Vulnerability

5 Tips to Open Yourself To Love

I was recently chatting with a friend about her dating habits or as she likes to call it, her “Ferris Wheel of Doom.” Let me explain, she gets really excited about meeting a guy, but as she begins the getting-to-know-you process, she sabotages it. Thoroughly. So thoroughly in fact, that it makes me wonder if she really wanted to meet someone in the first place. A few of her signature moves include:

  1. The Futurizer:  Confused by chemistry’s deceptive nature, she future trips and cuts right to “Do you think our kids would be cute? Where would we go on our honeymoon?”... on the first date. 
  2. The Nitpicker: In an effort to keep herself safe from potential heartbreak, she finds faults that she normally wouldn't care about, “His socks didn’t match his shoes. I could never marry that!”
  3. The Oversharer: Often disguised as “being honest and genuine” she unloads her baggage faster than…nothing. Airports take forever with bags, so that was a pointless attempt at a metaphor. The point is that she shares her sordid past as a “Take it or leave it. The ball’s in your court now” approach. While that may appear to be genuine vulnerability, it should probably wait until at least the appetizer is served.

Thus, the real question isn’t “how does she stop sabotaging herself?” Instead, I wonder is she really open to love in the first place? It’s one thing to want it, it’s another thing to receive it. Here's how:

How to Open Yourself To Love:

1. Don’t expect to get all your needs met in once place.

In my early 20s, I expected a boyfriend to be much more than that. I wanted him to be my best friend, sibling, parent, therapist, intern, gym buddy, and, on occasion, flamingly gay stylist. Not surprisingly, he sucked at most of those jobs. But who could blame him, it wasn’t what he signed up for! So why did I do that? I was codependent! The truth is that love doesn’t replace validation or self-worth. In it’s purest form, it serves to bring us joy, not as a band-aid for low self-esteem.

2. Redefine old meanings.

Someone hurt you and it sucked. I get it. The problem isn’t moving on, it’s letting go of the meaning we assigned to that hurt. Personally, I’ve gone through periods where I’ve asked “Am I even worthy of being loved?” Take a hard look not at old wounds, but at the takeaways you’ve created for yourself because of them. Until you think you’re loveable, you’ll never create the space for it.

3. Ask for what you want.

Communication is a two-way street with clusterfucks at each intersection. I remember being super stressed over a big opportunity. As I scrambled to get things together, I assumed that my boyfriend would graciously walk the dog instead of scratching his balls while watching football. This, however, did not cross his mind. Was he an ass? Yes, but not for that reason. Ultimately, being open to love means being open to communicating your needs. Nobody can read your mind. If you want the love you deserve, doesn’t it make sense to ask for it?

4. Own your shit.

Say you’re sorry. Want to be open to love? Don’t be a dick.

5. Define love on your own terms.

How much of what you want is really what you want and how much is because you think you should want it? What does a loving and happy relationship look like to you? I often thought I wanted a guy to treat me like a Disney princess. The truth is that I really like working, I don’t want to pop out an entire litter of kids, and I don’t trust mice to sew my clothing.  It’s your job to challenge what you’ve been taught in order to embrace what you truly want. Otherwise, you’re left with two sets of expectations which leads to inner conflict. And that, is like a yellow brick road that leads straight to the city of self-sabotage.

The takeaway: 

If you want love, you need to practice love and create the space for it to thrive.

Are you open to love? Why or why not? Share your story in the Comments section below!

Asking For Help: Why We Suck at It & How to Push Through It

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to ask for help? Sure, I’ll ask for help with stuff I can easily do myself like Googling things, passing me something that would otherwise involve me getting off the couch, or anything related to cleaning. But when it comes to things I actually need help with, I suck. Somehow, I think I should be super-human with the big things.

What gives?

In a world that encourages self-sufficiency, most of us avoid being vulnerable at all costs. It’s a manifestation of fear, whether it’s a desire to seem perfect, a fear of abandonment, or the need to be liked.

