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Being Your Own Valentine

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February is just around the corner and with it comes Valentine’s Day. Whether I’m in a relationship or not, I have always loved celebrating Valentine’s Day because it is an open invitation to shower myself with Love! Practicing self-love is essential for living the life we deserve and desire. As a powerful tool for spiritual growth and emotional health, our capacity for self-love greatly affects the quality of our lives and at no time is this practice more powerful or necessary than at the start of a new year when many of us may be learning new skills, changing behavior or learning to live in a more conscious way.
 
Buddha taught over 2500 years ago, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” If I were to ask do you love yourself? my guess is that you would automatically answer yes. But if I were to follow you around on any given day or be a fly on the wall of your mind—would I see, hear and feel a person in love? Most of us grew up being taught in one way or another that we weren’t good enough, or deserving, or that we were somehow not perfect just the way we were. If we learned these things young enough there is a good chance that we bought it. And if we bought it, unless we have actively uprooted and replaced these false beliefs, we are probably still unconsciously creating our lives from them.
 
“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts. Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life….Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed, but can only be hidden.” – Marianne Williamson
 
 You know that you would benefit from more self-love: if you are hard on yourself in order to get something accomplished, if you hold yourself to some impossible standard of perfection, if you compare yourself to others, if you’re impatient or judgmental of yourself or others, if you are beat yourself up for making perceived mistakes, if you don’t know what you’re good at or you think that you have nothing of real value to offer the world or to those around you. How often do you speak to yourself in such a way that you’re left feeling thoroughly loved, fulfilled and entirely supported? My guess is probably not consistently. The way we love ourselves is often conditional, it may be self- supporting and encouraging in one breath but then we’re berating or judging ourselves for some perceived transgression in the next. We wouldn’t dare speak to our loved ones or colleagues as harshly or as critically as we so often do to ourselves!
 
Truly loving ourselves calls us to speak a new and consistent internal language, a self -talk that is filled with unconditional acceptance, love, tenderness, support and compassion. Learning to speak this new language is like “re-parenting” ourselves and replacing the old tapes and false beliefs with True, more positive, life-affirming ones. Albert Ellis wrote, “The art of love . . . is largely the art of persistence.” Like any form of behavior modification – from dropping a bad habit, learning a new skill, to going to the gym to build muscle—learning to habitually use loving and compassionate self-talk is a practice. One that literally re-programs your neural pathways, making it possible to hold a vibration of love, joy and abundance and attract all that you desire into your life.
 
Compassionate self-talk is like being your own internal loving parent. It sounds and feels like this : “I’m your biggest fan,” “I’ll be there for you no matter what,” “You don’t need to worry, we’ll get through this.” You offer yourself consistent encouragement, space to grow, and learn and the freedom to make mistakes. You forgive yourself easily and quickly and remind yourself that you are valuable and unique with gifts and talents that only you can bring to the world.
 
“The secret of attraction is to love yourself. Attractive people judge neither themselves nor others. They are open to gestures of love. They think about love, and express their love in every action. They know that love is not a mere sentiment, but the ultimate truth at the heart of the universe . . . A person desperately searching for love is like a fish desperately searching for water.” – Deepak Chopra
 
So often we look outside ourselves for appreciation, adoration, respect and love instead of cultivating it from within. This is not to say that desiring to be loved and respected isn’t a valid need, it most definitely is. We all deserve to experience this in our lives! Where we run into trouble is forgetting that it’s not actually the love, respect or adoration we receive from the outside or from others that fulfills us. What fulfills us is the way in which the other’s behavior or words reflect that which we know to be true about ourselves. It is easy to think that another is “making us feel” one way or another but in actuality, we are choosing how we feel in every moment.
 
We are constantly co-creating our Reality with the thoughts, beliefs, feelings and attitudes we hold. We literally become a vibrational frequency to which Creative Law simply says ‘yes’ and delivers to us our vibrational match. When we look outside ourselves for something, for example, to our mate to adore and cherish us, we are vibrating the frequency ‘I don’t have’ and so that is what we get. A more consciously creative and self-loving response to ‘not feeling cherished by our mate’ is to crank up the ‘cherish myself’ meter! Bubble up feelings, thoughts and ideas in your body, heart and mind of being cherished, feeling amazing, worthy and fabulous. Remember who you are, open your heart and mind to the Divine Love that is always available and emanating as you. By doing so, you get to vibrate with the feelings that feel wonderful, and at the same time, effectively broadcast to the Universe “I am cherished” to which It says “yes” and reflects more of it in your life…including being cherished by your mate! That’s the way the creative process works. Love points the way and the Law makes it possible. It’s a total win-win.
 
