Table of Contents:
- How To Identify Diversity In Ourselves
- How To Find Our Core Gift
- Two Solutions: Internal And External
Try This When It’s Too Hard To Love
There are times that all of us feel like we’re just too broken or too strange or different or wounded to be able to love successfully. In this episode, I’m going to share truly life-changing tools to help you discover the gift that lies at the heart of that wounding, so that you can find the self-love you need to be able to authentically connect again. Stay tuned to this episode of the Deeper Dating® Podcast.
Hello and welcome to the Deeper Dating® Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist. I’m the author of the best-selling book Deeper Dating® and the Cofounder of DeeperDating®.com, an environment where single people can meet online in a way that’s kind, respectful, fun and inspiring. In every episode, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process, because the skills of dating are nothing more than the real skills of love, which are the greatest skills of all for a happy life. If you want to learn more about Deeper Dating®, just go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, and you can sign up for my mailing list and get free gifts and learn so much more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.
Today’s episode is going to be a little bit different. It’s part of a podcast tour called “How to Actually Feel Worthy in Love“. I was really honored when Veronica Grant, my friend, asked me to be a part of it. Here’s what’s going to happen. During this tour, every day for two weeks, the tour is going to feature an episode from a variety of podcasts on how to feel worthy in love. Yesterday, October 7th episode was Madeline Charles‘ podcast, and the next episode on October 11th is over in Kira Sabin’s The League of Adventurous Singles podcast, and today it’s me. If you want to register for the entire tour and just get wonderful kind of new insights, just go to VeronicaGrant.com/podtour. By the way, if you like what you’re learning here, it would be a wonderful thank you to subscribe and to leave me a review. Thank you so much for that, and enjoy this episode.
In my work and in my life, I’ve really come to believe that maybe one of the absolute greatest stuck points in our ability to love doesn’t come from our inability to love. It comes from shame around the particular, unique, diverse ways that we love, and then when that shame comes, we block intimacy. We get this messaging that this is what love is supposed to look like, and really for all of us like love and sex look different than that. They look unique. They touch the deepest aspects of our being, and the deepest aspects of our being are different, are brilliant, are unfathomable, are mysterious, are edgy, are quiet, all of these different things that don’t exactly fit into the paradigm. What happens is when we have this kind of intimacy diversity, kind of like neurodiversity or gender diversity.
When we learn to honor and listen to our intimacy diversity, our lives start working, and amazing things happen.CLICK TO TWEETWhen we’ve got our own intimacy diversity like the ways that we respond to love, the ways that we love, the ways that we show love, the ways that we get frightened from love, when we don’t accept those ways, we go into a lockdown. Our being locks up like a bicycle where the chain kind of locks and everything stops. That’s what happens inside of us when we can’t name and honor our intimacy diversity. Here’s the fabulous news around that, and it’s what we’re going to all work on today in this episode. When we learn to honor those parts of ourselves that feel different or strange, or don’t love in normal ways, or have sex in normal ways or relate in “normal ways.” When we learn to honor and listen to those parts, our lives start working. Amazing things happen.
The choices that we make in love shift. There’s a dignifying of self, a sense of freedom, and kind of like a sense of joining the full human race because, oh yeah, I am someone who can love. I just love in these different ways. Those different ways are the key to us being able to love in the world. This is a concept that is fascinating and amazing, and really revolutionary. Here’s what it is. Beneath every one of the places where we feel like we’re not ready for love or capable of love, lies a Core Gift. Meaning one of the deepest capacities and gifts of our being.
It’s just one we have not learned to listen to yet. Identifying it will make all the difference in the world. I know for me that one of the most painful, existentially painful experiences, that I’ve had in my life is this feeling of like, “What is wrong with me that I can’t love?” That I shut people out, that my sexuality is different, that my sexual response is different, that my emotional responses are different, and then I just shut down. I lock up and I don’t want to be there, and that means I can’t love. That lock-up was one of the most painful parts of my life, and then that understanding that there was a part of me that was made mute, that wasn’t allowed to speak, and when it was allowed to speak and when I could listen and when in the relationship I could share what it was that I needed, what it was that this part of me was afraid of or desirous of, or the pacing that I needed, or the connection or the holding that I needed.
