By Janet Attwood: Most of us know that our ability to love others is dependent on our love for our self. In fact, the love we experience in our lives is just a reflection of the love we have for our self. Hmmmm, that’s interesting, but is it true? Look around at the people you know that seem to have the highest self-esteem. Do they appear to really accept and value themselves, without devaluing anyone else? Do you notice that they seem to have a lot of love in their life?
On the other hand, look at the people who seem to have the least love in their lives. How does their life appear by contrast? How do you think they feel about themselves?
Most of us are somewhere in between. Yet once we realize this truth, we discover that our relationships and how we feel about them are a wonderful barometer of how we are feeling about our self.
We’ve been trained to think of ourselves as separate, distinct and different from others. And superficially that seems to be the case. As we learn the secrets of staying in love, we discover that our outer world is a pure reflection of our inner world. What we see in the outer is showing us what our inner looks like. We project the inner onto the outer and that becomes our reality.
One of the wonderful qualities of love is acceptance. Have you noticed when you fall in love with someone, you love everything about them? In that state of being “in love” we are fully accepting, willing to forgive, and always looking at the best in the other.
Have you noticed when you are unable to accept qualities about yourself, when you have been unable to forgive yourself? This is one of the signals of “contraction.” Contraction is always a sign to us that there is some part of our emotional body that needs to heal.
We can ignore this sign, and continue to suffer, or we can recognize it and begin to heal. The process is no more difficult than allowing a broken bone to heal. It requires some time, it requires nurturing, and it requires protecting the hurt until the healing is complete.
We will know how much of the wound is healed when we encounter a situation or circumstance that triggered pain in the past. If the wound has healed completely, we will discover (sometimes to our amazement) that we feel no pain. In fact, we may discover that as we are no longer focused on our own pain, we are able to see the pain in the other and meet it with compassion rather than rejection.
Are you lovable or not?
We have been taught to live in judgment–of ourselves, of others, of our world. We are either good or bad, worthy or unworthy, deserving or undeserving, lovable or unloveable, skilled or unskilled, successful or unsuccessful, and on and on. The truth is that opposites always coexist, everywhere.
We are both loveable and unloveable, worthy and unworthy, deserving and undeserving, skilled and unskilled, etc., etc. It is a matter of perspective. What we put our attention on grows stronger in our lives. No matter how much we try, there will always be someone or something to prove to us that we are not that which we strive to be. If we focus on that perspective, then we will live in misery.
On the other hand, because opposites always coexist, even the most scathing of criticisms is a blessing in our life, if we are awake to it. So, does putting our attention on the positive mean we ignore the things most people call bad, terrible, awful or wrong? No, of course not. It only means that we are able to see the blessing in these things. We are able to look beyond the appearance to what underlies the appearance.
Experience is worth 1000 Words
All of this is great theory, but the value is in the experience. All of us expand and contract all the time. Often many times a day. To return to expansion when we contract (as opposed to stuffing it in alcohol, drugs, food, or other escapes) requires a conscious choice, and a life that supports that choice.
No one taught us how to do this in school so it only makes sense that it may take some practice. And it’s helpful to surround ourselves with people who will help us. To get an overview of the lessons we’ve learned and the tools we use, download our article, Nine Secrets of Staying in Love – All of the Time.
You may also find it helpful to learn about The Work of Byron Katie ( www.thework.org .) Katie has been one of our great mentors and her simple process of inquiry is both simple and effective.
We look forward to meeting you, joining you in the growing experience of love, and seeing how we can together create a world that reflects the best of us.