Written by Liv Talley, LDS Dating Coach & Expert
Hi my love,
Did you know that self-image is at the root of everything in your life?
This is something that I work on very hard myself. Over the years, I have struggled a lot, A LOT, with self worth and self esteem. The reason why I have struggled so much is because it took me a really long time to understand the unconscious ego self.
When I first started to become aware of it, I was about 22. That was when I started to first get curious around, “why do I keep dating the same types of guys? Why do I keep having the same life experiences that I don’t want to have?”
I’m not kidding you, from the ages of 19-22, I crashed a car every single year. Why did this keep happening?!
I was also in a pattern of not being able to hold down a job, having the same dating experiences, and I was caught in this loop! When I was about 23, I started to get analytical and curious around what, if anything, I could do to change things.
However, at the time I didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to be loving towards myself and to heal. I didn’t have any resources. I didn’t have any mentors. I didn’t have any people who could guide me towards healing pieces of my self-image in the way that I needed, just because that wasn’t the space that I operated in.
I thought that a lot of talk about manifestation, ego, self-image–all of these “buzzwords”–were just really meaningless.
I didn’t give it any sort of credence. Maybe that’s you right now as you read this? At that time, I was still anti-therapy and hyper-independent.
(By the way, if you’re super independent, to the point where you can’t let anyone help you–I hate to break this to you, but that’s not noble. That is a defense mechanism, and a call for help. Let somebody help you!)
So I started exploring online. I was way too scared to ask anybody for help, and I turned to the internet and found a lot of information around childhood attachments and tried to analyze myself and my past. The problem, was that I couldn’t do so subjectively. (This is why professionals exist.)
I had a pattern of acting out in a fear of abandonment. I used to sabotage relationships with men, specifically with older men, because I had this deep rooted fear of abandonment…and I couldn’t identify where it came from!
Initially, I thought I had the fear of abandonment because I kept experiencing breakups.
Whatever you experience in dating, is not the origination of the root cause. The root cause of how you act in dating, why you act the way you do in dating, stems from beliefs you formed in childhood. You perpetuate, validate, and reinforce those beliefs as you date as an adult.
This was a hard concept for me to grasp because from a logical standpoint, I had a really, really good childhood. So I couldn’t pinpoint anything and say “my parents abandoned me somewhere” and find out where the fear came from. There was a block there. And yet, even as I was 23, 24, 25–I was still sabotaging, and I was still getting abandoned.
My healing journey is multi-dimensional–and not in a sci-fi way–I mean that I have several healing modalities that I rely on all at the same time. I have a business coach and mentor, an emotional regulation coach, a massage therapist, chiropractor, and a body talk therapist. I built an arsenal of mentors, of people, and authorities, who help and support me through the things I can’t objectively see.
Only when I started asking for help (which I couldn’t do for a long time because I was scared and thought I had to do it on my own) did I start to get to this space where I could understand how I COULD have a great childhood, and still misunderstand things and hold beliefs that didn’t serve me. I had to not only look at where in my childhood my patterns and beliefs came from, but also had to give myself grace to know that even though I wasn’t abandoned, somewhere as a little kid I perceived abandonment.
It was a misconception, but I perceived abandonment in one specific situation. And because of that situation, I grew up with this fear ingrained in me as “part of my personality.” I was acting it out, again and again with the guys I was dating. This further validated the belief in my mind that I was someone who was abandoned.
What’s interesting to note is that the unconscious ego-self is what you believe your personality is. But personality doesn’t actually exist. It is a perception. Everything that you believe is your personality, that’s only true as long as you perceive yourself that way. But when you stop perceiving yourself in a certain way, then that no longer is a personality trait.
I’m speaking from experience, here.
I was someone who acted out abandonment for YEARS with the guys I was dating, until I could see that as a child I believed I was abandoned. And it was small scale, but when you’re 6, it feels like a huge thing. So I had internalized that and had been someone who gets abandoned. I saw it not just in dating, but also in keeping friends. It was because I had this perceived personality trait that I was someone who gets abandoned, which would then compel my behavior to act out in ways that people would abandon me.
Because of this perception that I created from childhood, it became “part of me.” And I couldn’t heal that through logically saying there’s nothing in my childhood that validates that thought, so therefore I can just stop. That doesn’t work.
When you try to cast off personality traits, quirks, pieces of yourself, and you don’t make space for all of you, you create MORE of that personality trait. It grows in your life, in ugly ways that you may not even be conscious of…
Some people call this process shadow work, where you actually look at the pieces of yourself that you have tried to discard, tried to bury, tried to walk away from, tried to ignore. They’re kind of the dark parts of you that need to be loved and integrated. And you can’t integrate something if you’re ignoring it or trying to invalidate it.
When I understood that concept, the Atonement took a whole new role in my life as I turned to UNDERSTANDING myself, instead of trying to force myself to be “fine” just because I was raised in the gospel and “shouldn’t” have any issues.
This was to deny my own humanity–and I see it happen in the singles I coach again and again.
You can embrace that you’re imperfect, that you have things that need healing and support, AND that you’re worthy and capable of love and help.
Whether you were raised in The Church or out of it, whether your parents are together or your home situation wasn’t ideal, you deserve to look at yourself and your upbringing and find so much love and understanding for you.
Your patterns will show you what needs to be seen. How dating goes for you, how you feel about yourself, and the success in your life all hinges on your ability to TRULY accept and embrace all the parts of you.
Stay tuned for part 2.
LDS Dating Coach & Expert
Podcaster of “With Love, From Liv”
Liv Talley is an LDS dating and relationship coach, lifestyle mentor, and published author of the book: Sorry, You’re Not Perfect. She has helped singles find love, get married in the temple, and build exceptionally blessed lives through in-depth mindset coaching and personal acceptance/self-compassion.
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