What I didn’t realize at the time was that no one can ever love me enough unless I truly love myself. Still, today, writing the words 'love myself’ I can feel a twinge of Ewwww. I’m not sure where the taboo of self-love originated, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we discover it's falsity and continue to grow towards and eventually through self-love.
Today, I now know what love taste like, sounds like, smells like, feels like, and most importantly how to generate it. I know how to produce love and how to block it. I know how to bathe in it and how to pour it out into the world. Of course, knowing this doesn’t mean I always do it but it sure makes life more enjoyable, mainly when I practice what works.
Learning how to love myself opened me up to BE love, which led to my meeting one of the most generous hearts I’ve ever known, my wife. Loving 'beyond I do' I’ve had opportunities to stretch, to ache, and to grow way past what I ever thought I was capable of becoming in life.
Before 'I do,' I thought self-love was as far as love went. I was content to stop there. However, as with most things in life, once the pendulum swings to its extremes, it eventually levels out.
It turns out that 'all of love' is found in the middle of extremes. Somewhere between self-hate and self-love, there is just love. Living in the middle of love is way more satisfying than self-love alone. But we must first possess self-love before we can live there.
It’s true. We can’t have 'all of love' until we have self-love. I tried for years to get someone else to love me enough for both of us, and it doesn’t work. Pretending you like yourself enough falls short too. At least these tactics never worked for me.
If you're new to self-love or you need a refresher, keep the ABC's of Self-Love in mind.
A - Practice awareness each day. We grow far quicker when we're awake. Awareness means no longer pretending, being honest with where we are and taking conscious steps to move towards where we'd like to be.
B - Practice seeing beauty each day in you. We tend to focus on the negative. We know exactly what we want to change, what we don't have, and, what we don't like about ourselves. Instead, seek beauty every day within. Find at least three things you like about yourself and your life. Remind yourself throughout the day.
C - Practice compassion moment to moment. When you become aware of what's not working in your life, something you would like to change, practice observation. We are educated to evaluate everything. Refrain from assessing your situation. Rather than repeating the habitual story you tend to tell yourself, pause and add kindness.
Becoming aware of what's occurring at the moment, shifting thoughts to acknowledge beauty, and meeting each experience with kindness are all qualities of Mindfulness Meditation.
So rather than dreaming of ‘I do’ start dreaming 'beyond I do.’ Practice the ABC's of Self-love and ask powerful questions. Who are you bringing into your relationship? Is she solid or hollow? Is she grounded or drifting in the wind? It’s better to start your journey within now rather than when 50% of marriages fail, year eight.
Once you love yourself, you learn to be love, and your significant someone will always mirror who you are. Then together you can experience 'all of love.' The kind of love that exists way 'beyond I do.'
And of course, if you're already married it's never too late to begin your inner journey. Every solution is inbound!