In my life (and my constant observations of other people’s lives) I have learned that unhealthy attachment is, without a doubt, a clear sign of a problem in a relationship. When you find a truly compatible person, you will not experience unhealthy attachment. They will lift you up in all the right ways. When you meet this person, you will sit in awe and wonder how you ever settled for anything else.
Wait for what is right for you.
That would be my first piece of advice. There is a possibility of love out there waiting to make you feel completely confident and comfortable with yourself. Do not settle for anything less. Work very hard to have the clarity of mind to answer this question: “Does this relationship make me feel anxiety more than happiness?” You’ll know you’ve found something worth keeping when this question seems silly to even ask. The right person will take your insecurity away.
Before I forget, I need to mention that not all relationships are without conflict. If a true “soul mate” exists, you will find yourself needing to work with and compromise with that person. This advice is not to raise your standards to an impossible height. It’s to raise your standards to the right height! Without more information about your specific experience, it’s hard to advise you fully, but I have found the above to be true of all the greatest relationships I have witnessed.
Loving Yourself More
This is a good segway to the first part of your question. How do you love yourself more? Hmm. Well, as an incentive, you’ve probably heard that a person who has love for oneself will be more likely to find and have happy relationships in life (both romantic and otherwise). To help you through the process of learning to love yourself, I’d like to share my own story of finding true love and self love at the same time.
For many years (during and after my teenage years), I was looking to be more confident in myself. I was so insecure that I struggled in almost every area in my life. Dating was a struggle (how could I love someone without loving myself?). School was a struggle (I needed to prove my worth). Even my hobbies, like art and music, were a struggle (clearly I should be the best in the world, right?). I combated this by trying to be many different people (who I was not) and attempting to be “cool” (don’t do that… you’re already cool).
What is left when you lose everything?
In 2011, however, everything came together for me at the right time. I was laid-off from my job and started dating the woman I am with today. It might seem like an odd combination, but it was the catalyst I needed. I had put so much energy into my job and personal projects that “losing it all” was terrifying. However, being laid-off was one of the most transcendental/inspiring experiences of my life. I was not greeted by a sense of hopelessness. I was greeted by a sense of freedom. I dropped all the baggage that I had weighed myself down with over the years and what was left was just me. I was there, looking out at the world.
The “worst” happened, but I felt free. It was in that moment that I realized how most of my insecurities stemmed from fear. I was afraid of losing everything because I didn’t think I could handle it. I was afraid of who the person was underneath my job and everything I identified with. The good news is this: you can handle anything. You are stronger and cooler than you can possibly imagine. I promise you that the strength is there and you need to drop the fear to find it.
Finding Love That Uplifts
The other part of that story was finding love. I met someone who changed everything for me. I had always found stress in relationships and dating. I thought that clinging to relationships was love. I thought that I had to adapt to others in order to find love or even friendships. It all changed when this person came into my life. She was so true and compatible with me that I felt like a child again. What made that happen?! She loved me for me and continues to love me for me. Once I met her, I didn’t have to try so hard anymore. The feeling of unhealthy attachment has never been an issue since. It was amazing. The same can happen to you.
Everyone is Worthy of Love
Falling in love in such a way taught me to love myself. I don’t know why I was incapable before. My eyes are now open to all the people around me. We’re all imperfect! We’re all weirdos. I can tell you that every person around you has just as many reasons to feel insecure. They may be wondering how to feel more self love as well. So that’s the good news.
We’re all humans on a level playing field. We’re all made up of a complicated balance of strengths and weaknesses. The best thing you can do for yourself is to embrace all of that stuff. I have met people who are incredibly attractive and well-loved because of the insecurities they embrace. They are comfortable with their weaknesses! When you meet a person like that, you can’t help but love them too.
Loving Others = Loving Yourself
That leads me to my last point. To love yourself it helps to love others. Loving kindness is so important in this world. It’s important to others, important to yourself, and important for society. The more you love others, the more you will love yourself.
Become a beacon of love and acceptance. When you see a stranger on the street, imagine their story. When a telemarketer calls, feel empathy for how difficult their job must be. Take a moment to realize how fascinating and wonderful everyone’s story must be! By loving the people around you, that love will spill over onto yourself. You are just as deserving of that love. Give it, take it, and live a truly happy life.