We've all been there -- feeling victimized by a friend, a boss or a lover who has treated us poorly or unfairly. It's an easy and common tendency to blame the other, make yourself out as the innocent one, while seeking out particular people who will reaffirm that pain body within that encourages a "woe is me" mentality. But if you start to look back and analyze a bit, you may realize that the there is one common denominator in each scenario and situation. That common denominator is you.
You allow people to treat you the way they do. Your energy, confidence and attitude is the currency that others will transact with. I know many women who have settled for less, and simply "accepted" cards dealt because deep inside, they don't believe they deserve more. I'm sure you know of someone who seems to have it all together in their life, but when it come to relationships, they just can't seem to shake the habit of dating douche bags and douchettes.
In my life, I've created my destiny within my career, friendships and community. With friends, I've really embraced the fact that friends are all unique pieces of a pie. Some will be lifetime friends that are next to family, some are social friends, some acquaintances. I've learned to appreciate the various types and unique forms of value each friend brings, and as well as a system of how much and what kind of energy I invest to whom. I am blessed with the best friends ever, but that inner circle is sacred and thoughtfully selective.
However, in my relationships with men, I've witnessed myself apply a different system -- if you can even call it a system. I've tolerated men who don't appreciate me, who don't value my heart, who take and take, who don't call back, who have disrespected me -- I've allowed men to not treat me what I'm worth. This is all a matter of self-esteem and my sense of self worth in the realm of being a woman in a romantic relationship. I've made excuses, justified and eagerly re-entered the game of push and pull with men who clearly don't really value me much at all. And you know what, it sucks and feels pretty crappy at the end -- chipping away the low self-esteem that got me there in the first place even more.
It took me 28 years of being hungry for love, even desperate for it at times, heart aches, heart tramples, picking up that phone when every cell in your body knows it's the unhealthy thing to do, obsessing, infatuating, idealizing, you name it, for me to finally wake up and realize that my most important relationship is the one with myself.
I've learned to embrace self love. And while I'll always be a perpetual student in this journey, I've made the decision to apply my successful method in dealing with friendships and business to how I do my relationships. I've stopped apologizing for who I am and have learned that I am "perfect" the way I am, right now, right here. I will constantly be growing, evolving and working on bad habits, but those flaws, those imperfections are part of the beauty that makes me, me. I can now easily recognize men who are drawn to me only for the best of me, and as Marilyn Monroe best put it, "If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."
If I could talk to my younger self -- that girl desperate for love and therefore often blinded by ideas, fabrications and untruths in order to try and capture it, I'd tell her:
"Amy, love will come to you, when you learn to love yourself, first and foremost".
I can't go back in time to correct my mistakes, but I can today share what I've learned with younger women, some who may have a misconstrued idea that giving their body away carelessly can equal love. In the words of my wise friend Sima Kumar, "Be the gatekeeper." Your heart is a precious gift. Your body is a temple. Be selective. Respect it and be respected. Love yourself and be loved. It you don't respect and love yourself first, building a healthy relationship with another is like building a house with no foundation -- eventually the cracks and lack of a strong base will eventually cause it to crumble.
Know your value and don't accept being treated in a way less than you deserve. Now, I don't mean to start going out there with unrealistic expectations, demands and a sense of entitlement. I am saying that you deserve to be treated the way you treat others, and vice versa. The minute you negotiate your self worth and accept less, you say to the universe that you don't deserve any better, and the vicious cycle/pattern begins. Change for yourself and of course, friends and partners are great mirror reflections that help you grow. But don't change out of the wrong reasons to appease someone or in hopes that they will like you more. If they judge you for who you are now, they aren't your fit. I'll end off with a quote from "Sex and the City" that is an inspiring reminder:
"But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."