Special Note: Today I have a very LOVE full guest on my blog, whose writings will definitely touch your heart. Enjoy Vishnu’s Virtues!!
Do you feel like you don’t love yourself enough?
Are you finding it challenging to love others?
Do you feel like not loving yourself is spilling over to your relationships?
If you are shaking your head in agreement to any of these questions, you might even wonder if you know what love is.
I began the journey to discovering love when my ten-year marriage broke up. Although my voyage through love had its ups and downs in the relationship, I only truly started examining love when it had left my life. I wondered if it had never been there.
Maybe I didn’t know what love was?
Growing up, my parents showed love in the cruelest of ways – criticism, put-downs and regular tongue lashings. Instead of increasing my worth, they would try to suppress it. They always thought I would get a big head if they were encouraging and affectionate to me.
In addition to the tongue lashings, my Dad fell back to unhealthy child-rearing techniques his father had used: lashings with a belt, locking me up in my room for days at a time and even putting me on a food and water diet on occasion.
And what crimes would garner these types of extreme punishment? Challenging their authority. Resisting mandates. Poor marks.
My parents weren’t taught how to raise children and didn’t have all the answers. With the many qualities they gave me in life, they failed to show me what love truly was.
They helped me equate love with pain and suffering.
My ex-wife similarly was born to parents with a similar parenting style.
As you can imagine, two individuals who didn’t fully grasp love would have had a challenging relationship trying to love each other.
As we divorced and continued on our separate lives, I’ve started reflecting and cultivating more love in my life.
How do we love ourselves more when we never knew love?
And how can we love others better?
5 ways to improve self-love.
1) Treat yourself with kindness. “Be gentle with yourself first if you wish to be gentle with others.” Lama Yeshe
If you didn’t know love and weren’t treated lovingly growing up, you will have troubles loving yourself. If you don’t know what love is, start by treating yourself with kindness.
Don’t berate yourself or hold yourself up to unreasonably high standards.
Reflect upon your inner-critic and negative self-talk. Learn to stop the attacks on yourself and wash yourself with compassion for you.
You’re not a perfect person and that’s ok. You certainly are not a useless, broken or unworthy person.
When you feel compassion for you and accept your shortcomings and shortfalls, be more kind to yourself.
Don’t continue to harp on negative thoughts. Don’t punish yourself. Don’t yell at yourself. Don’t be angry and frustrated at yourself or anything you’ve done.
Instead, mentally note why you’re worthy, loving, and generous spirit.
2) Connect with your spirit. If love doesn’t resonate at your physical being, you will have to do deeper work by connecting with your spiritual being.
If you don’t know love, become love.
As Marianne Williamson has said, “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here”
How do you become love? You have to access that spiritual and soulful nature of yours in order to feel love, compassion and kindness.
You must begin to remove all of the physical and superficial layers around you and go deep within.
Start on a path to a spiritual practice: prayer, meditation, mindfulness practices, yoga and other acts of self-reflection.
You must take down the walls keeping you from your spiritual nature. Once the emotional and psychological walls you’ve created for yourself crumble, you will feel the reservoir of love within you.
3) Embrace what brings you joy. Continue to enjoy, embrace and participate in activities you love.
Be with people you enjoy being around.
Get out of a job that doesn’t suit you and move towards one that energizes you. If you’re too invested in your current job, gravitate towards duties which makes your heart zing.
The path to more love is to do what makes you more happy and joyful. Actively seek those things which bring genuine happiness into your life.
At the same time, remove the people and experiences which bring you gloom and sink your vibrations in life.
The road to greater love runs through the stream of joy and happiness.
4) Acknowledge love around you. You may not quite know or feel what love feels like.
But have you seen a child flying a kite for the first time?
Have you seen the eyes of parents who have seen their new-born baby for the first time?
Observe and look for instances of love around you. There is so much love around the world.
Yes, the teenage couple in puppy love, the first-time parents, the passionate and inspiring teacher who fills her lessons with love, your 80-year old grandmother who cooks dotingly for you.
The random act of kindness, the sacrifice to send a child to University, people serving the homeless at a local food back.
