Something that I’ve noticed along my journey is the need we often feel for obtaining approval and the immense amount of influence that has on the choices we make.

I was watching a movie the other day called, “Aloha”, starring Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, John Krasinski, and Emma Stone. It was a really good movie! I loved it. But there was a dynamic in there that I recognized all too well. It was a dynamic that showed when Bradley Cooper, who played Rachel McAdams’ ex boyfriend, showed up and began stirring the pot in her current marriage of 12 years with John Krasinski. How someone could come in to a marriage of that long and cause any sort of turmoil after not having been around for 13 years might boggle one’s mind, as one might expect the both of them to have moved on. But it was clear in the movie that Rachel McAdams had not moved on from the break up. She still had pent up frustration and felt as though she had things to get off her chest to Cooper. She was obviously looking for either closer, or reopening, but regardless of what it was she was going for, the fact is that it was coming from a place of still caring for, and still needing from Cooper.

This brings to light something I think we all have been able to relate to at some time or another- wanting even more what has hurt us the most. It’s sick, really, but it’s a truth of our existence that we must face if we’re ever truly going to move past it.

An example that I can relate to this is with my dog. He adores me and I adore him. It’s definitely a mutual love there, and I just wanted to make that clear. BUT… there have been times that I’ve hurt him. I either came home much later than anticipated and missed his normal dinner time, walking in to a very worried and very hungry pup. Or I have accidentally stepped on his tail, hit him while wailing my arms to talk per usual, or kicked him while walking and not realizing he was in the vicinity of my feet. So many times, so many hurts. And, yet, what does he do each and every time?

It’s almost as if he loves me more.

Seriously. Each and every time I’ve hurt my dog, he puts his tail between his legs (as if it was his fault, which breaks my heart even more), and cowers towards me, kissing my hand and wagging his tail quickly, though still holding it low tot he ground. It is the most pitiful thing I think I could ever experience and I typically spend the next 5 minutes apologizing, talking in a sweet voice to him, and giving him love to make sure he knows it was not his fault and mommy didn’t mean it! It’s really a sad scenario- you don’t ever want to witness it.

But the point to sharing that story is to more easily highlight the dynamic that exists- someone hurts us, and we wind up cowering towards those who hurt us, in hopes that we’ll receive that reassuring apology that it wasn’t our fault, they didn’t mean it, and they love us. We want to believe that the harm wasn’t actually meant for us and that we’re worth the love we desire… and because they person has taken that away, they seem to be the only person who can truly provide it. We feel like we need them to fix the mistake of whatever harm that was caused. If they don’t we may attempt to move forward and find that love and worth elsewhere, but ultimately, if the opportunity ever arises for us to get it straight from the original source, we want to take it. It really is quite sick. And if we don’t ever face this truth and do what’s necessary to work through it- truly work through it- we will be stuck in that circle.

The ways we can go about addressing this are not the easiest, but neither is living in an unhealthy, ultimately unhappy dynamic. Once we address these things, we can truly move forward and life really does run a whole lot more smoothly.

1.) First and foremost, we need to recognize it. It’s hard to look at these types of relationships straight in the face because we don’t want to see them as something we need to address and move on from… that’s the pull that we feel keeping us there, and it’s precisely what we’re trying to work through. So the first step is actually acknowledging that it needs to be worked through.

2.) The second step is finding and understanding our “why”. Why do we feel this way in this relationship? Why do we feel the need to be near this person and/or obtain approval/love/appreciation/worth from them? What happened to create this insecurity in us, and why have we allowed it to make us feel so insecure? Do they honestly, truly define our worth or are we putting power in hands that it doesn’t belong in?

3.) Once we’ve addressed that, we need to work on realizing where our worth comes from, which is from ourselves. We need to see and truly believe in our own worth before anyone else will ever be able to do so. We need to understand the strength that we truly do hold within our own selves, even if we’ve never allowed it to surface and be seen. We need to learn to love ourselves the way we want others to love us. If we can’t see it, how in the world can we ever expect someone else to?

4.) And then we need to do whatever needs to be done in order to leave this pain behind and move forward. Let go of it. Stop holding on. There is nothing to hold on but flames of something that doesn’t exist any longer, and it’s burning our hands. Let go, allow your charred hands to heal, and leave them open to receiving the healthy, happy love that we’re meant to hold within them. Do not close them off. That is the worst thing you can do for a burn, as it could very potentially mend the burn wounds together, making it hard and harder for you to ever open those fragile fingers back up again once you want to. Leave them open. Let them heal. And trust that the right love will come into them, in the right way, and the right time.

We don’t need these painful relationships, and we certainly don’t need the “closure” from them that we think we do… we can have closure, sure, but we typically place that power in the wrong hands. Closure ultimately does not come from anyone else but ourselves. At times, something that someone else says can trigger that feeling of relief and closure within our minds and hearts, but the very basic truth is that that’s where it lies- in our own minds and our own hearts. We can have that peace with or without the help of anyone else. It’s always been in our own hands and that’s where it will always be.

Rest easy, beautiful souls, and never let anyone have your worth in their hands. It doesn’t belong there and never did.

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