The thing is to not second guess what the other person is thinking. And brutal truth, having no secrets is the key because it all comes out of the wash at the end of the day. Try to tell the other person how you truly feel. And if they don’t feel the same way, don’t look at it as rejection but a time saver.
I don’t know if its a human condition or stupidity that people wind up saying stuff that they wish had not, only to end up hurting the other person. If we stop and self-edit what we really want to convey to each other, there would be less game play, and hence, hurt feelings.
I guess its all part of each person’s growth and finding themselves while finding true love for another person.
Anyway, each podcast gives me hope for a good catch! :-)
(PS: My awesome mom is single—so silver fox bachelors, holler.)
You don’t go on a journey around the country to capture 100 great love stories and not think about what it means to find “The One.”
So many of us (women in particular) approach the next potential partner we meet and the first question we ask: “Is this The One?”
That’s a heavy question, isn’t it? It puts a ton of pressure on every interaction. We lose focus. We lose sight of the joy in meeting someone new, discovering who that person is, learning whether we dance well with him or her.
And unfortunately, that’s precisely the reason why we’re rarely able to accurately discern whether the people we get to meet could, in fact, be the one we really want to end up with.
"Is this person the one?"
That question hints at a lack of trust that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should. The truth is, the next person that comes into your life is going to be EXACTLY the one. Maybe it’ll be for a conversation; maybe it’ll be for a lifetime.
The next person you meet will, in fact, be the one. And if there’s a person after that, he or she will be “The One,” too.
You aren’t responsible for predicting the next 50 years of your life whenever you go on a first date. That’s basically what you’re asking yourself to do by starting with the question, “Is this person the one for me?”
Your responsibility is simply to come to each One with an open heart, and an open mind. And let that person teach you what you need to know. So you can be a better woman or man. So you can be the best version of The One for the next One you meet. Because you’re someone else’s future “The One” too, you know.
And, if you’re lucky, you discover the lesson the world has been meaning to teach you all along:
That YOU are the person you’ve been waiting for. You are the limitless source of love. And whether you’re single or in a great relationship or in a relationship you’re questioning, that’s perfect for you.
You are where you are because there’s a lesson (or twenty) that you must learn to evolve to the next best version of you, which brings you closer to your next One.
So embrace where you are. Learn what you can.
The next person who walks into your life will be exactly the right One for the next set of lessons you need to learn.
And if they help you realize that you are, indeed, the One you’ve been waiting for—that there are a million reasons why you’re lovable and worthy…
I think that’s when you should hang on and not let go.
I don’t know about you, but my productivity starts to go out the window when I’m feeling stuck in a job or project, unclear about my goals and priorities, or feeling down about my life’s circumstances or my interpretation of them.
I stop being productive because I don’t know what I’m working toward. And because of it, my self-esteem is low. And because of that, I don’t see the value in my most finite resource: TIME.
You know when I’m most productive?
When I am in flow. When I’m getting enough rest. When I’m fully feeling and owning that I’m 100% responsible for the outcome of my life (and how I perceive the way it’s turning out), and make decisions or shape my thoughts and emotions according to how I desire to process and feel.
If you’re not feeling productive, I’d invite you to not create a time management system, download another app, buy a new planner, or add more stuff to your calendar.
Instead, look at what’s going on in your life that’s causing you to not value your own time. How is that a reflection of where you’re truly struggling to find clarity, meaning, and purpose? How is your procrastination a reflection of your lack of self-esteem or personal sense of value?
If you get clear on where you’re stuck, what you really want, and how to get from where you are to where you want to be, then the inspiration will naturally come to you. You’ll be productive and it’ll take no effort at all—because when you’re clear on what you’re doing, what you want to do (more of or differently) and why it matters to change, then you’ll have boundless determination to make the time to do those very things. Or at the very least, to figure out how to do those things via trial and error.
If you want to make great use of your time, start respecting it.
And if you’re wondering why you haven’t been respecting your time, start looking at how much you respect yourself.
Productivity doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t need fancy systems or more process.
If you’re not feeling productive, all you really need is to check how and why you place the low value you do on your time.
And then do something to up the value.
That’s the only productivity system you really need.
Don’t try to be perfect. Just be an excellent example of being human.
How often do we set ourselves up for failure by trying to be our own idea of perfect? And you know what’s really weird? Perfect isn’t even fun.
It’s boring. It makes us un-relatable. Inaccessible. Hard to be around.
You know what is fun, though?
