“When you heal, you go from wanting to be chosen to doing the choosing.” This quote came to mind one day while journaling. It had been almost two years of doing the work to heal my inner child wounds. For almost a decade, I spent most of my teenage and young adult years unconsciously looking for someone to rescue me. Someone who would show up for me “full-time” the same way I wanted my caregivers to show up for me full-time.
Yes, I love my parents, and yes, my parents did the best they could with what they had but they weren’t always able to attune to my needs in the way that I needed them to consistently. It was not until I found myself in a cycle of trauma bonds and a pattern of unhealthy relationships that I realized that I was seeking to be chosen.
After experiencing one of the worst heartbreaks of my life, I realized that it couldn’t just be everyone else. There had to be something in me that was making me a match for these experiences. After working with a therapist and doing some inner child work, I realized that I had spent so much time in these unhealthy relationships because I was looking for someone to choose me.
By them choosing me, I was hoping their validation would finally make me feel good about myself. But I realized time and time again after every failed relationship, the reason why I wasn’t being “chosen” had nothing to do with me not being “good enough." It was because I wasn’t choosing myself.
I kept getting into relationships constantly abandoning myself, giving other men the loyalty that I needed to give myself. I would disown my boundaries and shapeshift into whoever they needed me to be to receive love from them.
If they wanted a girl who didn’t “nag” or “complain,” I made sure that I kept my feelings to myself. If they wanted a girl who would turn into their mother, I would make sure that I spent the majority of the relationship fixing and rescuing them from their problems so I didn’t have to deal with my own.
I realized that I had to come face to face with my inner child wounds and grieve what I never received from my parents. It wasn’t until I was able to allow myself to feel that discomfort that I put myself in a position of power to finally give myself the things my wounded inner child was looking for in other people.
Evolving beyond the point of wanting to be chosen to doing the choosing does not happen overnight, but with inner work healing is possible. And how do you know you've entered your healing era? Here are 7 signs that you are shifting from that mindset and a pathway to healing:
1.You have identified your needs and built your confidence in getting those needs met:
When I’m working with my clients 1:1, I constantly remind them that the key to your healing is not only identifying your needs but building your confidence in getting those needs met by giving them to yourself. If you are not aware of your needs, you will become a slave to someone else's standards. And you see where that may lead you, right? When you work on giving your needs to yourself, you're building your confidence in them by being a living example of the standards you would like to see in others.
If you want someone who is honest, when was the last time you were honest with yourself? If you want someone who is consistent, when was the last time you followed through on a promise you made to yourself? Once you start to identify your needs and build your confidence in them, you will start to see that it is possible and you’ll know that it’s possible because you’re a living testimony of it. When you pour into yourself in this way, you will be able to confidently recognize these characteristics in someone else without having to guess. It increases your level of discernment when you’re choosing a partner.
2.You honor your boundaries by standing firm in them:
Boundaries define who we are. They are where we end and another person begins. Boundaries are not barriers to connecting but are simply healthy limits to ensure that we can maintain a healthy sense of self in a relationship with another person. So many people get into relationships trying to melt into another person, disowning their boundaries and standards just to say they have a connection with someone. Nevertheless, a healthy connection has a healthy separation between two people.
Rather than enmeshing with each other, two people in a healthy relationship honor and respect each other's differences in order to preserve the relationship, not push each other away. When you are in a relationship and you do not honor your boundaries, you are not allowing people to see you clearly and experience true intimacy with you. This is why so many of us may find ourselves in unhealthy relationships because the longer you disown your boundaries, the more you hinder the right people from showing up in your life.
3.Your mindset is shifting during the dating process:
When you meet someone new, you are no longer trying to figure out if this person likes you. You’re no longer altering your appearance to please them or ruminating on if this person sees a future with you. When you make this mindset shift, you take your power back. You shift your focus from altering yourself to be “liked” to actually giving yourself and other people the opportunity to see you for who you truly are.
You are also giving yourself an opportunity to see the other person clearly for who they are. You’re paying attention to what qualities they have that may be compatible with you. You’re spending less time ruminating and altering yourself and more time assessing if you like them, rather than focusing on if they like you or trying to change them.
4.You’re more confident in who you are:
When you’re healing, you are embracing who you are authentically. Instead of wearing a mask and performing for love, you’ve taken the time to truly get to know yourself and be unapologetic about it.
5.You are actively healing your inner child wounds:
When you’re healing, you take the time to heal any inner child wounds that may be sabotaging your relationships. Not having boundaries, not accepting people for who they are, and disowning your values become a thing of the past. Although our inner child may have used these coping strategies to ensure our survival in childhood, it’s realizing that your survival is no longer dependent on your parents and it is your responsibility to find healthier ways of connecting. You start to challenge what you’ve always considered “normal” and start to assess if the unhealthy patterns and behaviors you fall into empowering you to get the type of relationship you want.
6.You’re more in tune with your values:
Our values define what is important to us at each stage of our lives. Think about when you were younger, you may have valued things such as playing with friends, creating a hobby for yourself, and going to school. As you get older, your values change as you change. Now as an adult, you may value working long hours in your career or you may value spending more time with family. When we are in tune with our own values, we give ourselves an opportunity to find people who share similar values as us, rather than trying to change or alter people into valuing the things that we value.
Ten times out of ten, our values cannot be compromised. Our values guide our decisions and lead us in the direction of the type of life we want to live. When we are in tune with what is important to us, we can confidently let go of people who may not value the things we value.
7.You offer yourself more grace and compassion:
Healing is hard work. You are discovering all of these parts of yourself that you were completely unaware of. As you are healing, you learn to give yourself more grace and compassion. You understand that you are not always going to get it right and instead of chastising or punishing yourself; you are able to compassionately hold yourself accountable and work towards making a different choice in the future.
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