| Look­ing for love? Look in­side

When you are re­ally and truly lov­ing your­self, love from oth­ers will show up like magic in your life.

Living Now - - Editorial - by Michelle Taffe

When you are re­ally and truly lov­ing your­self, love from oth­ers will show up like magic in your life.

Are you look­ing for love? Per­haps you are on Tin­der, scrolling through the op­tions –swip­ing left or right with­out think­ing too much about it. Or per­haps you are on another dat­ing app, which is more so­phis­ti­cated and matches you with peo­ple with whom you have things in com­mon. Maybe you are go­ing to Din­ners for Eight and en­joy­ing fine din­ing with strangers, some of whom may be­come friends or lovers, around a can­dle-lit ta­ble.

Un­less you have done the deep dive into your own heart and dis­cov­ered the in­fi­nite and abun­dant love there, it will be dif­fi­cult to find love with another. Be­cause your essence is ac­tu­ally love, it is you who you are seek­ing.

THE FIRST STEP IN THE JOUR­NEY TO LOV­ING YOUR­SELF

Ask your­self to­day: do I re­ally love my­self? Do I deeply re­spect my­self? Am I fol­low­ing my heart’s de­sires? Am I car­ing daily for my body, mind and soul? Am I choos­ing to spend time with peo­ple who are lov­ing and car­ing and re­spect­ful to­wards me? Do I tell my­self ev­ery morn­ing how much I love my­self? Am I do­ing work that I love and that feeds my soul?

If the an­swer is ‘no’ to any of th­ese ques­tions, chances are you are not fully lov­ing your­self. And if this is the case, it is go­ing to be hard to find your dreamed-of part­ner, no mat­ter how hard you search. The first step in the jour­ney to lov­ing your­self is to re­ally in­ves­ti­gate your re­la­tion­ship to your­self and dis­cover all of the ways that you are not cur­rently in a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship with your­self. Do you have a nasty in­ner critic who is telling you that you are not good enough, that you will never make it, that you are not lov­able? Are you liv­ing your life based on a need to please oth­ers rather than pleas­ing your­self? Are you telling your­self that car­ing for oth­ers is more im­por­tant than re­al­is­ing your dreams and then hold­ing se­cret re­sent­ments as a re­sult? Are you liv­ing from an in­ner place of fear and scarcity, or one of love and abun­dance?

The way we re­late with our­selves is also the way we re­late to oth­ers. So if you are crit­i­cal and judge­men­tal of your­self, you are likely to be crit­i­cal and judge­men­tal of oth­ers. If you are not tak­ing good care of your­self, it will be harder for you to take good care of oth­ers. If you are not fol­low­ing your heart and be­ing guided by your de­sires, it will be hard for you to sup­port a part­ner in fol­low­ing their heart and liv­ing their dreams.

SELF-FOR­GIVE­NESS

The sec­ond step in the jour­ney of self­love is self-for­give­ness. For­give your­self for ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing in your past. For­give your­self for all of your per­ceived mis­takes with your­self and with oth­ers. For­give your­self for all of your per­ceived suc­cesses. For­give your­self for all of the ar­gu­ments or dis­agree­ments you have ever had with any­one. For­give your­self for all of the fall­ing-outs with friends

of lovers. In short, for­give your­self for ev­ery­thing. Let your­self off the hook. And es­pe­cially, if there is some­thing big in your life you want to change that has been a pat­tern for a long time, for­give your­self for that. With­out for­give­ness, we can’t let go of the past, and so there is no in­ner space in our life for that change to come in and for a new fu­ture to emerge. When you for­give your­self fully and com­pletely for ev­ery­thing and make peace with your past, you are able to for­give oth­ers fully and com­pletely for ev­ery­thing, and to make peace with them. Re­la­tion­ships be­come more har­mo­nious.

SELF-AC­CEP­TANCE

The third step in the jour­ney to self-love is self-ac­cep­tance. Are there things about your­self that you have al­ways wanted to change? Is there a per­sis­tent theme in your life that just never shifts and drives you mad? Ac­cept what is. Ac­cept your­self ex­actly how you are to­day. As the Bud­dha said, “You your­self, as much as any­body in the en­tire uni­verse, de­serves your love and af­fec­tion.”

Prac­tise ac­cept­ing your­self as you are each day. This brings you into align­ment with your soul and your heart. You can’t open fully to love if there is a con­flict go­ing on in­side, so prac­tise self­ac­cep­tance. Ac­cept the shadow parts of your­self; what I call your mon­sters. Th­ese are the mon­sters of self-doubt and of fear that usu­ally show up when you are mov­ing out of your com­fort zone. They are afraid and they want to keep you safe. So they start whis­per­ing to you to re­treat and re­tract and not carry out that bold and scary plan for ex­pand­ing your life. Ac­cept and wel­come th­ese mon­sters. In­vite them in for a cup of tea. Tell them that you love them, and that you will keep them safe. Tell them that you un­der­stand their fear but that you’re in charge and it’s go­ing to be okay. For in­stance, if you are in a job you don’t like, then ac­cept that that’s how it is right now, while mak­ing an exit plan.

YOUR IN­NER CHILD

The fourth step in the self-love jour­ney is mak­ing peace with your in­ner child. There is a child-self within all of us. If our needs were not fully met by our par­ents or guardians, or if we were mis­treated in some way as chil­dren, this child-self is likely to still be re­sent­ful of this. They may be an­gry. Or they may be sad. If you are not in con­tact with your in­ner child, he or she may come out some­times and act out in your life. They may take you over and yell and scream at peo­ple you love. You may feel like you have been oc­cu­pied by another be­ing. All they want is to be heard, to be lis­tened to, and to know that you are lov­ing and car­ing for them.

So you need to de­velop a re­la­tion­ship with your child-self. You need to ask them what they need from you. It is al­most like a time travel jour­ney where you go back when you child-self was hurt, lost, or con­fused, and you sit down next to them and have a chat. You ask them how they feel. You tell them you are there for them and that you can help. Then you do what they want you to. They may want you to take them fly­ing over the tree­tops. In your imag­i­na­tion you can do that. Slowly, you will start to de­velop a re­la­tion­ship with your in­ner child, and they will start to feel the love from you that they might have been miss­ing.

LOOK IN THE MIR­ROR

The jour­ney to lov­ing your­self is a life­long jour­ney. Th­ese are four of the im­por­tant steps along the way. Another im­por­tant step is to de­velop a daily prac­tice of self-lov­ing. Try do­ing af­fir­ma­tions each day in front of the mir­ror. Each morn­ing, sit and tell your­self how much you love your­self. Tell your­self you are beau­ti­ful, that you are lov­able, that you are great. It may be chal­leng­ing at first, but stick with it. Over time, you will no­tice a change and you will start to re­ally be­lieve th­ese af­fir­ma­tions, and so your self-love will grow. And when you are re­ally and truly lov­ing your­self, the love from oth­ers that you searched for be­fore will show up like magic in your life. Peo­ple are at­tracted to peo­ple who love them­selves, be­cause they want to feel your love too. ■

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