For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by relationships. For years, I found myself constantly studying people's behaviors and ways of talking about relationships, all in an effort to understand the factors that determine lasting love.
Even with all of my research and knowledge, and even after beginning to pinpoint certain healthy behaviors and attitudes I observed in others, I experienced one failed relationship after another in my own romantic life.
It almost felt like divine intervention when the truth finally dawned on me. But really it involved a profound realization about the power of my choice ...
Somewhere during my childhood, I learned to believe I was unworthy of love. This belief of being not good enough colored my perception of reality and everything that happened to me.
Over the years, this belief became so deeply ingrained in me my subconscious automatically perceived anything slightly less than great in my life as an affirmation of my unworthiness. This was the case especially in intimate relationships.
But when I finally understood that feeling worthy of love was the key to a lasting relationship, I made a series of choices that helped me change the way I related to myself, and to others.
Below are four simple choices you too can make in order to begin your journey to develop your own feelings of worthiness. Because after all, choosing to cultivate appreciation for yourself is the only way to prepare for lasting love.
1. Uncover and follow your passions.
By doing finding something you love, even if it's just finding out a type of music that you like listening to, you will feel more connected to yourself, to others and to life itself. Not only will pleasure and enthusiasm give you a sense of individual purpose, but will also help you recognize a bigger and more universal sense of purpose around you.
For example, when I was on my journey of transformation, I finally decided to follow my passion of helping others with their relationships. I had known since my teenage years this was a passion of mine, but I never followed it because I was too busy chasing after intimate relationships instead of focusing on myself.
Once I started to follow my passion and purpose, I became a much happier and more fulfilled person. I finally became someone who would make a good partner as I was no longer searching for someone to "complete" me.
2. Get to know your triggers.
When you know what triggers feelings of unworthiness within you and why, you can make the conscious choice to react to situations, people and experiences in a different way. Instead of pushing people away out of fear, you can open yourself up to more love and a deeper connection.
When I uncovered my personal triggers, I realized I was taking harmless circumstances and twisting them in my mind to perceive them as personal attacks. Once I stepped away from the emotions caused by my triggers, I was able to make better decisions and create lasting bonds.
3. Make peace with your past.
There is nothing like a past relationship that didn’t work out to bring up feelings of unworthiness. If we look back on the past with regret, we will conjure narratives that perpetuate bad feelings. I tried my best, but it was never good enough. What if I never am able to make a relationship work? Thoughts like this can then spiral out of control.
Often we carry these scars deep inside for years, and that's perfectly natural. But when we try to stuff them down and pretend we are all right, the scars show in the type of people and relationships we attract.
Forgiving yourself and your ex are two gestures that hold the key to healing feelings of unworthiness, as they allow us to exist in the present moment and distinguish between our mind's stories, and the reality of our experience. As I began to forgive and heal my feelings of unworthiness around my past relationships, I immediately began to attract much more present, compassionate partners into my life.
4. Release expectations.
As we go through life, certain expectations are placed upon us by our family, society and culture. To gain love and acceptance, we begin to mold ourselves to follow these expectations.
As you start to discover more of the real you, you will naturally find some of these expectations don’t match the true values you hold inside of you, especially in regards to your ideal partner.