Today is Day 30 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jumpstarting your own self-love.
DoorMats go along with what others want. MANY people look to others for a life and get obsessed with finding a romantic partner. I did this even when I left DoorMatville. Old habits die hard. I was brought up to believe I needed a man to complete me, like many women do. Couples often melt into each other and become a “we” instead of each being an “I.” As I said in my post, People Withdrawal, I spent a year on my own after blowing off most of my so-called friends who didn’t treat me well. By doing so, I gave myself one of the greatest gifts:
Autonomy! Being comfortable in your own company and making choices based on your own needs is the key to happiness.
During the years that I searched for a man to complete me, I was stressed, Instead of focusing on the good in my life, I lived to find “Mr. Right.” Men could smell my desperation and ran. When I’d meet a potential boyfriend, all my people pleasing “skills” were dispensed to keep him happy. It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t happy since I’d made my needs unimportant. I was so scared of being alone that I went along with what anyone who might spend time with me wanted.
During the year of self-isolation, I learned to enjoy my own company and pushed through my fear of loneliness. It was refreshing to learn that alone doesn’t mean lonely. I loved choosing my activities and making my own decisions. I became most important in my life so what others wanted wasn’t so important. I had little to lose by not being a people pleaser. I had me! And I now know that’s all I need. So it wasn’t surprising when I read that a report in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that said of all the factors we see contributing to our happiness, there was one that rose to the top like cream—having autonomy!
Yes, having a life based on YOUR choices and desires—where YOU own your life and others don’t dictate your path—is the top contributor to happiness.
As a recovering DoorMat I believe this completely as being autonomous keeps me happy every day. It allows me to relax when there’s no guy in my life or my friends are too busy to make plans. It motivates me to pursue my passions and feel comfortable, and actually joyous when I’m alone. Autonomy allows you to take control of your life. If you feel you don’t have a sense of autonomy in your own life, take a step towards developing it.
• Do an activity alone. Go to a restaurant with a book or magazine. I often take my laptop out to eat. Go at quiet times if it feels better. Try a coffee shop first if that’s more comfortable. Get one ticket to a show you want to see. Do something you enjoy that you’ve never done alone before. You can choose when to go, where to eat and relax by doing it on your own terms.
• Plan a day on your own in advance. Decide what you’re going to do for a whole day. In nice weather I plan a long walk, brunch, and shopping. Or a hike on my own. In the winter I may stay in bed for hours, guilt free watching movies or reading. It’s YOUR day so do what you enjoy.
• Take a class to learn a skill you’ve wanted to learn or just for pleasure. Take a dance class, or whatever makes you smile. You might meet some new people with your interests and come home revved to continue doing what you learned.
• Go out for a drink by yourself. When I was building my autonomy, I was still uncomfortable going to a bar alone. I’m not a big drinker so it seemed like no big deal. Even when I was meeting a friend at one, I hated arriving first. So I had to get over it! One night I had no plans and felt in the mood for a drink at a bar I love. So I walked down to it, early in the evening and had one drink. I talked to people, sipped my beer and people watched. I was relaxed after a few minutes and enjoyed it. It increased my confidence!
Doing these things showed me I could go anywhere, with or without a companion since I always have me. I’m my true best friend. I enjoy my own company, which is amazing since I used to treat people to go places with me so I wouldn’t have to go alone. Having autonomy does keep me happy all the time so the report is right. Build your autonomy and enjoy the rewards of owning your life.
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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