All you need is love. It used to sound like such a cliché to me. You don’t need money or financial stability, an education, marriage or commitment. For a phrase that people drop quite often, the question remains: If love is all we need, why are so many people not actually living that way?
Maybe they want to; maybe they feel it’s a noble goal or believe that’s the image they’d like to portray. The truth is many people don’t live up to ‘all you need is love’. I pondered this at age 50, through the lens of a woman who has experienced a lot, seen a lot, and loved a lot. What do I really think of love and why is it so very important that people, including me, go around saying it’s the only thing you need? And let’s not forget what the Beatles said: ‘It’s eeeasy’.
I’ve worked hard at becoming a person who understands what’s truly important in my life. I ‘get’ that the riches of love are worth far more than any material thing. I’ve been fortunate in love by winning the birth lotto: loving parents. I’ve always had a network of loving friends and meaningful, loving relationships. Like most people, I’ve also had my struggles with love despite all this abundance. Let’s face it: it isn’t always ‘eeeasy’ to love. “I don’t trust this situation”, “I’m not ready”, “This is not the time”… who hasn’t thought of an excuse to hold back? How is a person to love when all this is running around in your head?
What I’ve finally decided is this: If love is the answer (and this isn’t a test, love IS the answer), it has to start somewhere. Love must start with you. Yes, self-love. Before you love anything or anyone else, you truly must love yourself. But how do you get there? It isn’t easy to love everything about yourself. And that’s the catch. Loving yourself first is the doorway to all other love. Skip this fundamental step and it’s as good as pulling the Monopoly card that says “Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.” In other words, you’re not going anywhere. Knowing this may tempt you to hold back, not give in, or jam on the brakes. If you want to achieve and experience love at its fullest, you’ll have to love and trust in yourself first. Without this foundation, you’ll just be filling a void or mimicking something that looks good from the outside. What I’m talking about is the inside work. The calm, the peace, that true knowing. Connecting with your smiling heart. If you don’t show up to a situation loving yourself, you’ll never be able to love in a manner that’s authentic. That would mean missing out on a full life.
When we play games of being selective with our love, we’re only cheating ourselves. Surrender is the essential component. Are you willing to give up your control? I wasn’t sure I was quite ready for that. Surrender myself for the sake of someone or something else? That didn’t feel comfortable and my mind was pretty sure it wasn’t the smart thing to do. But that’s not how it works. If you choose to play it safe or close yourself off, don’t expect to reap the benefits of great love in your life. This limits the range of love that you give and receive. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience a huge range of love. I want to experience ridiculous joy, as if I’ll burst with love. I want this huge range of love in every aspect of my life. To attain that requires I allow and accept the possibility that I’ll encounter the other side of the equation: the chance that I’ll be grossly disappointed, fail, or get hurt. Is it worth it?
You may close yourself off from love because you feel you can’t risk the pain you’ve encountered somewhere in the past. An unrequited love, a person who betrayed you, broke your heart — and you dare not be a sucker again. Choosing that path of control is choosing fear over love. If you “settle” in intimate love, that quality of settling can quietly seep into your core, spilling into your entire life — your work, your friends, your essence. You may find yourself with a pile of ‘safe’ or ’good fits.’ You may not even realize this on a conscious level, or verbalize it, but that’s what your life becomes. There are excuses galore if you want to find them. Self-love takes courage. If you’ve ever felt mediocrity of something in your life, or that something was missing, this is your gut whispering more is possible. That longing is you wanting the tougher, but more rewarding path. Before you look outside for it, you must look inside yourself to find it.
The people who have chosen self-love simply radiate it. They dare to choose it, are ready to fail, and get back on that horse again and again. Such is life. There’s no straight line from A to B, with road maps and instructions. This is a lifetime journey, to relinquish control of the wheel and let your best, most vulnerable self do the driving. Eyes closed, heart open, the choice is yours. Are you ready?
Love is getting knocked down a few times and then getting up because you know that was just a moment in time. Everyone wants love, but will you break down your own walls to get it? Are you willing to give it as much as receive it? That’s what love asks of you: vulnerability, compassion, and forgiveness. Love for someone else doesn’t complete you or your life. It doesn’t give you security or save you from being alone. If you are chasing the love of your life, love becomes the very thing that eludes you. This is true no matter what kind of love you seek. It’s exhausting and much like running in place. Get off the treadmill and start walking on your own road. It’s actually all about you. Be fulfilled by yourself and for yourself. If you can love your entire self, ‘flaws and all’, other love will come to you, like magic.
Happiness radiates your aura. When you love yourself, from the core, it’s palatable — not only to you — to those in your presence. When you meet someone like this, you physically feel it. Is it because they told you so? Is it because you see them kissing someone else? Is it because they smile all the time? No. These things can contribute to your belief that love is there, but the overwhelming sensation is that you feel it in them. It’s as if the air around this person is saturated with something special. Who doesn’t want a piece of that? Those people emit strength, radiance and ooze love in a manner that’s gentle and simultaneously strong and magnetic. I swear those people even smell good! You physically want to be closer to them. It’s not their physical beauty, nor their compelling words or bold behavior. It’s something else… subtle, delicious, potent.
Love is in your essence, in your being. If you can’t be that love, how can you attract that love? You can’t. It’s at the root of pretty much all your decisions. Sounds intense and complicated — and on some level it is. Electing love, of yourself will, without a doubt, alter the caliber of your life. That life bubble you live in expands with this choice, and the pool of more love starts to enter your sphere.
Loving yourself has an incredible domino effect. Achieve it and the world literally opens up in a way you never imagined it could. For a while, I didn’t truly understand the magnificent power of self-love. I know now it deserves serious attention and respect. Self-love is the gateway to all other forms of love. It’s infectious. Whenever I go to my yoga mat, I consciously realize that I’ve elected self-love for that period of time. You just have to elect it, choose it, time and time again… until it is how you live.