Many years ago—years that feel more like lifetimes—I dated a guy who was all wrong for me. I refused to see it at the time. Belligerent beyond reason, I refused to admit it, even ten, fifteen, twenty years later.
On any given day I could give you a list of lame reasons why we were together. A list that could aptly be called, “Leslie’s List of Justifications.” The truth is, although I may have started dating him for reasons similar to why many couples start dating, I stayed with him years beyond reason, for one simple fact:
I didn’t love myself enough to break the bad habit of “us.” No. It’s simpler than that. I didn’t love myself enough. Period.
It’s so true what Steve Jobs said about connecting dots: “…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” As I read the words I wrote in my own book, they appear so simple, so almost duh-like:
Today, with experience on my side, with Life on my side, I see that these words are clearly duh-like when I apply them backwards to the ex-boyfriend situation (and many others).
Know myself? No, actually I didn’t, not very well. Know my needs? No again; I don’t believe I ever stopped to ask myself. Love myself enough to make good choices for myself? Sadly, no.
Are these things hard to admit? Honestly, not knowing myself or my needs isn’t too hard to believe or admit; I was young. But not loving myself enough…that’s another story. That one is very hard to admit. In fact, it stings. And although it’s not part of the original quote I pulled from my book, I can tell you, if I didn’t love myself enough, I didn’t trust myself either.
But that is the past. Life gives us the experiences we need to become the people we are today. Life helps us to learn, to grow, to blossom, to soar—to know yourself, to know your needs, and to love and trust yourself enough to make the right choices for you.
As simple as it may sound, stop for just a moment and ask yourself:
- Do I know myself? Not in a yes-no answer sense, but do you truly know who you are? Who are you? Not your labels (mother, teacher, nurse, coach, singer, gardener), but who you are beyond your labels?
- Do I know my needs? Beyond food, shelter, and other basic needs, what are your heart’s-desire-needs? What are the needs that extend past your body, the ones that feed your spirit?
- Lastly, ask yourself, do I love myself? Again, not in a yes-no response, but rather ask yourself to describe what loving yourself looks like. And also what loving yourself does not look like. How close are you to where you’d like to be?
It all starts with loving yourself. Then the truth of who you are becomes apparent—that’s knowing yourself. You can choose to finish reading this post and hurriedly move on to your next task, OR you can choose to honor Life by asking yourself, What truth am I hiding from?
What will it take to love yourself enough to break whatever bad habit you are currently living?
And hey, no one is suggesting you shake up your world and turn things upside down until your life is unrecognizable (unless that’s what your heart’s desire is telling you). All I’m suggesting is ask the questions, take the time to honor yourself with real, true answers (no self lip-service). Then from there? Baby steps. Crawl if necessary, but do take baby steps in the direction of living your truth.
For more on loving yourself, I highly recommend Kamal Ravikant’s book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
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