There have been few areas of my life more frustrating than my search for love. I spent decades feeling like I couldn’t get it right. I dated “unavailable” man after “unavailable” man. Meanwhile, I watched my friends glide from one committed relationship right into another. I couldn’t figure out what they had that I didn’t. I tried copying what they did, playing it cool or playing it sexy; I “perfected” my exterior. All to no avail. It was so painful to live this pattern. I only wanted what everyone wants: love.
My search for love felt like I had been dropped into the center of a labyrinth with no string with which to find my way out. I tried trusting myself as I navigated through the tall hedges of my confused heart, but my confusion had deafened my intuition and I was left with spinning thoughts of self-doubt.
Every time one of my relationships failed, the hedges around my heart grew higher. I found myself at one dead-end after another, and, as my biological clock ticked in the distance, my panic grew. I began to believe I would never escape the confusion and find my way out.
It was at this time that I hired my own coach. She said three words to me that began my journey to true self-discovery and life-changing self-love. Those three words were: I am that.
What she meant was that everything I disliked about the men I had loved was also a part of me. In this way, they were my reflection (in both direct and indirect ways).
I remember having chicken pox as a child. I was so disgusted by the marks on my face that I had refused to look into the bathroom mirror until they had healed. I was afraid to see the blemishes for fear they’d leave a permanent scar. I was afraid to face my “damaged” self.
Much like that childhood bathroom mirror that I had refused to look into, so were the mirrors reflecting my authentic self being held up by my former loves.
I chose to avoid looking into them and instead continued stumbling through the maze, blindfolded rather than with the full understanding of myself and the roots of the dislike for myself I had been stuck in for so long.
The first time I decided to look into one of these metaphorical mirrors, I was shocked at what I saw: the reflection was as “ugly” as I had feared. I, a woman who, on the surface, strived so hard to find lasting love and a deep connection, was actually terrified of being close to someone.
On the surface, I consciously acted kindly and gently, but in the mirror I saw the parts of myself that were cruel, dismissive, and judgmental.
I saw rage I had never expressed and loneliness I believed would destroy me had I actually felt its weight.
Bravely and with great self-compassion, I faced it, even the “dark” and “scary” parts of myself I had only ever dared to see in other people before.
As I looked closer, I also saw glorious parts of myself that I had never fully acknowledged. Parts of myself that knew of my preciousness and my strength. And I saw my true essence: Love (this is your true essence, too, by the way.).
What I found in those mirrors was myself. All parts of me, the beautiful as well as the downright dark. Much to my surprise, it was the liberation of those “dark” parts—just seeing them and acknowledging that they are, indeed, a part of me—that allowed me to love myself and shift the patterns in my life. I didn’t have to strong-arm myself into self-love. All I had to do was see myself with open eyes and unending compassion.
This is the self-love that is the birthplace of life change. When we experience this type of self-love, we can live so fully because we are truly whole within ourselves.
I gently remind you to look in the mirrors of your past relationships; see the light and the dark. Both are beautiful. You are perfect, just as you are, and you are love(d).
If you'd love more tips from Heather and some insights about the top ways you might be sabotaging your relationships you can download her free e-book by visiting her website: www.heatherlynncoaching.com!
Heather Lynn Temple, of Heather Lynn Coaching, is a certified Creative Love™ Coach who specializes in helping people find their authentic selves so that they can attract their ideal match. She busts through dating myths and tosses aside dating games, focusing on doing inner work with her clients so they discover love from the inside out.