To protect yourself, you may have closed yourself off from having open-hearted encounters with other people. It is not that you are trying to close yourself off; you are simply trying to protect yourself from being hurt and exploited. This happens especially with trauma survivors and people who have lost someone important to them. You may not want to go through the same pain again.
How would you like to free yourself of that habit? What would your life be like if you were able to love freely, openly, and with courage? Can you imagine your life in this way? You don’t have to risk getting hurt in order to do this. You can still use your judgment about whether a person is really toxic or not. However, you may assume that everyone is dangerous. Just for a moment, I’d like you to imagine removing this assumption.
How will your life be different when you...
Accept other people for who they are
See differences between you and other people as interesting rather than threatening
Don’t take things personally
Release the conditioning that says you’re not safe to be in relationship with others
Become conscious of the projections that you place on other people
Become conscious of the projections others place on you
View others compassionately
Understand that everyone has a story and a journey, and each person’s story can help explain why they do things the way they do?
Loving without limits on a wider scale
What would this do to your friendships? How would this affect your romantic partnerships, if you are in one? How would this manifest in your work relationships? How would this impact your relationship with your vocation, your income?
What I have known intellectually for a long time, and what I am beginning to learn experientially, is that it all starts with your relationship with yourself. This Valentine’s Day, I want you to focus on how you treat yourself and what you tell yourself about your lovability. So much self-criticism and drama are happening at a subconscious level you might not even notice how you speak about yourself, to others and to yourself.
How do you remove the limits of love?
Exercises like journaling and meditation can help you become aware of what you say and how it affects you. Are you kinder to others than to yourself? Do you doubt your worth or feel under confident? What would it take to give those habits up?
For a week or so, try writing down all the things that you think about yourself, good, bad and ugly. You don’t have to show it to anyone, just do it for yourself. See what you’ve been saying and think, “Would I say that to a loved one? Would I say that to a stranger? If I wouldn’t, can I change it to be more realistic and kinder?”
Don’t worry about getting conceited, please!
There need be no limits on how much you love yourself. True self love is not narcissism or being conceited. When you truly love yourself you don’t need to put anyone else down. In fact, you realize that to put others down is to put yourself down. When you judge and criticize anyone, it is hurting you even more than it hurts the other person.
Another idea is to have a jar into which you put a dollar each time you say anything negative about anyone. At the end of the week you must send that money to a cause that you dislike or a person that you’ve been harboring a grudge against. Only do this if you’re really serious about not judging anymore. Or will it make you more serious?
This Valentine’s Day does not need to be about chocolate, flowers and romantic love. It can be about strengthening your love for yourself, and thus for humanity. Removing the limits on love can be scary, but it can be exhilarating and fun as well!