Confessions of a people pleaser part 3: letting love in.

Ahh. Letting love in.

Such a simple concept, yet for me, it is also such a complex issue. I first wrote down some ideas about this blog series in a Sudoku book back in January, while spending the day at the spa.

It’s funny how, over the last 8 months, this theme just seems to be surfacing again and again, each time, bringing me new insight and growth. Now feels like a good time to finally compose the last part of this 3-part series, for a few reasons. It feels like I’ve arrived at the pinnacle of this lesson. I feel like I’m standing on an edge, about to take a leap of faith, fear coursing through my veins. And yet, there is an odd sense of knowing that is present. Somehow, part of me feels as though I can trust life to guide and support me as I jump into the scary unknown.

When I was first inspired to write about being a people-pleaser, I envisioned it being a funny-yet-true series. I thought it would be a fun topic and that a number of people would probably be able to relate.

It has been those things … And a lot more.

What I didn’t expect, was for this inward journey to be so deep. I had no idea that there was going to be so much more below the surface of my people-pleaser tendencies. I could never have predicted the amount of growth that would come from this inquiry. And although I always planned on writing about “letting love in” for the third part of this series, I did not anticipate this theme to be so powerful.

Over the last 8 months, I’ve practiced becoming aware of moments when I resist the flow of love in my life. In all honesty, I mostly did it to gain examples and content for this article. But, happily, what it has also done is highlight how prevalent this idea is in my life. Which has in turn allowed me to dig a little deeper and enabled me to identify why it’s such a struggle to let love in.

What I’ve come to realize is that somewhere along the line, likely when I was still a little girl, something happened that made me believe that I was only worthy of love when I was “perfect”. For some reason (reasons I may never clearly understand), I hold a deeply rooted belief that I am not worthy of love, at least not when I am imperfect. This is likely why I’ve become such a good people-pleaser! Always focusing on ensuring the happiness of others, often at my own detriment.

Rationally, I know this isn’t true. However that belief really does reside somewhere deep inside me, in my subconscious, and it very much has influenced my behaviours, decisions and relationships.

Fostering awareness – as with most things – has been the most important first step. But it is also an ongoing practice. It’s a constant process of bringing attention to my thoughts, actions and interactions, to witness how this belief has made it difficult for me to allow myself to receive love.

Another thing I’ve become acutely aware of is how much my relationship with myself is reflected in my relationships with others. I’ve heard this often: you can only love others as much as you love yourself.

I’ve struggled with that statement a lot – mostly rejecting it. But I’ve come to realize it’s quite true.

As I mentioned at the end of part 2, my ex partner expressed how he felt I never actually believed he loved me. It took me a while, but with time I saw how much this was true. I have also started to see how focusing on always pleasing others, has taken away my ability to just be in relationships. I have always valued absolute contentment over honest and authentic conversations. My worst fear being that I’d be found out, that those around me would see my flaws, and abandon me.

I very much struggled to let him see the parts of me that I’ve rejected. The parts of me that I am ashamed of. The ugly side and mostly, the needy side.

The other thing I very much struggled with was also accepting others’ “ugly” side. So, despite my previous thoughts, I haven’t always been so accepting of others when I have viewed them as imperfect. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I think it’s important to share these things to normalize our inherently flawed human nature.

I’ve read/heard somewhere that we are hurt in relationships, and therefore we must also heal within relationships.

This was impossible for me before because I very much thought that I had to be perfect before showing up in relationships. I thought I had to fix my broken self, before I could be worthy of love and a secure relationship. After all, that’s how the saying goes: you can only love others as much as you love yourself.

As I mentioned earlier, I do believe that. However for me, it’s been a rather slow evolution of learning to love myself, as well as loving others. It’s been simultaneous, it’s been baby steps, painful steps, of showing up, being vulnerable, fucking up, getting hurt or hurting others, dusting myself off and trying again.

I met someone pretty special about a month ago, and already, I’ve experienced so much growth in terms of self acceptance but also accepting others. I think that this is one of the biggest areas where I feel I am being called to take a leap of faith. It’s a scary thing, to show your raw, imperfect and vulnerable self to another person.

The ability to be vulnerable, I have come to realize, is crucial to the health of our relationships – romantic or otherwise. Brené Brown speaks at length about this in her Netflix special The Call to Courage: vulnerability is the birthplace of love, joy and connection.

There’s no guidebook on how to approach a relationship with vulnerability because it looks different for all of us. It’s also immensely uncomfortable at times to show up imperfectly. It goes against every ounce of the people-pleaser armour I’ve worn for so long.

Yet that armour hasn’t brought me much good in my adulthood. It’s been heavy AF to carry around. And frankly, I’m a little tired.

And so, with lots of practice, and lots of fuck ups along the way, I am slowy learning to drop the people-pleasing, to show up imperfectly, and to let love in ✌🏻

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