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Sometimes life and love just feel too hard. Sometimes it seems like self-love has gone into hiding. In this episode, I’ll teach you a few powerful tools for reclaiming that beautiful experience of self-love, even in the most challenging situations.

Table of Contents

How To Reclaim Self-Love When It Goes Away

How To Find Your Sense Of Self

All of us have times when we feel like we just can’t navigate the complexities of love, where we feel like we’re losing ourselves. In this episode, I’m going to teach you some powerful tools to reclaim yourself at those times when love and relationships just seem too complicated. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page, and I’m a Psychotherapist. I’m the author of the book Deeper Dating and the Cofounder of DeeperDating.com, which is a site where single people can meet in an environment that is fun, inspiring, kind and respectful. Today, I’m going to teach some tools for handling those times we feel we just can’t navigate love and relationships. This week and every episode, I’m going to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can sign up for my mailing list, get free gifts, and see transcripts of every episode. I also just want to say that everything I’m going to share in this podcast is educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychological symptoms, please seek professional help. Of course, if you like what you’re learning here, I’d love it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. Thank you so much for that.

You can stand on a rock in this moving current of river called life and still have yourself. Click To Tweet

Today, I want to speak about the experience of not having a self or more specifically, having a hole where our sense of healthy self is supposed to be. It’s not a good feeling. It’s something we think we shouldn’t have, but it’s so much of what we do end up having in the course of this strange life that we live and in the course of learning the skills of love. There are pockets where we just don’t know, and even worse than just not knowing, there’s a “missingness” inside. Today I’m going to offer some tools for healing those places of “missingness” inside, of emptiness, of feeling like, “I just can’t do this. I’m missing a piece of me. There’s something defective in me. There’s something broken in me. I don’t have the skills.” I think in the face of this strange and treacherous life, and in the face of the strange and treacherous, often, experience of intimacy, and the mystery of what happens in love, we’re so often confronted with that experience. I think as we grow, we learn the skills to lose ourselves less. Even when we don’t know who we are, even when we’re bewildered and in pain and stuck, we learn these skills. I think of it as trying to cross a wide river and that experience like, “There’s no way I can do this. I can’t do it. There’s no place for me to stand. I can’t get through.”

In my life, there have been so many of those times and there still are many of those times, but especially when I was younger, that terrible place of, “I just don’t know. I don’t have the tools. I don’t have the ground to stand on.” After so many experiences of confronting that very painful place, and finding the tools of discovering myself, the image is like this river that I need to cross and all of a sudden, there’s a rock underneath my feet. I can stand on that rock in this moving current of river and still have myself. What I want to teach today is some wonderful tools for how to build those rock experiences, these rocks that we can stand on in the river of this mystery of love and life, and feel a sense of wholeness and connectedness.

Tools For Developing Rock Spaces

I don’t know and I don’t think any of us ever have an experience where the path across that river becomes one that we could just simply walk across. There are these places where the water is rushing and we can’t get through. If we’re lucky, there’s a rock that we could step on to of a sense of self, a memory of self, a tool that we’ve learned, something that we can do so that we can move further on the river, but there’s always this rushing river of not having ground to stand on and not knowing ourselves. That’s just so much a part of being human. By the experience of self-honoring, we can cultivate the experience of having rocks beneath our feet that we can step on in love. I’m going to share some tools for developing those kinds of rock spaces. I’m going to ask you to remember times when there wasn’t ground for you to stand on, that you figured out a way to create ground to stand on. That became a rock for you. What kind of wisdom tool that you had in your life? Guaranteed, every one of you has those.

When we see what those are, they come together to form a mission of our deepest life lessons, the things that get us through the river of life with wisdom. I’m just going to share a few that I know, and that many people I know have experienced. I just want you to remember and we’re going to start with that experience of, “There’s not a rock for me to stand on here.” There’s not a steppingstone. There’s just a sense of not rightness, not “okayness”, emptiness, “flawedness”, brokenness. Have you ever been in a relationship and had a really bad feeling of suffocation, and then felt like, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I feeling suffocated? I should really be fine in this relationship. My partner is fine. Why do I feel like I can’t breathe? Why do I feel like there’s no air for me? Why do I feel like I want to flee?” Maybe a feeling of numbness where the other person is feeling, but you are kind of feeling nothing, and you feel bad that you’re feeling nothing. These are places that have been groundless places for me in my own intimacy journey. I’ve had to learn such important things about those places. Have you ever experienced those things?