Being unabashedly you, which most definitely includes your quirks. Being okay being a nerd, or goofy, or super serious, or secretly obsessed with cartoon characters or anime. Being fiercely passionate. Being outspoken, but still willing to admit when what you believe may not be the best or right thing. Being willing to look silly. Having an adventurous spirit. Knowing you’ll have fun and make the best of wherever you are and whoever you’re with.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be around that kind of person over a “perfect” person any day of the week.
We forget sometimes that being human is about our flaws as much as it is about our strengths. Our strengths allow us to feel like we have what it takes to grow…but it’s our weaknesses that allow us to connect to and relate with others.
Genuine connection is invaluable.
Where are you trying to be perfect in your life?
The way you keep your home?
How you raise your children?
I say: get messy. Be boldly, unabashedly you. Give others the courage to do the same.
That’s part of what it means to live fully: to be okay with all the sides of you, and embrace all the sides of other people.
I am on this mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime journey across the country. I spend my days writing, interviewing some of the most inspiring couples in America, and exploring great new places. I am watching one of my biggest dreams unfold right before my eyes.
…and you know what I keep thinking about?
"There’s so much work to do. I feel so behind. What if this book isn’t any good? I can’t believe I’m so behind on my journal entries. I’m upset at so-and-so. I’m mad at myself. Why can’t I just enjoy this more? What am I going to do when this project is over in December? What if I run out of money? Why am I getting sick? I feel so physically and emotionally drained out.”
These are the thoughts I spend my energy on all too often. It’s so ridiculous, and I’m embarrassed at how little I’ve focused my energy and attention on gratitude, awe, and fun these past few months.
This is one of our greatest addictions, isn’t it?
Talking about our problems.
It is so easy to go into a state of seeing only what we don’t have, how we’re coming up short, the ways in which we or our lives or the people in it just aren’t “enough.”
And you know what happens? One day turns into a week, which turns into a year, which turns into a decade, which then becomes a lifetime.
A lifetime of unnecessary suffering. Of being numb to life. Of disallowing ourselves to truly experience joy. Of disallowing ourselves to truly work through heartache and pain.
We prolong the problems. We ruminate about things that haven’t happened and likely never will. And when good things happen, we’re too busy waiting for “the other shoe to drop” to really experience it.
This is our biggest collective addiction…
So much so that we make up problems we don’t even have, make the problems we do have even bigger, and essentially strip ourselves of the joy of simply being alive.
Days. Weeks. Years. A lifetime goes by.
And we wonder where the time has gone, when our dreams died, why we didn’t make better use of life we had.
I’m in that moment right now. I have a decision to make: will I let the next few months of this incredible experience fly by, with me being merely a passive observer? Or, will I resolve to jump out of bed every day, determined to create 16 hours of pure JOY?
I’ll take the JOY, please.
What does that look like?
It looks like:
Taking time to write every day.
Telling the story about what I’m doing with as much love and sincerity as my heart feels for doing it.
Deeply reflecting on what I’ve learned about love, myself, and the world.
Diving wholeheartedly into every single interview I get to do with great couples across the country.
Using my free time to go on the most crazy, random, fun adventures I can get into in each new place we visit.
Taking time to listen and understand more, and talk less.
Making sure I learn something great from every single person I have the great privilege of meeting.
Blogging more consistently about everything I’m experiencing.
Calling my friends and family every week to check in and remind them of how much I love them.
Smiling at complete strangers. And when I say smile, I mean INFECTIOUSLY GRIN. From ear to ear.
Saying a prayer of immense gratitude every single day.
Having the words that leave my lips and enter into others’ hearts and minds be only words of kindness, utility, love, and positivity.
Dancing. Daily. For no reason at all, other than to smile and be free.
Taking time to really look and experience. Not to glaze over this experience, but to fully soak up the true magnitude of awesomeness that is this journey.
Replacing worry with thoughtful, intentional action.
Replacing self-imposed guilt, shame, and self-deprecation with kind thoughts, self-care, meditation, and reflection.
Focusing my energy less on my problems, and more on the joy I can bring to others. There is way more of the latter, anyway.
Finding the lesson and positive meaning in absolutely every moment.
Remembering how damn lucky I am to be doing the work I’m doing, and living the life I’m living. There is no where better to be than where I am, and no person better to be than myself.
What’s on your JOY list?
Write it down.
Because you’re going to live the life you decide to have. And really…
A friend recently posed the question on her Facebook wall,
"What do you wish you could tell your 13-year-old-self?"
Upon reflection, here’s the letter I wish I could’ve sent my 13-year-old self. It is, in many ways, the letter I think my 70-year-old self would want to send to my 27-year-old self.
