Up until my marriage to Marissa, I had always struggled with relationships.
It would be some combination of the wrong fit, the wrong time, the wrong expectations, everything would just be wrong.
Some relationships would end prematurely. Almost as if they should have lasted longer (in my mind) and didn’t. Others probably lasted too long and too much damage was done.
As a result, most of my unhappiness with myself came from how these relationships went. It didn’t matter whether or not something was inherently my fault, it mattered that I put too much weight on the other person to keep me fulfilled… because I couldn’t give that to myself.
And, in complete transparency, when I look back on almost everything that’s gone wrong in my life, it was in some way, shape or form, connected to the relationships I was in (or losing.)
It would take me decades of self-realization to come to the conclusion that the only person who could make me happy was me.
Marissa and I, at one point early in our relationship, actually had an argument about that. I was in a rut over something and she asked: “What good am I as your girlfriend if I can’t make you happy?”
I replied: “I can’t put that much pressure on our relationship. I have to make me happy. I have to be happy with myself.”
It’s where you hear that familiar line: You have to love yourself before you’re truly capable of loving others.
This was a pivotal shift for me.
It’s why we see people in relationships: abusive, unloving, neglectful relationships that they don’t know how to leave. They’re putting all of their value in the other person and believing that happiness cannot be obtained elsewhere.
I bring this up, not to talk as much about your intimate relationships per se.
I bring it up because I want to talk about your relationship with yourself.
I have clients in very abusive relationships…with themselves.
It is, on many levels, what I find manifests into not only weight gain but a perpetual cycle of dieting, weight loss, weight gain, repeat cycle.
They’re searching for that soulmate of a diet. The one that says: I will be the one that gives you the happiness and self-worth you’re looking for.
But that’s not the way diets are designed. Diets aren’t designed for happiness. They’re designed for weight loss.
And I don’t give a damn how much weight you lose. If you hate yourself at this moment, you will hate yourself then, too.
No number on the scale, no amount of body leanness, no ovations from those around you can change this.
When I referenced my own past with relationships, it was clear to me that looking to someone else to determine my ability to self-love was misguided. It is okay for me to love myself so I can fully love my wife, my boys, my life.
Waiting for the love of others to dictate love of yourself is, at best, foolish.
Your diet, your exercise program, your social circle are integral parts of a puzzle that can give you an outcome. A diet can lead to weight loss, an exercise program can lead to a healthier/stronger body, and your social circle can fulfill your need for personal contact, interaction, laughter and a sense of community.
Giving any one of those areas the power over you to determine your happiness with yourself will lead to constant, agonizing disappointment.
I’m reminded of the infamous line from Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.”
In the framework of a romantic comedy, it’s a beautiful line.
In the framework of real life, I like it modified: “I am complete.”
Beyond that statement, your relationships with others (intimate or otherwise) become complements to your life. In other words, my life is better because my wife is a part of it. My life is better because of my two sons. My life BECAME better when I made this shift in my thinking.
With regard to weight loss, I encourage you to start from a place of feeling complete AT THIS MOMENT. You can have ten pounds to lose or two hundred and ten pounds. It makes no difference.
Having been on one end of the leanness spectrum for the majority of my life, I can promise you: Lean does not equal happy. Lean is not synonymous with self-care.
I am encouraging you (damn near begging you), to make the mental leap.
To no longer be the person who is co-dependent on these other things: the diet, the exercise regimen, or the health/wellness methodology to be the key that unlocks your ability to finally give a shit about yourself.
I’m not saying it will be easy. Nothing, in my opinion, when it comes to sustainable changes in our health (mental or physical) is easy.
I am saying, it’s worth it. You are worth it.
And when I finally came around to telling myself that in as many words, life “magically” got better.
Someday, you’ll love yourself…and you will be whole.
“We Make Great People Greater”