The Lifelong Journey of Getting to Know and Love Your True Self
Christine Arylo, author of "Choosing ME before We: Every Woman's Guide to Life and Love" explains how to get to know and love your true self.
Commitment: You write about the importance of knowing and loving ourselves. What are some ways we can get to know our true self?
Christine Arylo: First, know that getting to know the REAL ME is a life-long journey because we are always evolving.
Second, there are many ways to get to know yourself better including workshops, books, and working with a coach.
Regardless of the path, what is most important is a commitment to honesty, curiosity and open-mindedness, because getting to know your true self means letting go of images, fears and false beliefs you may have hung on to for years.
Think of it like being on two paths – one in which you are discovering the real ME (your strengths, passions, dreams, values, etc.) and one in which you are uncovering and transforming influences, beliefs and patterns that keep you from being the true you (self-sabotaging voices, fears, unhealthy motivations, influences of outside forces, etc.).
Here are four questions to get you started. If you don’t know the answers, have fun and ask a bunch of people who know you. You’ll be surprised by what they send back to you:
• What 5 words best describe me? What 5 words least describe me?
• What are my natural gifts? Talents I was born with that are unique to me (usually the things that people always compliment you on, but that you find hard to take in).
• When have I been most happy in my life? What was true about me at that time?
• What have I always wanted to do but never have? Why? Not excuses, but why you haven’t been willing to make the changes that would make it possible? What is the fear holding you back?
Commitment: What advice do you have for those who know they SHOULD love themselves, but simply can't feel self-love no matter how hard they try? What does it take for a woman to fall in love with herself?
Christine: There is no magic land of self-love that you arrive at one day and can say, “Complete! On to the next thing please.”
Loving yourself is something a woman gets to do every day of her life. It takes daily awareness, a deep commitment to self and the support and love of other women. It isn’t easy to love ourselves, but it is possible.
And, it starts by taking and following these ME-vows:
- Know ME: Know who you are and what you want out of life regardless of any one else. And know it from a healthy place inside of you.
- Be honest with ME: Have uncompromising, unwavering self-honesty about everything in your life, even when, especially when it’s hard.
- Love ME: Accept who you are today, all of her. Take care of her. And make her happiness a priority.
- Trust ME: Get to know your intuition, and learn to listen to her, always.
- Honor ME: Don’t settle for less than your heart and soul desire.
It’s not easy, but it is possible, and you don't have to do it alone. In fact, you can’t. So if you are struggling with things like taking care of yourself, being nice to yourself, and having great relationships (all signs of good self-love), then reach out a life line to another woman, a group of women, or a professional healer, coach or therapist.
And talk about it with your friends, openly and honestly. As women, we all struggle with these things, and the more we talk about it, the more we realize we aren’t alone!
Commitment: What are three things we need to do to become healthy and whole?
• Turn off autopilot and turn on self-awareness. Make a conscious decision to live a self-aware life where you are always willing to be honest about your motivations, reality and impact on those around you.
• Heal your emotional wounds, not stuff them with relationships or soft addictions, but heal them whole. Everyone has emotional wounds. Seek out help to heal yours. No matter what you think, you can’t heal them without help.
• Take responsibility for your life, leave behind the victim. You create your reality, whether you like it or not. And, every time you see you life as happening to you vs you creating it, you take your power away. Own what you’ve created, and if you want to change it, do what it takes.
Commitment: What motivated you to write this book?
Christine: At the age of 30, I was a confident, successful woman who seemed to have it all on the outside – big house, big job and a bling-bling engagement ring. Then, on the day of my engagement party, my fiance’ announced that he didn't love me nor want to marry me. Instantly, the image of my life and relationship crumbled right before my eyes.
In the weeks that followed, I literally thought I was going to die, I hurt so bad inside. But what I came to realize is that I hurt so bad inside not because HE wasn't there anymore, but because I wasn't there. That although full of confidence, I didn't love myself, and I had been settling and lying to myself for a very long time.
So began my journey to fall in love with ME, and to create a life in which I never would settle again.
As I grew to love myself more, I created a life that fit me so much better, including a relationship with a man that was a true partnership.
I wrote this book because I wanted to give women what I didn't have when I was so focused on marrying the wrong guy for the wrong reasons – insights, questions and tools they could use to get the relationships they really wanted.
I watched too many women I loved suffering because they longed for love and partnership and settled for way less. I wrote Choosing ME before WE to help women find that love by finding it inside first.
Commitment: Can you share with us your experience of going through the devastating break-up of a fifteen-year relationship?
