Back        Home

 

Be Loved for Who You Really Are

by Judith Sherven, Ph.D. & James Sniechowski, Ph.D.


Being unique. Standing out from the crowd. Taking a position that's different from everyone else's. Imagine that. How do you feel when you do? How do you imagine other people feel toward you?

Most people acknowledge that being different can be very uncomfortable, even frightening. They hide who they really are, going along with the crowd just to fit in. Yet, each one of us has been created to be a one-of-a-kind miracle.

Think about it. Never before in the history of the universe has there ever been another you and there never will be again. You truly are unique, without compare, and that is not a mere poetic sentiment. It's a fact. You are a miraculous manifestation of the unlimited and loving powers of the Creator. And, as that is true for you, it is also true for everyone else.

Given that, how do you respond to the differences between you and those you love, especially that person you love most--be that a lover, spouse or friend? Seeing that person as a one-of-a-kind miracle, do the toast crumbs he left in the mayonnaise jar or the dripping hosiery she hung over the shower rod take on a different meaning?

We are not suggesting that you have to like everything the other person says or does. We are saying that if you want to be loved for who you really are, you have to give that same love in return.

But when it comes to romantic relationships, so many people, men and women alike, imagine that the other person is supposed to be a perfect match for what they want. That perfect person will just fit into their pre-ordained picture and not change it in any way. And when mister or miss perfect turns out to be different, which is inevitable, the make-over project begins.

Why is that?

Well, when you were growing up what were you taught, either directly or indirectly, by your family, neighbors, teachers, church members, to think about and how were you told to treat people who were different from your family--from your group?

Most, if not all of us learned that those who are different from us should be kept at an arms-length. We were taught to think in terms of right or wrong-we are right and they are. . . wrong. Consequently we feel some measure of distrust of them and discomfort around them and have developed subtle and not-so-subtle ways to keep our emotional if not physical distance from those "others."

On an even more personal note, when you were growing up, how were you treated by your immediate family for the ways you were different from them? Did your parents and siblings rejoice in your uniqueness? Or were you brought into line, expected to be just like everyone else--or else!?

Most of the men and women we've surveyed at our national and international workshops and trainings have told us that they learned to hide their individuality and/or feel ashamed or embarrassed by who they are. They've never been sure whether they are truly lovable for who they know themselves to be. It's no surprise that pain, heartache, loneliness, and depression follow form their self-doubt.

That's why it is important to understand how you were raised so that you can identify unconscious beliefs and feelings you have toward yourself and anyone whose differentness is undeniable.

And when it comes to love and intimacy, here's the problem. You've also been raised with the belief that someday you would find someone, fall in love, and live happily ever after. That seems innocent enough, right? But look again.

Unconsciously you are carrying around a time bomb. And what is that? The belief that to be different is in some way bad, even dangerous. And then you meet someone. Your call that person your soul-mate. But, because that person is one-of-a-kind, he or she naturally and necessarily must be different from you in many ways, as you will be different from your heartthrob. Then what?

At first, not much. All goes well. Thrilling. Blissful. It's heaven until the differences start to show up. Now the little voices start, warning you without ever being explicit. It's just a feeling. Something's wrong and needs to be fixed. You try to fix yourself. Or you try to make over your lover. But you know yourself that you don't want to be changed to fit into someone else's dream world. And you soon discover that neither does that person who, just a short time ago, was your ideal sweetheart.

Here you thought your soul-mate was perfect, absolutely perfect. But now you are in conflict. Rather than an eternal walk down lover's lane you find yourself on the dark aisle toward divorce court. There goes happily-ever-after!

So, what can you do to prevent this? For the spiritual joy of lifelong love and romance based on trust, respect, and mutual dedication to the well-being of your relationship, you cannot hide who you are. . . who you really are. And neither can your partner. You have to show up, make yourself known. By doing so you make yourself available to what love has in store for you, because love has larger designs on you than you can imagine at the outset of your relationship. Then, and only then, will you be open to the adventure of true, romantic intimacy.

