Happy V-Day. The Emotion of Love

Are you operating out of love or out of fear? Can you tune into your capacity for connection, compassion, and acceptance by loving others deeply … even those who are not like you? Even those you do not like? Even yourself?

Many people love today, many people hate today. Today is the day we celebrate the concept of “being in love”.

Love is our most powerful emotion. It has the highest vibration and is the most talked about in all spiritual cultures. It is the emotional state we are aiming to get. This does not mean we are all working to get to intimate sexual love – but to the power of compassion, connection, and recognition of self in other.

Being in a state of compassion, connection, and acceptance allows us to integrate a number of our systems for optimal function. A healthy human is one who is integrated and has flexibility in response options to both mental and physical health issues. The emotion of love brings our systems into integration with self, others, environment. This integration impacts our physical system and moves our tissues toward physical health. It aligns our mental health with openness for experience which allows us to be flexible in our choices – thus choosing the best option for the moment we are in right now.

The difficult part … most of us have been hurt after expressing the emotion of love. We’ve been hurt by those who have pledged to love us, those who care for us, and ourselves. We have extended our precious heart only to have it smashed to smithereens (I know I’m being a bit dramatic, but that’s what it feels like to a lot of us).

As a result of this hurt, we extend our love conditionally. We open up in limited ways. We fear those who are different than us. We hold back and judge instead of open up into compassion and acceptance. We do not accept others and we do not accept ourselves.

We close ourselves off to love and its benefits out of fear. Fear and hate lay at the lower end of vibrational measurements. They constrict our physicality and mental abilities. In efforts to stay safe we rally and protect our own, cut ourselves off from others, and stay small. The energy of this constriction leads to more fear, more constriction, and more physical health problems. The way to combat loving others fully when it is scary it to begin by loving ourselves fully.

As you contemplate what love means in your life today … make sure you reach out and pay attention to yourself. Love yourself … fully … completely … and honestly.

If you are having trouble loving yourself, you will have trouble fully loving others unconditionally. If you cannot love yourself fully it may be time to do some therapy around the topic. For many of us, we cannot fully embrace the greatness that is us. In my office I ask, “what’s so great about you”? About 75% of the time people look up confused and unable to answer the question. As therapy unfolds they begin to have less problems with this question, and can answer with confidence about the greatness within.

Two things are true – you are good enough and there is always room to grow. Love yourself fully today.

Nurturing Yourself

Are you like many – you want to take care of yourself but everyone else comes first leaving you depleted and worn out? You won’t reach your goals by putting yourself at the end of the line. In fact, you may not be helping all those you’ve been giving to in the most effective way either. Many of us assume we must give of ourselves to other in order to help them succeed. This is especially true of those we love most. We go about our days thinking about what they need, like, want, and how we can help them get it. This is great on one hand and not so great on another.

First, when you give to others first you deplete yourself before you can tap the best in you. This cycle eventually leaves you burnt out, resentful, and probably unhealthy in more ways than one. But many of us have been socialized to think that if we put ourselves first we are being selfish. Not so. In fact putting myself first allows me to give more to those around me. Not only can I give them more because I am more full, I can give them better.

When I have put myself first I am better able to focus on them with all my attention and gifts. I am better able to see what I have to give they may be needing, such as attention, play, listening, or space. When I can more accurately match what I have to give honestly and authentically my efforts are more powerful.

Take some time this week and notice. Notice how often you are doing things for others out of habit. Notice if it is truly what they want or need. Notice how you feel about these interactions. Notice how they respond to these attempts at giving of yourself. Notice if you feel more satisfied or less satisfied after the interaction. Many of us operate on habit or perceived expectations.*

If you are up to the challenge – take some time for yourself and then repeat the above exercise in noticing. See you if you notice a difference in how your giving changes when you are taken care of first.

*Expectations and habits are not easy to break especially when others are involved. Too much for this blog post, but we’ll discuss that another time. 

Taking Time For You is Not a Luxury

When you feel good you are better able to care for others, however I meet many people who feel like taking time for themselves is cheating. Honestly, that’s not the case.

You can’t help others if you are wiped out. Be it from work, school, home life, or an illness if you are overwhelmed your ability to help those you care most about can be compromised. Instead schedule time for you everyday. During this time do something that re-energize you. Maybe its a walk, reading, cooking (for fun not because you have to), a bath, time with friends, or other activity that allows you to “get lost” for a short period of time and regroup.

It doesn’t have to be a long personal session but it should be something you enjoy doing and it shouldn’t be something you feel like you have to do – no matter how much it might be good for you.