Christine: The ending of my 15-year relationship was the most painful experience of my life, and it saved my life. Had my ex-person not had the courage to end our relationship, I never would have left and we would have ended up married and miserable. Instead, our break-up became a catalyst that put me face to face with the emotional pain I had stuffed away for years.
The ending of our relationship felt so devastating because I had stuffed this man deeply into my emotional holes -- a.k.a. our relationship was extremely co-dependent.
So when he left, I had two choices: 1. Find another guy to stuff into the holes or 2. Heal my holes and get healthy so I could be happy. I chose the latter, and with the help of amazing people – therapists, healers, spiritual teachers, and friends – I healed my gaping holes with the love I found for myself. And because I no longer needed a man to fill my holes, I was able to create a loving, healthy and inter-dependent relationship with a healthy guy.
Commitment: What advice do you have for women who are right now suffering through a heartbreaking break-up?
Christine: Whenever a relationship ends it hurts, no getting around that. But, you do get to decide how much it hurts and for how long.
The more you focus on healing yourself and making yourself happy, the better off you will be.
• Don’t tell fairy tales, be honest. In the aftermath of a breakup don’t over exaggerate the good or bad of the relationship or your ex-person. Ask, “How was I not honest about me, him or our relationship? What is the truth?”
• Focus on you, not him. Use the relationship to learn more about who you are and what you really want. Ask yourself questions like, “What really made me happy? What didn’t?” and “How did I contribute to the relationship not working? How do I want to be different?
• See this as an opportunity to love yourself more. Be gentle, have compassion and let yourself be where you are. Healing does take time, and it goes faster the more you heal you. Get help and support, not just from your friends, but from people like therapists, healers and spiritual teachers who can give new perspectives and insights.
Commitment: You wrote, "Our relationships are mirrors of ourselves. If we are emotionally, mentally, or spiritually unhealthy, our relationships become reflections of our wounds." If our relationships are dysfunctional and hurtful, how can we start to heal our wounds so that we attract a healthy partner?
Christine: We all have wounds that need healing, and everyone needs help to heal them. The first step in healing is admitting that you have something to heal. There is no shame in that. The belief that you shouldn't tell people your problems is a really stupid way of thinking. That old belief has kept people stuck in unhappy lives and relationships for centuries!
Find help – a therapist, a healer, or a spiritual teacher – that is trained to help people heal their wounds, and tell them everything. There is no better investment than the one you make in your emotional, mental and spiritual health You’ll receive returns on that investment for lifetimes.
Commitment: You advise women to "Know Your Holes; Heal Your Holes." How can we find the holes within us--and then how do we heal them?
Christine: Finding our holes can be difficult, not because we don't know what they are, but because they are hard and painful to look at. So we usually need help from someone outside of our circle of friends and relatives to help us see the holes, dig into them and then heal them from the inside out.
Working with a great therapist for a period of time is a good way to get this started. There are lots of great books by spiritual teachers like Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle and Marianne Williamson that can help along the way.
Connecting into a community that supports healing and positive thinking is also good, whether that is a spiritual center, a woman’s group, or a retreat focused on healing.
There is so much out there to help you, and to find it all you need to do is open up to receiving it and take advantage of it when it comes along.
Sometimes instead of going out seeking help, we stay stuck in ourselves, and you won’t ever heal your holes that way. Invest time and money in your emotional health and you’ll have an investment you can benefit from forever.
Commitment: How can a woman stop settling for less in relationships, compromising her true desires, and instead start honoring herself?
Christine: First, you have to know what you want out of your life and your relationships before you can know if what you have is it.
At any time during your life, be able to answer these questions with clarity. Notice that they start with what you want from your life irregardless of a relationship, remember it’s ME before WE:
- What is the life that I really want to live?
- Am I living that life today? And if not, what needs to change.
- Why do I want a relationship, as in how does it make my life better?
- What kind of relationship do I want?
- From my heart and soul, not my ego, fear or pocketbook, who is the person I want to be in relationship with?
Commitment: How does 'settling for less' cause many women to end up in 'half relationships'? What are half relationships and how do women end up in them?
Christine: Half relationships are partnerships that have space for only a fraction of oneself to exist. We share a house, finances, and perhaps even children with a man, however, the most real parts of who we are – things like our emotions, spirits, dreams, and unique self-expressions – are kicked to the curb or hidden away in the closet.
Without room in the relationship for these essential parts of ourselves, we become desperate and lonely, and we either search out other avenues to express our seeking, intuitive, dynamic, sensitive, and evolving spirits, or we let those parts of us go completely dormant and become consumed with daily life. We settle for the “contract.”
