THE MOM’S SPACE: Feeling seen, loved, and fulfilled

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For better or worse, love is synonymous with February. If we’re lucky, we’re in a relationship where we feel seen, valued, and accepted. Unfortunately, the reality for many is the opposite. When we experience a lack of connection with our partner, that disconnect can lead to feelings of unfulfillment, resentment, and loneliness, prompting us to look outward to fill the void.

Clues that we are focusing outward:

  • Seeking confirmation bias
  • Hyper-focusing on children
  • Blaming and faulting others
  • Increased focus on external appearances

Focusing outward can lead to situations that might be harmful to ourselves and others. We make choices that we normally wouldn’t if we felt seen, heard, and valued.

Learning how to see, hear, and value ourselves from within can be helpful in cultivating the relationships we want and need. This starts by being vulnerable, asking ourselves, “What might I be doing that is causing me pain in this relationship?” The answer enables us to get to the root of the disconnect. Exploring what’s happening inside also gives vital clues to what we want and need in our relationships. (Note: What we find does not dismiss the role our partner might play in the disconnect.)

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • How do I feel loved, seen and valued?
  • Are my expectations realistic?
  • Am I thinking and behaving in a way that is authentic to me?
  • How receptive am I to change?

The answers will offer insight into the connection we want with ourselves and in a relationship with a partner. When we look within and are honest with ourselves, we learn some hard truths that ultimately become helpful in determining how we want our relationship to look and feel moving forward. (Hint: it can be helpful and healing when this is explored with a licensed mental health provider.)

Steps to moving forward:

  • Acknowledging and validating feelings
  • Exploring the root of feelings, pressures, and expectations in relationship
  • Recognizing unhelpful coping behaviors
  • Implementing empathy for self and partner

While each step is important, the last is one of the keys to reconnecting and consistently staying connected. When we are empathetic with ourselves, we can show empathy to our partner. (Important note: We can have empathy while also holding ourselves and our partners accountable for behaviors.) Empathy is one of the many skills that allows us to feel seen, heard, valued; it results in the reconnection we want and deserve with ourselves and in our relationships. It can also affect the messages we need to hear from within.

Example of what to hear from within:

  • It makes sense that I scream in anger because I don’t feel seen by my partner. It is OK to feel angry and sad.
  • I am feeling rejected and not enough in the same way I felt growing up.
  • It is OK to feel how I feel. It is not OK for me to lash out and hurt others. It is not who I truly am. I don’t want to hurt others because I am hurting.
  • How do I need to see myself, and my partner, and how do I want to be seen by them?

Listening from within, recognizing outward behaviors, and acknowledging what we want and need for change to occur allows us to reconnect. Always for better, never for worse, finding this connection with ourselves and our partner leads to feeling seen, loved, and fulfilled, not just in the month of February, but all year long.

MOLLIE GEE is a clinical mental health counselor, mother of two, and owner of The Nest Counseling. Follow her on Instagram @thechubbydebutante.