Dear 13-year-old Melissa,
If there’s any one thing I deeply want you to know, it’s this:
You are immensely worthy of love.
In fact, you are the greatest source of it. You don’t need to seek love from other people—especially men—to validate yourself. You don’t need to scrape it up wherever you can find it, like it is some scarce resource. Start with being extremely loving toward yourself, and then others. Let love pour out of you. Don’t be afraid to give it away. Don’t be afraid of the heartbreak. Don’t be afraid of the disappointment. They are inevitable steps on the journey to self-discovery and true love.
Be in love with the woman you are, and the woman you are becoming. Your mistakes and messiness are just as much a part of you as your greatest talents and likable personality traits. All of those parts of you make up the lovely sum of who you are. All those parts of you are beautiful.
Every single ounce of your soul and inch of your skin is worthy of the deepest kind of love. But, the secret?
That deep love is a gift you give yourself.
Stop waiting for permission. Start learning what it means to truly, deeply, passionately love yourself now. And in turn, what it means to love others. Like a boss.
Because that is the point of living: LOVE.
To understand it, embody it, feel it toward yourself, and give it away to others, only to get more and more back.
The point of life is to learn how to love—and to allow yourself to be loved—starting with how you show it to yourself.
Do that, and truly, everything else will work itself out perfectly and naturally—no big effort or force required.
I am great at making things weigh heavier on my heart than they need to. We all do this about something, don’t we? We insist on being right—even if it comes at the cost of freedom and lightness.
Something about being on the road forces you to reexamine the baggage you carry. It’s simply to heavy to bring with you everywhere. You have to decide what’s most important—what you can let go of, what you don’t need to cling to so tightly.
Life is full of serious things, but it doesn’t have to be so serious all the time.
Sometimes, it is the best thing in the world to be light, to move swiftly, to explore every crevice of the world you can, including your own heart.
We are constantly collecting things, thinking that is the purpose of life: accolades, paychecks, material possessions, tons of acquaintances.
And in the process, we miss the point:
That life is more about letting go than collecting stuff. The only thing we need to collect is great memories and self awareness. Everything else is extra weight. Everything else is less than necessary.
7 Questions to Help You Shift Your Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs and self-destructive behavior tend to be triggered something external, like a significant other saying something to us and we process it as “He/she doesn’t love me.” The limiting belief = I’m not worthy of love.
Or, we see someone else’s success and think, “I’ll never be able to create that same result.” Limiting belief = I’m not talented enough/rich enough/charismatic enough to make my career dream happen.
A ton of my own limiting beliefs have been coming up lately. I’m seeing things about myself that aren’t pleasant to admit. Let’s just say I’ve been experiencing cognitive dissonance about the woman I am in a major way.
But, therein lies problem #1: We want progress, but don’t want the pain of changing. The universe, of course, doesn’t work like that. The truth really does set us free—but it’s probably going to piss us off first.
Being pissed off, frustrated, in denial, or in a state of blaming someone else? All perpetuate the limiting beliefs and self-destructive habits—because they don’t fix your issues; they merely suppress them.
If you’re facing a limiting belief or continuing to behave in ways that don’t represent the kind of person you want to be, here’s a set of clarifying and decision-shifting questions that have been helping me:
1. What is true? What are the actual facts?
2. What meaning am I giving to the situation?
3. What limiting beliefs are leading me to give the situation that particular meaning? What is underneath what I’m choosing to focus on?
4. What outcome do I genuinely desire? What exactly do I want to achieve? Why do I want to achieve it?
5. Are the reasons heartfelt? Or, are they based on yet another limiting belief (i.e. “It means I’m a failure/not good enough if I don’t raise a round of capital for my startup idea.”)? If the reasons are heartfelt, recommit to them. If they aren’t, figure out what you TRULY desire.
6. How would I interpret this situation differently if I assumed that the Universe/God and the people around me were my biggest supporters and giving me EXACTLY what I needed to learn to achieve the goals I desire?
7. Assume 5, 10, 15 years from now, you achieve exactly what you want to achieve. What would your future self say to you right now about your circumstance and limiting belief(s)?
These questions will help create understanding and shifting mentality/behavior.
Click here for a great video by Tony Robbins I listened to this morning that helped further solidify the power of shifting your focus and the meaning you assign to things that happen in your life.
What is the most surprising thing you have discovered in all your research?
