Discovering Love

Wellbeing Corner – Vol. 5 February 2021

Ahhhh February…. The month of love! John Lennon and the Beatles wrote and sang “All you need is love” and “Can’t Buy me Love”. Elvis crooned about it… “Love me tender, Love me true…” James Taylor encouraged us to “Shower the people you love with love”. I could go on and on, and as you are reading this, I’m sure at least a dozen more songs came to mind for you! Love. The emotion that has been the catalyst of more songs, movies and writings than any other topic or feeling. We seek after this mysterious human emotion in many ways, and for all of its vast qualities- from ‘heartbreak’ to ‘lovesick’. But what is love, really? As I searched Miriam-Websters definition, I was a bit surprised to find over 10 entry lines explaining this complicated emotion. Among some of these were the following: affection based on admiration, benevolence; an assurance of affection; strong affection for another; the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration; concern for the good of another.

All of this to focus on others, the interpersonal aspect of love. But what about the love we have for ourselves? Not much any genre of music has to lyricize, or many a movie has attempted to dramatize on that aspect of love! The intrapersonal aspect of love can be a far more foreign and complicated subject in many ways. It has been said that ‘if we don’t love ourselves first, we can not love others’. I say, not quite so. I would rephrase that as: ‘If we don’t love ourselves, we cannot accept love from others.’ One of my favorite lines: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” –The Perks of Being a Wallflower

To love yourself means to accept yourself as you are and to come to terms with those aspects of yourself that you cannot change. It means to have self-respect, a positive self-image, and unconditional self-acceptance. One aspect of this pandemic crisis we have been under is that human beings connect via their imperfections and socialization with others. Not through the social media highlight reel of their life which sends each of us into a state of an emotional and isolating abyss. Or the ‘virtual’ formats we have been forced into, creating a new sense of isolation. Personally, as a therapist, I see the great need for face-to-face interaction and personal touch. How much a hug, holding a hand, and just sitting presently with someone can do therapeutically! I believe our culture has become starved for this interaction we are designed for, and video calls can only fill that void to a certain extent.

So how do we love ourselves and ‘embrace’ others during these times of isolation and detachment?

1. Mindfulness: Having an open, curious, non-judging attitude; not over-identifying with negative stories about the self. Right now it is easy to become stuck in a negative thought loop. We tend to be our own worst critics, especially when we are isolated in our own personal space. Choose to focus on the positive aspects we can find in each day.

2. Self-kindness: Treating yourself kindly, rather than harshly. Extending the same care and support to yourself that you would to a good friend or loved one. Bringing that love to yourself and then extending it to others in creative ways.

3. Common humanity: Allowing yourself to be human, to make mistakes and learn from them. Knowing that as humans we are not perfect, nor should we be expected to act flawlessly. ESPECIALLY in these un-charted and uncertain times! Self-compassion is much more effective in changing behavior than trying to motivate yourself with shame and self-criticism. Shame and self-criticism lead to inner rebellion and giving up, while self-compassion gives you hope and helps you trust the process of change. Love yourself for the uniqueness you are gifted with as an individual.

So this month, give yourself the gift of self-love first! You can’t accept anyone else’s love if you don’t believe you’re worthy of it! Stop seeking outside of yourself for any changes to occur in order to be able to love yourself during this pandemic and through these volatile times. You are worthy! Never forget, that everything you are looking for is inside of you already! It’s your job to tap into that hope and happiness and allow it to bubble up and overflow.

“To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.” Robert Morely

Be and remain well,
Deidre McLeod, MS LMHC

If your loved ones, friends, or maybe even yourself, are struggling to find your best mental health and SELF-LOVE, please contact us to schedule an appointment at:
Cornerstone Centers for Wellbeing
Appointment & Information number: 1-866-280-WELL (9355)
All referrals and appointments are strictly confidential.

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