Loved for Who You Really Are
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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."
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!?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
four passages of love, what we call the arc of love, comprise the necessary and
predictable progression that love requires of any successful couple.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
© Copyright 2002 Judith Sherven, Ph.D. & James Sniechowski, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.