If utilizing a compassionate inner parent or giving yourself that which you perceive you lack is challenging or difficult for you, it may be that you’ve gotten used to getting by with your old, worn out false beliefs or that you just don’t know yet that what you seek is already within you. You deserve a life worth living, a life filled with joy, love and abundance. It is your Divine inheritance! If you would like to see and feel the benefits of unconditional self-love and to experience the advantages of being that which you seek, I invite you to try a re-parenting technique that I used religiously until I became fluent in the language of self-love. It was awkward at first and I was often at a loss for words but once I really got it and applied my loving inner parent’s voice to all the B.S. I believed about myself it became automatic. I was amazed at the difference it made in the way I felt, thought and lived my life. I was no longer like a kid home alone, I was loved by the Divine and by me!
 
Every day for one week, journal the fears, worries, doubts or self-judgments that arise. Don’t journal about ‘the stories’ or the day-to-day facts (of course you can do this if it helps) the aim of this exercise is to become aware of the beliefs you are holding. For each sentence, paragraph or page in which you describe fear, worry, doubt or self-judgment, counter with a response from your loving inner parent in the same length. (Note: For this exercise to be effective, your inner parent must write the same length of response. Sentence for sentence, page for page.) For example, you write: “I want to run a 5K with Karen in three months but I just know it will be like last time, I’ll give up three weeks into the training. I probably shouldn’t even try.”  Your loving inner parent responds: “This sounds great! That was the past which has no bearing on the now. With my support, you can do anything you want. I will be right there helping you train and helping you make it fun. Together, we’ll be a great team and cross that finish line strong and successful with Karen!”
 
(If you don’t want to journal but you still want to reap the benefits of this exercise, I invite you to become aware of the thoughts of fear, worry, doubt or self-judgment that pass through your mind. As you they do so practice countering each with a loving, compassionate inner parent’s response until you are convinced, until you feel uplifted and supported. If you are new to this, writing usually helps the process but it can still be effective if you remain vigilant of your thoughts.)
 
“Love is a force that connects us to every strand of the universe, an unconditional state that characterizes human nature, a form of knowledge that is always there for us if only we can open ourselves to it.” Emily H. Sell
 
A consciousness of love, not only affects the quality of our lives creating the conditions and experiences of our lives, it has the power to change the world! Dr. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the new thought movement, Science of Mind wrote, “Love is stronger than any other force in the Universe…Love is unity with life”. We may appear to be separate from the world outside of us but, as the quantum physicists have discovered, at our most sub-atomic level we are one with All that is. As a result, how we treat ourselves and the way we think and feel about ourselves, is directly related to everyone and everything. This is why Gandhi said to be the change we wish to see in the world. We are the world at a microcosmic level! If we want our lives to flow with more ease, grace and joy, if we want to live to our highest potential and to be a positive force on the planet, we must start by loving ourselves.
 
It becomes effortless when we remember to open our hearts and minds to Divine Presence – the Love and Light energy from which all things come and within which all things exist. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, Divine Love is within and all around you, surrounding and enfolding you, maintaining and sustaining you in every breath. You are Divine Love in physical form! Being the Love that you are is bringing your conscious awareness to Love’s Presence on the altar of your mind, breathing in and opening your heart to the Divine Love that is flowing in, through and as you now and at all times.
 
By unconditionally loving ourselves, we live from a space of overflow and fulfillment to which Creative Law says ‘yes’ and delivers more. It creates the conditions and experiences that contribute to a life that we love – a life worth living. We love ourselves by opening to and consistently bringing our conscious awareness to our Divine connection. We love ourselves by being and feeling that which we wish to receive. We love ourselves by learning to be our biggest fan and by practicing consistent positive, compassionate self-talk. We love ourselves when we replace our old, false beliefs with more positive, life-affirming ones.
 
You are the love that lights up this planet! You are Divine Love expressing uniquely as YOU! I invite you to remember this and to cherish, love and adore yourself. You are a gift to all those around you and to this planet. This Valentine’s Day make the commitment to love the gift that you are. Like Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

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