If you want to be in a committed relationship, start with the commitments you make to yourself. How many times do you plan to go running in the morning, but hit the snooze button instead? How often do you mean to eat something healthy, but end up eating fast food? How easy is it to leave big passion projects unfinished—over never get around to them at all? The best way to prepare yourself for a committed relationship is to practice by keeping the commitments you make to yourself.
You do a lot of interviews for your podcast – what have been your favorite revelations or conversations?
The lesson that has hit home most for me is this: the primary purpose of marriage isn’t to keep you happy—it’s to keep you growing. When you approach marriage looking to grow with and from one another, it fundamentally shifts the way you look at the health of your relationship. All of a sudden, disagreements, differing interests, and trying circumstances take on very different meaning—they aren’t viewed as deal breakers so much as opportunities to grow individually and as a couple.
What is the best piece of advice you ever got? How did you use it?
Do what you say you’re going to do. We all struggle with 100% integrity—when your behavior is a perfect reflection of your values and priorities. I’m certainly not perfect at it. But, I’ve learned your word is all you’ve got—it’s your bond with yourself, and with the world. The more you do what you say you’re going to do, the more power your words have. More importantly, it builds confidence and trust—not just in others, but in yourself.
What’s the best advice you like to give? How do you apply it (for yourself)?
You can’t numb pain without numbing joy. So many of us are terrified of experiencing pain. We like to control as much as possible; we don’t like to be too surprised or disappointed. And, we certainly don’t like getting our hearts broken. So, we shut down and numb out. We keep people at arms length because we don’t want to get hurt. We use addictions—to food, alcohol, television, porn, the internet, etc—to fill a gaping hole in our hearts. The biggest problem with trying to numb the pain is that we also numb the joy.
Knowing this, I’ve worked hard to recalibrate my relationship with pain. For one thing, there’s a big difference between pain and suffering. It’s been said that painful emotions last only about 90 seconds—that’s it. Anything more than that is needless suffering created by our own repetitive thoughts. I’m learning to go through painful emotions more fully, more quickly. Whenever I experience something uncomfortable, disappointing, or heartbreaking, I immediately say “thank you.” Some things still take more than 90 seconds for me to get over—but I’m learning to recognize pain as a signal that I’m courageous enough to be fully alive. And I’m so grateful everyday to be fully alive.
Not everyone will love what you create. Some people will stare at it and think it looks ugly. Others will be the most beautiful body of work in the world.
What matters is that you’re happy with the end result, while still—as many an artist will attest to feeling—know there is always a way to make it better.
The point is that you’re always striving. Always looking to make the mistakes an unintentionally amazing part of the canvas. Always drawing in the colors you love and creating beautiful contours and texture to the canvas you create.
Make a mess. Make it your own. Color every inch of space, or keep it super simple.
Design the life you want—it is truly a work of art.
You must. Because without art, the earth is just “eh.”
I used to think true love was about finding the “right” person. I never quite believed in the idea that there is only one person out there for each of us, but I assumed the number of people we could build loving relationships with was limited—and anyone who found it should consider themselves lucky.
Now, I’m beginning to realize that it’s more about being personally ready to love someone wholeheartedly—with relatively unconditional commitment and unreserved enthusiasm for and about the other person. And, of course, finding someone who’s ready to do the same.
True love is about going into a relationship with your whole heart, having a genuine excitement about designing a committed relationship, and being the co-author of your future memories with a great partner. When two people come into a relationship ready to do those things, there’s no cap to the amount of love and fulfillment they can create in a relationship together.
4 Things You Must Do to Find the Love of Your Life
(Part 4 of 4)4. Be willing to love someone else for all of who THEY are.
Just like you, everyone else is trying to figure it all out, too. Falling in love is not about finding a perfect person—it’s about being excited and willing to love an imperfect person perfectly.
Look. No matter who you meet and decide to commit to, they will be different in 5, 10, 15 years. And you know what? So will you. That’s not scary, that’s awesome. When you come into a committed relationship with someone who is so on your team and wants the very best for you, just like you want the very best for them, there is no telling how much you’ll learn and grow together.
You truly can’t change people. And why would you want to? People are beautiful. The way we all strive so are to be better, to dream, to live those dreams out and share them with others? It makes us all so human, so stunning.
Be on someone’s team. Whenever you start to criticize others, look for the real reason why it bothers you.
Annoyed by how serious someone is? Maybe it’s because you feel insecure when they don’t laugh at your jokes.
Frustrated because you think someone is constantly pointing out your flaws? Maybe it’s because they are right and you’re too defensive to see how much they love you—enough to be completely honest and vulnerable with you.