The irony of it all, is that asking for help is actually a gift for both people. When we ask for help, we’re creating a bond. We’re saying, “Hey, I just want you to know that I’m human, feel free to be human around me, too!” And that shit can be scary. Looking at it from the other side, I love when people ask for my help. It’s a form of trust and attachment. It also reminds me that I, too, can turn to that person if I’m ever in need of help.

Every time you decide to suffer in silence, saying “I got this!” you rob people of the chance to show up for you. I’m not trying to turn you into a lazy couch potato who treats everyone like an intern. There’s a happy medium that involves getting off your ass when you want a glass of water and calling a friend to help you through a rough patch.

And this brings me to a question I often hear: Whom do you ask for help?

This took me a very long time to learn. So pardon the personal rant:

As a recovering codependent, I was a huge fan of putting all my needs on specific people. Often, they were the wrong people. And they sucked. It’s not that they didn’t care or didn’t love me, it’s just that they weren’t able to give me what I needed. Whether it’s my mother who told me “just don’t think about it, try distracting yourself” or a boyfriend who’d say  “you’re making mountains out of molehills,” my needs weren’t being met. Yet, I was attached to the idea that these people SHOULD be able to support me. So I kept going back. At some point, I had to accept that I wasn’t asking them for help, I was asking the people I wanted them to be for help. And much like banging your head on a wall and expecting the wall to hurt, I was the issue, not them.

While half the battle was accepting people as they are, the other half was changing my pattern. After all, I was so used to asking them, that asking others felt really uncomfortable. Eventually, I learned how to be vulnerable by employing my ability to push through discomfort and my natural OCD-esque tendencies.

I needed to build a track record of seeing how asking for help from new places yielded better results. And so I used a chart, much like the one below, in order to create healthier habits. While it can still be uncomfortable, I try to remember that just like building any new muscle, you get sore before you get strong.

In the end, asking for help is scary, but you know what’s scarier? Closing yourself off, denying your needs, and not using it as an opportunity to grow. So will you pass me the remote control? I don’t feel like getting off the couch right now :) 

I'd love to hear from you! How do you feel about asking for help?

Fear of Failure: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Have you ever avoided applying to a job because you assumed you wouldn’t be hired?

Have you ever not asked someone out since you thought they’d say “no”?

Yesterday I had a client say, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.” This stuck with me and got me thinking about the fear of failure. Why do we let our fear of something that hasn't happened get in the way of our happiness? Why does our anxiety feel more real to us than the goal we’re trying to achieve?

Before I awakened to my truth, I played small. I avoided taking action on things even if they seemed like a “sure bet.” No matter how amazing the goal or painful not achieving it was, I didn’t move. I felt stuck, unconsciously wishing to continue living in my potential just in case things didn’t work out. Eventually, I learned that the fear of failure ensures failure.

How it works:

When we have a fear, we focus on what we DON’T want to happen rather than on our desired outcome. It’s like driving on a highway, if you keep looking at the cement divider, you’ll crash into it. To get to your destination, you have to look ahead.

Why we do it:

As children, our fears keep us safe. We assign meaning to events in order to make sense of the world. It’s necessary as our brains try to make rules around things to give us a feeling of certainty. As children, it protects us. As adults, it limits our growth.

For example, if a child touches a stove and gets burned, he might assign a few meanings to it:

  • Don’t touch a hot stove
  • Avoid stoves entirely

Same protection in the short term, different outcomes in the long term.

The fear of failure is no different. It's a protective measure that no longer serves you. And, much like the driving example, we attract whatever our inner dialogue says. We find evidence that our fear of failure serves us. Why? Because we’d rather be right than be happy. We’d rather believe that our assessment of the world is correct. We would rather bring in the same people and relive the same events than think that our core beliefs could possibly be wrong.

But they are. And it’s time to embrace that.

  • What’s the cement divider you’re looking at instead of the road ahead of you?
  • How has it protected you?
  • What action would you take if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Share your story in the Comments section below or email me at Amita@AlignedHolistics.com