In 4th grade, I was the only kid on my block that had this new thing called video games. A wicked fast Atari 800XL with stunning graphics. It gave a reason for friends come over to hang out with me.
In 7th grade, I would bring huge bags of Jolly Ranchers to keep in my pockets to give to the “cool kids” in my class. What did I get in exchange? They let me hang out with them.
In 12th grade, I finally got to spend time with my elementary/middle/high school crush! Of course, it was by helping her with her calculus homework over the phone. But as long as I got her attention, I didn’t care.
The premise in each of those circumstances was that who I was wasn’t attractive or good enough for people to want to hang out with ME.
I needed to have some cool material possession, some skill or talent. And more exhausting was the belief that every person (especially women) had that special “secret” need that if I could only discover what that was, then the floodgates of love and appreciation would open up from them.
That pattern still occasionally creeps up today, when I let my natural, genuine desire to help someone I care about override my desire to have me be loved and accepted for me just being who I am. I can get so caught up in the belief that someone likes me because I’m helping them with their website, facilitating their circle, or pimping out their iPhone with cool apps. Or that a woman likes me because I’m a good dancer or a DJ or wearing a stylish jacket. And the most stressful part is what happens when the dance is over? Or worse, when they’re no longer interested in playing my video games? It’s back to figuring out what they might like so I can keep them interested. Yeah, I know, it’s pretty damn tiring just to think about it!
Yet when I remember to interrupt that pattern, even by sharing that pattern with the person I’m with, I can immediately relax more into myself. My anxiety drops away and while I feel more vulnerable, I feel more connection.
Like all of us, I want to be appreciated and loved for my natural self.
Not my mediocre calculus skills.
Not my Frogger.
Not the high-fructose, Yellow #5 cubes in my pocket.
Not because I can twirl you and dip you on the dance floor.
Just good ol’ Jeffrey. With ALL my quirks, “flaws”, talents, strengths, and blind-spots.
As I’ve studied and taught personal & spiritual growth over the years, the message that keeps coming back to front and center is the fact that there is nothing wrong with me. I am not broken. There are things I can always improve about myself but right now, in this moment, I am whole and complete.
Here’s the BIG takeaway:
I don’t need to DO a damn thing to be more lovable. But there are things I may need to BE to let myself receive that love. Most importantly, to unapologetically, blatantly, lovingly BE myself. Same goes for you.
What areas of your life do you find yourself seeking love or attention by thinking you need to constantly DO something for someone else or ACT a certain way in order for them to like you? And what ways can you let go of that pattern NOW?
Jeffrey Platts is a men's coach and authentic communication expert who is passionate about helping men create amazing relationships with women. With over 20 years of personal study and transformational training, he has led nearly 200 workshops and retreats on personal growth, dating, and communication. Jeffrey's work and writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, ABC News, Authentic Man Program and the Good Men Project. He brings a rich toolbox of insights and experiences to his facilitation, integrating his adventures as DJ, amateur stand-up comedian, salsa dancer, yoga teacher and world traveler.