And we wonder why our lives feel like a glass filled with holes in which happiness and people dissolve faster than we can really enjoy them? It is much easier to feel incomplete, empty, and lonely in this world than to believe that within ourselves lies the capacity to be whole. Two is supposed to be better than one, so how can we hope that half of us and half of another person will ever equal a dynamic duo. Ultimately, we either believe that as human beings we are born whole, but become pierced and broken over time, or we believe that we are born as weak, broken, empty persons expected to find fullness throughout our lifetime.
Regardless of personal philosophies, at one or more times in our life, circumstance, experience, fear or poor self-image causes most of us to succumb to the feeling of inadequacy. It sucks because we are told that the foundation of successful relationships (of any kind) is built by bricks of individuality and completeness. After loss, hurt, and disappointment, we are admonished that healing is essential to regain our wholeness. But how? How can we fill voids that we often are not aware we even have? Moreover, if we knew how to fill these voids, we would not have them to begin with. They are unique as the pieces of a puzzle, certain to make everyone’s journey to discovering and understanding how to become whole a very individual one. Ultimately, no one can make you whole because no one understands your complete picture like you and God.
So, after spending countless hours of my early years assuming that I was incomplete without particular people, relationships, and other “things,” and after many failed Google searches, internal conversations, broken-hearted moments, failures, and struggles with self-image, somewhere along the way, I started to become whole, or maybe I just started to believe in my already existent wholeness. Let this guide save you time and emotions. Friends, it is time to pick up the pieces, fill in the gaps, and become whole.
1. Acknowledge the areas in which you feel incomplete and inadequate. This may take some digging or honesty with yourself, but it is an important step. As in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, “admission is the first step to recover.” You may not be an alcoholic, but most people sure are addicted to the negativity that keeps them feeling less than whole. According to Leonard Noel, “acceptance does not mean that we agree with what is happening or that we believe it must continue… Acceptance means that we are able to gaze into the face of the present and say, ’You are in front of me, and I acknowledge you are here.’”
2. Uncover the experiences that started creating “voids” in your life. Once you acknowledge the areas in which you feel there are a voids, you also need to start the process of understanding how they got there so that you can forgive whomever needs to be forgiven, and then forgive yourself. In reality, no one has that much control over you to permanently create a void in your life, unless you allow it. You just might need to take back that piece of yourself that you gave away.
3. Identify the behaviors and negative coping you have used to deal with and cover up the voids or hurts. Often, we do not even notice that we are not whole or that we are broken because we are so good at telling ourselves that we are okay. Sometimes it is by examining our behaviors that we see that we are overcompensating for the incompleteness that we feel.
4. Consider your self-image. In order to become whole, or accept the fact that we are whole beings separate from others, we must believe that we are capable of and strong enough to be whole. Of course we all have imperfections, and might always have them, but imperfections do not always equal inadequacy. Think positive, be positive, and then have a positive self-image.
5. Accept your uniqueness. Most times we do not feel whole because we feel inadequate in some way. It is critical to accept and find peace in the fact that we are different and were created to be different. We typically strive to be different, but spend more time comparing ourselves to others than working on being unique. If we always look to complete ourselves with what other people are, we will never be whole. Someone else’s uniqueness was never meant for you.
6. Understand your reasons for wanting that relationship. I am inserting this here because being whole is important for having good relationships with other people, especially relationships with “significant others” or spouses. However, many people chase relationships instead of wholeness all because Jerry Maguire said “you complete me.” No. They should make you better, not make you.
7. Understand that people’s behaviors are not always your fault. Most of our feelings of inadequacy come as a results of what other people have said and done to us. They do or say something. We blame ourselves. They support and echo the blame. We try to change ourselves to “fix it.” Then, they find something else or become a prick about another thing. Maybe sometimes it is your fault, but in other cases, they are the sole issue and source of the problem. Do not internalize and degrade yourself for something that is not even your issue. Some people have major issues and their behaviors originate out of those screwed up issues.
8. Don’t let society make you feel incomplete. Now this is a hard one. The images and norms that bombard us make it difficult to not feel empty or inadequate. I don’t know about you, but some of what the Joneses, celebrities, and other people have is quite attractive. But, we must be careful not to judge ourselves against another man’s standard which will likely change in the next five years. In many ways, society is warped. Trying not to internalize every thought and image it shoves in your face will be essential to feeling whole. Have or have not, maybe physiological voids at times, but you are still a whole soul.
9. Maintain your wholeness. Arriving at a place where you feel whole does not mean you will feel that way forever. It is important to maintain a positive self-image and constantly keep your mind polished. Things that go untouched accumulate debris. Such will become your feeling of being whole if you do not maintain it. Be willing and committed to investing in YOU.
10. Protect your wholeness. Inevitably, there will be times when you will lose people that were intricately woven into your life. In many ways, they might have been crucial in helping you maintain the feeling of being whole. It is in those times that you have to try your hardest to accept the loss, find some piece of closure, or heal. Be careful not to fall into the trap of quickly “replacing” them because subconsciously you feel lost and incomplete with them. This might be hard. In other situations, protecting your wholeness will be less about who you lost and more about who you choice to add or allow in your life.
Hopefully, you found something in this post that has helped you become more whole as a person. Now that you are whole, go out and help someone else get there, but be patient and remember that it did not happen for you overnight.