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

How body image affects our self-esteem

How body image affects our self-esteem

Negative body image can seriously affect our self-esteem and impact our mental health, causing depression, eating disorders and even suicidal thoughts.⠀

As part of the #ShameCultureExposedSeries I’ve started on Instagram with the first topic on Beauty and Body image, I’ve gathered some of the shame-based standards our culture has taught us about what it means to be beautiful:

  • Female thin bodies are the beautiful bodies (but not necessarily sexy)    
  • Female bodies with curves are the sexy bodies (but not necessarily beautiful)        
  • Our body weight can and should determine our happiness
  • Thin people do not eat well or as frequently as they should
  • We have the right to judge other people’s weight whether through gossiping or in the media        
  • Women’s body hair isn’t really okay and should always be removed
  • Perfect body, face and hair are attainable for everyone and we should all strive for them
  • Wrinkles reveal that a woman is aging, so we need to prevent their development and make sure our skin remains firm    
  • Attractive men are the ones who are muscular and with flat stomachs
  • We must deprive ourselves of certain foods completely and go on fad diets because losing weight isn’t enough – we must lose weight fast too
  • Our natural beauty isn’t adequate – we should always try to look better
  • Shaming people for their weight encourages them to adopt healthier lifestyles
  • Women with small breasts aren’t sexy or feminine enough
  • Beautiful, predominantly, means white

Believing that our natural beauty and body type is inadequate creates shame-based thinking, and make us feel separate from and below others. ⠀

I’ve certainly been affected by quite a few of these beliefs. When I was younger, I was bullied for having smaller breasts by men I used to work with (!) and an ex-boyfriend was trying to pay for a plastic surgery to have my breast size increased. I’ve also often felt unsexy because I’m naturally slim and my body isn’t curvy. ⠀

We are all responsible for creating real change and can start small, e.g. by not commenting on people’s weight if they haven’t given us permission, or when we see a woman that hasn’t waxed, we don’t need to remind her – she will do it IF she wants to. Also, let’s stop clicking on articles that shame women or men for how they look – if we won’t read them, they won’t write them.⠀ ⠀

Now, your turn. Have any of these beliefs affected you? Let me know in the comments below 👇🏼⠀

Also, can you help with spreading this important message? Share this blog post with them and spread the love!

The next post of the #ShameCultureExposedSeries will be about Mental Health, so stay tuned. ⠀

You’re beautiful, no matter what 💕⠀

N.B. This post doesn’t want to undermine the importance of looking after the health of our bodies, eating well and stay active. These things are important and often life-saving. This post highlights the unrealistic standards that make us feel ashamed for what is normal in our bodies as part of our human nature and supports the need for diverse beauty reflecting the real world as it is.