To effectively look inward and begin your journey to finding the love you want, follow these tips:
- Observe rather than judge yourself when noticing patterns you want to change. Take ownership of them.
- Recognize this action takes courage, and be kind to yourself throughout the process.
- Grant yourself the gift of forgiveness; this will allow you the freedom to move forward.
-Dating Coach, Matchmaker and YourTango Expert, Julianne Cantarella
How do I look at my flaws in a positive light?
I think it's probably safe to say that if self-criticism was a fatal disease, humankind would have died off ages ago. When we're plagued by a particularly nasty, soul-warping gremlin (i.e. "I'm not smart/pretty/ interesting enough"), eliminating it can feel impossible. 20 Reasons To Love And Appreciate Your Body
But, if we lovingly face those shadows head-on instead of trying to beat them into submission, maybe we can actually start to embody the Japanese concept of beauty called wabi-sab—perfect imperfection. Wouldn't that be a lovely gift to our deepest selves?
Here are a few tips for making the shift from shadow-boxing to shadow-dancing:
1. Watch your language. Every time you make a disparaging remark about yourself, whether it's in your head or to someone else, you chip away at your own self-esteem. Try focusing instead on one of your positive attributes: "I may not be the best at handling stress, but I'm a great listener." You can't always silence the inner critic, but you can learn to change the channel with a little practice.
2. Express appreciation. Take a look around and shift into a mode of supporting others. Make a sincere effort to compliment and acknowledge people in your life for their unique gifts. It's amazing how this practice can have a boomerang effect of highlighting your own special qualities and remind you how much you have to be grateful for. 7 Ways To Show Love Without Words
3. Take action. As a life and relationship coach, this is my mantra. Grab a great book or take a course on practicing self-love. Write down every single self-limiting belief you can think of on a piece of paper and burn it up. Or, if you really want to have fun, write them on uncooked eggs and smash them in your garden! Your plants will love it, and it's so satisfying!
-Coach, Interfaith Minister and YourTango Expert, Deborah Roth
How will embracing my flaws lead to a better love life?
In sessions with clients, I often hear about how afraid they are to be seen as less than perfect, clumsy or capable of mistakes. This leads them to hold themselves back from their partners, and also from their own enthusiasm and passion, and therefore, from their own ability to love.
I see sex lives that have dwindled to a series of "safe" interactions that won't require anyone to risk being embarrassed. I see couples who say that they don't know each other anymore because they have each been editing what they say and do for so long. I see people starting relationships by hiding the fullness and complexity of who they are, and thus squashing the wonder and fun that could be there.
When we edit and watch ourselves with a critical eye, not allowing certain sides to come through, we are limiting the areas in which we can grow and develop. Enthusiasm and passion require that we throw ourselves in, flaws and all, and see what happens.
Whatever flaws you have are so much less important than the adventure you could be having if you let yourself. Loving your shadows is a sign that you are fully present and engaged in life.
Here are some of my tips to letting go of limitations and loving with passion and enthusiasm:
1. Remember a time when you felt you were seen clearly and loved for who you are. Close your eyes and let yourself really feel this memory. Let your body respond to it as though it's happening now. Call on this memory as an anchor point you can return to when you need to remind yourself that you are lovable just as you are.
2. When you have a critical thought, give yourself freedom to grow. For example, if you think, "I am lazy," restate that to be: "In the past, I have had a tendency to put off difficult things," or even, "Right now I am putting off difficult things." This leaves you room to change.
3. Push your boundaries. I have a friend who celebrates her birthday every year by trying something that's outside of her comfort zone. This is a great habit, as it allows you to face the parts of you that you normally avoid. You get to practice loving yourself as you are struggling, vulnerable and growing.
-Therapist, Sex Educator and YourTango Expert Melissa Fritchle