It was Valentines day this week… and love was in the air. Or maybe not?
I’m not just thinking of you if you’re single; there are plenty of people in relationships and still not really feeling loved. What’s that all about?
Not having and sharing love with another person in a romantic coupling does suggest an absence of love in that relationship (or potential relationship); but that doesn’t mean we are without love.
Everywhere I see quotes which say we should love ourselves. That our own bucket of love must be full before we can fully give and receive love with another. But if you don’t fully love yourself, how do you get to this wonderous place? And isn’t self-love just a bit indulgent and self centred?
I was flicking through social media yesterday and saw three words. They seemed strangely familiar and at the same time very alien and separate to me: ‘Nobody loves me’. This is what I used to believe! It’s what I believed through my childhood, teenage years and most of my adult life. It was a secret belief, a shameful hidden belief, but inside my head and my heart it was always there lurking. It ruled me and kept love away from me. You see humans strive to prove ourselves right all the time. We filter for evidence that the thing we believe is true and delete or distort any evidence to the contrary. That’s OK with beliefs that serve us well. But for deep, negative and damaging beliefs we just build up a whole load of stories that this thing must be true. Worse than that, we unconsciously make decisions and take actions that uphold our belief. As much as I desperately wanted someone to love me, I spent most of my life dismissing genuine attempts from others to do so and creating loneliness and separateness as a way of keeping myself safe.
There are variations on this theme: ‘Nobody cares about me.’ ‘I am not enough.’ I am not loveable.’
The thing is, back when I used to believe that, if someone said to me ‘you’ve got to love yourself’ I’d hear the words but not really get it. It sounded nice…. but also abstract.
I’m pleased to say that today I wholeheartedly love myself. I now get it, and I see and experience things in ways that I never could have imagined. It used to be that I would fall apart after a breakup, because that meant I was back to nobody loving me. Since embracing my love, I’ve not had that. Sure it can be sad and I might still take a bit of time to process the loss. But no more does a break up mean that I’ve lost love. If anything I feel more loved as I nurture my own heart. I used to place ridiculous expectations on people. Not just romantically but friends too. I had a whole set of unconscious rules and conditions which might stack up to what I believed would be evidence of love. Of course, it wouldn’t really matter how much the other person complied to these rules (which they were largely unaware of) love still didn’t find me.
Its like I now have this lovely ‘readybrek’ like glow of love. If It feels low, I focus on that love and the glow returns. I feel deeply the unconditional, love, value and support I have for myself.
So, what enabled me to make this shift?
When I think back it was very much a journey and what I’ve attempted to do here is distil the steps which made the biggest difference….
1)Get in touch with your value. ‘I love my bike/car/home/phone/new handbag/cake’. We say we love things all the time. What we’re actually saying is that we place value on those things. Explore what is valuable about you. What you bring to the world and the people around you.
2)Act as if EVERYONE is loved. Whether you belief in God, or the Universe or science. Love is an energy that radiates universally. It permeates everyone including YOU.
3)Know you already have love today. We don’t ‘find’ love; its in us. We just find our way to feel, live and be love. Talk to the part of yourself where love lives and get a two way connection going. Feel and notice how you live love everyday in the little things you think and do.
4)Spend time day dreaming. Your unconscious mind can’t tell the difference between something you consciously experience and vivid imagination. Indulge time imagining what love feels like, sounds like, looks like. Add colour and vibrancy. Get used to the idea ‘love is for you’ and comfortable being in and around love through your imagination.
5)Experiment with love. The small acts. Doing something for a friend. Nurturing yourself. Use loving words in your everyday language.
6)Clock it. Capture the evidence that there is love and that love is around and for you. Do the opposite of what you way have done in the past and filter for the loving interactions in everyday life. Gratitude diaries or jars, where you write down things you are thankful for, work very well to consciously ‘clock’ the love that is around. As you clock more, you’ll see more and get the upward spiral of love working for you.
You can support this journey through reading, mindfulness and affirmations. I got a fair way with this approach as I’d had enough and was truly motivated for things to change. But it only got me so far. What made the real difference was the coach who guided me through this; who supported me through unravelling the beliefs and structures which didn’t match what the books said; who tailored it uniquely to me.
This is now how I help others.