Updated: Sep 23, 2019
Over the years, I have been given the incredible opportunity to work and study one of life’s most elusive and complex topics: Love. Through my own experience and through the lenses offered by clients, I have significantly evolved my understanding of it. Though there are many more lessons still to learn, I can now look at love from an alternate perspective. One that is not simply from the other side of a therapy sofa, but something which I’ve come to see in nearly everything I see. Love is so abundant, it can be found in a stranger’s smile, in a baby’s giggle or even when you are alone at home. It can be found in grief, anger or even in someone’s darkest moments.
I’ve become aware of so many existing forms of love that I cannot help but feel sad when I hear people say they have fallen out of love. Love has no boundaries and it is certainly not restricted to loving one’s partner. When I hear someone says that they have fallen out of love, then in all probability they haven’t ever experienced love in its truest form. They’ve placed love, and the responsibility towards how they feel in the hands of someone else. For someone to find love outside of themselves, it is a pre-requisite to find it within themselves first. Often times, people who claim to have fallen out of love harbor within themselves an unsurmountable amount of disappointment. Such feelings are an indicator of an empty love tank. However, according to my understanding, such an outlook on love is a by-product of how love has been romanticized. Most couples define love in terms of what they get from one another leaving them measuring love. The more love is measured, the less it’s experienced.
During couple’s counseling, I sometimes ask my clients to think of ways they can love their partner even when they may be feeling unloved or unappreciated. I have them explore in what ways love is being negotiated and how transactional they may be making it. Whether they are expecting or providing it, I have them analyze in what ways is love limiting to either partner. When they begin to practice love without these limits, they’re also setting an example for their partner to see what unconditional love can look like. It helps them see how love doesn’t need to be measured. Ultimately, it can allow both partners to further practice open love.
As partners begin removing the conditions, they also begin to work on the continual understanding of what is healthy within the context of their relationship. It can take some time to understand, practice, and fine tune the difference between unconditional love for who someone is, and how the relationship navigates through its challenges. The more self-aware clients become, the more accountability and responsibility they take for their own behaviors. They also become much more keenly aware of the boundaries and limits they may need to set, without the conditions of how love can still be applied. Just because there’s an abundance of love, it doesn’t mean that anyone should disregard what they are uncomfortable with. When individuals discover what feels right, what is allowed, and where they may be measuring love, they become more open with their partners. Once better understood, it can greatly improve satisfaction, confidence, communication, intimacy, trust and authenticity within themselves and within their relationships.
Remember, loving freely without expectations will become much easier once you learn to love yourself. However, you can’t learn to love yourself overnight, it is a process that requires time, practice, and consistency. Be graceful with your setbacks and use them as opportunities to further enhance your ability to love. Once you become more open to it, you will open the door to more of it. It can come in waves, but once you can learn to embrace it all, it may literally feel as though your heart is expanding through your entire being. Experiencing this, is probably one of the most beautiful feelings humans can ever have, but living like this is something that no one person, thing, or difficult moment can ever take away.
Here’s a list to uncover and tap into infinite love:
Become more introspective about what you are doing with your life and what expectations you have of yourself. Are these expectations a reflection of outside influences? Are they applicable only to you or also to others?
Pay attention to the way you judge yourself. You don’t need to be too harsh to yourself. If needed, make a list and then think of ways you can be more loving and kind towards yourself. Give yourself a break as you would to someone else.
Quit the blame game. If you are in a relationship and feel dissatisfied then it may be a good time to ask yourself if your approach to handle the situation right? Often, a small but loving change in your behavior can encourage others to respond more positively to you. However, if the issue is intense and beyond your control, do not sell yourself short.
Look at your surrounding and take them in. Life is a gift and is meant to be lived. We don’t know how many lives we get, but we know you got this one. So why not live and love every moment of it by acknowledging your surroundings that create your beautiful world.
Pause for a minute and think what you’re doing with your life. Are you doing with it what you intend to do with it? Or are you making more excuses than progress? If you do not have any goals then try to set some by exploring your areas of interest. It is never too late.
Evaluate your friendships and your activities. How do you spend your day? In the end, your life will be a summation of what you do each day. It may be a good idea to reflect on the past few years. Are you doing what you want to do? Or is there something that you want to do differently? Are your friendships healthy? Falling in love with yourself will help you take action to make each day better than yesterday.
Learning to love yourself is the process of learning to value, care and love yourself unconditionally not expectations. Come join Carolina’s next BeLove Retreat. You can learn the tools through experiential exercises on more ways to connect with loving yourself, loving your life and loving the life you live.
Co-founder of the Love Discovery Institute, Dr. Carolina Pataky is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Sex Therapist . Recognized as one of South Florida’s leading authorities on intimacy, relationships and self-discovery. Her focus is to give individuals and couples of any sexual preference the tools to learn how to love themselves unconditionally, receive love, and create fulfilling and joyful relationships that will last a lifetime. Through private sessions, couples intensives and luxury retreats, she provides individual and couples coaching sessions, sex therapy, and psychotherapy practices that support clients through the journey of finding the right path to healthy love.Visit her website: www.lovediscovery.org