If you’ve ever struggled to identify, stand for, or ask for what you need and want, you know how painful that can feel.
I spent the first several decades of my adult life lost and confused about how to get my needs and wants met. And like most women, I came by these challenges very honestly.
Some of the lessons I learned growing up were:
- It’s better to be pretty and look good than to express your authentic feelings.
- The best bet for ensuring a stable, secure future for yourself is to marry a man who can provide for you.
- A spouse’s choices and behaviors are directly related to (or even determined by) what his partner does or doesn’t do.
(This last point is an unconscious lie that almost everyone believes. No one is responsible for another person’s actions or behavior. Ever. We are not that powerful.)
Most of the lessons we learn as children are unspoken. But even unspoken lessons can be clearly understood, and have powerful consequences.
Like most girls and women (and maybe like you), I was taught by my caregivers and the culture to be outer-focused rather than inner-focused.
Being inner-focused doesn’t mean selfishness.
It means knowing how to tune into yourself as the first and best source of guidance and information about you—your thoughts, emotions, preferences, beliefs, needs, and wants.
If you were taught to be outer-focused rather than inner-focused, you will:
- Prioritize other people’s needs and wants over yours.
- Look to others for approval, or to feel worthy and loved.
- Be hyper-focused on the most important people in your life because they are the source of approval, worthiness, and love.
I lived this way for decades. And I discovered that focusing on others as a means to create the conditions for my happiness and well-being was a guaranteed losing strategy. Every time.
And what breaks my heart is how many women are stuck in this outer-focused conditioning.
They invest so much time trying to change or manage another person so that they can feel better that there is no one home—on the inside—taking care of them.
I hear from women regularly who have no idea that the solution to the pain, loneliness, and dissatisfaction they feel doesn’t come from the outside.
The solution is available only on the inside—inside you.
If you feel stuck and defeated because you believe that someone or something outside you must change in order for you to feel better, I want you to know that there is another, more reliable way for you to get there.
When I began to turn the focus to myself, everything started to change. In fact, these changes continue to today (more about that in a moment).
I learned to identify what I needed and wanted and how to make requests so that I could create meaningful agreements in my most important relationships.
I learned what self-care really means and began to build high quality self-care into my daily habits.
I found and voiced my “I cant’s”—the things I was no longer willing to do because I was either seething with resentment, didn’t want to do them any longer, or was simply exhausted. I abandoned an unconscious belief (that many women hold) that sacrificing myself would get me what I needed and wanted. It never works!
I learned how to prioritize what I wanted and what was healthy for me over what I thought I “should” do, or what someone else or the culture thought I should do.
It’s not easy. But it’s completely doable.
How would it feel for you to know what you need and want, to prioritize yourself, and to deeply care for you?
When you learn how to give yourself the care, approval, and love that most of us seek from the outside:
- You will trust yourself to prioritize you, even in the face of pushback or disapproval of others.
- You will know how to nurture yourself in ways that are personal and unique for you.
- You will discover what it means to nurture yourself, even if you didn’t receive adequate nurturing in your childhood.
- You will know how to repair the hurts from the past and heal yourself in the present.
We need a reliable framework for repairing the past and healing ourselves in the present.
That’s because we weren’t taught how to tune into ourselves for inner guidance. And we weren’t taught how to approve of, affirm, and love ourselves.
For more than three decades, I have worked with courageous women as they have faced, healed, and overcome the impact of relational trauma caused by less-than-nurturing experiences in childhood, or by wounds experienced in their most important adult relationships.
My life’s work is to illuminate a path for all women that ends the silent and unseen epidemic of shame, over-giving, and seeking a sense of worth and value from other people or relationships.
In order to step into this new experience of feeling worthy and loved from the inside out, you must learn how to tune into yourself, and learn the art of conscious self-love.
I mentioned earlier that the changes I’ve experienced continue to today.
As many of you know, I recently changed my name to Victoria Priya. Priya is a Sanskrit word which means Beloved. One of the deepest wounds I experienced growing up was a sense that I was unseen. And a person who feels unseen will also feel unloved.
Changing my name was a declaration to myself of who I know myself to be. It reminds me of who I am, regardless of whether I am approved of or loved by others.
I invite you to ask yourself, “What could I call myself that would heal my biggest wound?”
You may not want to go so far as to legally change your name. But you can call yourself Cherished, Adored, Treasured, Loved, or any other name that deeply resonates with you beginning now. You will know what heals by how you feel in your body when you say it.
It’s not your fault if you lack the skills of self-approval, self-nurturing, and conscious self-love.
If we had received nurturing as children, we wouldn’t struggle to give it to ourselves now!
The good news is that you can learn how to nurture yourself, and you can even heal the less-than-nurturing experiences of your childhood that led to your current struggles.
When you simply tell the truth about what you experienced as a child, you are already on your way to learning how to nurture and prioritize yourself.
Of course, there is much more to discover and explore, but simply acknowledging what happened moves you in the direction of healing—not just the wounds in the past, but the ripple effects in the present.
You may worry that it would be cruel to your parents if you told the truth (even to yourself) about what happened.
I’ve heard this so many times.
But the reality is that you speaking your truth heals you.
Telling your story is a personal and private journey just for you. And when you think about the younger version of you that lived through those past events, doesn’t she deserve you speaking up for her? I believe she does.
You may think that it’s not worth spending time looking at the past to discover how it’s impacting you today.
Can you imagine saying, “I don’t have time for you” to your child? That’s exactly what you’re saying to the child within you when you believe this important exploration is not worth your time.
In my next post I’ll be talking about what you can expect when you begin to nurture and affirm yourself, and what you can do now to start putting these practices into place.
In the meantime, I’d love for you to share your reflections, challenges, and questions in the comments below. I read them all.💙
© Victoria Priya (formerly Palmer) 2023
I want to support you to Return to the authentic truth of who you are, Reclaim what is yours, and Receive everything that is meant for you. So that you can Regenerate your life, your relationships, community, and the world.
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