When I think about love, I think about our darling dog, Barty, who died some years ago. My son’s description of Barty is that he was “simple”. Not that he was a stupid dog; not at all. Rather, he had simple needs – for nourishment and care, walks, baths and visits to the vet. And, in return, he just plain loved us with every fibre of his being. He would completely forgive a passing grumpiness or a hurried interaction, knowing that I would sit down eventually and he could take up his favourite position on or beside me on the sofa (and borrow a little of my Reiki self-practice, too).
We all miss him greatly, even now. Talking with my daughter this weekend, I came to the conclusion that at the sore heart of our sadness was the loss of an utterly reliable source of unconditional love.
That conclusion was followed by this one. Whether or not you have the most wonderful partner or most adoring family and friends in the world, the only utterly reliable source of unconditional love that will be with you until your very last breath … is YOU.
And, no, I am not kidding. I am suggesting – no, I’m insisting – that you should love yourself.
So what gets in the way? What may be preventing you from offering yourself that straightforward love and support?
So often, our early learning is that love is conditional on us being a certain way.
Not only can we misunderstand a caregiver’s momentary tiredness or irritation and take it on when, in truth, it has nothing at all to do with us but before we reach the age of seven, our brains are designed to suck up everything that’s going on around and factor it into our personal map of “How The World Works”. With no filters. You only have to watch a little child imitating an adult action and talking to their teddy or doll, to understand just how powerful that “watch and learn” instinct is.
Then what if somebody actually told you directly that you were useless, bad, ugly, fat, silly, a nuisance or a disappointment – and you believed them?
And, as a result of that belief, when anyone said you were capable, lovely, sensible, important, special, precious or a joy to be with, you knew they must be mistaken and turned that appreciation away? And so it goes on.
But the mistake is to believe the dross that’s sitting between you and the simple fact that you are deserving of love and acceptance. You always were, you always will be and all you need to do is believe it.
By the way, I’m not talking about condoning words or actions that are unkind or cruel. Please understand that there is a clear difference between the essential YOU and What-You-Do. What I’m saying is that this essential YOU deserves to be loved and the nearest, best, most important person to offer that love is YOU. So sweep that dross away and let some light shine in!
What lessons did you learn about being lovable and if there were conditions placed upon your lovability, what were they? I’d love to know – do leave a comment below.
And please remember that there are many ways to examine and reframe painful beliefs about yourself and the world. That work is at the heart of everything I do, so please get in touch if you would like some support as you learn to let go of your unhelpful stuff.
Photo of Barty: by me