Think someone is trying too hard to get attention at a party? Perhaps you’re projecting some jealousy because you feel invalidated by the lack of attention you’re getting.
See where I’m going with this?
When you learn to take full responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, that changes everything. You stop making other people wrong. You focus instead on improving yourself and becoming more of the person you want to be. That adds to the cycle of self-love. And when you love yourself, you have the capacity to love others. And when you have the capacity to love others, the most loving of them will be magnetically drawn to you.
You’re not alive so you can learn how to be numb or avoid pain. Nor are you here to be perfect—or fake perfect.
You’re here to become more and more yourself. You’re here to have fun in the process of discovering yourself. And you’re here to love other people fully, fearlessly.
That’s it. That’s all you’ve got to do to be in the most loving relationship of your life.
It starts with you.
You don’t have to talk yourself into loving someone, nor do you have to try so hard to talk yourself out of loving someone.
Make your decisions about love out of trust—not fear. Trust your initial gut.
You’ll know when you find it.
And more importantly, you’ll know it when you’re finding yourself.
4 Things You Must Do to Find the Love of Your Life
(Part 3 of 4)
3. Stop holding people at arm’s length.
Even if opening yourself up means letting a few of the wrong people in too close, you have to know it’ll be fully worth it to have your arms wide open to receive the one who will truly accept and love you completely for who you are—and who you’re becoming.
Part of the reason we’re afraid to let people in close is because our human instinct is to fiercely protect ourselves and avoid pain at all costs. Unfortunately, this is fruitless. We end up being completely numb to life, which in the end, makes us even more unhappy with the way we chose to live life: fearful, superficial, and relationship-less.
It’s important to remember: you cannot numb pain without numbing joy. If you want to feel the best of life, you’ve got to be willing to go through the worst. It is impossible to feel the true weight of joy without a personal understanding of life’s sorrow. We experience via contrast. If we don’t have the context of contrast—in our emotions or otherwise—we won’t see the joy that’s right in front of us. We are constantly surrounded by joy, but we have to prepare our eyes and hearts for being open to experiencing it.
This is easier said than done, of course. So, where do you start?
Start with recalibrating your relationship with pain. Raw human emotions last for about 90 seconds—that’s all. Pain, as a feeling, only has to last that long. Anything beyond that is needless suffering caused by the repetition of negative thoughts in our minds. Isn’t that crazy? Something that only needs to last 90 seconds, we often drag out for months or years.
To get over your fear of letting people in close, you’ve got to get over your fear of pain. The truth is, you are more resilient than you know. All pain is surmountable. Moreover, all pain is essential for growing into the best, fullest version of yourself.
The more you soak that lesson up, the easier it is to become okay we pain. And eventually, you learn to become GRATEFUL for it. Experiencing pain means you’re courageous enough to be fully alive.
That’s the kind of life you’ll be proud of having lived.
4 Things You Must Do to Find the Love of Your Life
(Part 2 of 4)2. Be vulnerable with the rest of the world about the Self you’re finding and refining.
There’s no sense in lying about who you are. Pretending to be anyone other than the full expression of yourself is exhausting and pointless. Those who are meant to love you will love all of you. Every single serious, playful, messy, neurotic, crazy, loving, heartfelt, honest part of you. ALL OF IT.
And, by the way? The people that have the capacity to love you wholeheartedly are precisely the ones who know how to love themselves wholeheartedly. Spend time around them. Learn from them. They will teach you a great deal about the ongoing process of loving yourself.
It is important to understand that being ready for love isn’t about being your idea of perfect—it’s about being authentic. Take ownership of the gap between who you are and who you want to be. Embrace your worst traits with grace, and don’t be afraid to love your best traits. It’s okay to be proud of all of who you are—even the messy parts.
4 Things You Must Do To Meet the Love of Your Life (Part 1 of 4):
1. Work on FULLY discovering and loving yourself.
You don’t have to earn love or put on a show. You already have within you unlimited amounts of love to give—and it starts with giving it to yourself. How? Read interesting books that will help you explore and better understand human behavior and emotion. Spend time pursuing interests that tug at your heart. Identify the moments in your life that have made you feel most alive. Look for the themes. Are you always filled with joy when you dance? Write? Spend time outside? Have conversations with interesting people? Code a cool new website?
Whatever you discover about yourself and what brings you joy, go create more of those kinds of moments.
More examples of self-love:
Stop hating your body—it works so perfectly for you almost every single day. Every part of you is beautiful—start seeing it, because you are who you believe you are. The relationship you have with it perfectly represents the relationship you have with your Self. And, the relationship you have with your Self perfectly reflects the relationships you have with others.