Highly sensitive people often feel a sense of suffocation or needing space. Click To Tweet

The feeling of suffocation in an intimate relationship for me is a big one. When I learned about Elaine Aron‘s work with highly sensitive people, and I learned that highly sensitive people often feel that kind of sense of suffocation or needing space. That was really helpful for me to begin to understand who I was, when I realized and I could admit that my suffocation was a sign. It’s pretty obvious but to me, it just felt like a defect. It was a sign that I needed more space. Something was happening inside me or in my interaction with the other person where I literally didn’t have enough space, and I needed to somehow reclaim that sense of space. That insight gave me ground to stand on instead of just feeling like I am just so dysfunctional with love. That’s one example.

Feeling Reduced And Minimized

Have you ever felt that kind of sense of suffocation in a relationship and learned a skill, and actually through your interactions with yourself or the other person heal that, fix that and get past that? Just take a minute to think. Here’s another one. Feeling somehow “less than” because of who you are in an intimate relationship. That experience of feeling reduced, less than, minimized, maybe because you had a need that was not being met, or maybe because the other person was somehow degrading you, controlling you, somehow dishonoring you or not honoring you fully enough, or you were doing that yourself. That feeling of being less than, that horrible feeling of being less than. Have you ever experienced that and been able to get past it, get through it and get out of it?

DDP 106 | Self-Love
Self-Love: By the experience of self-honoring, we can cultivate the experience of having rocks beneath our feet that we can step on in love.

What helped you do that? For me, one of the things that helped me was once again finding that it’s not that I was less than, it was that a part of me was somehow feeling diminished in the interaction, which made me feel bone-deep less than, but when I could acknowledge, “Here’s a valid piece of me that I need to actually be able to express and bring out not in a hostile, cruel way, but somehow make room for.” Have you ever had that experience where you grew enough to be able to make room for a part of yourself like that? What was that for you? What was that experience where you felt “less than”, and then you did something, and you were able to find ground beneath your feet, and stop feeling less than and feel like a whole being?

These are memories of micro triumphs that become the building blocks for a life that we could live with a sense of wisdom and possibility and being able. This is from my book, Deeper Dating. I say that honoring the worth of our emotions, no matter what they are or how little, we or other people understand them, is a skill that changes the entire tenor of our lives. When we learn to honor our authentic experience, we discover the deep gift that lies in the heart of that experience, whatever it is. What I’m going to do now is I’m going to offer some big self-doubt questions, places where there’s not going to be ground beneath our feet when we’re self-doubting like this, and then I’m going to offer a self-honoring question that we can replace that with, that doesn’t just make us feel better, it helps us find self because those places where there’s no ground beneath our feet are places where we are not cherishing, honoring and feeling a sense of self.

When we feel that sense of self, there's a sense of connectedness to the heart of the world. Click To Tweet

When we feel that sense of self, there’s a sense of connectedness to the heart of the world. When we feel that we’re somehow okay, because disconnectedness is the most painful state there is, that’s why solitary confinement is such a cruel and destructive punishment because it separates us from our sense of connectedness. There’s just nothing more terrible that could happen. Each of these questions, when you replace the self-doubt question with the self-honoring question, you will feel the glimmer of a sense of self, the solidity of a feeling of ground beneath your feet, the sense that there’s a path that you could take to move forward and where you want to go, and a connectedness to the good heart of the world. Here are some of those questions. What’s wrong with me for feeling this way? Think about a time that you have thought that and imagine replacing that with, in what way is this feeling actually really make sense, given who I am and what I care about, and what I’ve experienced, and why this matters to me?

Fear Of Other Peoples’ Opinions

When we ask that, we make room for our humanity. All of a sudden, it’s literally the feeling of ground beneath our feet. Here’s another one. What will people think of me? These are all such human ones, but I think you could sense that when you get lost in them, it’s just that feeling of a lack of ground beneath our feet. What will people think of me? The replacement for that is, what do I think of this? Whatever it is that I think or feel about this, how is that authentically a part of who I am? I remember a moment in therapy. I was with a therapist who, ultimately, I was not so thrilled with and was not a great therapist for me, but there was one thing that happened. I was in a relationship with the boss, and I talked a lot about what she thought of me and how she saw me. My therapist said to me, “Well, how do you see her?” I thought that that was a great question, but then she went further and she explained to me, “The minute you disconnect from your eyes and how you perceive the world, you will be prey to this experience of a terrible sense of vulnerability to how other people see you. The healing from that is the going back to what you see, and what you notice. The lack of being able to do that creates a vacuum inside, which always gets filled with masochistic situations where we over worry about what other people think of us.”