How To Identify Diversity In Ourselves
When I could do that, it was like liberation. It was like the same liberation as coming out as gay. It was the same liberation, “Oh my God, I could be a part of this world and I can love,” and then the walls begin to come down. How do we identify these parts of ourselves? We’re going to start with looking at the ways that we feel that we’re not capable of love or not ready for love, or we block love consistently, or we just go numb or shut down or stop feeling, whatever the things are that we have. You could even just take a minute now to think about this. The ways that you feel like, “I just don’t cut it when it comes to love, or I’m too different, or this part of me is too strange.” Essentially, these are places where we either feel like we’re too much or that we’re not enough, and there’s a shame and a feeling that we won’t be loved because we’re either too much or not enough.
We’ll talk in much more detail about what those are, and I’ll help you identify those spots for you, but I just want to say that what I have come to see in my years as a therapist is that the opposite is true. That what keeps us from loving and being loved is the shame around those parts of ourselves. It is not those parts of ourselves, because when we are ashamed of those parts of ourselves, we never learn how to work with them, and we never discover the genius in them, and the gift in them. Just some examples of too much, feeling like too much and too little.
Some feelings of too much are, and see which ones ring true for you. I know so many of them have rung true for me and do ring true for me. One is “I need too much”. If I really really enter into deep love, I get so needy that it’s kind of just like the Grand Canyon, and no one is going to be able to bear all of that need. Another is “my emotions are too intense, my joy is really intense, my anger is really intense, my sadness is really intense”, and people just feel like I’m too much. Another is “my sexuality is so intense that it might scare people off”, or it’s so kinky that it might scare people off, or it’s so fierce that it just scares me.
My need for love and connection is so fierce that it scares me. My need and my caring about truth is so intense that I have upset people my entire life because I speak the truth and I get in trouble, or I ask people to really speak the truth and they can’t do it, and they end up gaslighting me and making me feel ashamed, or I have a lot of sense of personal power, and I scare people with that.
I feel like a big, big, big, big, big one I think for women is the feeling like that too-muchness is going to make me not feminine enough, and then I’ll never be able to find an alpha male, and that I’m somehow like going against the natural order of things. That’s a scary and sad thing for powerful women to feel. Now, just a little break here to say something about that. I deeply believe that all of us need to be able to be vulnerable and not hide behind a mask of toughness or strength, but hey folks, that’s the men too. Women are not more responsible for that task than men are.
I deeply believe that each of these qualities that I described definitely has stuck points, has immaturity, has reactiveness, etc., because we’re human and because our biggest insecurities constellate around our deepest places of charge, and our Core Gifts are where we are the most deeply charged. Of course, we’re going to kind of get excessive around these parts of us. Of course, there’s a journey to learn, to take that fierce, raw energy and work with it in wise ways, but that doesn’t make the raw energy any less precious and central to our being. It’s not something we can deny because it scares us. It’s not something we could deny because it’s gotten us in trouble. It’s not even something we can deny because we’ve screwed up around it. These are our Core Gifts, and they’re like the very core of the mechanism of our being.
We need to find the gift underneath and behind our behaviors.CLICK TO TWEETOther side to this is the feeling of I’m not enough. Not that I’m too much but in fact, I’m not enough. “I’m not strong enough. I don’t stand up for myself enough. I’m not ambitious enough. I’m not aggressive enough. I’m not intense enough in sex. I get steamrolled by people. I lose myself. There’s a quietness or a shyness or an introversion in myself that feels like a flaw or a problem, or I find myself going numb or shutting down, and then feeling like I have nothing to give, and that just makes me want to run because I feel like it’s so unfair to the other person, and it’s so kind of upsetting to see and to do, or a kind of like aversion to making waves or making too much of ourselves.”
A fear of expressing our needs. A fear of expressing when something doesn’t feel right to us, and then this kind of attendant feeling of being weak, not strong enough. These are all the kind of environments of not enough. These are all the kind of things we feel around the Core Gifts of gentleness, tenderness, humility and graciousness, and quiet in a world that doesn’t honor those qualities.
Before moving on, I just also want to acknowledge that there are character disorders. There is mental illness. There is addiction. There are traits and attributes that make us kind of really veer off into zones that are very problematic for us and for other people. I want to acknowledge that kind of those pathological situations might not exactly be what I’m talking about here. Although, I would say that even in those situations, we still need to find the gift underneath and behind our behaviors.
