When I work with clients, I spend some time getting them to recognize their worth, their lovability. I have them celebrate and cherish the wonderful qualities they have to offer a man and a relationship, to understand that they, too (gasp!), are a catch. For many women with self-esteem issues who put up with less than desirable behavior, it’s important they understand their own worth and value. Reflection exercises like the aforementioned force women to set boundaries and dump or let go of the men who aren’t adequately emotionally available.
However, sometimes the pendulum swings full force in the other direction. Singles can get caught up in nitpicking the people they are meeting and dating. They focus so intently on the annoying qualities or habits of the people they are getting to know, all of their flaws and imperfections. To which I often want to say: “You know what: Your shit stinks, too.” Of course, I always find a way to spin that sentiment into a more palatable delivery. But the concept, however it’s worded, is a really important one.
My husband has got to be one of the most patient, loving, thoughtful men out there. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have annoying habits and that we never get on each other’s nerves. So one thing I have to do to keep myself in check, aside from engaging in continuous learning about how to communicate more effectively and compassionately, is to remind myself that my shit stinks, too.
Oy, does it stink. To start: I’m opinionated, particular, and impulsive. I have so many annoying habits that they are hard to keep track of. Somehow, my husband loves me despite my flaws and habits, like my incessant sniffing or my need to be recognized when I’m aggravated at something other than him just so he knows that I’m aggravated or my constant hypochondria. And so when I get into one of my modes where I am frustrated with him, I have to remind myself: “You know what, Neely, have a little compassion for this man who chooses to love YOU through all of YOUR annoying crap.” I certainly haven’t perfected this mindset, but I endeavor to keep at it, to always attempt to keep myself in check and continue to practice self-restraint and forbearance. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail.
When I’m working with a client (and I work primarily with women) who starts exhibiting this unhealthy pickiness, I try to get her to understand that she, too, is a flawed individual with all sorts of quirks and irritating habits and ways of being and that she is, essentially, asking men to see past and deal with those things if the man ultimately decides to commit to her. Yes, the right man will love you despite these flaws and annoying habits (and maybe come to love you for them, someday?), but you are equally responsible for seeing past his flaws and quirks and irritating habits. Like you, he has wonderful qualities, which should be celebrated and respected, but like you, he’s also human and therefore fallible and imperfect.
If you can learn to recognize a man for his goodness and see past his quirks and if you can recognize that sometimes your own shit stinks, too, perhaps you will start opening your heart to men you might have previously passed on.
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