If you’ve ever read any spiritual or self-help books (if you’re like me you probably have a small mountain beside your bed waiting patiently to be read) you know that they all pretty much say the same thing: love. Love yourself, love others, be loving, remember you are love.
It should be easy, right? How hard can it be to just love?
Pretty dang hard, it turns out.
Loving what you love is easy. Sometimes love comes so readily, overflowing from the pure well of your abundant heart. The ecstatic grin on your dog’s face when you grab the leash. The first bite of a freshly-picked strawberry still warm from the sun. The perfect curve of cheek on a beloveds face. Easy. Love pours out of us, drenching all obstacles, sorrows, and fears in an elixir of all-is-possible-and-right-in-the-world.
And then there are all the rest of the times when love is not so easy or downright hard. The challenge of loving yourself fully (all of you). Or letting love in after you have been badly betrayed. Or loving your obstinate, bullying teenager. Or loving the ones you feel not deserving of love (pick your least favorite politician and ponder what it would take for you to love them despite all the things you hate about them?)
Why should we love the things we don’t like?
Because learning to love everything, and everyone, is how we get full to overflowing on the inside.
Now, I’m not saying you should like everyone, or agree with them, or make excuses for them. Love is an action verb. When you choose to love rather than hate you are feeding yourself love and then letting your love spill over to others. When you hate or judge someone else you are actually eating this energy first, and then sending it out. You are taking in your own poison. The skill is learning to love someone’s humanity, vulnerability, and inner struggles even when you strongly disagree with or even oppose their actions.
Yes, it is possible.
But not easy.
The confusion about love
There is so much confusion about love, the primary misconception being that love is outside of us. We have been fed a fantasy that if we only find the one “right” person then our hearts will blossom open like a field of wildflowers in the spring and we will passionately love life and ourselves and our one beloved for all of eternity. (Cue sound of angel choir.)
While this would be lovely, life is often a wee bit more complicated then this blissful scenario. (Cue illness, discovered affairs, apathy, fighting, etc.)
We need stamina and incredible courage to learn how to truly, deeply love. In so many different ways life challenges us to stop seeking love outside and turn inward, to move from focusing on the DOING of loving the external expressions around us to actually learning how to BE love.
How do you practice love? First by changing your mindset that love is something to find outside of you. This takes committing to yourself by putting your hand on your heart and saying to yourself: “hey, dear one, I want to get to know you.. I’m ready to deepen my relationship with myself and to become more intimate with the being that I am now.” Imagine you are nourishing a friendship with someone that is really important to you, then bring that energy and presence to yourself.
The intimacy of being with yourself means releasing judgment in favor of compassion, letting go of feeling victimized in favor of being honestly vulnerable, and shifting your focus from how to be what you think you should be (or who you think others want you to be) to showing up with love for who you are now.
Your mission, and I ask you to please accept it, is to become full to overflowing with love. Not for any reason at all, except that you choose to love, starting with yourself, no matter what.