I recently watched a Ted Talk by the brilliant and courageous Brené Brown that had me all but giving a high-five to my flatscreen. She’s spent the last ten years researching vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and she delivers a story that truly captures what it means to prepare yourself for love.
In her years of research, gathering personal information from hundreds of people, Brown began to see a pattern among her subjects, a pattern that I’m all too familiar with. Some were living in a way that she came to refer to as “wholeheartedly,” that is, experiencing joy, love, and fulfillment regularly, and others were struggling to attain or maintain this way of thinking and being.
The wholehearted group shared one very important personality trait: they all believed they were worthy.
These folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others, because as it turns out we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection (and this was the hard part) as the result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are … you have to absolutely do that for connection.
I can’t tell you how often I run into this sort of mental and emotional roadblock with women I meet who are looking everywhere but within themselves for love. They crave connection and intimacy deeply, but don’t yet truly believe they are worthy. Or, maybe they feel or even tell me they think they’re worthy but patterns and choices in men are proving otherwise.
I love coaching women and have found that in many cases, no matter how successful and smart a woman is, there often seems to be a breakdown in this department. Some women feel they are deserving of a great relationship with an exceptional man simply because of what they’ve achieved or accomplished, and at the same time there are women who don’t feel worthy of this very same man because of what they haven’t accomplished. So it brings me to the question: What makes a woman feel “good enough” for love?
It’s not until we start believing we deserve love that we get it. Although it sounds cliche’ and simple, it’s absolutely true. And yet, getting your thoughts, words and actions to sing in unison is the tricky part. “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen—really seen,” as Brown so beautifully put it—and after all, isn’t connection what it’s all about?
Do you have any examples of how you’ve worked on developing compassion for yourself? Or examples of moments you discovered how to be authentically you? Share them in the comments section below. Have other burning dating and relationship questions? Ask away! Either below, or in the One-to-One w/ April box on the right. I’m truly interested to know what kinds of solutions you’ve found for being courageous, vulnerable or good to yourself.