Love Is In The Air

LOVE IS IN THE AIR

February. Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air.

Not for everyone, unfortunately.

As a therapist, my services are usually needed when love is no longer in the air. A heart has been broken, and love has turned cruel. Or the pain of loneliness has become unbearable. Rarely do people seek therapy when love is blooming like the daffodils.

But take heart, everyone. Like the words in so many songs, love is indeed the answer; always has been, always will be. It’s the question that needs examining, that question being, “who do you love”?

Here’s what the therapist has to say. All to often, people give their love to another before they’ve ever loved themselves, which is a setup for problems in the relationship. Why? Because until you truly deem yourself worthy of love, you will likely sabotage the love given to you by others. It’s like building a mansion on quicksand. It may be beautiful at first, but after a short time, will likely disappear. To experience a sustained, loving relationship with another, you must have a sustained, loving relationship with yourself.

I am not talking about narcissism, which is an ego-inflated sense of self-importance. I’m simply referring to a healthy and loving sense of self, and knowing that your value as a human being is at least that of others. Believe it or not, many people struggle with this. For some, it’s due to leftover childhood shame or negative messages that program us into thinking something is wrong with us or that we’re not worthy of love.

Second, try thinking of love as a verb. It’s about action. Behavior. Many people believe love is a feeling, and it certainly can be, but that feeling is ultimately the result of how we demonstrate our love, whether we’re talking about love for our self or another. To expect the feeling of love without actively nurturing it through everyday actions is like expecting fruit from a non-existent tree. If we want to grow fruit, we must first take the action steps of planting and nurturing the tree, then expect the fruit, or the feeling of love.

How to accomplish this? Find ways to express your love, and don’t be confused by advertising messages. Contrary to what the retail community would have you believe, it’s not necessary to spend money to show your love. It has more to do with language, thoughtfulness, and realistic expectations rather than outrageous demands. Refrain from language that criticizes, condemns, disparages and shames. It will only serve to create misery, not love. Instead, try seeing mistakes as opportunities for redemption and forgiveness rather than punishment. Try seeing yourself as a human being who, like everyone else, is searching. And practice a few of those random acts of kindness toward yourself, as well as a stranger.

Do this for at least three reasons: one, it’s the way we should all be treated, and no one  not even you — should be an exception. Two, because, like being in love, it sets you up for inner peace, success and joy in life. Who doesn’t want those? And third, when you have love and peace toward yourself, you’re much more likely to attract and maintain genuine love with another person, if you’re so inclined.

So this Valentine’s Day, may I suggest, regardless of your romantic status, that you give yourself the gift of love. Begin by looking in the mirror and seeing the person who most deserves it. Then love that person with all your heart and your actions. Love is, after all, the answer.

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