It’s Valentines Day today which has got a lot of people thinking and talking about love, so I wanted to share my views on it with you. If it resonates – great. If not that’s totally cool too because at least it will offer you another lens through which you can reconsider and refine your own views on what feels right for you. Here’s what I believe about love:
We can only love another to the extent to which we love our self. If our self-love is conditional, so too is the love we give to those around us (our partners, parents, children, friends, etc.). The more fully we can release our own limitations to loving acceptance of how we’re showing up in this moment, the more we can offer that gift to another. All external love is secondhand; we experience it inside ourselves first. And if we’re hungry for it from others, we’re not giving ourselves enough to satisfy our needs.
So that’s my philosophy, but here’s what it really looks like in practice…
I am blessed with a loving partner in Michael Long, someone I’m extremely connected to in ways that neither he nor I can comprehend with our human intellect. And in the moments when I’m chastising myself for not having acted in a way that lives up to my own high standards, I guarantee you my partner isn’t meeting my standards either. If I’m criticising myself, I end up criticising him.
And in the moments when I’m fully appreciating and accepting myself, I can do that for him too, even when there’s a desire for some behaviour modification to occur. It’s a mistake to think that to love unconditionally we need to allow every behaviour. That’s not it at all. It just means we start from the basis of seeking understanding rather than judging. It means rather than loathing myself if I eat ice cream when I’ve expressed a goal of whittling my middle to a six-pack, I speak to self compassionately.
Our relationships are a wonderful way to witness how fully we are loving ourselves, because here’s the space where we can see the inner work.
Today whether or not you are in partnership with others romantically, I encourage you to consider this question: How do I know I am loved and appreciated?
Your brain might respond with the contexts when you feel most loved. For example, ‘I am being cuddled and caressed’ or ‘I am being complimented.’ If that’s the case, if you want a bit more love in your life this Valentines Day, make it point to do those things for yourself. And if you recognise ‘love is a state I can call upon regardless of the conditions’, I invite you to turn it up even louder today to spill over on others who are still cultivating this skill.
Love is too important for us to outsource entirely. And because of the nature of isometric relationships our loved ones will mirror back to us the places where we can apply more self-love.
Anyhow, those are my musings on love. I’ll leave you with a whole lotta secondhand love and hope it’s a great addition to the firsthand love you’re giving yourself today. And everyday. And especially loving yourself on the days when you’re wanting to judge yourself for behaving less lovingly than you would like. It happens to the best of us. Remember, we’re all humans, doing the best we can.