How To Find Our Core Gift
How do we do this? How do we go from the place that we’re ashamed of? The ways in which we are kind of intimacy divergent, or we feel not enough, or we feel like too much in the realm of intimacy. How do we take that and find the Core Gift in those places where we have been ashamed, and we feel like we don’t love right, or that we are not right? How do we find the Core Gift? This is a kind of rich and complex process and, you know, I spend huge amounts of time in my intensives and in my book and my course, teaching how people can identify their Core Gifts, but there are some simple things that I can say about that, that I think really help.
Here’s what happens, I think. We feel and experience a part of ourselves, and then we feel ashamed, and we tell ourselves, “This is never going to work in the realm of love. I won’t be able to find anybody that can accept this, or it’ll be too difficult,” or whatever. We just feel shame around this aspect of our being. Our task is to find the Core Gift inherent in that part of us because it is not just a pathology. There is a part of our being that is essential and true and deep that doesn’t know how to speak in an adult way yet, about who it is and what it longs for and what it needs, and our job is to find that out.
Again, in my work, that’s something I teach, and it’s a structured process to do. Like to keep it really simple, to notice in your interactions with the world when you feel numb, when you feel hurt, when you feel joy, when you feel connectedness, and ask yourself this question. What is this saying about my being that this is hurting me? What is this saying about what matters to me that this is hurting me? What is this hurt asking for? What created this sadness, or what’s this exuberance? What’s this joy? What’s this peace? What’s this happiness that I’m feeling in connection with what happened just now in this interaction?
We dishonor the negative things we tell ourselves, “Get over it, we’re being too sensitive.” The positive things, we don’t kind of deeply enough treasure the beauty of our capacity to have joy and connectedness, and understand what it was in that situation that allowed our hearts to be open like that. These are the keys to understanding our intimacy diversity and being able to honor it. The key is to find out why does it make sense that I feel this way? Given who I am, why does it make sense that I feel this sadness? Why does it make sense that I feel this anger? Why does it make sense that I feel this joy? Why might it make sense that I feel numb now?
We start out by listening to and honoring that part, and then the next question is, what does this part of me need? I’ll never forget that I was in a workshop. I’ll never forget this glorious exercise that the playwright, David Schechter, created, where you had to find the part of you that felt like it couldn’t love, and you had to embody that part of you, and then there would be a group of people. It was a psychodrama exercise around you. From this place where you felt like you couldn’t love, you would tell them what you need from them, and words would come out. That would be about how much distance I needed, but not too much distance. The tender space that I was in, how I needed to feel held and seen but not engulfed, not demanded of, certainly not criticized.
I never knew there were words for what I wanted. I just thought I was screwed up. I just thought I was numb or blank or couldn’t love. The experience of putting words on the needs that we feel at those times is just huge, and I would not be in a relationship today if I couldn’t do that, because I am so intimacy divergent in so many beautiful and amazing ways that luckily, I’m able to say strange, strange things to my husband and ask for things I need, like maybe asking for complete quiet because I’ve lost myself and I need to come back to myself, or maybe being held in a certain way, or maybe being able to talk about something or have him talk about something.
Find a person who is a treasure and who treasures you.CLICK TO TWEETThings that in the past I would have just thought, “Oh my God, these are too annoying. These are too weird,” but I found a person who is a treasure and treasures, and usually, essentially, makes space for these parts of me. But the learning and the liberation for me was in finding out, how does it make sense that I’m feeling this way and what would I optimally want and need? I might not get it, but what I’m doing is honoring and enlivening and allowing a deeply unique part in me, and those parts in me, which are often related to pulling back from love for me, are some of my greatest treasures, because when I pull back, and there’s space for me to pull back, the next wave of love comes strongly, but then I need to retreat again.
These are kind of things that Elaine Aron talks about for HSPs, Highly Sensitive People, but the discovery that this did not mean that I was incapable of love, that the language of my love came out in these particular ways was such a liberating gift. Now I can be in relationships and honor these parts of me to a very large degree, not enough, and there are definitely places I still feel shame, and in those places, I get prickly in lots of different ways, but this is a key thing, is to actually name the gift and when you know how it makes sense that you’re feeling the strange way that you’re feeling at the moment.