Instead of being critical about your flaws, be curious. “Why am I reacting this way? Where is this feeling stemming from? What can I do differently?” Ask the people closest to you for feedback on both your greatest strengths and your self-destructive behavior. You can’t change anything until you fully understand who you are and exactly what needs to be changed. We can all be blind to some of our habits and characteristics—so don’t be afraid to ask those closest to you for feedback.
Self-discovery and self-love are both ongoing processes. We are now, always have been, and always will be both being and becoming. Be patient and gentle with yourself as you grow. If you are conscious about who you are, and who you want to become—you will slowly but surely move in that direction.
Have you ever had a day where you felt exhausted, tired, even a little hopeless?
You are so not alone.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have days like this. I’m having one today myself.
The expectation for what life “should” be like is so high—and those culturally and self-imposed expectations significantly widen the gap between where we are and where we think we should be.
The thing is, not every day is going to be fun or feel energizing.
Even if you have your dream job, some days you’re going to have to do things you don’t really want to do. Not every relationship is a blast all the time—the most meaningful ones require ongoing energy and refinement. Not every journey will be a straight shot from Point A to Point B. It can feel like you’re going backwards sometimes—and it’s frustrating.
So frustrating that you don’t realize the backwards movement is meant to launch you into something incredible.
If you’re trying for something you really want—I mean, something that truly, deeply matters to you—I promise you, you’re not going backwards.
You’re being prepared. For joy, for success, for greatness—even if those things look different than you initially thought they would.
If you’re in a funk or going through a rough time or not hitting a goal you set, the question shouldn’t be “Why am I failing?”
The real questions are: What am I learning? How is this preparing me for something bigger than I could’ve planned on my own? What action is required of me to feel incredible about the process, regardless of the outcome?
When one door closes, forget about finding another one to open.
Take a step back. Far enough to realize you’re trying to get into a small cottage, when you’re really meant to march toward a castle.
Do a gut check— are you giving life everything you’ve got?
If not, come up with a plan to give it everything you’ve got. This is set by no one else’s standards but your own. Tackle that plan.
And if you are, step back. Far enough away to see the bigger picture.
An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. If you feel like life is dragging you backward with difficulties, that means you’re being prepared for the launch of something incredible. The longer you feel drawn backward, the further you’re meant to go.
Just focus. Keep aiming.
And when life finally releases the bow, don’t resist. Just soar—and enjoy every minute of the flight.For you will touch down again, ready to draw another, bigger arrow back. Preparing for a longer flight to propel you into bigger adventures.
This is by far the most vulnerable one I’ve written to date.
And it’s about my biggest secret:
I don’t really love myself.
On some level, I know that I am a woman with a supernaturally compassionate heart. That I am extremely loyal. That I have a maniacal work ethic and a ton of grit. That on a good day, my soul radiates in my smile.
And I know, for all those things and some others, that I should love myself.
But the truth is, I don’t.
Knowing something is very different from living something. Sometimes, I confuse myself. I assume that just because I know I should love myself, that means I actually do. But, as with anything else in life, it’s not about the talk.
It’s about the walk.
And the walk I’ve been doing for most of the 27 years of my life has not been a very self-loving one.
I’ve clung to extraordinarily limiting beliefs about myself:
"I’m not beautiful. I’m not desirable. If I ever do fall in love, the guy will surely abandon me. I’m not worthy of love. No one will ever love me."
Even though I know these thoughts don’t serve me, I cling to them.
Because I’d rather be right than free.
Even though freedom from the shackles of self-hatred is what I really desire, the easy thing to do is just be right about my foundational beliefs—about myself, my relationships, and the world. That’s the easy, less immediately painful thing to do.
Even though I know better, on the basis of my actions, I don’t live that out. And I deeply struggle with living it out because I refuse to really, deep down in my heart, believe it.
That I am beautiful.
I am desirable.
I will make a man very joyful and proud some day.
I am loved.
I love myself.
I’ve been faking it—the self-love. I’ve been knowing it in my head, but not living it through my heart.
It wasn’t until today that it became obvious in the most painful possible way: two men in my life gave me the exact same feedback. One has spent a lot of time with me; the other hasn’t. Both know me equally well—very well—even if I don’t like to admit it.
Because I’d rather be right about all the ways I’m not lovable, than be free to just drop it and love myself. All the parts of me. Every single crazy, awesome, insane, confusing, powerful part of me.
