Wow. This is a big topic.
Of all the things I have learned and experienced over the last 50 years, this is the biggest – and the one with the most potential for growth – and the one with the biggest impact on improving our lives.
To say I have experienced the highs and lows of love – and all the fears and joys associated with it – is an understatement.
In the last 2 years alone, I have experienced and survived a divorce from a 29 year marriage which was wonderful to say the least. I have lived to tell about separating from a new and exciting relationship in who I became completely attached to and couldn’t live without. I experienced the super roller coaster of another new and wonderful relationship and separation from a Twin Soul who was an opposite to nearly everything about me and which we both learned and grew from profoundly - AND I left countless other deep trusted loving relationships behind when I permanently relocated halfway across the country this week.
As I type this and reinforce just how painstakingly difficult the last 2 years have been…I realize without a doubt that I share this from a state of mind where I am more peaceful and more joyful than I have ever been before in my life. I now fully embrace how all of these relationships have evolved rather than separated, as they will be continued in a new and improved way going forward. Wow again.
How? How could I turn this period of excruciating suffering and pain, hardship, dark and gloom and just plain ugly depressed feelings into the most peaceful and joyful period of my life? How could I see these 'losses' as evolution and a great thing for all involved?
Well, we’ve all heard the answer before……I learned to love myself. I learned that outside of the relationship with our creator, the relationship with myself is the one and only most important.
I also learned that no one (and no thing) else can or will ever be able to make us feel long term peace or joy. And I learned all of this in the only way that it can be truly learned – the hard way. The hard way of taking loss and pain and suffering head on. The hard way of letting people go when all you want is for them to be around more than ever. The hard way of turning to look inside to find out why we need someone or something else to fill the hole left by what we don’t like about ourselves… The hard way of seeing what this is doing for us instead of to us. You know, the scariest stuff of all that we spend our lives avoiding.
We all know that I am not the first or last person to share that the key to long term peace, fulfillment, joy, and happiness is to love ourselves first. There are countless books, songs, poems, seminars, experiences and other vehicles that have shared this wisdom with us and without these mentors and guides going before, I may never have figured it out for myself. But they did and it’s real.
The real is that each and every person or thing in our life has the opportunity to help us be temporarily happier (and often less happy as a result), however, nothing and no one but ourselves can help us enjoy the experience of lyf more than loving who we are and why we are. I now get that 100%.
I remember while experiencing the hard realities and conditions that took me down and made me learn and made me grow that most of the time I knew that loving myself was the answer and agreed with it – but didn’t truly embrace it nor did I have any idea how to actually achieve it. For most of the journey, I was sure I knew what the hell I was doing and saying was right and it would work out and all would be ‘right’ – if this or that of the other person or the relationship itself would finally change to the way I wanted it - or when I changed myself for it.
It took me forever to feel and discover what exactly was the problem….I was the problem. I was the one who put all the ownership of me loving me – on someone or something else.
It simply didn’t work and never can work.
Loving ourselves first can only come from going through the real effects of what a difficult relationship feels like. It can only come from experiencing the pain of loss of when the one we ‘love’ doesn’t end up being that perfect person we put on our pedestal of what will make us happy. It can only come from experiencing the perfect person for us leaving us because we created exactly what we didn’t want the most – for them to leave us. It can only come from hurting others in the process and feeling bad about ourselves because we never intended to hurt anyone, especially the ones we love most. It can only come from having the right partner that helps you see yourself in a big and powerful and hurtful way. It can only come from having a significant period of being alone and feeling lonely and only by realizing that we are at the center of it all and we are all we have and we are always with us – 100% of the time. It can only come from experiencing that we are the only one that matters in knowing whether or not we are enough.
In the end, the only way to love ourselves first is to go through all this – and to come out on the other side – and look back and say, ‘Holy ____. I did it. And look how I feel about me because I made it. I am more than OK and always will be more than OK.’
That’s it. That’s the only way.
I’ve read it, heard it, seen it and have known it. But I didn’t believe it and thought I could find a better and easier way for most of it. In hindsight, that only made it worse. Holding on made it worse and only letting go made it better.
So maybe the new discoveries in the ancient wisdom that we all know about is that we have to experience it to make it through and that ‘ripping the band aid off’ is always more effective. We can read about it and convince ourselves that there is an easier way, but until we drop the armor and get ugly with ourselves and do the work head on…..until we face the self-limiting beliefs that are keeping us from loving ourselves, we will never truly love ourselves nor be able to love anyone else – and we will never fully relieve the suffering and get to the place where we can truly be at peace and joy.
The final piece to this realization came for me as I drove up and into the Rocky Mountains - on day four of a six day journey alone with just myself driving a car for 2100 miles - only to come down the other side and know and feel that I am finally happy with just me and I finally feel the love for myself first.
Now the rest will be history.
It was a long and difficult road to get to and through the Rockies….but now I look forward to each and every day of the beautiful journey of true love and relationships on the other side.
Keep Goin! And fall in love with yourself by showing your biggest critic (yourself) that you can make it through the hard parts…. When you come out on the other side and can truly love others, you and your relationships will never be the same again.