Lately, I have been exploring the topic of self-love and self-acceptance as part of my own personal development work. It's been difficult to admit to myself that I never felt truly loved as a child. That's not to say I wasn't loved, I was, but it always felt conditional and that shaped me in ways that I never truly understood until I accepted that I wasn't loved the way I needed. This is not a criticism of my parents, they loved me the way they could, and I know they did in their own way, but their insecure attachment meant that I never had the secure love that is unconditional and that is what contributed to my own default avoidant attachment.
What does this mean for me now?
Firstly, it has created an inner critic in me that made me think I had to be a certain kind of person to be loved and a belief that people were always watching for my faults or waiting for me to fuck up so they could point it out to me. Secondly, it has also meant that I felt like I was the consolation prize and that most people only wanted me while I was useful or until the one they really wanted came along.
So, what have I done to remedy this? In the past few months I have been exploring how I can bring secure attachment to my relationship with myself. How does this how up in real-time? It involves recognising the parts of me that I have in the past rejected or dismissed. It has been listening to their pain and not trying to make it go away but being a responsive parent who holds space for how they feel and loves them in spite of their mistakes.
And what has this meant for me? It has brought a contentment and ease in who I am and a feeling that I am good enough. It has reduced my fear of being rejected and it has helped me to see myself through the eyes of others, not to make myself feel better, or special, but to see what is about me that is lovable. I am working on bringing this to my clients, creating a non-judgemental space for them to learn to love themselves too. It is much easier to be your authentic self when you love who you are.