“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Oscar Wilde
In my twenties, I had control issues that prevented me from truly falling in love.
I had a boyfriend who genuinely loved me and we were together for over 8 years. Only, I never truly fell in love. That truth didn’t set me free as much as it scared me.
The root of that fear is what my journey of self-love has been about.
I believe it is the root and source of all emotional pain.
I mustered courage to end that long term relationship and later had a few short term romances that ended abruptly and hurt tremendously.
So, I avoided men which reduced my chances of falling in love and ultimately getting hurt. I was ambivalent about romance because of my upbringing.
Given my parent’s violent quarrels and painful exchanges, you could understand my ambivalence.
I rationalized that I needed to love myself first before I could be in a relationship.
My wise therapist suggested working on loving myself while dating.
I was reluctant, but realized that I had unsuccessfully tried loving myself even when I hadn’t been in a relationship.
I worked through some of my many issues and became adept at processing feelings but not at feeling the extent of my wounding.
Still, I inched closer to a love-affair with myself by putting effort into my relationship with a new boyfriend.
So how do you love yourself when you are in a relationship?
Self -love requires your willingness to be very intimate, vulnerable, honest and courageous to admit the truth about what you think and how you feel.
It requires surrender and making time to be with ourselves to listen to our whole being.
Here are 6 ways to fall in love with yourself:
1. Intimacy is energy circulating within you in love and trust.
You become an explorer of your inner domain. Intimacy is letting your guard down and welcoming every experience. Intimacy creates sensitivity to self and others. You become aware of everything you are feeling.
It means trusting that the Universe is providing everything you need.
To be intimate, you must be vulnerable.
2. Vulnerability is willingness to experience your insecurities.
It isn’t so much about disclosing your insecurities to others as it is about being with your insecurities.
Vulnerability requires honesty and courage to yourself.
3. Honesty means you tell the truth to yourself.
It requires trust and conscious emotional awareness.
Your emotions offer important messages.
Avoiding these messages is not growth promoting nor very loving.
Honesty takes courage.
4. Courage means you are willing to experience your pain including any bodily sensations.
It requires attention to what you are feeling in your body and what you are thinking moment by moment.
It doesn’t mean examining or studying your experience or thoughts.
Self-love requires courage to surrender.
5. Surrender is letting go of controlling what is or what may or may not happen.
Embrace rather than resist your pain.
Experience your pain. Feel your pain.
Love whether of self or others becomes more graceful when you simply surrender to what is, including what you feel.
You must feel the depth of your pain which is at the root your fear that you lack value.
To feel deeply you have to make time.
6. Time with yourself is valuing yourself enough to listen to yourself.
Being aware of what you are experiencing allows you to introspect which means coming to an understanding of your experience.
The key is not getting lost in the mental aspect of introspection without first feeling your pain.
It is being emotionally aware while not being absorbed by your emotions. Your conscious awareness empowers you so you are not swept away by your emotions.
Self-love is a journey and practice of being intimate, vulnerable, honest, and courageous. These form the foundation of self-love. Other elements help you to actively love yourself like patience, good self-care, kindness, self-validation, setting boundaries, forgiveness, etc.
The beauty of your journey is that opportunities for growth and greater self-love arise continuously. What is vital to loving yourself is a firm decision and willingness to venture to live life as well as a commitment to expand your own love.
You don’t live life by thinking about it.
You live by experiencing.
If you struggle to love yourself, it is likely you don’t fall in love easily.
It points to a tendency to be caught in your mind.
Being absorbed in your thoughts means you are not fully present to live your life. If you think too much then you need to remind yourself to feel with your body.
“Like lovemaking it is a whole body experience not just a mental exercise.”
You don’t hold back but give in to the knowing of your whole being.
The universal human experience of falling in love is referred to as a ‘fall’ as it happens unexpectedly.
You don’t struggle or plan the fall, it just happens.
You don’t attempt to control your feelings for doing so compromises our freedom and happiness.
When you value yourself, you do things that fulfill you and makes you happy.
Self- love as well as love for others is real when it makes you feel open, free, and happy.
When you love, you are free.
When you are free, you love no matter what.
Being free to love is true happiness.
True happiness is priceless.
Living is about being present to each moment.
You’ll know you have started to fall in love with yourself when you feel free to be yourself anywhere and with anyone.
You know you are loving yourself more when you value yourself in situations where you had not before.
Others will be drawn to you because you invite them to be themselves.
Monica Espinoza is an artistic writer, blogger and self-love alchemist. To receive her regular posts by email, sign up for her blog here.
* Photo credit Oakley F