A few years ago I seemed to be a great guy, enjoying what life had to offer: Recently graduated from a top university in my field of study. Was committed to a wonderful partner, whom I still admire. Participating regularly within the communities I affiliated: family, friends, jobs, activity groups. I seemed to be well balanced socially, physically, and emotionally.
However, there was something that left me feeling empty inside. Like I was always working on catching up, but the destination was out of reach. I couldn’t quite fit into my own life, like a five year old dressed in my fathers’ suit, hidden in theatrics and flapping sleeves. I felt like I was a sham, like If you knew everything about me, you couldn’t love me.
This encouraged a co-dependent nature within me. Always seeking to please others to feel accepted and validated. I became a perfectionist, learning how to hide the shame I felt, being unloveable, through accomplishments. An elaborate facade I constructed to make me feel acceptable and presentable, and to manipulate others into loving the person I thought they wanted me to be–I’m fine, if everything on the outside of my life looks good, then there’s no reason to ask if anything’s wrong. But, again, this was an elaborate and delicate facade, and when I inevitably fell short of my promises to others or my expectations of myself, it fed that lie I told myself; I’m unloveable.
That is exhausting, and more importantly inauthentic. My entire concept of myself unraveled, and what I was left with was someone whom I despised. I was insufferable. Pathetic. Helpless. Hopeless. I’ve learned my motivation was wrong, seeking happiness through others approval, and now I know happiness is an inside job. But how do I approach this?
I now ask myself often, how can I suit up and show up today? How can I improve? How can I know that I’m representing myself, my needs and desires? How can I let you love me? I can’t speak for anyone else, only drawing from my own experience, however, recovering from nearly complete brokenness, I’ve been taught how to become a better man, and person, and me.
How do you give yourself permission and opportunity to become a better person? To be content with yourself? To even, dare I say, love yourself? Begining the process, the answer is in the question, H.O.W.
Honesty. I have to be honest with myself and those I trust with how I feel, what I think, what I want, what I need, what I’ve done in the past, and what I’m doing now.
Openness. I have to let those I trust speak into my life. I have to let myself be wrong, and learn. I have to let myself be right, and build. I have to be open to receiving help from others and their ideas.
Willingness. I have to be willing to take action. Change what I’m able. Accept help when in need. Be of service, I have to be willing to help others and pass on what was so freely given to me.
With this simple anconym, it’s how I become known. It’s how I’m able to fit into my own skin, and live my own life. I’m able to recognize what I want and need. And should I succeed or fail, I’m opening up the opportunity to be appreciated and loved, authentically. This is only the beginning of the greater quest to become a better man. Though, I feel, anyone would benefit from how these simple concepts can improve their life.