True Love?

True Love?

Valentine’s Day is coming up and the whole month seems to be focused on this concept of love – finding it, keeping it, healing from the loss of it, nurturing it, or even avoiding it.

But what is love really? Where does it even start?

Many times for people, love equals acceptance. We try to earn the acceptance through how we look, how we dress, who we talk to.

For others, their definition of love is intimacy. They then begin the search for that intimacy, that feeling of being known and belonging. This could be through a relationship, but it could also be through a cycling of relationships, porn, movies, and/or books.

For the dictionary, it is a “feeling of deep affection”.

But what if love is so much more?

I have felt that feeling of deep affection before. I have even used the word “love”. However, the relationships did not last. There was a common theme though. I was great at trying to make them happy. To appease them, to make sure they would accept me, love me.

But I didn’t love myself.

That lack of love towards myself became the breeding ground for choosing individuals to date who were not healthy, the breeding ground for not taking care of myself and my body, and for desperately seeking others’ approval and love because I had none to give myself.

The foundation of a healthy relationship begins with you.

We can’t love others for all of their mistakes, imperfections, and habits, if we look at ourselves with disdain and criticism.

Now, I’ve heard it said multiple times: “Well I love others easier than I love myself.” Or “I can love others but I can’t extend that same grace to myself.” This is where I would challenge you to look deeper. Peel back another layer of the onion and ask yourself “why?”.

If being able to love ourselves is not the foundation, there are usually deeper reasons that we are able to extend that grace to others, but not ourselves. These deeper reasons can be wanting others to accept us and love us, not believing we are worthy due to a myriad of reasons, or countless other options. However, if we search for a relationship to heal those deep wounds or fill those gaps in our lives, to prove to ourselves that we can be loved, the relationship will always fall short. Because at the end of the day, we are trying to use others to fill a hole they cannot fill. To meet a need they cannot meet.

So the question really becomes: “How, this February, can you begin the process of loving yourself?”

And if you believe that to be futile or even impossible, the question is then: “Do you believe you can be loved?”

That answer, even if there is hesitation or if it is “no”, can open a door to a journey of healing that you may never have thought possible. Because here is the bottom line: even if you found a ‘perfect’ person, who miraculously never made a mistake and was able to love you in the most selfless way possible, if you do not believe you can be loved, you would not be able to accept their love. It’s one of the reasons we sabotage good relationships, why we start fights when nothing is wrong. Your view of yourself is the foundation of what you bring into the relationship.

It is a process to begin understanding how to love yourself and it is different for everyone. To start, make a list of things you enjoy. Break it up by your five senses and write about 20 per sense. For example:

Sight : the ocean/water, trees calmly blowing in the wind, a punching bag, my cats sleeping, my tennis shoes, a dance studio, a sunrise, etc

Cultivating this list will take some time. It can also change over time. However, the beginning of loving someone is knowing them. So this February, take some time to get to know you. What you enjoy, what makes you happy. Who knows, you just might like who you find.

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