Honest to God, I’m trying to please you. But it’s still not good enough for you. You’re still so critical!
There’s no way I can win.
You make so many assumptions, and usually they are the worst-case scenarios.
I really do care, but you don’t.
You saying I don’t care doesn’t make me want to care more.
I feel like I’m being dissected and the lens in which you’re dissecting me under is bigger than I can ever measure up to.
…and this one hit me the most:
It’s not actually me that you like, Melissa. It’s this made up version of me in your head that you like. That’s who you really wish to engage with, not me. And that’s why you are getting frustrated because you’re not getting him. You’re getting me instead.
These words from two wonderful men in my life hit me like a ton of bricks. I love these men for being honest with me. For sticking by me and dealing with my crazy. And I can be really fucking insane. Confusing, demanding, cutting, blaming, too busy feeling sorry for myself to see how I hurt the people closest to me.
That’s what happens when you’re constantly taking jabs at yourself—inevitably, you miss and hit the people closest to you, instead.
It would have been easier for these guys to cut and run. To not stick out the project. To not write the long and thoughtful email response. To not really give a shit at all about my growth. It says a great deal about them that they’ve stuck by me even through all the crap I’ve said and done.
And because I care for and admire these two men, I couldn’t help but wonder what their words, which I know at my core come from a place of love, say about me.
When I sit back and look at this list above, I can’t help but well up with tears in my eyes. Because I showed up so poorly for them. Because I made them feel the opposite of how I really feel about them. And perhaps most of all, because I didn’t show up well for myself.
It has nothing to do with perfection. It has to do with treating myself, and thus others, with the kind of love, respect, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion that I could be really proud of if today was the last day God gave me.
It also doesn’t surprise me to hear all these things. As much as they cut into the deepest part of me, what is perhaps most surprising is that none of this feedback is surprising.
I’ve heard this feedback before.
In a less-than-conscious way, I’ve spoken these words to myself. It might as well be the sweet, pure 5-year-old Melissa talking to my 27-year-old self:
Honest to God, I’m trying to please you. But it’s still not good enough for you. You’re still so critical! There’s no way I can win. You make so many assumptions about me that aren’t true. The lens in which you’re dissecting me under is bigger than I can ever measure up to.
And most of all…
I’ve stacked the deck not in my favor. I’ve set myself up for major failure. I’ve given myself a list of things I MUST be in order to love myself, and in order to be loved by others.
I must create a massively popular blog.
I must lose 15 pounds.
I must make six figures.
I must be more fun and less intense.
I must not think so much.
I must suppress any negative feelings I have about myself or anyone else.
I must pretend to be happy.
I must have it all figured out.
Once I do, he’ll love me. I’ll love myself. I’ll be worthy. I’ll be happy.
It crushes my heart that I’ve made two people I really care about feel this way. And I’m sure the list is longer than that.
But it also doesn’t surprise me.
Because I haven’t loved myself.
I have flat-out rejected the reactions and emotions I don’t like or expect from myself. I have been clinging onto horrendous beliefs about how unlovable I am (and how loved by others I’ll never be)…because as much as they don’t serve me, if I admit I’ve been wrong about myself, then my whole foundation crumbles. I have to start again from scratch. I have to go through the pain of rebuilding again. There are parts of who I think I am that I need to kill off—the dead ends—in order to be healthy enough to grow strong roots again.
I have given myself an impossible standard to live up to (i.e. utter perfection), and have refused to accept myself as “enough” because I haven’t reached my unrealistic image of what I think I need to be to earn love.
Like love is a thing I could ever earn in the first place.
This is the ironic Truth that I’ve said a hundred times before, but I’m only now beginning to understand:
"You have to love yourself first."
Until I accept and love myself for my blemishes as much as my strengths, for my heartbreak as much as my joy, for my crazy as much as my sane, for my fallibility as much as my success…I won’t be fully ready to love someone else.
And that matters to me more than anything else in the entire world: to be able to love people mindblowingly well.
Until I fully accept and love myself—not by words, but by sentiment and self-care—I will always project my lack of self love onto those around me. Especially those I care most about.
There is no stronger motivation to love myself well than that. Because when my life is over, I don’t want to go down not loving myself, simply and only because I decided I couldn’t. And, I also want people to know how extraordinarily loved and valued they were by me. I want to be a mirror that accurately reflects how incredible I think the people in my life are- and how much I love them for being exactly who they are.
But I have to do it for myself first.
While this will require the greatest act of genuine surrender of my life, there is respite in this ultimate Truth:
Deciding to be genuinely loving toward ourselves takes a single moment.
