This Is The Most Unhealthy Habit Many Single People Have
It's not unusual for me to hear the following from many of my clients:
"I only feel fully alive and beautiful when I'm in a relationship or dating a man. When I'm alone I let myself go, put on weight, don't do my hair or wear makeup. It's like I'm dead inside. I don't know why I do this or what to do about it."
I tend to hear it a lot from women, but a similar sentiment is pervasive among people of all genders. Many people have a tendency to only eat well, exercise, and push themselves toward their goals when they're dating someone or trying to attract a particular person. Otherwise, their healthy habits fall to the wayside. The underlying sentiment is that singlehood is a time when you don't have to impress anyone and can feel free to let loose.
But there's a major problem baked into this attitude.
When you go back to abandoning yourself physically when there's no one else who "benefits" or no one around to approve of your habits, it reveals how you really feel about taking care of yourself: You're motivated to take care of yourself only to impress a significant other—not because you actually want to be loving yourself.
The core problem such people suffer from is that they define their worth through someone else's attention, approval, or love. Rather than learning to deeply value themselves in an authentic and unconditional way, they abandon themselves and make someone else responsible for their aliveness and sense of worth.
Defining your worth.
Like so many people, I grew up defining my worth through how others felt about me. If they liked me, then I felt like I was OK, and if they didn't, then I felt unlovable and unworthy. This caused me a lot of anxiety because I was always trying to figure out how to be "perfect" and do things "right" so that people would like me. I believed that if only I was perfect, then I could have control over how others felt about me and treated me.
It took me a long time to understand that as long as I was abandoning myself by judging myself as not good enough and by making others responsible for my sense of worth, I would never feel like I was OK. Even if someone did like me, if at my core I didn't have a self-motivated love for myself, I couldn't feel lovable and worthy.
It wasn't until I learned how to connect with my higher power and started to receive the love and wisdom that is always here for all of us that I realized I had the right and the responsibility to define my own worth—and to honor it by taking care of myself irrespective of others' approval or lack thereof.
It was an incredible day of freedom from my addiction to approval when I learned to see myself—my true soul self—through the eyes of my spiritual guidance. What I saw is the bright and shining light that I am and that we each are as a spark of the Divine. I saw my deep goodness and the deep goodness of everyone's soul. I saw that I'm not my ego-wounded self—the part of me that kept judging me as not good enough and kept making others responsible for my sense of worth.
From the day I saw my true soul self, I became deeply motivated to learn to love myself—physically, emotionally, and in my relationship.
I've seen my clients come to similar revelations on their journeys: As they learned to see themselves through Divine eyes rather than through judgmental eyes, they became motivated to eat well, exercise, and take loving care of their own feelings, whether or not they were in a relationship. These behaviors are marks of true, unconditional self-love, the kind of self-love that has nothing to do with how other people feel about you.
Seeing yourself through divine eyes.
It takes practice to be able to see yourself clearly through the eyes of your higher power. You need to be in a very open state—open to learning rather than trying to control what your higher power shows you—and you need to be eating healthy, organic food so that your mind is clear enough to access your higher guidance.
The truth is, many healthy habits we're all encouraged to pursue nourish not just our physical bodies but also our state of mind: For example, we know being in nature comes with many physical and mental health benefits. Nature also has a very high vibration and helps us to also be in the high-energy state that allows us to access our higher power.
When you are in that open state, imagine your higher power as an older, wiser aspect of you, and imagine that you can see your inner child—your true soul self—through the eyes of your older wiser self. Imagine yourself as a small child, before you learned to judge yourself. What do you see? Can you see that your essence is love? Is there anything about you as a little child that doesn't deserve your love? If you had a child exactly like you were as a child, would you love that child? What does your inner child need from you to start to feel loved by you so that you no longer need to get attention, love, or approval from others to know that you're lovable and worthy of love?
If you practice this, you will not only find yourself enjoying taking loving care of yourself whether or not there's a significant other in your life, you will also discover that you have much less anxiety due to no longer having to try to be "perfect" enough to get someone's approval. You know that you are already perfect in your soul and that it feels great to let yourself be your wonderful self—and it feels even better to take care of your wonderful self, all the time and without conditions.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D., is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. She has counseled individuals and couples since 1968. She is the author/co-author of nine books, including the internationally best-selling Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by You?, Healing Your Aloneness, Inner Bonding, and Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by God? and her recently published book, Diet For Divine Connection. She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah, as well as on the unique and popular website Inner Bonding.