The best and most beautiful things in the world, cannot be seen, or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.
Our desire to feel loved is a primary human need. Love is essential to our emotional health. Most of us don’t think twice about expressing acts of love toward those we care about and love. It’s second nature. Our ability to be empathetic and caring towards others helps to deepen the connection we experience in relationships. Research has found that the level of connection we feel in our relationships play a crucial role in our sense of well-being.
As children, many of us were told by our parents and other adults that it is better to give than to receive. So, many of us internalized this thought as a way of being. As a result, we developed the tendency of spending a lot of time, energy and resources meeting the needs of others while putting our needs on the back burner. When we fail to take care and love ourselves, we fail to relate to ourselves with compassion and loving-kindness. How can we ever truly open our heart to another if we are afraid to first open it to our self? And so the first call of love is to open our hearts fully to ourselves.
A Return to Self-Love
Inside each of us is an invisible emotional tank.[i] When our emotional tank is full, we feel more secure within ourselves, so, we exhibit a greater measure of self-acceptance and self-love. On the other hand, when our emotional tank is empty from all of the energy we’ve spent meeting the needs of others and placing our needs on the back burner, eventually we start to feel as if we’re not deserving of genuine care and concern. This thought leads us to feel we’re not good enough. If we fail to take immediate action to re-fill our emotional tank with acts of self-care and love towards ourselves, our thoughts and actions are much more likely to be dominated by the voice of our inner-critic.
When the voice of our inner-critic dominates our way of thinking and being, we beat ourselves up with harsh and critical words that we wouldn’t dare speak to someone we love, and, yet, we have no problem speaking them to ourselves. Wouldn’t you agree? It is only by developing a practice of demonstrating acts of self-love towards ourselves can we befriend ourselves, be empathetic and demonstrate loving kindness towards ourselves, just as we would for a family member or best friend in need of support and care.