Half relationships can go on forever, because we have pushed that deep desire for a partner – one who can and will see us, adore us and appreciate us, who will connect with us at deeper levels -- aside or told ourselves that is ‘just doesn't exist.”
Our heart and soul desire to be deeply loved, seen and appreciated. They don’t yearn for 2.5 kids, a mini-mcmansion, and a warm body to sleep next to. If you want a truly fulfilling relationship, you’ve got to be honest with yourself about the deep connection you want, be willing and able to give it yourself and then not settle for less from your partner.
Commitment: What are some ways a woman can attract the kind of man she really wants?
Christine: There are not 10 easy steps to finding a man, no secrets to getting him to love you in 90 second, and no fool-proof techniques to make sure he is into you. There is only one secret to getting the guy you want: choose ME before WE. And that means know, be truthful, trust and love yourself first. Then ask who is the HE that your heart and soul desire, beyond the packaging, and the profile.
In the book Choosing ME before We, I teach women how to identify their Core Four – the four essences, not traits, social standings or future earning potentials, of the person their heart and soul want to call partner. The Core Four helps you get focused on what you really want and then inspires you to articulate it with passion and emotion.
Too many women are have the man list with twenty qualities – doesn't work, no focus. Too many are focused on the outside – the packaging – and that’s no good because it’s not our heart and soul that care about the external stuff, it’s our ego and our fear.
And lastly, manifesting the partner that’s going to really light up your heart means you have to be able to literally feel him there. I call it painting a Picasso of your partner on your soul. When you have clarity, intention, energy and you’ve let go of the external demands, you’ll have a lot better chance of attracting what you really want.
Commitment: What questions did you ask your husband when he proposed to you? Why did you ask these questions, and how was this response evidence of something very healthy within you?
Christine: Asking my husband three questions when he proposed instead of just reeling off the, “Yes! Of course I will marry you” line we are ‘suppose to’ say, was one of the best actions of my life. I hadn’t planned it, but when he popped the question, I realized that I wanted to know exactly what I was saying “yes” to. I had a sense that it was vitally important to have clarity between him and I in that specific moment about what “Will you marry ME” really meant, as if it was the beginning of our soul contract in this lifetime.
The first two questions were about him. “What are your intentions for your life?” and “What are your commitments to yourself?” Having learned the hard way, you can’t change a man, I wanted to know who he was committed to being. And knowing that there is a difference between intending something and actually doing it, I wanted to know how committed he was to being his best self.
The third question was about our relationship. “What does getting married mean to you? And how is it different than what we are doing now?”
Marriage means different things to different people, and even if you have talked about it a million times, being clear about it in the moment of the offer and acceptance seemed critical. The answers to these questions formed the basis of the commitments we made to each other on our wedding day, and more importantly they have served as cornerstones to our relationship and have helped us through our most difficult times.
People sometimes ask me, weren’t you scared to ask those questions? My answer is no, if he wouldn't have answered my questions, and been able to go deeper with me in that moment, then I would have known he wasn't the guy for me.
Commitment: How can we as women get the intimacy we crave?
Christine: We all want intimate relationships, with deep emotional, spiritual, mental and physical connection, and they are hard to create.
Frankly, being intimate isn’t easy. Intimacy requires vulnerability and complete trust.
When we are vulnerable, showing up honest, raw and real, we are at our most susceptible to being hurt. So we need our partner to create a loving space where we are heard, accepted and loved no matter what. But often what happens is that one person’s defenses get activated, hurting the other person, and completely shutting down intimacy.
If you want to create more intimacy in your relationship you have to be willing to do three things:
1. Give it. Don’t wait around for your partner to lead the way. If you want intimacy, you have to model being vulnerable, sharing yourself, and creating a safe space.
2. Ask for it. Don’t assume your partner is a mind reader, he’s not. Tell your guy what you need and want. Not in a whining or blaming way, but in a way that helps him understand what is important to you and why.
3. Listen to him. Listen honestly to what he says when you ask for more connection. Watch how he reacts when you open up the door to intimacy. Be honest about the guy he really is. Intimacy is something you will build together, but he has to be emotionally able to give it. Make sure he can. Don’t expect him to be perfect, but do expect him to try.
Christine Arylo is an inspirational catalyst who traded in twelve years of experience creating powerful images for big brands like Gap, Inc., Frito-Lay, and Visa, to inspire women to break free from their limiting self-images. As an author, speaker, and professional coach, she challenges women around the world to live and love their most authentic selves. Visit www.letsgirltalk.com
To buy Choosing ME before We: Every Woman's Guide to Life and Love click here.