Written by Telaine Feeney
We are raised believing love looks a certain way. It involves someone else seeing the value in us. It is what we are ‘aiming’ for. Finding someone else to share it all with. It involves an ‘intimate’ partner, romance with another, being desired. But in this new era of questioning the status quo, I discovered that we could change it up, we define what love looks like for us.
Learning to embrace this new framework of how love looks came from hard times.
All good lessons do, right?
The shift in my thinking wasn’t a matter of becoming cynical, or, as some people envision, the concept ‘bitter and lonely. It was a realisation that I already have everything I envisioned love to be. By giving myself the same amount of time and interest as I would at the start of new love relationship, I would be ready for the day a partnered love might come about.
Think about it. We start dating wanting to discover a person’s ‘core’. Their beliefs, their passions, how they think, act, and feel. We are invested in knowing that to decide if we want in on that action. Now imagine having that curiosity with yourself.
This is how I describe my journey to self-love.
For many, self-love conjures a picture of woo-woo self-affirmations watching the sun set, internal peace and ‘no bad vibes’.
As beautiful as that might be, it’s not the truth behind learning to love yourself. Just like we hear in romantic partnerships, love takes effort. It can be brutal. But also just like in romantic partnerships, the journey is rewarding.
You learn compassion, sensitivity, self-knowledge, and perspective. You discover what truly matters to you.
Now I have told you what self-love is not, let me share some steps you can take to your own prospective of what love looks like…
• Take yourself out for a meal. Dress up, book it in, pack a journal. It sounds so simple. But the first time I did this was terrifying. It was confronting to sit with myself. And this is where the journal played a part. I wrote down things I would have ‘wanted’ to hear or know if I was dating someone else.
Why did I feel good in the outfit I was wearing? Why did I choose that restaurant? What was I enjoying about the food? Was I going to get coffee when I left?
• Enjoy your family and friends. Truly invest in those relationships and let yourself realise what you love about them and how they make you feel.
Let them be your sounding board as you discover that you are not perfect, or immune to insecurities and doubts. Be supportive of them as they share.
Let your compassion grow.
• Be curious when you have a feeling. I heard ‘you will find someone who loves you for you one day’ when experiencing another ‘failed’ partnership.
It felt uncomfortable. It tasted bitter in the back of my throat. It turns out it was my true feelings. I was uncomfortable with the aspect of my value being based on ‘someone loving me’. I did not want that. I wanted to be happy and loving MYSELF.
• Learn to enjoy yourself. Reconnect with people who make you laugh, let yourself be childish, do something that you get joy from. Give yourself the experiences you fantasised a ‘romantic’ date would involve.
So now you know how you get on with the first gentle steps into creating an authentic, loving connection with yourself. It’s harder than it sounds, but seriously, so good when you get there!
If you’ve been inspired, leave a message with the Alive Mag team at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll send it on to me!
Yours in peace and love,