Today is Day 8 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jumpstarting your own self-love.
I’m delighted to have unconditional love expert Lisa McCourt as my guest today. I featured her video on New Year’s Day in my post, Happy New Year Filled with Self-Love. She’s a dynamic speaker, seminar leader and author whose 34 books have sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide. Her new book, Juicy Joy – 7 Simple Steps to Your Glorious, Gutsy Self, teaches people to embrace “radical authenticity” to fully experience unbridled joy in life.
Confessions of a Misguided Love Junkie
By Lisa McCourt
The people we enjoy the most are usually the ones we say we can “be ourselves with.” I spent my whole life searching for those seemingly mythical creatures. Only in recent years have I finally come to understand what a ridiculous turn of phrase that is. No one ever actually prohibited me from being myself. No one on the planet has that kind of power over another human being. Not being myself was my own choice, and my own doing, all along.
All my life I’ve craved connection. To fully see, know, and experience the essence of another, and to be fully seen, known and experienced by that person—it’s my go-to daydream, my Holy Grail. I used to think everyone wanted what I wanted. When you yearn for something so deeply, and it seems so natural to you to crave this thing, you assume others are craving it too. So I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to make the kind of rich, interpersonal connections I longed for.
As a young person, I was always ridiculously, painfully eager to please. I thought if I did everything just right, just the way the people in my life wanted me to do it, then they’d have no choice but to love me fully and completely and I’d finally feel the kind of soul-tethering I’d always imagined—with a best friend, or a boyfriend, or a special family member.
Over time I became a world-class chameleon. I developed a superhuman ability to intuit precisely what would most please the person in front of me, whether that person happened to be a pal, a lover, a co-worker, or the teen delivering my pizza. Everyone loved me because I always knew exactly who to be in order to extract their love. I had to have it. What would become of me if I failed to warrant love and admiration from everyone I encountered? The thought of it was terrifying.
It’s ironic that the skill I perfected as a way to connect with others was the very thing that made true connection impossible for me. How could I ever relax and comfortably enjoy another’s affection when I knew, deep down, that it was contingent upon me keeping up a meticulously-crafted façade? My habit of creating a more lovable me, custom-tailored for every person I encountered, had become so unconscious and automatic I couldn’t stop. And I couldn’t understand why the attention and love I did receive never filled the gaping void. Nothing was ever enough to take the edge off that specter of loveless-ness that perennially haunted me.
The solution had to be to make myself even more lovable, right? Thinner, prettier, more giving, more successful, more encouraging, more fun to be around. I never tired of self-improvement. A better and better me would surely be the ticket to bigger and bigger love. It was exhausting. But the truth is that every improvement only made me more unlovable. Because underneath all those layers of ever-better perfection, there was no one there. I’d gotten so far removed from my authentic self that I had no idea who that might be.
Here’s what I’ve learned: No one can ever give you more love than you are equipped to receive. Unless you, yourself, deeply know and love who you most authentically are—and are willing to hold that authentic you up to be loved, there’s no way for anyone to truly love or connect with you.
I used to think the only love I could control was the love I gave. Now I know that the amount of love I receive is completely within my control, too. It was all along. But until I did the work to unravel a lifetime’s worth of “improvements” and discover what was authentically beneath those layers, no one stood a chance in hell of loving me because no one stood a chance in hell of finding me.
Self-love is not possible without self-awareness. But when you go through the steps to finally reveal that uber-real you to yourself and the world, self-love falls naturally into place. Somewhere deep, deep down, you know how fabulous you are. Intrinsically-Fabulous-You is probably buried under a thick accumulation of superficial, unfulfilling wrappings, but it’s never too late to begin the unraveling process.
It makes me cry and makes me laugh to think about how counter-productive my people-pleasing ways actually were to genuine, authentic connection. Finally figuring out how to know, love, and proudly display my precious, perfectly imperfect self has made all the difference in my world.
For a free Juicy Joy audio program, visit www.LisaMcCourt.com.
Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2011 HERE.
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