To help you do this, our work is focused on providing a spiritually inspired road-map for relationship success. Our simple and redeeming message is: you are to love one another for the one-of-a-kind miracles that you are.

After all, what do each of us want more than anything? To be known for who we really are, through and through, to be respected, valued, and loved. We yearn to be certain that we are loved whether we're on top of the world or freaking out, whether we're being creative and charming or in the throws of depression.

To achieve that you must first understand that all committed relationships go through a developmental process consisting of four-passages. When you accept this for the fact that it is, you will never have to feel lost along the way. Never.

The four passages of love, what we call the arc of love, comprise the necessary and predictable progression that love requires of any successful couple.

In the first passage, what we call "A Glimpse of What is Possible," you not only fall in love, but you are also given a chance to see the very real perfection in your partner and in yourself. You see the wondrous possibilities available between you if you will surrender to where love wants to take you. The question is--will you follow love's lessons to develop your capacity to live that perfection in your everyday lives. 

In the second passage, what we call "The Clash of Differences," each of you as distinctly unique people will reveal more of your complexity, your limitations, quirks, excellence, and your troublesome self-centeredness. Love is no longer just ecstatic. Now it demands that you appreciate and respect your partner as different and be willing to resolve your conflicts so that both of you are satisfied.

The third passage is called "The Magic of Differences," because you both, as a couple, cement your trust of one another by growing through and beyond your conflicts. You realize that there is a very real wisdom in your choice of one another. You see that your differences, many of which you previously thought were only annoying, are now the basis for your ongoing personal growth, learning, and spiritual expansion--individually and together.

The fourth passage, "The Grace of Deep Intimacy," brings you into a full and total trust of your love, a love so rich that it infuses all your activities and is obvious to all those with whom you are involved. Now the bliss that was free in the very beginning has become a permanent and well-earned resident in each of your hearts and in the heart of your relationship.

And finally, if you are to be loved and love one another for the one-of-a-kind miracles that you are, you must understand that the natural and inevitable challenges, conflicts, and changes you will encounter in your long-term relationship are designed to help you do just that.

But, because so few of us receive any meaningful training to help us create and maintain love and romance, you may feel like giving up because you think these conflicts shouldn't be happening. You may be tempted to conclude that your clashes are signs of failure. Unless you are suffering under emotional and/or physical abuse (which definitely has nothing to do with love), your conflicts are in fact signals that both of you are showing up in your distinctiveness and that's an essential requirement if your love is to ever be the kind that is filled with everyday romance--one that lasts a lifetime.

So, during each passage, learn to use those predictable encounters with the ways each of you is different to continually reinforce that your love is real and trustworthy. Because when the goal is to feel free to be who you are, and be loved for who you are, then every moment together offers the opportunity to show up openly and honestly and insist on being met with respect, or at least curiosity when the two of you disagree or clash. You see, real love requires you to move out beyond self-centeredness, beyond your own private fantasies about how it's supposed to be in order to take in and learn about one another and the specific and unique shape your relationship will take.

Real love insists that you practice the lesson you should have learned in kindergarten. You have to share! In other words, the only way to share love, for both of you to be loved for who you really are, is for you to consider and value each other for the amazing magic of your differences. That's a key aspect of personal spiritual expansion and the bedrock of a spiritually blessed relationship.

When you respect and value one another's uniqueness, not only do you open yourselves to experience a deep and abiding love, but you transform your relationship into a daily prayer of practical spirituality, a real-life expression of respect and value for the Creator's wondrous handiwork. You discover the magic waiting in the differences between you and the opportunity to be loved for who you really are.


Copyright 2002 Judith Sherven, Ph.D. & James Sniechowski, Ph.D.  All Rights Reserved.

http://www.soulfulliving.com/be_loved.htm

 

 

Back        Home