So many people are “looking for love in all the wrong places” as a popular song goes. How many internet sites offer the chance to meet like-minded people in the hopes of starting a blossoming relationship, trying to satisfy that empty hole where love should live; sweet promises of finding the right person to fill that void? And yet there is the idea that instead of looking for love external to yourself, you should first start with self-love. A wise person once said that you can only be loved to the extent that you can love yourself. The theory that like attracts like also applies here. If you have a very low opinion of yourself, you might possibly attract someone who will treat you poorly or even abusively. But if you are able to fully love and accept yourself, you will draw to you a person who can reflect those emotions back to you.
It is not always easy to love yourself. Self-judgments, self-criticisms, negative self-beliefs all have a way of infiltrating one’s psyche and keeping deep self-love at bay. So many of these negative beliefs are locked in from childhood and subconsciously buried; Beliefs that are learned early on from parental modeled behavior, that later resurface in one’s adult behavior. As a child you might have been witness to disrupted love, as in a divorce. Seeing two loved ones who are supposed to love each other, but instead are locked in battle, could set up a belief that love hurts or that love is destructive. Also, sometimes children have parents who hold love hostage. “I’ll only love you if…” so that love becomes conditional. Or worst, the child believes that he himself is unlovable because a parent or peer blurted that belief out during an impressionable time. No matter what form the negative belief pattern is in, when a person’s inner child aspect feels unloved, it can be very difficult to believe love will ever manifest. Working with one’s inner child aspect can be explored through hypnosis, somato-emotional release work, conventional talk therapy as well as many other healing modalities. By you as an adult self-connecting to your inner child aspect and helping that aspect feel safe and loved, a reunion of the two aspects can align to a new way of self-love. With help, your inner child can begin to trust that s/he is worthy of love, that love is unconditional and that love feels wonderful. With you as the adult supplying the safety net of love around the child, a release of old negative patterns can occur. There are some essential oils that support inner child work and these can be burned in an aroma lamp during therapy sessions or during meditations. These oils include chamomile, frankincense, lavender, neroli, geranium, rose and patchouli.
So once the inner child is recognized, there are some interesting self-exploratory meditations that can assist you in figuring out the various internal messages that sabotage the adult’s self-love and appreciation. With your eyes closed and seated comfortably, repeat this phrase to yourself and fill in the blank. “What I love about myself is ….” You might say “What I love about myself is my sense of humor”, or the color of my eyes, or my compassion for others. Whatever you hear yourself say, just sit with the feeling of loving whatever it is you chose. How does it feel to love the color of your eyes or your compassion for others? Where do you feel this love in your body? How do you express this love externally? What would you be like without this quality? When you’ve finished exploring one idea, then repeat the phrase and fill in the blank again with another aspect of self-love and again sense how that makes you feel. Continue exploring all your loving attributes, repeating the phrase and filling in the blank. If you run out of time and haven’t finished all the ways you appreciate yourself, then continue the meditation another time. If, on the other hand, you run out of things you love about yourself quickly, you know there is work to do! Even if you don’t truly believe you love an attribute about yourself, say the phrase anyway and then explore what it is that stops you loving this aspect. Maybe, for instance, you can’t love your hair (a silly example but innocuous enough). Maybe you hate its color or its unruliness or its lack of luster. Ask yourself when was it that you first felt this. What were the circumstances around your negative realization? And most importantly, did you initially conceive this negative idea or did someone else bring a negative attribute to your attention and then you took it on as your own belief. Most times when we dislike something about ourselves it is because someone else pointed that out to us. They might have said something about the unruliness of your lackluster hair. Or how the color doesn’t compliment your complexion. Whatever. In the meditation, sense how other people’s words feel in your body. And ask yourself, is this really your truth or is it someone else’s belief. And is there anyway you can release their projections and find something about your hair that you like. Even if there are 5 things about your hair you dislike, if there is one thing you like, focus on that and make that your meditation. Sense how it feels to like that one aspect of your hair, how that one aspect is all there is and all the other negative aspects are just other people’s stuff. And then say “What I love about myself is my hair” while focusing on that one aspect you can like (even though there are others you dislike.) Only focus on the positive and begin to reconstruct your self-love. Essential oils that help in this meditation are frankincense, cedarwood, lemon, mugwort, angelica, rose and elemi.
On a different note, what would be some of the characteristics of your ideal lover? Would there be wine and roses, intimate dinners, long walks on the beach or trips to exciting and exotic places? Why wait for someone else to offer you these things? In learning to self-love, permission is given by you to provide all these delights to yourself. Remember, you can’t expect someone else to fill the hole of emptiness within you without incurring karma. To have a balanced and equal relationship, you must love yourself as much as you are asking the person to love you. They are the mirror that reflects back to you your self-love. So this Valentine’s day, even if you have a wonderful lover, instead of expecting them to wine and dine and pamper you, why not save this day for self-pampering and self-appreciation. At some point in the day, why not light some candles, draw a hot bath and lay back luxuriating in bathwater scented with some of the essential oils that help with opening the heart to deeper levels of (self) love and compassion. These oils are clary sage, jasmine, neroli, frankincense, patchouli, rose, ylang ylang, and sandalwood.
It is important to develop self-love, self-appreciation, self-compassion and self-recognition. The more you know and love about yourself, the easier it is to love others and allow others to truly love that beautiful person within you.