Halloween — the holiday when we're treated for dressing up as someone (or something) we're not — is just around the corner.
Have you ever noticed that there's a certain freedom that comes when we put on a costume? Suddenly, we feel freer when we aren't ourselves. We feel that we can be flirtier, sexier, more confident. Or we can finally let loose our inner monster! It's fun to receive treats for living as an alter-ego, but at the end of the night the costumes come off and we are back to our "normal" selves.
Sometimes, our search for love can feel a bit like Halloween. We put on mask after mask, trying to find the one that's going to bring in the treat we're all searching for: true love.
After a while though, this parade of costumes becomes exhausting and finding love can feel more like a trick than a treat.
But there are ways to shift this paradigm so that your search for love feels like a delicious treat rather than a dirty trick. Today, I'm sharing with you my favorite three:
1. Take off the mask.
Yes, it's true that Halloween allows us to try on an alter-ego for just one night. A conservative business woman can explore her sexy side; an average man can become a superhero; a full-on grown-up can become a Ninja Turtle. It's fun!
And there's something about having permission to be someone else that sets a part of us free, a part of ourselves that has starved for expression but for whatever reason we've shoved into the "not appropriate" category. The reason Halloween is fun is because it allows us to explore a part of our authentic self that we've been hiding.
You see, we spend our whole lives living Halloween, especially when we're dating. We wear masks to protect ourselves from getting hurt, looking weak, being seen, not fitting in. Underneath these masks, though, your true self whispers, waiting to be fully expressed. It's no wonder dating feels like a trick when we are working so hard to perfect ourselves in order to make it work. How exhausting!
The sooner you can connect with your imperfect truth, the sooner dating becomes a treat. Being our true selves frees up so much of our energy. It is truly liberating to show up to dates (and in life) just as we are rather than pretend to be something we're not.
2. Focus on yourself.
Remember trick-or-treating as a kid? Going from door to door clutching an ever-filling pillowcase. At each house, the person with the bowl of candy had all the power. "Trick or treat?" you would say and then watch as the all-powerful one reached for the candy, secretly hoping they'd give you the candy of your dreams.
Can't dating feel this way? We show up on dates and put all the power in the other person's hands. We hold out the pillowcase of our worth and wait for them to give us what we're searching for: another date, a little attention, some affection, true love. We can get so wrapped up in another person's approval that we lose touch with ourselves.
But here's the truth: YOU are the one holding the pillowcase. You're the only with control over that bag, the only one who has control over what gets put in it. No one can give you what you already have inside yourself. Nor can anyone give you what you don't have. Love and comfort and confidence must come from you first. Only then can someone come in and share your life.
Stop blaming others (or the city you live in or the male/female gender or online dating). Stop giving your power away. Be yourself.
3. Enjoy the occasional indulgence … but know why you're doing it.
I remember eating so much Halloween candy that I made myself sick. Wrappers scattered all over the coffee table, my teeth so coated with sugar they felt like they were wearing little sweaters, my belly so sick I regretted all of the indulgence.
We can over-indulge in dating, too.
When we "indulge" by dating people we know are not in line with what we really want, we're actually somehow protecting ourselves from getting what we really want.
I was the queen of dating men who weren't ready for commitment. Consciously, I knew this about them and allowed myself to "indulge" by keeping them around. What was really happening, though, was that I was afraid of getting everything I wanted so I sabotaged myself by choosing men who were incapable of the intimacy I craved.
We can indulge in more ways than just dating (or getting back together with or staying with) the wrong type of people. We can indulge by marinating in our story of singlehood, by blaming others rather than looking at our contribution to our current situation, by letting down our boundaries and not standing firm for what our truth wants.
Hey, it's okay to indulge every now and again. After all, a messy life is a real one (and if you're the type who never indulges, there's just as strong a message in that as there is in the indulgences themselves). Use these indulgences as a way to see yourself more clearly. Get in touch with the treat you really are.
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