At Changing Lives we find that most of our clients are women who seem to deal with some common challenges. During the next few weeks we will be posting helpful tools for all who face these situations. Hope this one is helpful.
1. We accept ourselves fully, even while wanting to change parts of ourselves. There is a basic self-love and self-regard, which we carefully nurture and purposely expand.
2. We accept others as they are, without trying to change them to meet our needs.
3. We are in touch with our feelings and attitudes about every aspect of our lives, including our sexuality.
4. We cherish every aspect of ourselves: our personality, our appearance, our beliefs and values, our bodies, our interests and accomplishments. We validate ourselves rather than search for a relationship to give us a sense of self-worth.
5. Our self-esteem is great enough that we can enjoy being with others, especially those of the opposite sex, who are fine just as they are. We do not need to be needed to feel worthy.
6. We allow ourselves to be open and trusting with appropriate people. We are not afraid to be known at a deeply personal level, but we also do not expose ourselves to the exploitation of those who are not interested in our well-being.
7. We ask ourselves “Is this relationship good for me? Does it enable me to grow into all that I am capable of being?”
8. When a relationship is destructive, we are able to let go of it without experiencing disabling depression. We have a circle of supportive friends and healthy interests to see us through crises.
9. We value our own serenity above all else. All the struggles, drama and chaos of the past have lost their appeal. We are protective of ourselves, our health and well-being.
10. We know that a partnership, in order to work, must be between partners who share similar values, interests and goals, and who each have a capacity for intimacy. We also know that we are worthy of the best that life has to offer.
There are several phases in recovering from loving too much. The first phase begins when we realize what we are doing and wish we could stop. Next comes our willingness to get help for ourselves, followed by our actual initial attempt to secure help. After that, we enter the phase of recovery that requires our commitment to our own healing and our willingness to continue with our recovery program. During this period, we begin to change how we act, think, and feel. What once felt normal and familiar begins to feel uncomfortable and unhealthy. We enter the next phase of recovery when we start making choices that no longer follow our old patterns but enhance our lives and promote our well-being instead. Throughout the stages of recovery, self-love grows slowly and steadily. First we stop hating ourselves, then we become more tolerant of ourselves. Next, there is a burgeoning appreciation of our good qualities, and then self-acceptance develops. Finally, genuine self-love evolves.
Unless we have self-acceptance and self-love, we cannot tolerate being known, because without these feelings, we cannot believe we are worth loving just as we are. Instead, we try to earn love through giving it to another, through being nurturing and patient, through suffering and sacrifice, through providing exciting sex or wonderful cooking or whatever.
Once the self-acceptance and self-love begin to develop and take hold, we are then ready to consciously practice simply being ourselves without trying to please, without performing in certain ways calculated to gain another’s approval and love. But stopping the performances and letting go of the act, while a relief, can also be frightening. Awkwardness and a feeling of great vulnerability come over us when we are just being rather than doing. As we struggle to believe that we are worthy, just as we are, of the love of someone important to us, the temptation will always be there to put on at least a bit of an act for him, and yet if the recovery process has progressed there will also be an unwillingness to go back into old behaviors and old manipulations.
From “Women Who Love Too Much” pages 272-274.
Also read Joe Herzanek’s article “Detachment. How can I?”
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Detachment. How Can I?