What we’ve (wrongly) been taught about love

What we’ve (wrongly) been taught about love

There isn’t any other topic that has been portrayed in films, music and books more than love.

This is because, in my opinion, the one single thing that we all crave the most is love. When we feel loved, we are safe. When we don’t, we feel uncertain. Humans like safety and hate uncertainty – this is how we’re wired. ⠀

The concept of love and relationships themselves are complex. Since love is what we want the most, its loss or just the idea of losing it brings to the surface all our insecurities and past wounds. ⠀

On top of that, the way love has been romanticised in our culture, creating an idealistic, picture-perfect expectation triggers our shame and our sense of inadequacy when we’re single (whether by choice or not) or when we’re in a relationship that doesn’t tick certain boxes (these boxes are not consciously ours, but what we’ve been told our relationship should look, feel like and be). ⠀

Below are only some of the shame-based beliefs we’ve been taught by our culture about love and relationships:

  • Our relationship status determines our self-worth & the respect we receive from others
  • Everyone’s destiny and purpose in life (especially women’s) is to get married & have children. If someone decides not to, they will regret it
  • Abandoning our own needs and dreams shows that we truly love someone
  • Finding the ‘one’ will fix all our problems
  • Until we enter a relationship, we are incomplete
  • Being single is never a desired relationship status and we should avoid it
  • Love is only found in relationships with others
  • A single woman is inadequate on her own but a single man simply knows how to enjoy life
  • Women are hysterical and oversensitive in relationships
  • Men shouldn’t show their vulnerabilities in relationships
  • Having arguments in a relationship isn’t healthy
  • Romantic intimacy should always look like a scene from a Hollywood movie, otherwise the relationship is failing
  • Sometimes it’s better to lie to our partner if our truth makes them uncomfortable

All these beliefs are social and cultural constructs and like all social constructs, they are made-up. Fiction. However, we’ve been served these by society as universal truths. The result is that the presence or absence of a relationship in our lives and, also the ‘image’ of this relationship affects the way we see ourselves and can have a real impact on our self-esteem.

One truth we haven’t been taught enough though is that self-love also counts as love and it’s the most nourishing and healing love of all. ⠀

In theory, this sounds easy but it isn’t. Learning to love ourselves, no matter what, is a life-long journey. I still struggle at times and I’m not the only one. It’s a path that never ends. ⠀

One day we take a step forward and we’re pleased with our progress, only to take a fall the very next day. We believe that these falls aren’t part of our itinerary and this is where most of us get it wrong.

These falls ARE the itinerary. No falls, no journey. No journey, no pain. No pain, no learning. No learning, no love.

Let’s keep falling, so that we keep loving.

Love & grace,

Effie ⠀

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Or read

How body image affects our self-esteem 

Your emotions are valid, even when they make others uncomfortable 

Heal your shame, heal your life 

Effie writes about and coaches people on Inner & Cultural Awakening helping them understand the connection between culture and our well-being, and build better lives based on a new self-awareness, while getting rid of biases that create separation between ourselves and others. She’s passionate about exposing the shame culture we live in and helping create one where everyone is and feels accepted, and the whole spectrum of human experience is normalised.

Photo by: Fabrizio Verrecchia

Your emotions are valid, even when they make others uncomfortable

Your emotions are valid, even when they make others uncomfortable

When emotions such as anger, resentment or jealousy surface in our relationships, our first response can often be an attempt to invalidate the other person’s emotional experience so that we don’t have to deal with what’s coming up. The most common way we do this is by shaming the person who experiences the emotion, calling them things like ‘too emotional’, ‘overly sensitive’, or even ‘crazy’ and ‘psychotic’, because their experience, for whatever reason, creates discomfort within us. ⠀

In our culture, we haven’t learnt to hold space for our emotions, let alone each other’s emotional experiences.⠀

The truth is that every single emotion we have experienced since we were born is valid. This means:⠀

♦️ No emotion ever came up without something happening first. Maybe it was an event our culture considers ‘big’ or something we’d call ‘small’ – but something HAS happened, even if it is an incident that we have mainly experienced internally ⠀

♦️ The incidents we are triggered by usually happen in the present but they are also often linked to past events, without us even knowing it. So no event is insignificant and should be dismissed as unimportant if it causes an emotional reaction⠀

♦️ Despite what we’ve been taught, we’re not in control of our emotions, especially on a more subconscious level. Yes, we can certainly get a lot better at regulating them, but we will always remain human and some days will be more difficult than others – so complete emotional control does not exist (N.B. suppressing emotions doesn’t mean we’re in control of them)⠀

♦️ Holding space for someone to feel what they feel doesn’t mean we’re trying to rescue or fix them. It means truly listening to them = not judging but trying to understand what they’ve been going through with open ears, compassion, and curiosity. Sometimes, silence (active not passive) can be the best indicator that someone is giving us space to just be and feel ⠀

♦️ Emotions carry valuable lessons within them and when we deprive us or others of experiencing them we’re missing out on those lessons⠀

What lessons have emotions taught you?