If you can acknowledge and observe the love around you, you can become more aware of what real love is. You’ll become more familiar with how people express love and what healthy love looks like.
5) Do not be hostage to your past. “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” C.S. Lewis
If you’ve gone through some difficulties or heart-break in your life, you may have become disillusioned about love.
If the love you’ve experienced has been painful, scarring or damaging, you have every right to want to hold onto those experiences.
But to have more love in your life, you have to break away from fear. There are fearful experiences in all of our lives which scar us and show us the worst of love.
Don’t permit your past to hold you hostage. Learn to forgive those who have broken your heart.
Forgive those who have hurt you.
Let go of ill-will and wrongs.
Do not be a hostage or prisoner to past inequities and injustices.
If you allow your bad experiences with love to define love, you can never get to a healthy place with love.
Make amends with your past so you can learn to embrace love again.
The past lessons of love will be the water and the soil for love to bloom in your future.
5 ways to love others more.
1) Be conscious in showing love. You may think you love someone and may occasionally even tell them that but what does love really mean?
To express your love, act on your love. No, not just buying roses and diamond necklaces for your sweetie but showing them love.
Love means spending time with the people who matter to you.
Love means spending energy on the people you care about.
Love means helping those in need, serving them in some way or being there for them during a life-crunch.
Love means dedication, communication, help and assistance.
Love means sacrifice and loyalty.
2) Be empathetic. In order to show more love, you can learn to put yourself in another person’s shoes.
If you don’t have struggles and challenges in your own life, see how those who are suffering are making it day to day.
What are their life problems? How did they get where they are? What’s preventing them from taking care of themselves and their families?
All too often we are preoccupied with our own life and getting ahead.
If you start viewing the world through empathy, you will build your ability to extend more compassion and love to others.
3) You are one with others. Although the ego tells us otherwise, continue to remind yourself that you are one with those around you.
If you believe in the power of a divine being or a wise universe, you know that we are all connected. We are all one people. We are all one higher consciousness.
When someone cuts you off in traffic, they are you.
When someone steals from you, they are you.
When someone offends you or short-changes you, they are you.
If you saw your life as sharing one consciousness with all those around you, you’ll less likely be offended and more likely to treat others as you would treat yourself.
You will be more like to practice the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
4) Find ways to serve. One active way to love more is to serve more.
Look for opportunities to give back to your family, neighborhood or community.
Share your technical skills or professional abilities with a local charity.
Help a family in need. Initiate a food-drive. Organize your community to help someone grieving or suffering a major loss.
Extend a helping hand.
Lend a shoulder for someone to be supported.
Allow your ears to soften someone’s heartache or life-ache.
Actively look for service opportunities where you’re giving for the sake of giving.
Avoid giving for the sake of social standing, appearances, fame or good-will.
5) Let go of grudges. “The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” Marianne Williamson
The greatest way you can love someone else is by letting go of grudges or wrong-doings they’ve committed against you.
It is often our pesky egos which stands in the way of forgiveness and continues a lifetime of resentment. The only way that I was able to move on from being angry with my parents was to forgive them.
Your ego will be continuously challenged. The only way to continue to express love is to continually forgive.
The most important task and duty you have to love others more is to forgive them even more – for small and big trespasses.
If you don’t have love in your life now or feel like your love is broken, do not fear. Your love isn’t broken. Self-love and love of others is a continuum achieved over a lifetime.
Each relationship with close family and your loved ones isn’t the final destination. Instead each encounter and relationship will help you become an even more loving person.
If you simply acknowledge and become aware of where you are today, you can continue to become a more loving person and love others better.
Do you love yourself and others enough? Please help inspire others and share your thoughts on how to be more loving in the comments below.
About the Author of this post:
Vishnu writes a self-help blog for spiritual people at www.vishnusvirtues.com.
He writes to inspire you to seek wisdom and happiness within yourself, and to be a better person for yourself and for others. Join him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/vishnus.virtues
Thank you Vishnu for writing such a LOVE full article. I love it!
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
♥♥”Please Share this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach more people who need a positive healing nudge in their lives. Thank you!”♥♥