a trap you don't want to fall into, let me tell you, because sometimes perfectionism comes along with that. Eating disorders, too. And a whole bunch of other problems...
"Self-worth comes from one thing: thinking that you are worthy." — Wayne Dyer
The way to break the chain is to first decide that you are worthy of love. Unconditional love. That was the conscious decision I made about a year before I met Armand.
I figured out that love is not an external force but is something I give to myself. The more love I give to myself, the more I can receive from others. You fill your own cup so it expands and can receive more from others.
Oftentimes we get it backwards, thinking that if we have a partner to show us love, then we have love. If you view love as something external, it will always bring a sense of vulnerability and the need for constant validation by someone. But if you view love as something that is radiated from within, you'll have a constant flow of self-assurance and of self-acceptance. In essence, you fall in love with yourself.
So just how do you fall in love with yourself? The answer: by nurturing yourself.
Nurture comes in many forms. We can love ourselves by not taking crap from anyone else or being their doormat. We can respect ourselves and maintain healthy boundaries. Also, we can nurture our bodies by eating well and exercising, and by investing in ourselves, such as by learning new skills and developing talents. Above all else, we can love ourselves by talking to ourselves kindly rather than making ourselves wrong. That's the big one: kind self-talk.
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
Think about the kind of love you want to receive from someone and ask yourself if you are giving that exact measure of love to yourself right now. If you aren't, you cannot expect to receive it from someone else. Everyone is a mirror and that includes a mirror of love.
Teach yourself that you deserve love. Forgive yourself for the past and transform it. (Read how here.)