It takes a conscious, consistent effort to uncover the pain we’ve gone through, the lies we’ve been telling ourselves, the heartbreak we’ve experienced, and the image we have of who we are that may or may not be accurate—or serving our honest growth as individuals, and for one another.
It takes a single moment to start loving myself.
To drop the baggage that’s been weighing far too heavily on me for 27 years.
To let go of the heartbreak I’ve been wearing like some indelible badge of unworthiness.
To stop feeling sorry for myself that I’m still “alone.”
To stop expecting myself to be my assumption of perfect.
To think I can only love myself and be loved by others when I meet some obscene set of perfectionist criteria.
To think less and create more.
To stop wasting time worrying about how I’ll never measure up, and start living my life and LOVING myself, and LOVING people as a byproduct of loving myself.
It takes a single moment to decide.
And while I know I’ll be imperfectly accepting and loving of myself in the process of the gradual, sustainable self-love that is to follow, the decision itself only takes a single moment to make.
Assume the best. What you believe is what becomes.
I’m willing to bet there’s someone in your life right now who you believe is catalyzing fear, anxiety, stress, anger, or hurt in you.
Who is that person?
What did he or she do that’s weighing on you?
If you’re feeling anything less than complete love for someone in your life right now—especially someone you say is important to you—here is a 7-question filter that will help you return to a place of love and kindness toward them and within yourself again:
(1) If there were no consequences, what would I want to say to the person who I feel negativity or resistance toward?
Example: A friend you admire doesn’t invite you to dinner with a bunch of your mutual friends. You assume it was intentional.
"How could you not invite me to dinner? You’re so selfish and thoughtless. What did I do to you to make you want to leave me out? If you don’t like me, it would be the mature thing to do for you to at least tell me why to my face. That was so low of you."
(2) What are the true, objective facts? And, what assumptions am I making?
"There was a dinner. The friend I admire hosted it and invited mutual friends. I’m making the assumption that I wasn’t invited intentionally. It was personal. That friend really doesn’t like or respect me.”
(3) What’s REALLY bothering me? What limiting belief about myself is creating this suffering?
"I feel so left out. I worry that this person I admire doesn’t like me back. I worry that I’m not as fun a person to be hang out with as I think, and people don’t want me around. The limiting beliefs I have about myself that stir this negative emotion in me are that I don’t think I’m lovable, I’ll never belong, and I’m not worthy of great, caring friends."
(4) What’s the most loving, best-case possibility for why the situation above occurred?
"It was not intentional or personal. My friend didn’t think I was in town because I’ve been traveling so much. Or, he/she thought I got an invitation, but it was lost in translation. Or, that person didn’t want to bother me because he/she knows I’ve been working hard to get my startup off the ground."
(5) How would I feel and behave differently if the most loving scenario/intention above was true instead?
"I would feel free and relieved. I would call up my friend for coffee and ask how the dinner went, excited to hear about how it went. I would ask from a place of curiosity rather than attack why I wasn’t invited. I would be honest and take ownership of initially feeling hurt, and vulnerably share that what’s behind my hurt was this intense fear of not belonging or being loved by people I admire.
I would focus immediately outward on how I could show gratitude to people in my life that I love, and get all of those friends together for an awesome brunch in a few weeks.”
(6) Which thought empowers me, both in feeling and behavior, to show up as my best, most loving, understanding self?
"The latter, of course."
(7) What have I gratefully learned about myself, my relationships, my world?
"That I am struggling with my sense of belonging. I take full responsibility for this struggle, and will not blame or take my self-inflicted suffering out on anyone else. Where does my limiting belief that I don’t belong come from? I’m not confident that people will love me just as I am. I know this is a belief that does not serve me. I know I am lovable just as I am. The best friends I could ask for will embrace me for exactly as I am, and I am deserving of those kinds of friendships. But, I’m also responsible for taking an active role in cultivating them."
If something is stirring you, the very first place you have to look is within yourself. Any negative feeling you are experiencing within yourself or toward another usually comes down to you questioning your lovability, belonging, worthiness, or sense of self.
In the end, we create our own reality.
Our sustainable joy is dependent upon our perceptions of the world, and thus our response to it. If we’re committed to joy and showing up as our best every day, then it doesn’t matter if our worst-case assumptions are right.
At best, believing the worst changes nothing. At worst, it creates pointless suffering. At worst, believing the best means you’re wrong, but have the benefit of being happy anyway. At best, your entire being swells with love and kindness.