This is an excerpt from Chapter 9 of our book, Gorillas Make Great Lovers! Available March 10th.
Who do you love?
Recently a client and I were talking about the process of personal growth. An important step, before you get into relationship, is to get to a place where you really like yourself. She asked me, “But, how do you do that?” As I thought about it, this analogy occurred to me:
Learning to love yourself is like growing a garden. When you first look at the bare dirt, unless you are a farmer, you aren’t impressed with the dirt. You will need to spend time working with the dirt, adding compost, adding fertilizer, and maybe even some worms to keep the dirt loose. At this point, depending on what kind of fertilizer you used, your garden is probably kind of “stinky.”
Next you spend some time planning what you’re going to plant. Then you buy the seeds and carefully put them in the ground and water them daily. But your garden still looks bare. There is nothing to love about this patch of dirt.
But your garden still needs you to lovingly care for it every day! So you put in a lot of time and effort watering daily and pulling any tiny weeds, before they start to take over.
Finally, you get to see some little green sprouts poke their heads above the dirt. At this point you may start to like your garden. You may even think it’s cute. Please note that you have already put in lots of labor, plenty of time, and a fair bit of expense.
As your garden grows, and you continue to nurture it, you will get excited about each new stage. You will brag to your friends and want to post pictures on Facebook. When you finally get to harvest, you will proudly serve salads to your guests made entirely from the produce of your garden. You will share tomatoes and zucchini with the neighbors. And you will swap stories of the challenges you experienced along the way. By this time, you LOVE your garden!
If you were raised in a healthy, loving family, your parents spent lots of time, effort and expense supporting your growth. They provided a healthy environment for you. They watered and fertilized by providing good nutrition and education. They weeded by removing the things that could be harmful to you. And they proudly posted pictures of your first steps on Facebook, gradually followed by pictures of your first Prom, and Graduation. And they loved sharing stories with their friends of the challenges of raising you. Their love for you convinced you that you are lovable!
But, if you didn’t get that support, if you were a little seed that “fell by the wayside, or among thorns” you didn’t get that love and nurturing. And you didn’t get feedback that let you know you are lovable. You may feel like plain, bare dirt.
Here is where a coach is invaluable. I am like a farmer who can recognize the value in bare dirt. I can see your potential and I can help you plant and nurture your garden. I will gently walk you through the steps of fertilizing and weeding, by teaching you relationship skills. And gradually as you peek above the dirt and start to see the sunshine, I will help you recognize and acknowledge each forward step you take. I will help you celebrate your first harvest as you share your “fruit” with others. Like growing a garden, the process of “growing yourself” will bring you to a place of love for yourself!
PS: The picture shows Dixon with a “harvest salad” from our garden.
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