by Emily Courtney
Ken Page is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and author of Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy. A relationship, intimacy and dating expert, he has led hundreds of workshops on intimacy and spirituality and taught at Columbia University, the Omega Institute and the Garrison Institute. Page also hosts the Deeper Dating Podcast (DeeperDatingPodcast.com).
What are Core Gifts, and what role do they play in the search for lasting love?
In my decades of work as a psychotherapist and coach, I’ve come to realize again and again that the qualities people feel most embarrassed or awkward about—their deepest insecurities—are some of their greatest gifts.
These Core Gifts are like secret parts of ourselves that we often want to hide because we feel so vulnerable around them. But these gifts are where we have the greatest sensitivity and passion; they’re the things we feel and care the most deeply about and the keys to finding someone who really loves us for who we are. When we learn to lead with and cherish our Core Gifts instead of hiding them away, the story of our romantic life completely changes.
But the opposite is true, too. Suppressing our gifts is actually an act of quiet violence against our most authentic self, and it always leads us into situations where we end up feeling diminished or hurt. The degree to which we feel ashamed of those vulnerable parts of ourselves is the degree to which we’re going to be attracted to people who are bad for us.
How can we move past our insecurities to discover and honor our Core Gifts?
If you find yourself repeatedly attracted to people who don’t treasure you for who you are, there are Core Gift qualities you haven’t learned to honor. Anywhere you’re insecure, you can ask yourself questions that really change the way you think about yourself. What might be the gift that lies inside this insecurity, and how have I not honored it? Who are the people in my life who have valued my gifts, and how did that feel?
You can also discover your Core Gifts by asking yourself what sensitivities keep getting stepped on or neglected—those are qualities you haven’t learned to treasure enough yet.
Why is it important to differentiate between what you call Attractions of Inspiration and Attractions of Deprivation?
This is perhaps the most important distinction you can make in your search for love. Attractions of Deprivation are attractions to people who are only sometimes available to love and treat you well, but you become deeply invested in trying to get them to love you because you’re unconsciously trying to heal old childhood wounds through the relationship.
But there are also Attractions of Inspiration; these are people who inspire you by who they are in the world and how they treat you and others. When you start really learning how to honor and lead with your Core Gifts, your attractions change. You’ll start becoming attracted to available people who love you for who you are.
Deciding to say no to Attractions of Deprivation to only pursue Attractions of Inspiration is quite simply the most important decision you’ll ever make in your search for healthy love.
What is the Wave of Distancing, and how can it sabotage relationships?
The Wave of Distancing is the single greatest saboteur of healthy love that I know of. If you haven’t yet learned to honor your Core Gifts, you’ll want to flee when you meet Attractions of Inspiration who are available and kind. You may begin noticing qualities about them that irritate you and find yourself wanting to leave—this is what I call the Wave.
The Wave is fear, because something deep inside you knows that this person could be special, and to open yourself up to and possibly be hurt by a kind person is a very scary thing. So your psyche unconsciously protects you by making you want to flee, and if you don’t understand this, then you may leave what could be a wonderful relationship.
If you do understand it, you’ll come to realize that like a wave, it hits hard, but then passes. If you can stick around long enough and just keep enjoying that person throughout the Wave, those feelings will disappear and the attraction will return.
Emily Courtney is a freelance health and wellness writer and editor living in northern Colorado. Connect at [email protected]