“Find yourself first… like yourself first… love yourself FIRST… & friendship & love will naturally find YOU.”
~ Mandy Hale
Love has been described in many ways – an emotion, a “state of being,” a choice and a drive.
Love can bring us high to a state of euphoria and low to the depths of sadness and despair. Love can test our willingness to open our hearts and test our limits to remain ourselves. Love can teach us tolerance and patience, and guide us to understand ourselves and others.
But when we can’t predict what love will bring – heartache or bliss, it’s natural to close ourselves off to loves’ possibilities.
However, when we allow love to be the teacher and we the student, an amazing journey can begin to unfold.
“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
After having “loved and lost” myself and helped countless women with their relationship struggles, losses, doubts and insecurities, here are a few insights to help you in your “journey of love.”
1. Recognize that fear is limiting you.
Be aware that fear is based on past experiences that keep you feeling, thinking and behaving in a way that is no longer working. Realize that fears in a relationship stem from what you “think” might happen, not necessarily what will happen.
2. Eliminate the “what if’s” that clog your mind.
-“What if the relationship doesn’t work out.” -“What if I can’t be myself.”
-“What if he leaves me.”
The “what if” cycle will keep you stuck in a circular pattern that reinforces your worry and fear. Write down all the “what if’s” and complete them. Recognize that they are irrational. For example: “What if he leaves me, then I’ll be alone forever.”
3. Acknowledge how you feel at any moment.
Acknowledge your feelings and needs to your partner. Allow your partner to do the same. Relationships are fluid, just like the universe. You can speak “your truth” at anytime. Don’t take anything that is said as a reflection of you. As Don Miguel Ruiz states in The Four Agreements, “Don’t take anything personally.”
4. Trust your intuition.
Trust what your “gut” is saying about your needs, your boundaries and your relationship. Attend to what feels right.
5. Practice self-love.
In order to embrace a relationship, you need to embrace yourself. Invest in yourself every single day. Never forget that you are worth it.
6. Be authentic.
Be yourself. Accept yourself, your imperfections and give yourself permission to be transparent. Realize that love is imperfect and that healthy love comes from accepting each other just the way we are.
7. Take things at face value.
Accept compliments that are given to you. Embrace them. Have gratitude for what is being presented to you. If you have questions, ask for clarification. Don’t “stay in the dark” and make up a story about what’s happening. As Don Miguel Ruiz states, “Don’t make assumptions.”
8. Notice that love is everywhere.
Embrace all the ways love shows itself – in animals, in the environment, in encounters with strangers, in our loved ones and especially, yourself. Love is dynamic and ever-changing. Keep an open heart and notice everything that love brings.
Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC- www.phoenixcounseling.net
The power to love is within us all.
We choose to love one another because we know that it makes us whole and adds to our interconnectedness. We all want to understand the experience of love. We all want to share what we know.
Your relationships serve as a mirror for how you see yourself.
If you see love and contentment, that is what you believe. If you see misery and heartache that, too, mirrors your state of affairs.
It is immensely empowering to know that you are in control of your capacity to love and that you can enhance your personal evolution.
To open yourself to love, you have to be lovable.
If you want more love from your partner, give it to yourself first. You cannot direct another to be loving without experiencing it yourself.
So, take care of yourself, lovingly.
It is impossible to feel good around others when you can’t feel good around yourself. As an act of self-love, be kind to your physical body. Eat well, exercise, take breaks, have fun.
When you nurture and pamper yourself, you become more open to being loved. Plus, you will find that goodwill and love will transcend over to others.
Be mindful of any areas that need changing and do what needs to be done.
It’s easy to discover that the better you feel, the more love you have to give. It’s a win-win situation all around.
Hopefully, along the way, you maintain a strong social network of people who support, trust and empower you.
This will increase your self-worth, self-confidence and overall well-being, factors that enhance your potential to give and receive the love you deserve.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
People have difficulty receiving love – in myriad forms ranging from compliments to sex – because they don’t love themselves.
Woody Allen’s classic quote,
“I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would want me as a member” is the spirit of the issue here.
When you don’t love yourself, it’s impossible to understand why anyone would treat you in a loving way.
And so the solution is to dismiss or demean those who, in your mind, demonstrate obvious desperation, stupidity or both by directing love to you.
When you feel so unworthy that you push away those who reach out to you, what you are essentially doing is rejecting the very nourishment that could help you to start loving yourself.
And you are also insulting the givers of loving gestures, which is never a nice thing to do.
To learn how to love yourself is a life-long process, and it begins with entertaining the idea that maybe those people who see value in you aren’t so crazy.
As an old boyfriend said to me, “Life got a lot easier when I stopped arguing with everyone who told me I was good-looking.”
So here’s a suggestion for you: imagine that loving comments or gestures are beautifully wrapped gifts extended to you.
Accept each gift graciously and say thank you in return, even if it’s not something you want or feel comfortable with, just as you would do with an actual birthday or holiday present. You will soon see that when you embrace rather than fight love, you become more loving with yourself and everyone else.
Just one final word here, and that is this: pushing yourself to accept compliments and casual loving gestures is one thing, but it’s quite another to force yourself into sexual contact.
If you’re finding it challenging to enjoy intimate gestures, your best course of action is to address your hesitancy with an experienced therapist.
Dr. Amy Wood – www.amywoodpsyd.com
In order to receive love, we must make ourselves vulnerable to another person.
We must be able to accept the love they give us, which is not always the love we want. We make a connection and allow another person to touch our hearts, and we can never predict what they will do with that trust we have given them. Sometimes it feels easier to close others off because we’ve been hurt too many times and simply can’t take being hurt again.
In other situations, we have been taught that we aren’t deserving of love, so we don’t trust that anyone could possibly love us if they didn’t have ulterior motives.
Or we become fearful that if we start to feel love it will go away, and we will be worse off than we were to begin with. And all of that is possible, but it is also easy to forget how good it is to be loved and to truly feel that from another.
1. Practice opening your heart to others in small ways.
Allow yourself to really feel a genuine smile or greeting from another, and respond in kind. Sit with that feeling for a little while. Do this again and again until it starts to feel comfortable. (If you’ve been out of practice, it might take a while.)
2. Choose to accept love from people whom you trust.
If you know someone has hurt you, you might have a hard time trusting them again, so start with easier targets.
3. Take time to reflect on how you learned to stop accepting love from others.
You may have had very good reasons to do what you are doing, and they may not be necessary anymore. A counselor or coach can help you with this.
4. Examine the relationships in your life so you can decide where to cultivate love you want to receive.
If your relationships aren’t where you want them to be or aren’t with supportive and loving people, it may be time to have some conversations about how you are relating – or to find some new friends.
5. Keep a gratitude journal of all the ways people show love to you each day.
Over time you will begin to notice it more frequently and really begin to take it in.
6. Learn to receive love from yourself.
I think this is one of the hardest things for many of us to do, but it’s so worth it. There are difficult but powerful practices in Buddhism called Metta and Maitri that teach us to feel loving-kindness towards others and, in the process, to love ourselves.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
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