Self love comes from the ground up. It comes from the inside out. All of the things we post and re-post all of the time on social media are saying one solid message; Love yourself intensely, but what does that look like? How do we love ourselves and connect to other people? All of these memes and inspirational posters have a lot of truth when they are applied in real time. Once we BELIEVE that we are worthy in our exact size and state of mind there is no reason to feel lost about what we see and observe. All it takes is turning the cameras out for a while and seeing exactly what is happening. I am writing today on how we can take an understanding of self love and allow it to guide us into deeper and more meaningful connections with others.
Being friends is difficult. Try not to punch forward too hard, but do not wilt away because it’s no fun playing with a pitiful puddle. We are piecing together the map of where we’ve been to where we are right now, and for many of us, friendship is a delicate subject. There are a few people I know that I have always known and will always know on a deeper level. This is usually enough in life, but what about the here and there friendships that happen and dissolve like rice paper along the way?
I feel like a very young bird trying to make friends sometimes, sharing all of my secrets with anyone who will listen. It is hard not to be soft around some folks who eat little birds like me for breakfast.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown gives one of the most basic and useful examples to help measure when to open up with others and when to hold back. The example she uses is based on a behavior regulation tool from her daughter’s 3rd grade class; a marble jar. The teacher puts a layer of marbles in the jar when the class is making good choices collectively, and she takes a layer of marbles away when the class is misbehaving and making poor choices. If they make it to the top of the jar with marbles they are rewarded in some way. This is brilliant. Marble jar friends are people who have earned our trust and deserve our most vulnerable parts. This means if the people in our lives do enough things that earn our trust chances are we can be vulnerable around them in a safe environment. When people betray us and devalue what we are worth, we take marbles away. They do not deserve our precious secrets if they cannot learn how to treat us better. Everyone starts with an empty jar. When it gets full to the top with marbles, we are on a level of absolute trust. Pay attention! It keeps our eyes to the world when we are interacting. We are aware of the present moment and keen to what counts. Let people tell you what they mean with the way they behave because it says a lot more than trying to figure it out on our own.
Standing firm in ourselves when we meet others while leaving room for natural communication to flow is not easy. How can we let other people show us who they really are if we get stuck in assuming that we lack something or that they might see our incomplete parts? Oh no! My imperfections are showing! This implies that the person we are meeting is perfect and they know something about life that we do not. Unconsciously throwing labels like perfection on others only distances us from them even more. This is something I have felt for as long as I can remember. Oh, they must know something I do not! How can I show them that I am worthy to be in their company? This is insanely close to fooling people into being friends with us. We do not need to trick people into liking us. We do not need to trap anyone here to stay because as they say, what is meant to stay will, and what is not meant for us will leave us.
Leaning into Joy
Once we find people that we trust and enjoy in our lives, how do we maintain a healthy relationship where we continue to celebrate each other? How do we avoid trapping people for fear that they might not stick around?
“Every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope.” – Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Vulnerability where it counts. We are vulnerable where we feel joy the most because once we build all of these strong relationships where things actually go WELL, we are simultaneously realizing how much we would miss it if all of these things went away. We are so close now that I do not think I could lose you. This disconnects us from being here. This limits the amount of joy we let in so that we can keep from a big time heart break.
I know how much it hurts to lose someone you love, and I know how much it hurts to find them again and lose them alllllllllll over again. Love is a dangerous game, but we do it every day. We step out and risk our love by offering who we are. We are here to play, and this means we accept all that comes with it. This is how we sort out the map of our lives and build fond memories to grow on. I was there, and now, I am here. Being grateful for the journey allows us to embrace joy when it comes instead of worrying about when it will go away again.
It is one thing to read up on self love and how to make relationships work with others, but it is a completely different situation to put ourselves out there and go for it.
There are members of my family who do not really understand why I write poetry or relate to all of the things I discuss on this blog, but they know it matters to me and it makes sense for me. They are supportive because it is something that I love. This sustains me. As much as we invite this support into our lives, we are allowed to close ourselves off from people who throw out comments like well, what’s the point? That seems like a waste of time. They do not value us in the way that deserves more marbles. When people show you who they are and how they value you, believe them. It is all right there. We are capable of finding friendships that are meaningful without all of the confusion. Of course it starts with self love, but it continues on with awareness in the present moment, finding gratitude and leaning further into joy. This is all about living a more complete life. It does not have to be so confusing. A poem for you…
Only dancers know how to
run into the music and move
Swimming up stream
They just feel something
Inside of them that says,
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