If we look out into the world from the perspective of Stephen Chbosky’s Perks Of Being A Wallflower quote – “We only accept the love we think we deserve”, it seems as though there is a fair amount of people who don’t feel as though they deserve very much.
I posed a question on Facebook a few days ago, asking people what they felt was the biggest thing holding them back from finding the love they deserve – the number one answer? Not feeling worthy of it in the first place.
Toxic relationships are rampant to the point where they are accepted as “normal,” and happy couples are cast in a light of suspicion. Nobody can really be that happy together…can they?
Take a moment to consider just how unfortunate this mindset is. We live in a society that happiness and kindness are actually less accepted than mistreatment and struggle. This is a roadblock for many people, because they form an automatic distrust of those who are, in fact, the “good ones.”
So, how can we change this perception and actually accept the right love into our life after experiencing the wrong ones?
DEVELOP LOVE FOR YOURSELF.
The most important relationship you’ll ever have, is with yourself. If that one isn’t healthy, none of your others will be. This will be a different process for each of us, as we all have different insecurities and past experiences, but the truth is that if we aren’t happy with ourselves, then we won’t ever be happy with someone else.
Fulfillment, real fulfillment, comes from within. It does not come with acceptance or approval from others, because no matter what they say or how many compliments they give you, you will always be questioning how genuine they are being since you don’t hold these beliefs about yourself. I don’t mean the “selfie love” of our generation where we compliment ourselves on social media and show the world how great we are – I mean the type of inner confidence that never allows us to do that in the first place. Find it, and you will find happiness.
Want to know a good first step? Stop comparing yourself to others (and smile).
UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.
This is where the foundation is built. If you automatically think that people in general are bad or unworthy of your trust, then you will be meeting every new situation with disdain and skepticism. I am not saying to blindly trust everyone you meet – of course they have to earn it. But, the ones who will, are out there.
The reality we create for ourselves is governed by our daily habits, surroundings, and observations. Perhaps your family wasn’t particularly close or loving during your developmental stages. Maybe you have been through bad relationships in the past. Maybe you have a lot of negative Facebook friends who won’t stop posting bad news. From this perspective, it is of course difficult to always find the silver lining or give people the benefit of the doubt.
All this means is that you need to put a little more effort into discovering the good in people. You aren’t going to trip over happiness in the street one day, you need to go out and find it. Talk to random strangers, remove those negative people from your life. Fill your mind with the words of the great. You will find what you focus on – and the good news is, you get to choose what that is.
GIVE LOVE FIRST.
To be loved, we have to be lovable. Being cold and shut off to people who care about you (or who could potentially care about you) will do nothing but push them away. I know this is difficult if you have a hard time trusting people, but nobody said developing happiness was going to be easy. We have to step outside of our comfort zone, because if we continue to stay inside it we will continue to get what we are already getting.
Give a friend a hug, give a compliment to a stranger, smile at someone who looks like they are having a tough day. Open yourself up and you will see just how quickly people respond positively to you. This should help you realize how true point #2 is.
RECOGNIZE THAT EACH SITUATION IS NEW AND DIFFERENT.
One of the most difficult things for us to get past as humans is the fear of loss. We have all experienced it in one form or another, whether it be the passing of a pet or the leaving of a significant other. If it has been a pattern in your life, it is the most natural instinct to just assume it’s only going to happen again. Over and over.
This is akin to driving a car that breaks down, and then refusing to buy another car because you think that one is going to break down too. Emotionally, this may make sense – but life is not just about emotions. We have to consider the entirely separate entity that is the new car. Built by different people, with different parts, and an entirely different history.
The same goes for people – and someone new you may love who has never even met your ex(es), does not deserved to be shut out because of their actions. Recognize that Steve is not Mike and Susie is not Jennifer. Each one is an individual finding their way into your life, make your decisions based on them.
LEARN TO TRUST PEOPLE.
If someone puts in time and effort for you, whether it be something big or small, it’s important to recognize their genuine intentions and trust when they tell you how much they care.
Someone who does not feel worthy of love will feel that these words or actions are hollow and perhaps have an ulterior motive behind them. This not only makes it impossible to trust them, but it also makes it impossible to receive the love they are trying to give to you.
If you have been lied to or betrayed in the past, making it difficult to open up and trust someone again, refer to point #4. Live in the moment. Accept the greatness that is around you right now, and let go of anything that is taking away your happiness.
Be careful when building walls to keep out the people who might hurt you, you could also be keeping out the ones that will make you happy. Don’t unlock the drawbridge for just anyone, but always make sure you keep the key close by.
This post originally appeared on James M. Sama’s website.
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