One of our fundamental needs is to be loved. We want to be seen, heard and accepted for who we are. We wish to belong and know that there is someone there to walk beside us through our journey and that we are not alone.
For some, we are able to give our love freely and confidently, while for others, this yearning has become a pull to prove ourselves through our love.
As we grow, we form connections and associations with how we believe the world functions- our world view. In other words, we apply the “Shoulds” to people and situations in order to make sense of what is happening as well as what is acceptable to expect. These associations are the underlying beliefs we hold about who we are and our place in the world.
What are some connections you have when it comes to the ways of loving someone? Think of IF, THEN statements when it comes to relationships.
If I choose to make a decision for myself, and I am happy, then it is coming at the expense of someone else’s feelings.
If I say that this friendship isn’t working, then I am a bad person for breaking their hearts.
One association I have struggled with is “If I love hard enough, they will eventually love me back”.
The way that I have come to understand love and loving people has been about giving them the love and acceptance I wanted for myself when I was a child that I didn’t get. I have come to equate loving with self-sacrifice. When I am giving someone else love, it is because I recognize the shadows in them that I have within. So, I pour all emotion, devotion, understanding and loyalty into them, and sit patiently hoping that one day they will be able to give it back to me.
The reason behind why I give in this way goes past the surface of I hope to get what I give in return one day. The secondary reason for this way of thinking is:
Without giving in this way: full-heartedly and often at the expense of myself, I feel as though there is not a purpose present (to help, to heal, to teach, to help them grow) and in return, I do not feel grounded and secure in my worth and what I have to offer.
So the first reason is because I know what it is like not to be fully loved and accepted, so I want to make sure they never feel it and the second, deeper reasoning is that I feel that I have nothing of value in just loving, that I need to prove this worth with how deeply I give.
When you haven’t had people in your life that made you feel like you have someone who will be there to walk through life with you, there remains a void in the realm of trust of oneself and of others.
This drive to prove our love and our worth leaves us depleted in having anything left to give to ourselves. Often times, it leaves us in a position where we avoid asking for what we need from others in fear of facing rejection or being seen as dependent and needy.
The cycle of giving too much and not having enough in return is not only exhausting, it reaffirms the deep-seated fear that we are not lovable or worthy of being loved.
It could just be that you can ask for what you want and need and recognize that it doesn’t make you a bad or less worthy person because your needs are not about the other person.
Your experience is just that- Yours. They are your own, and not attached to the experience of the other person. Their experience is based on how they see the world based on the life they have lived. You are not taking anything away from this person by choosing to do something for you. Whatever reaction they have to is based on where they are now in what they need for themselves.
The first step to changing this cycle is becoming aware of when it is happening and what it feels like for you.
Often, it is a pull to be rescuer/defender or its strong pull to be the child to be soothed.
When you feel this pull, give yourself a moment of pause to identify why it is there and what need is calling to be addressed.
The second step is learning what the shadows within you look like that you are recognizing in another that you are hoping to heal.
The final step is setting boundaries are creating a life reflective of all that is important to and surrounding yourself with those who are naturally able to provide those needs as they also share in those same values.
Over time, as you get to know yourself better and accept what makes you undeniably you, it will become easier to provide those needs for yourself and have those around you as support.
Remember, what you are contributing IS enough. Who you are IS enough. What you have to give IS enough.
Be confident in what you need and what you value. If it is not met here, it just means that this person is not part of your tribe. Allow yourself the love and acceptance you seek to make its way to you in all your relationships.