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Be The Expert of Your Own Life


I often get asked what my greatest passion is, not just in interviews or Q&A sessions after talks, but by friends as well.  That’s always been a difficult question for me to answer, as I have so many different pursuits that I’m highly passionate about.  Friends know that I have a huge passion for writing books on the topics of relationships and dating, they know I have a passion for domestic violence work, a passion for giving talks on relationships, and a passion for countless other things.  As I was driving home tonight, I realize, though, that my greatest passion is love.

That said, my passion for love hasn’t always been a healthy one, but in all honesty I think that that just deepened the passion for love.  I am considered by many to be a dating and relationship expert, yet my best friends will often laugh at that title when someone says it.  They’ve seen me go through 100 bad relationships. But, you see, that’s where or rather how I came to be a relationship expert.  Ironically, it was becoming of an expert on myself and allowed me to truly understand what a healthy relationship was for me.

Just as with all the work I do, I don’t come at any of it from the position that so many others take: I am an expert because I have never faced the issues you have and thus are better than you.  I have been through all the bad, have seen the good and wondered why the hell can’t I have that?  I have been through the depression of lost love, the pain of bad love, and the anger of break ups, even when it was the wrong love.

All of those experiences may have helped me become an expert on dating and relationships.  The mix of clinical training and those experiences also makes me great at couples counseling and individual and group counseling related to relationships.  That is where the expertise stops, though.  Yes that is right: I am not an expert on you, and I am not an expert on your situation, either.  Now some may ask “what good are you as a therapist, as relationship coach, or a television show host?”  There is where the biggest misconception about what I do comes from.

Whether I am working in my private practice, giving a talk, or talking with a guest on my show, I am not taking that stance of “I know how to fix things, and here is how you do that.”  Why is that not my stance?  Simple. While there are overarching truths about men and women, or for that matter, all humans, each person is different and the key is not telling them what to do, but helping them to open their mind to learning skills that will allow them to become experts on themselves.  No matter how much time I spend with someone, I may come to understand him or her, may learn to see things from his or her perspective, but I will never be that person.  I can never truly know what it feels like to be in the other’s skin or to have to walk in their shoes. I can empathize with their plight, but no matter how similar we are, I am not that person, and how I might react to an event may not be how they perceive or react to the same event.

I am not with anyone person 24/7 except myself, and the same is true for almost every person in the entire world.  What this means is that even if there was someone who knew every single thing about you, they aren’t with you every second of the day and can’t tell you what is the right thing for you to do.  Since the only person that is with you 24/7 is yourself, that means that neither myself nor anyone else can help you make every decision in your life, and you must be your own expert.

“I don’t know how” and “I am scared” is something that I have heard from almost every person I have ever worked with where relationships are concerned and I have one thing to say to that…good.  There are two things most people don’t realize where fear and courage are concerned.

–    First, fear is not weakness; fear is an understanding that there is the possibility of being hurt by a situation which allows us to make more informed decisions. 

–    Second, courage isn’t something you have that lets you overcome fear.  Fear is something you face that teaches you courage.

I was scared to death to get back out there and date when I left my ex-wife.  I was so scared that even though it was the worse relationship I have ever had, I fought for us to stay together and later to get back together.  That fear though taught me some lessons which led to, well, a lot of failed relationships, but that is expected when I didn’t know who I was.   Like I said I have had 100 failed relationships, but the thing is I never had the same kind of bad relationship.  The great thing about each of those was they taught me more about me and what I wanted, what I needed, and what I deserved.

Once I became an expert on me, once I knew exactly what I wanted, what I deserved, do you know how many relationships I had after that?  Two. One was more of a fling and the one after that led to our marriage on the two year anniversary of our first kiss.  I can’t promise that is how it will work out for anyone else, but the fact is the more you understand you, the more you embrace the courage and fear, the more whole you become.  See, that is the key: true and healthy relationships are not about two people coming together and making each other whole, but two whole people coming together and making something greater than each was separately.


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Originally posted 2013-03-23 12:12:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Justin Nutt, LMSW, LAC

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