We all want more, Better, BIGGER LOVE, right? The question of the month is this–How do we get that? Yet, when it comes to Feeling More AND Loving More deeply, the better question is this–how can I give (to both myself and my partner) in order to feel more love and loving? Self love is not selfish–It is a tool for opening up bigger love in your life.
You might be asking, WHAT? How can being greedy with my time and attention make me more loving, and cause my partner to love me more? Or, you could be saying to yourself, Please don’t make me do one more thing for the pursuit of the perfect relationship. I’m not purporting either of those stances. As a couples & adult therapist in Washington DC who works with clients on forming healthy loving attachments with themselves and others, I see the benefits of this form of intentional self care. Self Love is a tool that works! It is not a cliche, nor does it have to be a means of oppression for women who are expected to do all of the emotional, familial and relational work in this world of ours. Consider these ideas as you try to fine tune your own INSTRUMENT of SELF LOVE.
- Self Love is positive intention and attention toward your own feelings and needs. It only has to be a stance, if you like. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It could just be as gentle as teaching yourself to talk gently to yourself like you would to your best friend.
- Self Love is most effective when it is customized. It takes time and repetition to find what works best for you. It could be as simple as the act of lighting a candle to soothe a stressful day. It likely is sensory and unique to what pleases and soothes you most.
- Self Love is something that morphs and evolves as you do. It often demands different skills based on what is going on in your life or personal growth. For instance, exercise was THE SELF LOVE tool for me when my children were very young (even over sleep). Why? Because exercise cleared my head, made me feel like myself, moved stress out of my body, reminded me of my strength, and got me out of the house ALONE without children demanding my attention.
- Self Love must connect the heart and mind in order to order to open up more love. We all rely on our unique daily rituals to create peace and order in our lives. Actions are great! Yet, if you are aiming for truly opening your heart to yourself and others, you must focus on feeling more in the moment of the ritual. For instance, if you meditate, let your body relax enough to feel your thoughts float by and your emotions rise up. Without judgement, just greet them, hold them, and then let them go. If you are cooking, savor the experience of chopping and stirring. If you are running, breath in and out and notice the feelings as they release.
- Self Love takes repetition. Just like getting fit, you must repeat it often, in order to build the muscle of self love.
- Self Love is simple, yet not easy. The self love formula is this–put more in daily bit by bit in attempt to refill what you put out. It’s the, “have you filled your bucket today?” concept. It’s not possible to completely replenish, yet the intention and attention can make all the difference in how open you are to loving moments.
So, try using self love as a tool for being more open to giving and receiving love. With your partner, practice speaking more positively and using abundant language (Loving Abundantly with Your Language). Both of these methods should help you get more benefit from your attempts at connecting in your relationship and find more success in your imago dialoguing, which will be outlined in the next post.