Relationship issues? First, you have to fall in love with yourself — Andscape
The Joy Strategist, Your Path to Inner Change, by Grace Harry, is available now from Andscape Books. In this excerpt, Harry talks about how, after many stumbles, she had to learn to focus on her most important relationship, the one with herself.
When it comes to love, we’re taught to look for a special someone who’s out there searching the globe to find us and to make life magical as we’re drawn together with a charge powerful enough to keep planets in orbit. I thought I’d found this once, twice, three times. +.
I took on relationship after relationship — eagerly — like a student determined to earn a master’s degree in Partner Love. Once the last one crumbled in my arms, I questioned not just the partners but the overall mission.
In some part of my brain, I understood that there was no Prince Charming — and I also didn’t think I needed a _______Charming. I was strong, I was proud, I was independent. I had a great career and incredible children, but I still wondered how it was possible that I could achieve ownership in so many areas of my life, but never really hold on to real estate in the area of love.
I needed to turn my attention inward, not outward. Get a load of that: Our inner guide — our North Star — can also guide us to love. Falling in love with ME.
The being right there in the bathroom mirror! Who was she? What was she like? I’d seen who she was around a group of people, but who was she when she was all alone?
It finally occurred to me that I might do better going forward if I took a minute to take stock of where I’d been.
A cornucopia of abuses.
A lack of value incoming and outgoing.
Or, wait a minute, was it possible that I was the one who just didn’t see my own value? Is that how I presented myself to the world? As someone of little value who largely existed to promote the value of others? I just had to wonder: Were all these botched relationships just reflecting how I felt about myself?
Or had I deliberately downplayed myself, playing it safe by holding myself back from blossoming to my full potential?
Have you ever thought about the cumulative amount of time you’ve spent getting to know a new lover?
Who are you really?
What do you most want out of life?
I couldn’t count how many times I’d sat fascinated at the edge of my seat, tirelessly asking them questions and loving it as they went on and on. I had a knack for asking questions that encouraged my dates to reveal all their beguiling facets — but I had no idea how I’d answer such questions myself.
I was destined to spend the rest of my life with myself — I needed to understand who the hell I was signing up for. Who was I? What did I enjoy?
This is when I began my life-changing exploration of JOY. What brought me JOY? Like most people, I had no idea, but I started asking myself the sort of questions I’d probably ask a lover if I were out to plan a surprise party for this person — except the party I was planning was for me, and I wanted it every day of my life.
As I’ve mentioned, discovering each thing that gave me JOY was a life-changing revelation. Every time I’d give in to JOY, I’d drown out all the dooming, downer voices in my head that I’d never realized had hijacked my life. I’d start each day with JOY — dancing, singing, doodling — doing anything I love — without these voices droning on and on, editing my desires and my sense of what I deserved.
Some of the nastiest and most paralyzing notions that rattled around my head weren’t issued by Society or Culture or the world’s unwritten rules. The nastiest and most paralyzing noise came from all the mean things I said to myself. Grace, you sure f$%ked up again! Oh, Grace, you’ll never learn!
I quickly realized that if I was going to date myself, I had to put in the effort to be a kind and good-hearted lover — just like I would be if I were dating anyone else. I had to romance myself. Rather than beating myself with admonishment, I had to sweet-talk myself instead. Look at you! You’ve got this, Grace. You really are Amazing.
Instead of trudging through the days of my new/renewed divorce life and falling miserably into bed each night, I turned on the charm and started courting the hell out of myself. And why not? I’d done it for everyone else I’d ever dated! Kicking off each morning with a ritual of JOY set the stage for living each day like it was a love letter to myself — and every night was a date night for me, myself, and I.
Seriously, Grace, date night with yourself? You don’t have time for this. (Hello, self-sabotage!)
But then I would think: How much time have I given to other people? How many hours did I miraculously find time to get lovey-dovey at the start of any other relationship? I had the time. I’d make the time, because I was giving myself the hours that I’d always seemed to find for everyone else.