Relationships. Are we in one? Have we ever had one? Or do we keep attracting into our lives the same dysfunctional, unfulfilling companionship? If so, what is the best way to shift this dynamic and truly create a relationship that is respectful, loving, emotionally fulfilling, and trustworthy?
From the time we were born, most of us were taught to value ourselves based on what others thought of us, how much we accomplished, how we looked, etc. We became conditioned by the fundamental premise that if people responded to us in a positive way then we had value, self-worth. If people ignored or judged us, then the reverse was true. So, if one continues entertaining negative self-thoughts from an inner judge and jury it is very difficult to attract a loving, respectful relationship. As the Author Paul Ferrini writes in his book Love Without Conditions: “Your attempt to find love outside yourself always fails, because you can’t receive from another something you haven’t given to yourself. When you withhold love from yourself, you attract others into your life who are doing the same thing.”
The key begins with “self”. For unless we are aware of who we are (underneath the roles we play), and begin consciously honoring , nurturing, and respecting “self” – we will only continue to attract individuals who reflect back to us our own feelings of unfulfillment. No one can accomplish this for us. Advisors, friends, professionals, and many books can suggest how to love oneself, but it truly becomes an individual journey…..a clearing out of the old “stories and tapes” the ego has recorded, and an unconditional acceptance of our loving self-worth.
Once that process has begun, the mantra “Be true to thy self” then becomes a daily commitment. It is inspiring to find one who truly knows who they are, and consistently lives in accord with that revelation. It takes great courage, and it requires risking popularity and disappointment from others in the quest to stay true to self. But that is the only way to have a healthy and authentic relationship with Oneself first and second with Others.
For example, I know a woman who has a tremendous love for others, and a deep joy with life. That is her essence – a part of who she is not a role she plays. But because of early childhood conditioning she learned a behavior that was “sacrifice all” to help another, be the “rescuer”, and at all times “be the center of the storm” so others can have a more peaceful and harmonious life. This co-dependent pattern played out in her primary relationships along with an accompanying chorus of “not ever wanting to let anyone down”. Then, when she felt she did disappoint someone, feelings of guilt and remorse plagued her. Not only was this young woman not respecting and honoring herself with nurturing love, but she had no concept of boundaries. What followed were relationships that took advantage of her kindness, depleted her of energy, and caused her inner resentment. The proverbial “mirror”. What one draws to their experience is a reflection of what needs to be healed within.
For her, after receiving loving spiritual and professional guidance, she healed her early wounds, became more aware of her unhealthy behavior patterns, and realized that all harmonious relationships begin with the love of one’s self. After much growth and releasing stubborn habits of “trying to make everyone “happy” She attracted into her life a loving and emotionally healthy partner who expresses all the love and gentleness she had learned to give herself.
It is not a path for the faint of heart for behaviors become entrenched, and it takes discipline and conscious awareness to change- not to mention dealing with the the projected judgment and anger of others who want merely “to keep status quo”. Courage is needed to exact change, but by first learning to love, accept, and respect oneself, then we are able to be with another who also loves, accepts, and respects us.
“A very wise teacher once shared with me: Go silently into the depths of your soul, and allow your old memories and histories and wounds to surface in order for them to be healed. Be gentle and still with yourself so that when you re-surface, your unique sound will be discovered, a new story begin, and a contribution made to the “whole”. Each one of us has an individual sound the Universe hears and applauds, but it is only when we release the broken chapters in our life that the fullness of this glory can be recognized.”
Founder of the Evolution of Eve (an educational consulting service dedicated to the empowerment of women), and active owner until 1999. Brenda has participated in the resolution of countless emotional issues through workshops, private sessions, and group facilitations.
She has an MA in Psychology from Pepperdine University and an MA in Education and a Teaching Credential from the University of California. Her professional life has encompassed junior and high school teaching, Ownership of Renaissance Realty, and the last two decades, a life coach for individual and family issues.
Brenda’s spiritual background and journey provide a loving and compassionate depth to her counsel. As a wife and partner, mother of three grown daughters, and Grandmother to two young boys, Brenda brings a practical, non-judgmental, and humorous approach to problem-solving and emotional healing.