I remember hearing Janeane Garofalo. She’s doing a comedy routine, and she just came out with this thing. She said, “Were you ever like in the middle of sex and you just wanted to like reach out and punch the guy in the face and say, ‘Stop fucking me?’” What my guess is that like if she felt that way, she probably felt like, “What is wrong with me that I can’t even enjoy sex, and this like huge dose of aggression comes up?” We can be pretty sure that what was going on in most cases, maybe it was PTSD, but in most cases, what it was is that there was a part of her talking inside her about the kind of sex that she wanted, and it wasn’t happening, and she couldn’t put words on it. All of a sudden, she wanted to punch the guy in the face. I think this is like a very kind of rich story that really captures something.
Two Solutions: Internal And External
The solution is twofold, and this is like what I really believe. I believe that there are two things that we can do. Two very clear things, one is internal and one is external, to help us find these parts of ourselves, learn to treasure them, find their magic and find their genius and find their potential and find their beauty, and then be able to stand behind them, and be intimate in a way that makes room for them, because when we don’t do that, we create walls. We shut out love because our psyche, our deep psyche knows that we will not be able to protect those parts of ourselves because we’re ashamed of them. We’ll try to override them or suppress them, and when our deep psyche knows that, it says, “I’m going to keep you out of a good relationship because that could be devastating. If you can’t take care of me like that, it could go really bad,” so then we choose unavailable people, or we stay solo or single or both.
The first task is to find the beauty in our intimacy diversity. To find the worth and the value in the places we feel not enough, to find the tenderness, the desire for peace, the desire for people to be happy and comfortable, a quietness of spirit, a deep internalized aspect of our being that goes really far and really deep in, not just out, and for qualities of kind of intensity; our passion, our ferocity, our ambition, our aliveness, our desire to eat the world, our desire to be real, our desire to grapple with and wrestle with and live in connection and context.
These are parts that it’s really simple, and in a way, as a gay man, I think that this is a metaphor like I could have years ago, gone on and on and on. I mean, these were the old days when like most of the literature told me that I was sick, and I remember, you know, day after day sitting in the library on the floor going, “Oh no, oh boy, this is really bad.” At a certain point, I had to make a decision, and the decision was I was going to embrace how I loved, or I was going to go with all these things about how it was obviously screwed up, and it was an existential choice, and one would have led to constant and terrible convolutions of isolation and pain and suffering and shame, and one would have led to my having a life, and that was the path that I chose, and it’s a similar kind of coming out metaphor for each of us. With the ways that we love, the pacing that we want love to happen in, the moments of quietness, the moments of power.
I think that the shame around our diversity and the uniqueness of our expression is the greatest, greatest block to love that exists. The other way, there’s the work of honoring and naming, that’s the internal work. The other work is finding those precious people who can see those exact parts of you that we’re talking about, and make space for them, and hold them like they’re valuable. Hold them like they’re sacred. Not necessarily understand them fully, but love them or get a kick out of them, and protect them and make those parts of us essentially feel safe because of who they are. Without those two things, the honoring from the inside and the honoring from the outside, it’s too hard to really kind of like for most of us to feel like we can be part of the world as we are, and really kind of be the full expression of ourselves.
Those are the two things that are needed. The people outside who honor, and this is why I always say that the main question in our search for love, the first question needs to be, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” The same is true with friendship, and until we have people that can honor these parts of ourselves, and enjoy them, and appreciate them that we felt were like just too damn quirky or weird or strange or different or incapable or too much or not enough, until we find those people, it’s going to be almost too hard to be able to find our place in the world.
I just want to support each of us in our journey to embrace our intimacy diversity, and put names on these parts that are names that are not shaming, but names that honor the bigness, the tenderness, the sensitivity, the uniqueness, the preciousness of the way that we respond, and what we need in love. Thank you for listening to this episode, and thank you for also being a part of the How To Actually Feel Worthy In Love Podcast Tour. If you want to listen to the rest of the podcasts in this tour, you can sign up at VeronicaGrant.com/podtour. I look forward to seeing you at DeeperDatingPodcast.com for transcripts, more episodes, and free gifts. Thanks so much for joining me. Also, I’d love to hear your responses to these ideas. Thanks so much, and see you in the next episode.
- Deeper Dating®
- Veronica Grant
- Madeline Charles
- David Schechter
- Elaine Aron
- Janeane Garofalo
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