At the time of writing this article, Valentine's Day comes and goes, and I'm pondering on the source of love. Who do we love, and who loves us?
The day commercially commemorates the experience of loving someone, and being loved by that "special someone". And while romantic love is certainly a beautiful thing to be celebrated, it can be something that focuses quite heavily on love being found externally; something coming from outside of us, from someone else - the big underlying focus being "Am I loved?".
So by WHOM do we mean??
Asking this question, we're both being unsure of our lovability in the eyes of others, while also seeking something outside of ourselves.
So, what about when we're not in a relationship? Or our partner died? Or we're in an unhealthy, painful relationship? Or we find out they had an affair? Or we love someone who doesn't love us back?
They're only just some examples of ways we can feel "unloved", but the underlying essence remains the same – when we love ourselves, we're never truly "unloved", because we're loved by at least one person in the world!
Whenever I've asked myself "Am I loved?", it meant I wasn't loving myself (at least not in that particular moment). Because in asking that, we're seeking externally, in the form of attempting to find and receive love from "somewhere out there" to fill up a place where currently love is not.
I know. I've done it.
I've witnessed this externalisation of love in myself, and in others.
And it goes two ways - Whether it's you loving someone who doesn't love themselves, or it's someone trying to love you when 'you' don't love you; it's like pouring something through a sieve that can never be filled, let alone overflow.
Self-Love really does precede being able to experience mutually loving relationships. It's evolving from sieve to vessel.
As I've grown, and especially last year, I've experientially learned that it's only in truly loving myself that I've been able to feel it more deeply from my partner. And it's allowed me to love him more deeply. Because I didn't 'need' it from him.
I really get the lesson now. I'd decided to follow Self-Love, rather than continue to seek 'being loved' by him. The pain of failing at this approach had become greater than the fear of the 'uncertain unknown' of letting it go.
So in being willing to honour myself, needs, boundaries, truly loving myself in a way I hadn't quite done before, the way was opened for me to be met where I was - a person so worthy of love.
The more deeply you love yourself, the more deeply you can love another, and the more love you're able to see reflected back to you. Mirrors.
It takes inner work to get there, it doesn't fall into our laps. Like everything else (though love especially), it always starts with yourself.
To experience love, BE love.
It's the ultimate source, soul, and purpose of everything.