(Dr. Norquist is on vacation this week. We are re-running a letter that was published earlier in this column.)
Dear Dr. Norquist:
I seem to be unable to have a relationship that lasts. I think that I may not have enough love inside me. I’ve never been married or been in a long-term partnership like that. I’m not sure I know what partnership is about and I think this is my problem. Will I ever find a life-partner, and a relationship built on mutual trust? Thank you.
Dr. Norquist responds:
Sometimes, as a result of various earlier life experiences, we close off from others, by emotionally closing down our hearts. In doing this, we close down any genuine sense of connection with others, and also close off any heartfelt connection with ourselves. Without heart, life loses its joy, its freshness, and its taste. It becomes bland. We feel like islands onto ourselves – unlovable, separate, unfulfilled and empty. Miserable in this state, we search for a partner to “fix” it to bring us lasting happiness. We don’t realize that the love we are searching for has to first be experienced inside ourselves.
Strange as it may sound, the love you want doesn’t exist in the other, but inside yourself. Even if someone else loves you immensely, you will not automatically experience that love. You must learn to recognize, and connect with the experience of love inside yourself, and start to re-open your heart. We’ve learned and accepted false beliefs about our loveableness. We believe that we are lovable only if we meet this or that condition. With these beliefs firmly in place we live our lives, emotionally starved on the inside, trying to feed our emotional hunger through attachments to short-lived pleasures in the outer world (drugs and alcohol, material goods, prestige, etc.) that leave us perpetually searching for more.
The more you can recognize and accept your innate unconditional loveableness, the more you will attract potential partners. You will also be able to be less fearful of, and more available for, a relationship. When you are connected with an inner experience of self-acceptance and self-love, it’s amazingly easy to enjoy, accept and love others. It is a natural consequence. From this state, life is full and rich, and can be savored.
Start by changing your false beliefs. We are all lovable. We do not have to do or be anything to deserve this love. It is innate. Remember times when you have experienced your loveableness, and follow this spark of joy inside to connect with your own inner fountain of love. Practice recognizing sub-conscious silent self-talk you engage in that is critical, or judgmental. Learn to let these thoughts go and replace them with reminders of your loveableness. It is through loving yourself that you will open the door for finding the life partnership that you desire.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2013 Chaitanya Counseling Services