Did you know that oftentimes we find ourselves in relationships and situations that don’t feel good simply because we never took the time to really consider what would feel good? Think about that.
When’s the last time that you sat down and envisioned what your perfect job would look like and feel like? When’s the last time you sat down and wrote out all the qualities you find attractive in a mate? I mean, the truth is, how are you ever going to know when you have what you want (or if you already have want you want) if you are not clear with yourself on exactly what you want, what inspires happiness and peace within you?
I was reminded recently of a writing exercise that I did years ago (7.5 years ago, to be exact), when I was about three years into my journey of healing. Of course, at the time I didn’t realize I was only three years into a ten-year-long-and-hard-as* journey. Haha. But, alas, I digress. 🙂
I’ll share the writing exercise with you below and the post I wrote back then, as I think it may be helpful to you as well as you consider who you are and what you value in a partner, and perhaps even in life.
Truth is, this simple project my mentor had tasked me with changed my life as it helped me get clear on who I was, what I was looking for in a partner, and what I was no longer willing to settle for. Interestingly, it also became a really important part of my reframing methodology, as it takes us out of a place of emotional projection and into a place of inspired knowingness (sometimes referred to as “our truth”).
Here it is:
April 12, 2014
Have you ever wondered who you are, what you want, what you like, and what you don’t like? And I don’t mean a pie-in-the-sky response. Have you ever really sat down and dug for the words to describe who you are — the good, the bad, and the fugly? The parts of you that are amazing? The parts of you that can be challenging?
Mid-year 2013, Keesha, one of my mentors, suggested that I write a profile for an online personal ad. She made the suggestion because she thought it might be cathartic for me to put pen to paper, write my “about me,” and then spend some time writing about what I was looking for in a partner.
After some deliberate pen-to-paper actions (a lot of reflection, a few edits, and some serious cold feet), I came up with the following:
I’m witty, passionate, compassionate, and kind. I’m sexy, goofy, deeply introspective, and an introvert, but able to be social when I want to be. I know what I want out of life and what I’m capable of achieving — I also know when enough is enough… ahhh… I do believe that’s called balance and boundaries. I’m learning likes and dislikes — sounds rather juvenile and out of place, I know, but perhaps someday I’ll explain.
I’m creative — a writer by night and by pleasure. But I’m also analytical — a financial consultant by day and by pleasing necessity. And I’m dramatic. Yes, you read that right. I’m dramatic, and I own every glorious part of it. I laugh with reckless abandon; I believe with my whole heart; I see with eyes wide open; I speak what’s on my mind; I feel with strong, intuitive sense; and I live in the moment… at least eighty percent of the time — a new, learned skill ;). All of these things make me dramatic — and proudly so.
All this said, I’m still unbelievably human, which means I make mistakes. I say “I’m sorry.” I forgive (myself and others). I give second chances. I’m kind to strangers, homeless people, and those who are clearly having a bad day — I make it a point to smile at each and every one of them, often. I have a small circle of friends — by choice, not circumstance. I have learned to love the face I see in the mirror when I have no makeup on, and I sport the no-makeup look when I don’t have a reason to be “made up.” In the evenings and on weekends, I prefer casual attire and have my own sense of style — still stylish but without all the glitz, glam, and brand to hide behind. I also have a big, beautiful heart.
Okay, if you’ve read this far, my guess is that you’re wondering about my “ideal” partner. So here goes.
My ideal partner is a man who’s kind, gentle, compassionate, and funny. Someone who has an open mind, an open heart, and who is willing and able to expand both. Someone who’s intellectually curious and enjoys learning more about himself and the world — what makes us all tick — and how he can become a better partner, friend, son, brother, etc. My ideal partner is attuned to human suffering and recognizes man’s humanity to man. He enjoys simple wonders, notices small miracles, and doesn’t need extravagant or big-ticket items to feel that he matters. He knows he matters. He owns who he is, where he is in life, and his choices/decisions. He strives to become his best self and live the life he wants to live.
And last but certainly not least, he wants to make people smile. He smiles when he brings a smile to my face or someone else’s. A man who recognizes the power of the human smile has the ability to win me over (that simple “knowing” says a lot about everything that really matters to me).
So here’s the funny thing… after I posted this on an online dating site, I didn’t get many hits/responses. Shocking, I know?! :-). And I was okay with that. I was being completely honest about who I am and what I wanted in a partner. I most likely intimidated most men who read my profile. (Hell, I got a little intimidated re-reading it myself!) But I was being honest. And for the first time in my life, I wasn’t willing to change who I am to accommodate someone else, and I wasn’t willing to pacify, overlook, or soften the qualities that are important to me in a partner, just to have a partner. It doesn’t mean that Mr. Right needs to walk up to me possessing every single quality, but the essence of what I’m looking for needs to be there.
You see, when we’re really honest with ourselves and others, we stop chasing bad relationships, and bad fits stop finding their way into our lives (and staying there!). We’re able to stop the need for maneuvering and adaptation — trying desperately to make the bad fits work, fitting a square peg into a round hole. Instead, we recognize they’re a bad fit, and we move on (btw, they can be amazing people and bad fits at the same time).
Another cool perk — when we’re honest with ourselves, we get to drop the line about “Why do I always date/marry [blank] kind of people?”
