Billie Holiday soulfully sings, “You don’t know what love is… Until you’ve learned the meaning of the blues… Until you’ve loved a love you’ve had to lose… You don’t know what love is.” Clearly, she’s not the only one portraying love as something that hurts; most of the songs and stories and movies out there convey a very similar message.
But is love really this emotion we all long for that can only be fully experienced when there is a painful sense of separation or loss due to our attachments? Or is the lack of love what hurts because it makes us feel alone and isolated? And can we truly love anyone if we don’t love ourselves first, and without losing our sense of self in the other or giving our power away?
This year is the Year of Love, because it will provide opportunities for everyone to learn what love truly is—and what it’s not. Not that we don’t have such opportunities throughout life, but this year they will be right in our face, so to speak, and we can take a closer look at how we perceive, express, and engage with love. Obviously, this means taking a closer look at our relationships, starting with the one we have with ourselves.
True Love Is the Opposite of Codependency
Whether we are aware of it or not, love abides in our heart, and yet we spend most of our life searching for it somewhere else. We’ve been enamored with the idea that someday someone will come and sweep us off our feet and that this is all we need to be truly happy. Some people believe that there is only one person out there that can make them feel this way—their true love, soul mate, or twin flame—while others see the idea of “happily ever after” as an illusion we settle for to cover up a deep fear of living and dying alone.
We are born codependent and must make a great emotional effort to become our own selves as we grow up. Deep unconscious patterns color our perception of love, making us believe that we only deserve and can experience love through others. We think: if someone loves me, I can love myself; but if nobody loves me, then I am unworthy of love.
The problem is that this emotional codependency we had no choice but to internalize as children makes our sense of self rely on the perception of others as we get older, binding us to the fickle disposition of the ego-mind that sets us into a never-ending pursuit of love and validation outside of ourselves, often in all the wrong places.
Love = Awareness = Freedom = True Self
Love is your true nature, your true Self. You do not need anyone to grant or uncover it for you; but you do have to muster the courage to look within and to continue looking within until you find it, hidden behind the emotional wounds created by expectations, disappointments, resentment, painful memories, and broken dreams.
When you start loving yourself, the need for validation, praise, or appreciation from others diminishes and you can begin to experience real love outside as well, as a reflection of a more authentic self-perception. If we feel connected to ourselves, empowered in who we are, we no longer connect with others from a wounded, ego-based place (the need to be loved), but in the joyful, warm, expansive energy that nurtures who we are as individuals and connects us freely and authentically.
Yet to get there takes much inner work, the ongoing awareness of a strong tendency toward codependency, and great focus on what connects you to the present moment. More than anything, it takes commitment—to yourself and the process of healing your sense of self and balancing your ‘sense of otherness‘ within, which you unconsciously absorbed from family dynamics and continue to re-create in each and every relationship you establish.
Love is another form of Consciousness; it is expansive and aims to create more light, more life, and more abundance for all. Love is the awareness of our true essence projected and reflected on another. Self-awareness yields self-love, and self-love expands to others through your self-expression. Because your divine nature is pure love, love looks for itself everywhere in this divine game of hide-and-seek we call life.
Love Starts Within You
Happiness can be measured by how much we allow love to express and expand through us without the distorted beliefs and self-images that taint it, driving us to do what we think we should do and be, as opposed to honestly sharing who and what we choose to be.
If you cannot be completely honest with yourself, you cannot be honest with others because your own unexplored emotional territory makes you feel vulnerable and weak, and you’ll avoid opening up. If you don’t trust yourself you cannot trust anyone else, lest you attempt to do it with the unconscious self-fulfilling expectation that you will be disappointed—in others and of course, in yourself.
Now, if we don’t love ourselves, how can we love and feel loved beyond the karmic or fleeting chemical attraction we all tend to confuse with love? It’s not that you don’t want love, but the Universe can only give you what you give yourself—what you are open to receiving. The reality you create is a reflection of your inner world. And a censoring, bullying voice inside is continuously telling you you’re not good enough; that you don’t deserve love; that you should be, do, look like or acquire this or that to be valuable or happy, preventing you from fully experiencing the present moment as a brand new opportunity for self-discovery and self-love.
If we could all be completely honest with ourselves, look at and embrace all the good, the bad, and the ugly in us, then we’d quiet the inner bully of collective ego; its power lies in making us believe we should be something other than who we are and our self-worth relies on how others perceive us. But this is a catch-22, because others can only see you through their own wounded and ego-centered viewpoint; plus, as long as you remain unaware of your own emotional terrain, you can’t possibly allow others to be who they are either. Judgment and self-judgment block love both ways.
So if you want true love you have to vibrate in true love, you have to heal and create a harmonious dynamic between your sense of self and your sense of otherness. You must be fiercely independent and autonomous yet allow intimacy to flourish—the same intimacy you establish with yourself when you touch and nurture your wounds. You need to create an emotional anchor that does not rely on anyone else, that you can always count on to keep you centered and mindful, so you can trust yourself to make conscious choices and follow the flow of love—instead of the typical ego-centered codependency.
Make This Your Year of True Love
Your ‘sense of otherness’ colors absolutely every relationship you have: with people, with your dreams and goals, with your business or projects, and with the world in general. True love starts with you: in the things you think about and say to yourself; in the joyful moments you allow in your life; in the type of people, dynamics, and conversations you feed your sense of otherness with; and also in how much you invest your energy, time, and even money to find happiness within you.
To begin healing and integrating your sense of self and your sense of otherness into a harmonious and loving dynamic of creative cooperation, take every opportunity that this year’s energies will provide you with to:
- Revisit and forgive past relationships, starting with your parents or caregivers;
- Grieve the sadness and loneliness left by people you loved who weren’t there for you;
- Develop love and compassion for yourself as you touch and heal your wounds;
- Grieve any broken dreams you didn’t trust yourself to pursue or accomplish;
- Focus on what connects you to yourself, empower you, and bring you joy;
- Reach out and honestly observe how you relate to others;
- Cherish the time you spend alone, completely focused on your endeavors;
- Take slow, small steps in new relationships and trust yourself to make conscious decisions;
- Be independent but flexible to engage but not lose yourself in any relationship.
If you are ready to discover true love in yourself and others, contact me now to receive guidance and support on this worthy endeavor, and make this your most loving year yet!
© 2014 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.