Feeling loved. Isn’t that what we all want? I’m very aware that Valentine’s Day is upon us. The day that symbolizes romantic love. Actually, I think it really symbolizes the infatuation stage of a relationship. You know, that beginning part where we find our partner perfect in every way. Where we are marinating in a hormonal cocktail that keeps us from seeing anything we don’t like. If you happen to be in that place, enjoy it! It’s a lovely ride. Of course, ultimately the cocktail fades and we wake up to the reality of our partner and ourselves. This isn’t actually bad news. This is precisely where the opportunity to be loved begins. As Brené Brown says, “We have to allow ourselves to be seen to be loved”.
So in our relationships, we need to let our partner see the parts of ourselves we aren’t so sure are lovable. It feels like a big risk to be sure.
If we really show ourselves they might not want us anymore. If we don’t show ourselves we can never really feel loved. Some part of ourselves knows the relationship isn’t based on the truth of who we are. Some part is holding its breath waiting to be discovered and hoping not to be dumped. This willingness to exile parts of ourselves in the hope of being loved by another is a root cause of suffering. We don’t feel ok alone, and we don’t feel secure in our relationships.
Holding to the dream of being loved by someone else is a narrow way to dream. Don’t get me wrong, being loved by another is wonderful. It’s just that it really isn’t the only way.
If we want to feel loved, we can start with ourselves.
How do we wish to be treated by a beloved? Is that how you are treating yourself? Is there any reason you can’t treat yourself as well as you long to be treated by a beloved? What if you began the day by saying to yourself, “Good Morning, I love you, what would you like to do today? How might the day be different?
And how might the day be different if we were loving toward others? The other part of being in a relationship. Might we be kind to co-workers, friends, and strangers? It can feel good to smile at someone who may be having a not so easy moment. A kind of “I see you and like you” moment. Where our attention goes our love flows?
The truth is you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to be important, valued, special. You already belong. You are a part of humanity and a resident on this extraordinary planet.
And so far, whatever the hardships you have endured, life has conspired to keep you alive. The trees are taking in your exhale and giving back the oxygen that nourishes every cell of your being. The sun rises each day and gives us and the plants we eat, the energy to go on. There are numerous ways in which we are supported. Open your eyes and look around. You are surrounded by love and beauty. Do you see that even in the cracked sidewalks grow little flowering weeds? Of course, this is easier to see when we find ourselves in nature.
The famous poet, Mary Oliver, in her poem “Wild Geese” writes:
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
The world offers itself to your imagination,
Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
Over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
So, this Valentine’s Day, let’s see if we can broaden our ideas of what love means. Can we get in the flow of love all around us? Go from the sentimental kind of love to the deeply meaningful ways to be and feel loved? Let’s set our intention to open our hearts and pay attention, to ourselves and to those around us, with the quality of loving awareness.