Love & grace,

Effie

Women do 75% of domestic tasks when living with their male partners. But what does this cost us?

Women do 75% of domestic tasks when living with their male partners. But what does this cost us?

According to a global research by the International Centre for Research for Women, in almost every country, women spend more time that their male partners on domestic tasks, performing an average of 75 per cent of that work.

If you love doing household chores and have consciously agreed with your partner for whatever reason that you’d take these on, I’m WITH YOU and please ignore this post – it’s not for you.

BUT if you’re in a relationship and you’re the only one responsible for cleaning the house, cooking and doing the laundry just because you’re a woman and that’s how things are supposed to be, keep reading.

We’ve been taught these subconscious behaviours by the women who raised us and interacted with as we were growing up. I certainly did. Likewise, the men in our lives used to see their mothers looking after the family household and their fathers having no or smaller role in this. So, when you moved in with the man in your life, it’s very likely it was immediately assumed that you’d be looking after the house even if you also have a full-time job.

But, what does this outdated model cost you?

Spending significantly more time on household chores than your partner with no apparent reason might be costing you your dreams. In some cases, it might be costing you even your health and well-being. It might be costing you your deep desire to create your art, scale up your business or move your body.

I can’t even count how many women I’ve come across who are in their mid-fifties or older and they feel resentment, sadness or are even depressed, talking about their past, their unfulfilled dreams and all the things they could have do but they haven’t. I’ve also noticed they often get triggered by loved ones, such as kids, who are happy and start creating their own personal, independent path in life.

Seeing this repeatedly, I’ve come to realise this is happening because, for several social, economic and other reasons, women have been suppressing their personal needs and dreams for hundreds and hundreds of years. We haven’t been seen and we haven’t seen ourselves as soulful human beings who have the same need to create, lead and innovate as men do.

As a result, we have denied and shut down integral parts of who we are. The worst part of all is that women have been conditioned to feel proud of sacrificing ourselves for others, believing that this is love and the only thing that gives our life meaning.

We end up becoming servants to everyone and we refuse to say ‘no’. Becoming non-stop servants makes us feel that others need us. Is there a better way to be seen than when you feel you’re needed?

We want desperately to feel seen as we’ve betrayed ourselves so many times that we no longer believe we’re capable to meet our needs and expect others to do this for us. We want, and sometimes we demand, that they keep showing that they need us providing us with the reassurance we’re seeking that we are loved and important.

The issue is that we can never have enough of something that’s simply filling the gap of what we’re first responsible for giving to ourselves but we aren’t.  The result can be a cycle of co-dependency in families that create dysfunctional behavioural patterns that negatively affect everyone involved.

Of course, I’m not saying here that by spending less time on household chores will magically solve gender inequality which is very deeply tooted in our society. However, it is a great starting point that can help women get back more time that they can then spend on other things that also matter to them – whatever those are.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

First, remind yourself that true love is looking after ourselves first and making sure we listen to our needs before we take care of others. I know this isn’t easy at all, especially when we have people around us who depend on us such as children or elderly people. But you have the responsibility towards yourself AND those you love to persist.

By putting yourself second, third or last, you don’t make anyone a favour. Appreciating you are a multi-dimensional creature and responding to this nature will not only allow you to live a happier, more fulfilling life, but you will also turn into an even kinder and better human being when interacting with those you love, as resentment and anger will slowly evaporate.

Second, it’s time to become clear about what you really want and have a loving but honest conversation with your partner about how you feel (this doesn’t have to be a fight, although it might not be a walk in the park either!) I promise no one will ever give you a trophy for not speaking up.

If you feel scared that others might reject you because of telling your truth or acknowledging your needs, remember Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ quote from her wonderful book ‘Women who run with the wolves’.

“…to be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.”

Girl, stay true to yourself and let’s all together be courageous enough to challenge what’s considered the norm not just for our own sake, but for the sake of girls now being raised and the ones yet to be born. This is the safest way to create the most loving generations of mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and partners this world has ever seen.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you been or are you at the moment in a similar situation? How does make you feel? Have you spoken to your partner to balance things at home?

Finally, please share with anyone who might benefit from reading this blog post – it can really make a difference!

Love & cheese,

Effie