Last night I got on an Amtrak train headed for New York from Atlanta, moving from my home in Georgia to the Omega Institute to start my job there. The train had sleeper cars, but the majority of passengers chose to ride the more economical coach class. As I was boarding the train, the conductor handed out tickets with seat numbers on it, as the train passes through multiple stops in multiple states. There was a woman sitting in my seat who refused to move. She refused to sit in her assigned seat in the row directly across the aisle because she didn’t want to sit next to someone else.
When it was clear that she wouldn’t budge, I chose to take her seat next to a lovely young woman who I spent the good part of the night talking with. The train attendants tried to get the lady in the wrong seat to move but she yelled, complained, and with enough eye rolls from all parties included, she was allowed to stay in her self-proclaimed seat. She then proceeded to talk loudly on the phone all night, despite the other passengers trying to sleep.
After a rough night’s sleep on the train, I woke up and the woman across the aisle, She-Who-Wouldn’t-Budge, started talking to me. Not very much, but she was actually pretty nice. It made me think that perhaps what she really needed was someone to just acknowledge her right to be there last night. Maybe the problem wasn’t that she “had a heart condition” and “needed to sit next to where the air was.” Perhaps all she wanted was for someone to let her know, “I’m glad you’re here. You’re more than welcome to share this space.”
Have you ever felt like that? Like you needed to put up a fight just to be heard, acknowledged, noticed? I feel as though it’s a common thing to do. Studies have shown that people would rather have their boss criticize their work than to go unnoticed. It doesn’t make sense, but then again, it does. As people, we want people to notice us and acknowledge our existence. We want them to let us know that it’s ok that we’re here, that we’re valued and allowed to take up space.
Many individuals with anorexia eat less so that they can be smaller and take up less space. They feel like they don’t deserve to be here, as if there’s no room for them in the world. Overeating is on the opposite end of the scale, it’s a way of saying, “Notice me! Look at me! I’m here! See me!” As children we learned that in order to receive love, we had to first be noticed, yes? We cried, we screamed, and we jumped through all sorts of hoops to make sure our parents and loved ones knew we were there.
We do this in relationships too, when we change our behaviors to suit what we think our significant other wants. We’ll do anything to feel like we belong and are deserving of that love. And yet, we are ALWAYS deserving of love. Without any strings attached, we deserve that love. That’s why it’s called “unconditional,” because we receive it no matter what we do or say.
The sad thing is that we don’t always learn unconditional love as kids. Perhaps our parents weren’t home or maybe there were too many other kids to spread time and attention amongst. Maybe our parents didn’t know what unconditional love was because they didn’t learn it from their parents. Quite often we’re taught to value our accomplishments more than the intangible things like morals, values, and heart. At any rate, we can only do as we’re taught. Until we learn better.
I can’t promise you any answers, but I’m here to help you find your way as I continue finding mine. The path to self-love is often difficult, especially when we’re not shown unconditional love when we’re young. But you, my friend, deserve to be here. You deserve to take up space, you deserve love and happiness, and you deserve everything good in life. Keep that in mind today, as you go to work, interact with others, and share your life with the world around you.

Author's Bio: 

Shannon Lagasse, Self-Love and Emotional Eating Coach, teaches women how to lose weight by ditching the diet and loving their body. By coming from a focus on pleasure, instead of discipline and deprivation, her clients are empowered to lose weight naturally, easily, and for good. Get your FREE e-book, “Why Diets Don’t Work: 7 Keys to Weight-Loss That Don’t Involve Food” by visiting

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