So I went back to the self-help aisle at Barnes and Noble. I am not kidding. For me a bookstore holds so much wisdom and I dig and read and search until I find the pieces of wisdom that serve me in whatever I am going through. Here are the Cliffs notes of this journey into my search for the tools to love Love again. I was not about to toss it out like an old Valentine.
“If we are not intimate with our emotions, we cannot perceive the dynamics that lie behind emotions…Emotions reflect intentions. Therefore, awareness of emotions leads to awareness of intentions. Every discrepancy between a conscious intention and the emotions that accompany it points directly to a splintered aspect of the self that requires healing. If, for example, your intention to marry causes pain instead of joy, following the pain will lead you to unconscious intentions.” ~Gary Zukav
I had to read this a few times before it really sunk in. By allowing my emotions to arise without numbing or suppressing them I was much more able to figure out what they were telling me. I could examine where my healing needed to happen. I would see a happy couple and find myself cringing. This is nothing an outsider would have noticed, but I could feel it. Then I would think, “what is going on with me that the sight of loving tenderness is annoying me?” I didn’t understand my reaction, because it was not congruent with my desire of wanting a loving relationship.
“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” Niels Bohr
Fast-forward through many more books and helpful ahha! moments and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Love for me was conditional.
This was a doozey. I withheld love from boyfriends, family, friends, and yes, myself. The conditions had to be deemed appropriate for me to love. I was stingy with love. I kept it hidden for those “special” people, moments, and situations when it felt safe to let it out. No wonder my love life wasn’t getting any oxygen. So then I dug a little deeper to fix this as best I could. Why did I do this? Did I think I would run out of love? Then I realized I was equating love with doing what other people wanted me to do. I was a people-pleaser. Oh, the irony, a people-pleaser who holds love like a hostage. I had worn myself out “caring” for others and slowly I had been draining my energy and not thinking I would need to do anything to replenish it.
As I continued to read about the true nature of love, I learned pretty quickly that showing myself love was the first step to healing. If I did not have love for myself how could I ever give it or receive it. I realized “pleasing” others was not always in line with loving, so I learned to say no when that felt right to me. No need for excuses or lies because those are not loving either. I have also noticed that those in my life that practice loving unconditionally do not bat an eye when I say what I need. They are the loving people who have been there the whole time who have been patient with me as I open and grow.
As I began to show myself more love, I had a simple practice of checking in with myself throughout the day. Any moment that I thought of it and felt the urge I would ask myself what I needed, sometimes placing a hand on my heart. I would pause and listen. My heart knew. And the answer was rarely a bigger house or more stuff. It was usually something simple like a hot shower, a stroll outside, take a nap, or meditate. So I began Romancing myself. Listening to my needs with tenderness and then taking care of them. This then had an interesting effect. I was less stressed. I was happier. I felt safer around everyone for I knew I would take care of myself in any situation. It was safe to love again. I noticed a big shift when I would be confronted with a rough situation or a time I felt I messed up and when I might have normally been really hard on myself, there they were: kindness, tenderness, love.
Love was there unconditionally.
So now I am in the phase of not really giving too much thought to Valentine’s Day again, similar to when I was in a relationship. It’s just another day for me to practice being kind and loving to myself and others in my life, including anyone who is reading this.
We all have different roads to our hearts. Mine was partly through meditation but also through hiking, dancing, art, long talks with friends, running, yoga, and many more things. Dig in and see what your soul is calling for, only you have the answer to that.
~Suzanne Campbell, Founder of Sitting Lily Meditation
For anyone who is interested in a meditation, I have some spots left in a class coming up on Feb 8th that is great for beginners, Simple Easy Every Day Meditation Class. Later in the month I will be teaching all about Creativity and Meditation, two of my favorite things!
Here are some recommendations on this topic of connecting to your love within for the intellectuals, the mystics, and the curious (I hope that’s everyone):
A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson
Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav
The Master of Love, by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Lotus and the Lily, by Janet Conner
The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown