Self-Criticism Sucks, Unconditional Love Rocks
How does self-criticism mess with your love life?
We all want to feel love and be loved. Given a choice, wouldn't you want to choose unconditional love?
I’m talking about a kind of love where all those feelings, sensations, thoughts, impulses, values, thoughts and behaviors that flow through you in any given moment are greeted with presence and acceptance. I’m talking about a state of being where no part of you is deemed unworthy of love.
Imagine that. To love yourself (and by extension, others) in this way?
Learning How to Love Beautifully
When it comes to creating judgement free loving, most of us are still struggling with that learning curve! In an ideal world, we would have all gotten a solid education on unconditional love as children so the task of giving and receiving true love would be effortless.
But in the world we live in, most us didn’t get enlightened parents. Many of us got a heartbreaking education on what it means to "love" and be in a relationship. And for better or for worse, our adult love lives reflect those patterns we learned.
So what are we to do? Give up on love because we didn’t learn it right the first time? Of course not!
How can we learn to love ourselves unconditionally in the absence of the ability to purchase a new childhood or an enlightened significant other online?
A Little Help from the Divine this Full Moon
Lately, I’ve been reaching out more and more to the Divine to help me love all those parts of me that I was taught not to love. And today, I thought it would be a good time to invite you to do the same; learn to love yourself in the light of the love of the Divine.
Now you may be wondering, how the heck do you do that Lorina?
Really, the process is simple. Well kinda.
It involves inviting the presence of the Divine to meet you when you find yourself in a state that feels less than lovable.
It can be as simple as asking the question, “Is love available even here?”
Here’s how it goes for me: When I find myself in a state, you know, one of those states where you feel contracted and swirling in “shoulds”, talking badly about yourself, feeling less-than and managing all sorts of uncomfortable emotions.
It’s a state that happens when you have huge expectations for yourself and fail miserably. It’s where you can easily end up when a loved one says or does something triggering.
The Question to Ask
So when I am in one of those states and I have my wits about me, I'll ask the question: “Is love available even here?” (It's a question I first heard from Mark Silver a Sufi Teacher/Business Coach.)
When I ask myself that question I’m not trying to escape the discomfort I am feeling. I am not attempting to judge away my judgments of myself. I’m not telling myself that I “should” be feeling something other than what I am feeling or be somebody other than I am.
Getting Intimate with the Source of Love
I am simply setting an intention to connect to the Source of Love and call in an awareness of that Love to join me wherever I am at. It's like a mini-prayer. And when I call in the presence of that Love, the Divine, I intentionally focus on receiving the love that I am longing for. Call it using your imagination or weaving magic with Oneness-- it doesn't matter.
Practicing intentionally receiving Divine love involves tuning into the sensations of Love’s presence. It takes slowing down and being curious about the micro shifts and subtle feelings that happen when we focus on “Love.” Sometimes it can feel like warmth or relaxation of various parts of your body-- in one's face or the space around your heart. This process can take time, time that is well worth taking.
When I practice this, it often involves becoming more present to feeling something that I wasn't letting myself feel... Something painful, vulnerable, uncomfortable... Often buried underneath some wave of anger or story of blame. That feeling might be sadness, loneliness, fear, even joy. And simply by feeling the feeling that I wasn’t able to feel without the presence of the Divine, something shifts. I become less hard on myself and more open to what is.
Learning to Love the "Unlovable"
This simple intention, anchored with the question, "Is love available even here?" helps me connect to a Divine loving awareness. And in that moment I infuse those seemingly “unlovable” states that I was taught not to love with a little bit, if not a whole lot more, love. And in this process I am slowly and assuredly learning to love myself more and more.
Care to join me in this Divine love?