After my divorce people began asking me –“how’s your love life”?
What they were asking about –was I dating anyone, had I found a new “love interest”?
The love life that matters most –I discovered- is the one inside of me.
Was I in a loving relationship with me?
As with most people going through the end of a relationship, I had to work my way through disentanglement from my ex, and through my grief and anger, and through the process of starting to feel OK about myself as a single person.
I did not understand how I, like almost everyone else, did not truly love me. I had always been focused on my career, doing what I thought I had to do to be loving- at least to appear loving, in order to be accepted, approved of, or hopefully not get hurt.
What I came to realize is that I was not loving me, was not accepting me , not compassionate with me , not forgiving of myself.What I gradually learned is that I had a very narrow and really distorted view of love.I thought loving my ex and my children, my parents, and siblings, and be a “good neighbor”, and love my friends would bring me the love I wanted. So what I learned is that the major part of my love life needed to be in me loving me.
How and what was I feeding myself? The food I was eating, the books and magazines I was reading, the movies and TV shows, the hours spent on line ( Facebook, e-mail, and all the sites that “wanted” me to visit them). What I learned is that I needed to eat healthy , nutritious food. I needed to exercise EVERYday. That I needed to read material that was “nutritious” – that inspired, challenged and encouraged me. That the shows, and movies I watched really had a big effect and I had to change my media “diet.”
One of the major areas for me, was the relationship to my thoughts and feelings. Like most people my inner judge and critic were very active, and I had not realized just the extent to which they were such a powerful negative influence.
Mostly, because of the inner negativity, I numbed my feelings, and was numb to all the negative judgements I had about myself. As Brene Brown pointed out, we cannot numb just one feeling, when we numb, we numb all our feelings.
I also learned that my feelings are a gift, each one to be appreciated (not easy to do- obviously). But each feeling, if felt, informed me about what was needing attention in my life-. As Sue Johnson said in her book “Hold me Tight”-“ without knowing what we are feeling we have no compass.”
I gradually realized that I had been in scarcity and “not enough” consciousness . So I was always looking to others, instead of myself–for approval, acceptance and love.
So now I pay attention to when the inner (or outer too) judge and critic are attacking me – and now I can say- “That’s not true “. Instead, I can now comfort; accept and love myself ( Kristin Neff has a good video on you-tube about how to do this).
I have learned that it is necessary to love myself no matter what. If I have a negative thought , to then comfort myself and bring love the “one” that is scared, hurt, confused, angry , judgmental ( towards myself or someone else), the one who feels lost, alone, desperate, unlovable, unacceptable, ashamed, inadequate, not smart enough, not enough etc. to be able to say to myself “ it’s OK , I love you , it’s going to alright”, I know you are having these ___ thoughts- I love you–those thoughts are not accurate are not true- I love you just the way you are.”
When we wake up, to ask – “what is a loving thing I can do for myself today?” and then do it. Proving in a simple way that you can and do love yourself.
When you look in to the mirror, to repeat to yourself repeatedly “I love you” . This “practice” counter-acts all of the judgmental thoughts and messages we have been sending to ourselves all our lives.
When you look at your body in the mirror, to say I love you to the parts of your body. Most people are very attached and committed to being judgmental and critical of their bodies. If we don’t like, or hate our bodies, we are not loving ourselves. Our bodies are amazing, and you have only one body- gratitude is what all of us need to learn to feel for our bodies. This is the only body you have- appreciate it, love it –just the way it is (not if…, not when…..).
Being able to love yourself –no matter what. We all deserve more love, not less.
We deserve it, we need it.
The truth is that whatever we do that is not loving to our-self or to others – ultimately deserves our forgiveness.
We can never judge, criticize or shame ourselves into self-love; self-acceptance and self-compassion and self-esteem By accepting; appreciating, valuing ,and having compassion for ourselves we grow in our love for ourselves.
In order to be able to receive the love that other people have to offer; we have to be able to receive it ( which means first to give it) from ourselves. If we don’t love and accept ourselves, we have no true love to give.
The most wonderful creation in this life, is to create a life that we love ( to be able to truly say:”I love my life”) –which fundamentally means that we love ourselves. We cannot separate our-self from our life.