All of us have the innate need to love and be loved. When we are born, we enter the world with a pure expectation of unconditional love.
Sadly, this is not the experience most people get. Early in life, we learn that love can be withheld from us, whether well intentioned or not, by those who are closest to us. People, often unknowingly, let pain from their past dictate their approach to love. They erect barriers or use love as a reward. Such behavior causes us to believe that in order to receive love, we must act a certain way. Equally important, when we have experiences where love is withheld from us, we begin to question whether or not we are actually worthy of love.
Because of those hurts and wounds, over time, we can come to believe we are flawed, and that those flaws are the reasons why we are not worthy of love. We start to judge ourselves for perceived flaws, withholding unconditional self-love, which then causes us to feel incomplete.
Reliance on OthersIf we look to our relationships to complete us and fulfill our unmet needs for happiness and love, then those relationships often result in disappointment. And, if we believe that those we are in a relationships with are responsible for making us happy and whole, then we create unhealthy expectations that are impossible to meet.
This sense of lack can cause us to feel fear whenever our partner is not satisfying our expectations for attention, affection, and love, which leads to suffering and co-dependency. Such insecurity also causes us to act with jealousy and neediness, or to constantly seek approval. When this behavior becomes compulsive, obsessive, and destructive, it manifests as an addiction.
The Root of LoveThe problem is that we look outside for love and approval, but our relationships reflect back to us what we think and feel about ourselves on the inside. When we are attracted to a person, what we are actually drawn to are the traits we feel we lack and the characteristics we want more of.
In order to fulfill our unmet needs for worthiness and love, we must learn to love ourselves fully. What we really seek is to reconnect with that unconditional love lying deep within the heart of our beings. To find true love, we must look inward and reclaim our own self-love.
7 Stepping Stones on the Path to True Love
- Let go of the past. Feeling unworthy and unlovable are illusions of the conditioned minds. What you see as your flaws are just hurts and wounds of the past. You must come to know that you deserve to be happy and fully loved.
- Be comfortable with your weaknesses. Every person has positive and negative qualities. Weaknesses make you complete. Instead of using them against yourself, you need to recognize how they can help you grow and empathize with others.
- Embrace yourself. By taking time each day to look into the mirror for just a few minutes and embrace the beautiful individual you are, you can grow in self-love.
- Love yourself exactly as you are. By loving and embracing your authentic self, you will attract people who love you for who you are. Say to yourself, “I’m a beautiful person. I’m a loving person. I love myself just as I am.”
- Be generous with yourself. You can express self-love through a gentle massage with warm oils, a nice meal, or a walk in nature. Nature itself is a true expression of unconditional love and serves as a vibrant, living example of how you should treat yourself.
- Stop looking for the right person. Become the right person. All relationships are mirrors. When you fall in love with someone, you can write down what you admire about him or her and express those traits in yourself. This way you will not be using that individual to complete your needs, but rather as inspiration.
- Don’t ask for more love. Be in love. Love is a state of awareness where you are connected to your spirit. When you express unrestrained, unconditional love for others and yourself, you light up the world around you. The more you put your attention on love, the more expansive it will become.