So often I run into people that tell me "I just want to be loved for me, for who I am, not because I have to do something special or be someone special."
And isn't that a longing in all of us? To just be loved for who we are? Without having to perform, or achieve, or do the 'right' thing?
So what makes it so difficult to feel that kind of love? Why does it seem like we are all looking for it but so few of us find it?
I have found that one reason we so often feel like we lack love in our lives not because we don't have wonderful people surrounding us - often we feel like we lack love in our lives because we don't know how to love ourselves! And in not knowing what it feels like to love ourselves, we refuse the love of others!
The first step in accepting the love of others is accepting the love we can give ourselves!
So how do we love our selves?
It all begins with taking off our masks!
We all wear different masks - the mask of the "achiever", the mask of the "successful one," the mask of the "mom," or the "sister" or the "friend that is always there for everyone else." Some of us wear masks of "the happy one" or "the one that never complains," "the one that never gets mad or shows strong emotions," "the one that will never say no," or "the one that can never do it right."
They can be masks that fit us so well that we don't even realize they are masks.
But they keep up a facade of what we think we have to be in order for us to feel love - even our own self-love.
But the truth is we are so much more than our masks, and until we accept what is underneath our mask we will never be able to love ourselves or accept the love of those around us.
So what is underneath the mask?
It took me years to have the courage to take my masks off (because of course, I wore more than one lol)
The masks that I had worn up until then kept me in the role of "the nice one," "the one that never said no," and the most damaging one of all "the easy-going one." (Just to name a few).
When I finally took them off and took a peek at what was behind there, I was shocked!
I wasn't always nice, I often wanted to say no and I wasn't all that easy going!
By forcing myself to wear those masks I was making myself miserable, creating an environment where no one knew the real me and I found I didn't have a lot of respect for myself.
And it's hard to love yourself when your miserable, feel alone and don't respect yourself!
So a funny thing began to happen...as I began to come to terms with the "real" me, as I set the masks down one by one, I began a journey of self-reflection and self-acceptance.
I got to a place where I could see all of myself, both the good and the not so good, and recognize that it all belongs! I could lose the pressure of having to be something I'm not in order to think I'm worthy of love! I could finally accept who I was because I could actually see who I was.
By putting down the mask of always have to be "the nice one" I could be more honest about my emotions and in my communication - which actually made me feel good about myself. It made me feel like I mattered and I was worth taking care of.
By putting down the mask of being the one that "never says no" I could actually decide which things I want to be a part of and which were draining my energy and actually not good for me. This made me feel like I had some control in my life, that where I decided to put my energy was in line with what I wanted in my life.
By putting down the mask of being "the easy-going one" I opened up to the fact that I did have needs and that getting them met was important and necessary for my well being!
And as I learned who my real self was and began to own who I really was I began to like myself - to stick up for myself, to make myself a priority, to make myself matter.
I began to love myself.
And so amazingly it opened me up to the real authentic love of others!
So how about you?
What masks do you wear?
Is it time to set them down and see what's behind there?
To be authentically yourself?
It's impossible to love yourself if you don't know who you really are and it's hard to accept the love of others if you don't know and love yourself.
Do be brave and set your masks down - begin to love the real you, let us love the real you!