DDP 106 | Self-Love
Self-Love: There’s a valid piece of you that you need to be able to express and bring out, not in a hostile, cruel way, but somehow make room for.

 

Just pause for a moment and just say, “These are such rich tools of intimacy.” I would like for you to take a moment and think of a big lesson of intimacy, whatever it was, where there wasn’t ground beneath your feet, and you did something or said something or reached out to someone who really saw you and knew you, and you were able to go from that place of that bad state of just not having ground beneath your feet, not having a warm and good sense of positive self, and you did something that helped you find that. Just take a minute to remember that. What was that? What did you do and how might that be thematic for your life intimacy journey? Here’s another one. How can I fix this part of me because I am just not attractive as long as this part of me is not fixed? Here’s the replacement question. Here’s the wisdom question. The path that leads you to the heart and the worth of your humanity, and also to a lot of discovery, what does that part of me need now? How does that need actually make sense?

The Need To Toughen Up

Here’s another one. I need to toughen up. I am too sensitive. Just take a minute to think about the times that you may have felt that. What if that was replaced with, I’m actually not going to toughen up because this is how sensitive I am. This is what I feel. What if my strength was a more flexible strength that came from honoring that vulnerability, and then making choices that took care of it? Instead of trying to get rid of it, step on it, suppress it, bury it or make it tougher. It’s in that act of self-honoring, of finding the spaciousness to self-honor, the room to self-honor that so many of those deep and strange hole spots inside of us are healed and soothed and changed. That is about honoring self. That terrible painful space is about the dishonoring of self.

It's in that act of self-honoring those deep and strange whole spots inside of us that we are healed, soothed, and changed. Click To Tweet
DDP 106 | Self-Love
Deeper Dating: How to Drop The Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy

 

I just want to read something from my book, Deeper Dating. “In the long run, it’s the act of honoring that is the antidote to our bewilderment and the path to our own unique genius. The act of self-treasuring may be challenging but ultimately, it’s the most comforting path of all. Every other path hurts. Everything else is broken glass, sharp brambles in our side. Honoring is the skill that enables us to live the beauty of our hearts and the mission of our gifts in the world. It requires giving up the whip we wield against ourselves. It requires a kindness, listening to our gifts”, which makes me think of those treasured, awesome, wonderful people in our lives who treat us that way, and how those people are gold for us.

I just want to say that sometimes the river is really deep, really scary, really cascading and intense, and we can’t get across it. Sometimes there are times like that, and then we just need to stand there and honor and have awe for the vastness, the intensity of what’s going on there, and to be able to stand right where we are and be able to feel ourselves. I’ve been really inspired by someone very dear to me who was just diagnosed with cancer. Pretty significant situation and really difficult. I was talking to her and she said to me, “The first thing I had to do so that I could have myself back, what I needed to do was I needed to wrap my head around what the worst-case scenario could be.” She said, “That’s not for everybody but for me, I needed to do that so I could reclaim myself in the presence of this very big and scary thing.”

DDP 106 | Self-Love
Self-Love: The minute you disconnect from your eyes and how you perceive the world, you will be prey to this experience of a terrible sense of vulnerability to how other people see you.

 

I want to share with you something that she heard from a dear friend of hers. That dear friend who also had had cancer said that when she found out she had cancer, she said, “My first question was, am I going to live? If I am going to live, everything else is solely about adaptation. If I’m not going to live, then that as well is about adaptation.” I just thought this was so powerful. I had such honor and respect for this very dear person in my life. I want to close with just a sense of that amazing, earned experience of finding self when it sometimes can be so hard to find self. I want to acknowledge you and me, and all of us for those amazing wisdom tools that we have cultivated to help us find self in these difficult times because that is a treasure and that’s a treasure that doesn’t go away. That’s one of the great treasures of the intimacy journey. Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.

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