A mural in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A mural in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I think we’ve become afraid of loving.

We are afraid of being hurt. We are afraid of being lonely even as we lay next to another body in the bed at night. We are afraid of betrayal. Abandonment. Being smothered. And more. Our fears about love don’t stop us from trying though. We smuggle all of our dusty, mildewed fears and our best intentions into our hopeful (sometimes not so secretly cynical) attempts at love.

Of course we’re afraid! We have actually been hurt in relationships, and we have the scars and the resolutions to prove it, dammit.  We might catch ourselves holding back- wondering how we can ever trust another as deeply as we desire to trust.

I have come to experience that when we cultivate a radically loving relationship with ourselves first, we will feel more loved by the people in our lives! 

There is no shame in wanting to feel LOVED. Really truly seen, heard, accepted and loved. Because what good is it to be loved, but not to feel loved?? But after talking to people about it, I think this happens a LOT.  We are created from love and we need to feel it in our very cells to be optimally well. The world seems to offer us a lukewarm, heavily photoshopped story of redeeming love coming in the form of lovers. Tragically dependent on others, we are incomplete in our worthiness until we are chosen by someone outside ourselves.

This story might play out something like…  You give and give (did I mention you give?) the kind of love you want to receive. You’re extra thoughtful. You’re generous with your time, money and affection. You’re attentive. You feel your lover in your very bones, and you’re  basically a fucking mindreader when you really love someone. But… you might get exhausted more than you like to admit. You adore your partner, and consider yourself mostly happy- but you long for more… intimacy. More connection. Maybe you long for more organic passion- the way it bubbles up from nowhere and fills everything to overflowing. You secretly wish that someone would love YOU the way you crave being loved- the way you try to love your beloved. After a certain point, you might wonder if this is just *how love goes*.  Maybe consistent, deep satisfaction is impossible overrated. Your trust in love is littered with doubt.

We are taught that we receive by giving. You know, it is better to give than to get?  So we give most of our energy to everyone but ourselves! We are longing for our partners (or someone, or something, or some experience) to give us what we are not giving ourselves. This can be very subtle too. We don’t always know we’re doing it! Oftentimes our partner is feeling the exact same way we are feeling on some level! The terrible thing about this story is that it can actually blind us to the ways love is manifesting in our life and relationships. When we don’t feel loved (lovable), we can actually repel love which can lead to despair and hopelessness, or even worse- apathy and numbness.

I have found that self-love is a magnet for love in every area of my life! For me, self love can look like but is not limited to…

Listening to my feelings as signals for what I might need instead of ignoring them. Practicing radical self-acceptance. Practicing understanding what I need to be my best. Practicing giving myself what I need to be my best, moment by moment. Sometimes I’m wonderful at understanding what I need to be my best in body, mind, and spirit, and execute self care like a boss, and other times I eat too much cheese and wine and too many cookies and wallow in a bad attitude. It’s a process of rising again and again.

 

 

I have a little ritual I do now when I notice I’m looking for love from an outside source. For example,  if I notice I’m feeling even a little resentful of my partner,or one of my sisters (why doesn’t he/she ever do this for ME?…, etc.) I ask myself,

{what do you really want right now? what do you need?}

And then I go and do whatever it is I really need.

Intentionally. I practice choosing to treat myself the way I long to be treated. It is a practice. A habit that can be strengthened the way we strengthen a weak muscle. When we fill our own cup we have energy to offer freely, creating a true flow of generosity. We can choose to take responsibility for meeting our own needs because we understand that to live in fullest integrity (integration!) we must in fact give what we expect to receive from our loved ones– loving, caring attention and presence. We become convinced of our own lovability then not because of what we receive from another, but what we consciously choose to give ourselves.  We build trust with ourselves and find our security from within when we develop habits of giving ourselves what we need to be our best in every way.

A lot of times, loving attention and presence might look like the *extras* you consider frivolous non-necessities. A latte alone at the cafe in the morning,  people watching for 15 minutes. Reading a book about something that captivates you. Making love- instead of jumping out of bed to be productive. Doing yoga before you start on last nights dishes- without feeling guilty. Doing anything you enjoy without feeling guilty!

How can you really live in a radically self loving way? Practice noticing what gives you pleasure and makes you feel alive and healthy, and do those things at least as often as you give your energy & attention to others! Watch how the quality of attention you receive from your loved ones will increase as you increase the quality of attention you offer yourself daily in the simplest of ways!

To feel truly loved, we must become that which we desire. We teach the people in our lives how we want to be loved by example. We give from true abundance and generosity. We are more appreciative of the special people sharing our lives. We must have access to the Love inside to feel loved.

I recently shared a realization I had with my fiancee during  one of those intimate late night talks lovers have sometimes and it was something like this…

…I can only really trust you if you are committed to always falling deeper in love with yourSelf. Are you willing to be committed to an ever deeper realization and gratitude  of your own Divinity and total worthiness? Are you willing to be committed to always deepening the vastness of your heart to receive more Love? I’ve made a commitment to falling deeper in love with mySelf. I am committed to cultivating gratitude for the Divine living as me, and my innate worthiness. I am wildly committed to surrendering open the deepest depths of my being to receive more Love. I will not ask you to give to me what I will not give myself. I will not give resentfully from a perpetually empty cup. I will not be afraid to love. I will not be afraid to Love myself. Loving myself will give me to courage and skills to love you well, as you deserve to be loved! I will open to receive Love and then I will shine it back out into a thousand rays of Light.

“A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:39

“If your kindness does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Jack Kornfield

“Searching all directions
with your awareness,
you find no one dearer
than yourself.
In the same way, others
are dear to themselves.
So you shouldn’t hurt others
if you love yourself.”

-Buddha

 

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear…” 1 John 4:18


And now I’d like to hear from you! Have you experienced the mysterious economics of giving and receiving love? Do you practice giving yourself the things/attention/experiences you most want someone else to give to you?? Email me at monica.n.ballard@gmail.com

Did you you enjoy this post? I would be so appreciative if you’d share it with your friends!

If you’re a woman interested in more practical ways to love yourself, you might be interested in the yoni egg workshops I have coming up in March & April.

I’m passionate about the amazing benefits of Radical Self Care and Radical Self Love! I have one on one sessions available in person/Skype to empower you to identify your deepest desire, values,  and core-desired feelings, and align your daily habits and choices with your core feelings and values. Contact me for a free 30 min consultation if you’re interested learning more about working together.

May all beings benefit from our self-love practice.

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