I spent years of my life battling the insecurities and fears that plagued my mind and heart. I grew up with both love and abuse, an interesting mixture and a perfect way to be filled with constant anxiety and poor self-esteem. I never knew what the day would bring me. Some days, I was told good job, and some days, I was suffocated for just not getting up early enough in the morning. There was never any stability.
Healthy parents are able to model healthy love, and, unfortunately, too many parents grew up with parents that didn’t know how to properly love and nurture, and so the cycle of destruction and unhealthy love relationships begins.
We are all in this together, learning how to love ourselves and others better.
Many people, I think, can relate to at least one moment where they have felt unlovable and unworthy. That inner pain and wound begins to leak out in the choices we make with how we love ourselves and how we allow others to love and treat us. So as you can imagine, being abused didn’t exactly set up the highest standard for loving myself or knowing how others should love me. So I began to see the external results of my internal pain. How? In all the unhealthy men and decisions I would make. I used the love of these men and their temporary affection to fill the deep void of pain and sadness I had within. Just like an alcoholic uses alcohol to numb their pain, I used romantic love to numb my pain. This was not effective. I never was filled, and the misery and void just deepened.
After countless romantic dramas—same story, different guy—I finally had a breaking point. I was in my early twenties, maybe twenty or twenty-one years old, and I remember being on my hands and knees begging for my abusive boyfriend to stay with me. He had cheated, spit on me, and treated me beyond bad, and yet, I still wanted his love more than my own self-dignity. I remember getting it, in that moment. I remember becoming like an observer, looking into a movie, and finally feeling compassion for myself and really getting, on a visceral level, that I was hurt and I couldn’t keep doing this if I wanted to be happy.
From that day on, I began an intense healing path—therapy, coaching, meditation, goddess empowerment, and spiritual work. The list goes on. I was thirsty to finally address the wounds instead of ignore and numb them. I began feeling my worth slowly. I remember finally feeling that maybe there was another way.
It wasn’t that I was stupid. In fact, I was the top of my class and always volunteering and helping others.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be happy. I wanted to be happy more than anything in the world. It was that I didn’t know how to be loved and didn’t know how to love myself, because of my earlier dysfunctional frameworks around love. So if you or anyone you know has been struggling with feeling unworthy and choosing unhealthy love because of it, know you’re not alone, and there is another way.
1. Begin to notice what makes you feel unworthy or unlovable. Perhaps take some time to contemplate how you were loved/not loved and treated as a child and in your life. Notice: were those messages healthy or unhealthy?
2. What effects did your earlier relationships around being loved have on your perception of yourself? Have you noticed that you have a high self-esteem or a low one?
3. What actions have you taken around love and relationships that have honored you as a smart, lovable, and worthy person?
4. What actions have you taken around love and relationships that have NOT honored you as a smart, lovable, and worthy person?
As you answer these questions, be kind, compassionate, and real with yourself. Take the time to journal these questions and write them down.
Once you notice the pattern, take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a golden healing light shining around, inside, above, and below you. Breathe in through your nose, breathing in the healing light, and exhale out slowly through your nose. Do this breath exercise for three breaths.
1. Honor your boundaries.
What is a boundary? It is an invisible wall that, in its healthiest state, is like a thin veil separating you from the other person, so you are able to take in what works for you and leave out what doesn’t. In this state, you respect your needs, wants, desires, and have a strong self of SELF.
Perhaps you haven’t known how to have boundaries. So your step here is to write down what makes you feel good and imagine this thin veil between you and another person. Take a moment to breathe and check in with your body to see if what they are saying, how they make you feel, and how they are treating you works for you or not. If it doesn’t feel good, then honor your needs and do what you must to walk away. Choose those that make you feel good, safe, happy, and honored.
2. Dive deeper into your passions.
One common thing that people with unhealthy love blueprints do is that they forget who they are and just obsess over being loved and their love interest at the moment. They forget their interests and their passions. So if you want to attract healthy love, be aware and dive deeper into your passions. Take a moment to think about what lights you up. For example, painting, reading, traveling, going out dancing, girls night out, cooking, treating yourself to spa days. Once you find what it is, sign up for a class and be consistent about making sure that activity is in your schedule.
3. Join a positive group
Feeling lonely and insecure are two of the most common indicators and reasons people settle for less than amazing relationships. One thing that helped me and so many of my clients has been to join a positive support group. One great network to find like-minded people is in a group fitness class, perhaps yoga. Another great positive women’s group is my online support group called the Diosa Tribe (Diosa is the Spanish word for goddess) www.diosatribe.com, where women connect virtually, and then you can see who is local and set up a girl’s date. Go out there and find a happy, loving, and inspiring network to connect with. This will provide additional support and have you on your way to healthier and happier love relationships.
You deserve to be treated with love, honor, and respect. Never settle for less and continue walking toward actions that lead you closer and closer to healthy love.
Remember: progress not perfection. Let me know if these tips were helpful to you, and I would love to hear your love stories. Have you gone through difficult moments in love and figured out how to overcome it? I love hearing your stories and your lessons, so please share! I am here rooting you on.
If you want to delve deeper, I am offering a free video series workshop where you are able to dive into topics related to healing love addiction and cultivating healthy love. To sign up go to: www.fiercelovenow.com
Christine Gutierrez, MHC is a Licensed Latina psychotherapist, love addiction expert, life coach and expert in trauma, abuse, & self-esteem, currently residing in Brooklyn. Christine has her bachelors from Fordham University in human behavior and development, and a masters from City College of New York in mental health counseling with a focus on community and prevention. Christine offer’s 1-1 therapy and coaching. In addition, she offers group coaching, transformational retreats, and psychologically savvy media content on her website. She also is a featured guide on Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl’s, new website platform for healing; oneOeight.com. She has been featured in media outlets like TimeOut NY, Latina Magazine as “The Future 15: The Healer,” Yahoo Health, Ebony, Cosmopolitan for Latinas, Huffington Post, and others for her work on Emotional Empowerment™. In addition, Christine is also the founder of the non profit Therapy is Cool, founded in Puerto Rico, where the mission is to empower marginalized youth and communities. Christine’s mission is to empower as many people as possible to heal their pain and own their worth. Check out her free video series, Fierce Love Now, on how to break free from negative love patterns and cultivate healthy love. And sign up for her weekly newsletter at: www.christineg.tv where you will receive a free e-book to determine your Love Archetype. Christine is currently in private practice in New York and offers sessions internationally via phone/skype.
*Image courtesy of summerbl4ck.
Originally published at www.positivelypositive.com