“Soulmate. . .”
“The One . . .”
“True Love . . .”
Whatever the name, does anyone still believe this mythical being even exists?
But it MUST exist. . . if only because an alluring photo of The One has been taking up some valuable real estate on my vision board for years!
According to the reigning worldwide champion of love and compassion, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama~
“You cannot love another if you do not love yourself.”
Self-love is one of the newest buzzwords gaining traction in the self-development world. But . . .
• How do we define self-love?
• How do we “do” self-love?
• How does self-love allow us to attract our perfectly fitted lover, The One?
To define self-love, we must first define love. We can each experience love in myriad ways. We can love our children, our siblings, our parents, our pets, or our lovers, to name the most common.
Think about falling in love for a moment. What’s actually occurring? Yes, you’re feeling intense emotions. . . but beyond that? To sum it up in an easy, working definition, when we are falling in love, we are appreciating and accepting our new lover.
Our new lover can often do no wrong. At the beginning, it is almost as if our “red flag” indicator has been temporarily switched to the “off” position. We are accepting them completely during this time.
When we think about them, we are thinking about how amazing they are . . . how caring, loving, kind, and so on . . . We are appreciating them completely during this time.
And as our appreciation and acceptance grows, so does our love.
In the same way, we can define self-love as self-appreciation and self-acceptance. (Yes, there’s more to it than just that, but we’ll keep this piece to an article and not a book.)
When we fully accept and appreciate ourselves as we are at every moment, we naturally stop feeling guilt and shame, because we understand that we are perfectly imperfect. As a result, we can take responsibility for our actions, instead of blaming others.
Here’s the thing . . . Most of us have been running an anti-self-love campaign for many, many years. Every time we harshly judge ourselves and speak negatively to ourselves, we are launching an attack against us. There is only one reason we continue to do this—we have made it a pattern. We have been practicing negative self-talk and hyper-self-criticism for years.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. The only thing required of us is to begin the daily practice of self-love, whether through mirror exercises, writing processes, guided visualizations, meditation, or heart-opening exercises, to name just a few. Self-love is an action, and it must be practiced every day, just as we’ve been practicing non-self-loving behaviors every day.
As we consistently feed ourselves self-love, our old patterns will dissipate and rise to the surface to be worked through. The key difference now is that we are working through them from a place of self-loving discernment rather than a place of judgment.
When we replace our judgment with discernment, looking at our challenging behaviors becomes much easier, because we don’t have to break through the guilt and shame that have often kept these behaviors hidden from us.
So, how does having more self-love allow us to attract The One?
Let’s think about why we get into relationships to begin with. If we’re lacking a sufficient amount of self-love, we often seek a relationship that will help us experience love and avoid our feelings of loneliness. The relationship temporarily fills these holes of love.
But after the “honeymoon phase” ends, all of our “stuff” begins to show back up. It wasn’t gone; it was just buried. Our partner then becomes a reflection of our challenging behaviors and insecurities. If we avoid this reflection, it becomes magnified, and we get more irritated with our partner as we project those behaviors back onto them.
In my most challenging and growth-full relationships, every bit of my insecurity was dredged up from every dark crevice of my being. It was like looking in a full-size mirror that doubled as a full-size magnet, pulling all things unworthy to the surface. My insecurities were in control, leading me to question . . .
Did I say the wrong thing just then?
Am I good enough for her?
If I do this, will she like me more?
Many times these questions were completely unconscious and showed up only in my behaviors.
So, how can we possibly be ourselves in a relationship if we’re bombarding ourselves with questions that come from a place of insecurity, a place of people pleasing?
The thing is this: We bring into our lives someone who matches how we truly feel about ourselves. If we feel an overall unworthiness and insufficient amount of self-love in our intimate relationships, we’ll tend to attract someone who mirrors that back to us. This is the Wrong One.
But when we finally love, accept, and appreciate ourselves for exactly who we are, we’ll attract someone who reflects that back to us. When we show up to our relationship this way, we are no longer dependent or “needy” on the relationship to provide us love—we have given it to ourselves first.
So, it begins with loving ourselves. A good first step on this path is to spend two minutes looking in the mirror, every day, appreciating yourself for who you are. Tell yourself you love yourself. If it’s challenging, then you know it’s exactly what the Love Doc ordered.
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