If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of yoga, life coaching and therapy, and have diligently followed numerous teachers (of both yoga, coaching, and psychology) around the country, the world, and online. I am also a really big fan of quotes and sayings. One that has always stood out for me is, “you become most like the six people you spend the most time with”. I first heard that one early on in my path of personal development and personal inquiry. At the time (sadly), I looked around and realized that I didn’t at all want to be like the six people I spent the most time with. When I thought about it, I realized that the people I wanted to be most like were people I didn’t know very well. At the time, they weren’t my friends, my family, or my colleagues. They were mostly people who were older than me—they were professionals, yoga teachers, life coaches, and therapists.
That was a turning point for me, when I started to surround myself with people I really admired and looked up to. I studied a lot—from books and workshops, trainings and school, but also from my teachers, coaches and therapists. I studied what I liked about them. I studied what they were doing well. I paid attention when something they did sparked a shift in me, when I had an emotional reaction to them, when they said or did something that shifted an entire room full of people. It took many years for me to realize that I was looking for something that felt like magic to me. It always had the same feeling to it—a lightness on my skin, expansiveness in my chest, fullness in my breath, warmth in my heart. I feel that way even today when I close my eyes and imagine any one of my teachers. It wasn’t until I began studying psychology, humanistic psychotherapy, and attachment theory that I started to understand what that magical quality was. It was the feeling of being deeply understood. It was the feeling that someone genuinely cared about me—not for their own personal gain, but because I mattered to them. It was the feeling of being safe and connected to another person who had my best interests at heart. It was the feeling of having someone present with me, who was curious enough to want to know about my experience. It was the feeling of being in deep resonance and attunement with another person, and knowing that it was okay to bare the most vulnerable parts of myself, and that I would still be accepted… and loved.
It wasn’t until I experienced this feeling, this connection, and this kind of relationship that I could then begin to experience this in my relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and my clients. And it wasn’t until I was on the other side of this experience, that I had the ability to be able to look back and see what had happened. My teachers, my life coaches, and my therapists over all those years had, in effect, re-parented me. My parents gave me a lot, but there were many things fundamental to my being that I had missed out on. Spending all of those years allowing myself to receive, to be held, supported, and cared for by others finally gave me the experience of having my deepest needs met.
Many of us set out into the world as young adults, perhaps thinking that we’ve got it all figured out (or at least we should), that we’re ready to go (that we shouldn’t need anything), and that at least by the time we’re 30, we should be able to take care of ourselves. My experience has shown me that that couldn’t be further from the truth. Humans are biologically pre-dispositioned to need social connection, to need to feel safe and cared for by another human being. What makes us think that things we would die without as infants (love, affection, connection, touch, understanding, resonance) are things we should not ask for or do not need as adults? We don’t outgrow our need to be cared for. The ability to form healthy relationships can be learned in childhood, or it can be earned later on in our adult lives. For those of us who don’t receive everything we need the first time around, there is (thankfully) so much research and so many wonderfully trained professionals in many different fields who understand that we can re-pattern and re-experience ourselves at any point throughout our lives. We do not have to live with unmet needs and unfulfilled longings. At any point in time, we can choose to change the people we spend time with, change who we model ourselves after, and reach out for help and support. It is never too late, you are not an exception to the rule, and yes… you are worth it.