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This Thing Called Love

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What is your story around love? Many celebrate and/or struggle with love...especially as Valentine's Day nears.

As a single, divorced mother of two teens, I experience more love in my life now than I ever have. I am not involved in a romantic relationship and yet I am showered with love, overflowing! How is that possible? I have completely changed the way I view and experience love over the past decade and would like to share that perspective with you.

My favorite definition of love...

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4 - 7
Love is not what we get from others, it is the approach and experience we choose as we engage in all our relationships. When we do so as described above (a challenging yet immensely rewarding practice), we receive all that we give, in abundance!

If you are navigating divorce, it makes sense that your life may feel void of love right now. If you have a contentious situation you are most likely engaging in a lot of judgment and criticism on both sides of the table. Add to that upset children, parents, friends and family and you may feel like your love tank is bone dry.

What can you do to enhance the love in your life?

Be love. Read 1 Corinthians above and ask yourself where you can improve the way you engage in all your relationships. Begin to notice when:

you judge others as right and wrong and let them know it
you are impatient with those in your life
you are curt or hurtful in your tone or attitude (and feel righteous in doing so)
you are competitive or prideful in dealing with others
you criticize shortcomings rather than applauding strengths
When we begin to accept the people in our lives for who they are in all their imperfections and praise them for all the beauty we see in them, we receive an extraordinary amount of satisfaction and love in return. We also become clear on when and with whom we need to set boundaries to interact with them in a safe and satisfying way and when we need to let go of relationships that do not bring value to our lives.

Where can you work on being loving in all your relationships?

Love yourself. Are you always giving and rarely on the receiving end of love? Chances are you are missing the most vital step in receiving love. You give to receive and yet the most important person for you to give to has been missing from your giving list for a long time. That person is you.

Do you put everyone else's needs before yours?
Do you feel guilty taking care of yourself (and perhaps get criticized by others when you do so)?
Do you search for love and find you are often abandoned, meet people who won't commit to you or take advantage of your generosity offering little in return?
Do you ask yourself why this keeps happening when you are SUCH A GOOD GIVER?

If this is you, there is a simple (although not easy) solution to turn love around in your life. You MUST become self-loving. That means taking care of yourself, letting go of needing to be there for everyone, all the time, under any circumstances. Look at why you need to please other people while not taking care of your needs...therein lies your work and the gateway to receiving an abundance of love!

Whatever it is we desire from the world...love, commitment, appreciation, kindness, encouragement, we must first give to ourselves.

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Buddha

Years ago, I used to be so hard on myself. I called myself terrible names when I made a mistake, I put everyone's needs ahead of mine and then felt angry and bitter that no one considered my needs or showed me the love I felt I deserved. Then I learned to take care of myself. At first, those closest to me - the ones I had 'trained' to be selfish and expect everything from me- called me selfish. That was really hard. But over time, they learned to respect my need to take care of myself and even more amazing...I began to receive from them what I was finally giving to myself...love in all its brilliant hues!

To truly experience love, we must engage with the alchemy of the heart.

According to Michael Brown, author of "Alchemy Of The Heart", "...the heart can only come to our aid if, instead of running from what we dislike, we become fully present with what we are experiencing...we accept the unacceptable and discover that the flip side of our pain is personal growth..."

One of the greatest fears individuals navigating divorce are plagued with the notion that they will never find love but rather live the rest of their lives lonely.

Those most successful in romantic love are not 'finding' love, they are being love. When we choose to live in love, project it, invite it in and embrace it in all our relationships, we will receive an abundance of love in return. First and foremost love yourself and as a result experience a wealth of love. Accept the people in their lives for who they are and how they behave and experiencing the best of them.

Love is like oxygen. It is free. It is all around you. It is life enhancing. It is available in abundance. How can you be love, celebrate love and receive more love in your life? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.