All my life, I changed who I was to meet everyone else’s needs. I was going through a divorce when I had a ten-month-old baby and didn’t feel comfortable owning what my favorite color was. All it took was for one person to say, “Ew — you like that color?” and I would change my mind and question how I could really like that color. Crazy, right?!
So do yourself a favor and write a profile for yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you’re married, in a relationship, or single. Write an honest profile of yourself that includes all the things that make you amazing and all that make you a bit of a challenge. I’m not suggesting that you post it online. That’s entirely up to you. But write as though you were announcing yourself to the world — for the first time.
If you dare, outline what your ideal partner is like, and focus on the things most important to you.
Once you get clear with yourself about what matters and what doesn’t matter in relationship to who you really are, you may be surprised at what kind of love you’ll draw into your life (or perhaps even foster in your current relationship).
Years ago, I would have changed my profile to garner more hits, more interest. This time around, I sat back and found myself thankful that I was no longer attracting the same types into my life. All the bad fits were clearly staying at bay. Apparently, I was never their type, either. It felt good to realize that. And it felt good to feel good about it. Free at last. Free to be [me].
Often, we’re not explicitly searching for meaning. We’re just doing/being. In this case, I was simply doing what I was told. And abracadabra… meaning found me. As always, there’s meaning in everything and everyone… even when you least expect it.
Now, here’s the crazy thing. Until today, I hadn’t read this old post for at least five years. And as I reread it, I felt really moved by the strategy I was deploying in writing things out and how I still use this strategy to help myself get present and I teach it to my students to help them hone in on what really matters to them as well.
You see, this strategy allows us to take the pictures we create in our mind of an ideal mate and instead of projecting those pictures onto every person we meet (expecting them to become who we need them to be), this strategy allow us to logically (without old emotional baggage and drama) determine if the people who are in our lives are people who are a match to the pictures we’ve created. If they’re not a match, we can make some logical decisions (like leave; more clearly voice our desires/pictures with only the intention to share (not to change the other person or control them); change our pictures if we discover there are some old, outdated ones that we don’t like/need/want anymore; etc). If you’re single, you can use this tool to attract to you the kind of person you’d like to meet. You’ll also begin to see the people who are a match to your pictures/values and you’ll more clearly see the people who are not.
You can use this tool for everything: creating the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect friendships, etc. It’s all about getting clear on what our pictures are and changing/healing the ones we don’t like; getting clear on what we value in ourselves and someone else; and getting clear on what we’re looking for in a partner/friend/job/house, etc. so that we can more thoughtfully and logically assess what’s what and the changes we need to make to bring our lives more in line with our heart’s desires.
Once we know what we value, it becomes much easier to detect what fits nicely into our pictures and what does not. And once we know what fits nicely and what doesn’t, we have a shot at creating healthy boundaries around the things we love — not to keep other people/things out, but to have more room for more of the things we love.
Now, don’t be surprised if you get experiences that help you expand your list of values as well. Humans are like racehorses on a track: 99.9% of people have blinders on and we don’t know what else is possible to include in our pictures unless we expand our minds by taking in new experiences, new feelings, and new people. Btw, having blinders on doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. We are built this way. It’s a part of the soul’s journey to discover and remove the blinders as life gives us experiences that offer us opportunities to grow, heal, and evolve. So allow your ideal pictures to expand as you expand as well. Look for relationships you’d like yours to model and add the qualities you love to your list.
I used to stay in one bad relationship after another — trying desperately to get the other person to become who I needed or wanted them to be — in part because I never really knew what I wanted or needed. Had I learned this tool earlier in life, I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache. And I would have been able to logically walk away from those who couldn’t meet my needs/match my pictures — and not because they were “bad” dudes, they just weren’t good fits for me. 😉 How simple is that?!
So try it. Write out everything about you that makes you AH-MAZING and everything that makes you a bit of a challenge. Be honest with yourself on this first cut and pretend as though no one on earth will ever see it (of course, you can share it with me if you’d like; I’d love to read it!). The reason it’s so important to be honest with yourself is that it’s the lies we tell ourselves and others that create so much of the misery in our lives. And usually we only tell the lies because we’ve been programmed to believe that if we show who we really are, we’ll lose the love of the people we want/need love from. Btw, most lies are so engrained that people don’t even know when they’re telling them. And all it is are these child-like, manipulative little tactics we created when we were kids that we’re still using today to get our needs met simply because we haven’t learned new ways to keep ourselves “safe.”
But you will. Declare it to be so, and the information that will be most helpful to you will find its way to you when you’re best able to receive it. A sample declaration could be something like this: I can and will learn new ways to keep myself safe so that I no longer look to other people for safety, comfort, happiness, peace. I know I have the ability to learn and the power to create a safe world for myself to fulfill my destiny. And I know I deserve to be happy. Thank you for bringing this knowledge and wisdom to me, helping me to know when it’s here, and helping me to integrate it into my life with pleasure, joy, grace, and ease.
If this post inspired some feelings for you or has you questioning anything, write to me and tell me about it and I’ll provide you with a free coaching response.
Whether or not you go through this exercise, just know: when we expand our perspectives, we expand our lives and get closer to living the life we are destined to live. May you expand in whatever ways best serve your highest and greatest good whenever you’re most ready to. 🙂
With love, gratitude, grit, and grace,