“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brené Brown
(Photo credit: Charlie Foster)
I often find fear is the root cause in terms of what makes people settle…fear that we will not come across something better than the status quo and therefore we succumb to lounging in misery and even convince ourselves that we are content with it. Brene Brown, an acclaimed researcher who examines issues like vulnerability, has previously been featured in TED talks and brought up an interesting point. In efforts to not take away from her brilliance, I will briefly summarize. She points out that we take quite a bit of time (in my case 25 years) to truly accept and love ourselves. We are our own toughest critics and the journey to joyfully accepting our flaws and weaknesses looks very different for everyone. For example, some of my flaws are that I can over think things, can be impatient, am an email hoarder, and tend to have hosting anxiety before throwing any sort of event…which by the way I believe I inherited from my mother. If it takes you 25 years to be able to dump all your flaws on the table and truly laugh about it, why would you throw away all that hard work you invested in yourself to settle with someone that would love you any less? Also, we have great expectations from our closest friends and family, so why does the bar suddenly get lowered for a significant other?
I am not making a naive conclusion and declaring that every passing moment will be rainbows and butterflies…however there needs to be a few fundamentals that are not up for debate. That individual should empower you and believe in your vision. They should appreciate you and may not have to like every little quirk, but they should love the overall package as is. Love is not a project- you should not be someone’s task nor should you take up any tasks thinking you are Mr. or Miss Fix-it. If that habit really gets under your skin now, it will later. Is that something you can accept? I speak from experience where I once thought…oh, my love can change this person, it can soften them to open up, it can heal them, and they will communicate in the way I find is most nurturing and effective. The truth of the matter is change and happiness are two things that come from within. Ultimately, every individual must take the first step on their own will. And so, you ask yourself these questions:
- Does this person align with my dreams, hopes, and goals?
- Are the certain things I am not a fan of deal breakers?
- Do they respect, appreciate, and make me feel valued?
- Are they supportive?
- Do we create an open environment that encourages communication even at the most uncomfortable times for each other?
- Do we resolve conflicts or brush them under the table?
- And most importantly, does this person enhance my happiness? (Notice, I said enhance…)
I chose to write this post because I hear too much of “Well, it’s just that one thing that really bugs me, but everything else about him/her is so great!” Yet, that “one thing” consumes and upsets us causing a strain on any remaining positive attributes. So, maybe we should be more attentive to that “one thing”, listen to that tugging voice in the back of our head, and not dismiss our gut. We have put in so much time to finally believe that we are incredible people so why not hold others to believing that too?
Because my fears are smaller than my dreams and yours should be too,