Today is my birthday. A chance to look back and appreciate where I am right now, because where I am is very special.
My coach told me: "You've changed the story of your life in the past year."
I've carried around with me for as long as I can remember a belief that I can't possibly be loved.
That I'm too needy, that I'm not good enough, and that I have to prove I'm worthy before I will deserve it.
It made me try very hard at everything. It made me choose people who withheld love so that I could earn it (hopefully).
It made me feel very lonely. Cold and dark and unable to ask for help, because the disappointment of love not coming was more scary than being alone.
You may think this isn't true, but when you have this belief, everything becomes proof that it is.
That story has changed though. I changed it.
It feels like a long road that began with looking my fear in the face. I was so scared of being denied love that I just never asked for it.
To combat a belief that keeps you stuck, I often look to the opposite for guidance. In this case, if I was afraid I couldn't be loved, then I was going to have to love the heck out of everyone.
That's basically what I did. Made loving my job.
This past year, I've put myself out there in more ways than I can count. In this blog, on stage as a speaker, in my personal life. Each time, I offer a piece of myself generously, knowing that I may not have it returned. My hug tour is part of that.
That sucked for a while. I won't lie.
It felt like the dumbest idea possible, that I was asking to be mocked, to be taken advantage of, and worse, to be hurt.
To be honest none of those things actually happened, but every part of me was bracing for it. Sometimes it can feel like the same thing.
I'm glad I kept going.
Because, I started to notice the effect. The more I bravely and unabashedly loved people in my life, the more they stepped out of their own comfort zones.
After all, this isn't just about loving, it's about getting past beliefs that deny us from being who we want to be. Accepting ourselves as that person and allowing others to as well.
How do I really know that my story has changed?
Last year on my birthday I was by myself at a beautiful yoga retreat center in the Berkshires. I was really there, because I was afraid I wouldn't be loved and having that happen on my birthday seemed beyond awful.
This year, I've spent a week surrounded by people who appreciate me, and amazingly, appreciate how their lives have changed by my presence. More specifically, by my love.
Never in my wildest dreams while I was carrying around this belief did I think this week was possible.
Today is proof that it is. And I hope it's proof that it's possible for you too.