Before heading out to Bali in January, I was wandering around some shops in London to pick up some bits for my travels and couldn’t help but notice that they were already setting up for Valentine’s Day. I mean seriously guys, we’re just getting over Christmas and all those images of couples snuggling up and roasting chestnuts on an open fire in their matching Christmas jumpers! And now Hallmark, you give us Valentines?! Thanks!
Festive clichés aside it’s hard to deny that these periods can, for some, make a certain ‘gap’ in their lives seem more obvious. The songs, movies and media bombard images of people coupling up in a warm, fuzzy, cute and cuddly fashion. It is undeniably a romantic time of year and the pictures painted by the media are all so ‘perfect’. Romantic love, is shown to be easy and simple, as if it’ll fall straight into your lap, as if there’s that one special someone who’s right around the corner waiting for you. And when you do find the right one, well then everything works in an instant and lasts forever. Before, the protagonist of the story was alone and had nothing but then they met ‘the one’ and their life was complete! Cue the romantic music and roll the credits as they skip off into the sunset hand in hand, everything is perfect and it lasts forever.
A slightly skewed picture don’t you think? The messages and images of romantic love that we’ve received over the years are possibly one of the reasons why a lot of people dive into relationships utterly unprepared. The thinking that somehow, when you meet that special someone, well that’s when you’ll feel loved or find your confidence and independence, you’ll ‘settle down’ (I really abhor that phrase) and everything will just work, without much effort required. Mr or Ms Right will come in exactly the right package, with all the things you want and none of the yucky stuff…I don’t think so.
For me, the last few years have been a deep dive into this particular area of my life. The end of a relationship back in 2013 was quite the wake up call and forced me to look into my ideas and attitudes towards relationships and who I am in and out of one. Heartbreak can bring you down and tear you apart but I really do believe that within your greatest pain can lie your greatest opportunity for growth if you care to listen and on this occasion I did. The opportunities to learn some great lessons were speaking to me very loudly and I can say it has been quite the journey and continues to be so.
“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Tony Robbins suggests that “the purpose of relationships is to magnify human emotion and experience” and Marianne Williamson often describes the spiritual purpose of relationships as being our greatest opportunities for soul growth, to trigger our wounds and offer us the opportunity to heal. Within my last relationship I grew, that is undeniable. But without it, well that’s where I noticed the biggest transformations taking place. It spurred me on in such a way and on such a journey through the good, bad and downright ugly. I often said to close friends and family, when I looked back on that time in my life, that it was the point at which I really transformed into a mature thinking adult.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi
I tried my hardest to move away from something that was at it’s end but I was always drawn back, to try something else, say something, think or act differently. To try and mould the other person into something that suited the story I preferred for myself. I tried all I could just to get some clarity and certainty. But there was no clarity or certainty to be found in a place where I wasn’t willing to just be alone with myself and truly, unashamedly honest. As soon as I started to cultivate that space, I began to set myself free. I recognised that the only place where the changes needed to be made were within me. That was one of the purposes of the relationship and that was a beautiful revelation to be shown.
“The issues in our relationships are mirroring back to us our internal issues with ourselves. If we are having difficulty sustaining loving, nurturing, and committed relationships, the place to look is at your relationship with yourself. Ask yourself: In what ways are you failing to love, nurture, and commit to yourself? When you alter your relationship with yourself, your external world will alter accordingly.” ~ Katherine Woodward Thomas
First I needed to clear a space where it was me and only me, warts and all. In the space that I had now cultivated for myself, I had to make myself extremely comfortable with it, even the discomforting parts. I had to ask myself a new set of questions as to who it was that showed up in past relationships and if that was the type of person I wanted to be.
“…I really believe that if you want to create something wonderful in your life, if you truly want to make a big change, you’ve got to learn to tolerate the “in-between” time. That’s the period in which we let go of who we know ourselves to be in order to allow for the possibility of who we might become.” ~ Katherine Woodward Thomas
Back in 2014 in this whole process of trying to let go and build a new life for myself, I sat down with a book written by Katherine Woodward Thomas ‘Calling in the One’ and attempted to go through some of the very honest and nurturing exercises she welcomed us to do. At first glance, this book very much comes across as a self-help manual to assist on your journey towards your ‘soul mate’ within seven weeks, but to me it is so much more than that. Whenever I describe this book, and I have shared and recommended it to a countless number of people, I always say that it is very much a process for you to learn how to love yourself before attempting to call anyone else into your life in an intimate way. I imagine it as a process of taking your heart out and gently comforting it after all the emotional roller coasters it’s been put through and gently placing it back in a much happier and healthier state.
I only got as far as week two or three back then as I believe the week I progressed to was all about letting go and at that stage I was not at the point where I was ready and willing to. However, in those first two weeks, I came across some really powerful exercises that already began to unearth some groundbreaking truths for me that I had been carrying around for most of my adult life. Things such as identifying what your needs are for being happy in a relationship and how to grant these to yourself. Writing a letter to yourself as your lover, which at first I thought was very strange but once I did as the exercise asked, I had a light bulb moment and it turned out to be a powerful and moving experience for me.
Another extremely powerful exercise was the identification of the agreements I had made with myself. Katherine explains: “All relationships have their agreements. Actually, it could be said that the very definition of relationship is to enter into a covenant with another. As such, relationships are determined by a series of pacts and promises that are sometimes spoken out loud…but most times are not. Those agreements that are made without words—often matters of loyalty and expectations—will usually remain covert in nature while exercising a strong pull over decisions made and paths taken…The agreements we make, both consciously and unconsciously, have a profound impact upon our lives, for they serve as intentions that we set…Never underestimate the power of your agreements to influence your life”. I realised that I had made tons of these covert agreements with myself over the years that were slowly wreaking havoc over my ability to ever manage a stable relationship with anyone, including myself! Strange agreements such as “my family will always come first and are a responsibility I need to maintain before any sort of romantic relationship”, that was a really eye opening one and I could clearly see its impact. Another was that “romantic love for me will always be a short term thing, not something I am capable of having and maintaining”…that’s a gem isn’t it?! Where did these covert agreements come from? That I do not know, but just having identified this long list was more than enough for me to know that I wanted to change my ways and belief patterns. Now it was time for me to look after and learn to love myself in a way that I had obviously been denying for far too long.
“Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed, but can only be hidden.” ~ Marianne Williamson
Over the last few years I have been privileged enough to partake in some very open and honest conversations about this subject with others and been privy to seeing the highs and lows of the relationships of people closest to me and those that desire to be in relationships too. And one thing has become abundantly clear to me, a healthy relationship with another only comes out of a healthy relationship with oneself. That may sound ridiculously obvious but I’ve noticed that the cases where this actually happens appear to be few.
People usually have a long list of needs that they’d expect their partners to provide them with and often these come from a place of lack. A lack of a person feeling worthy enough to attend to those needs themselves as they either feel it’s impossible to be their own provider or simply because they do not feel deserving of them. And so what happens when you then find a person that seems to provide the things you need? Well you begin to grow dependent upon them, which often can put such an unnecessary strain on the relationship. One of the divine qualities of romantic relationships is the experience of freedom. By this I mean partners feel eternally free to be and express who they are, their wants, deepest desires and dreams, to evolve, everything. They treat each other as equals therefore moving from a relationship based on dependence to a much healthier form of interdependence. A relationship where both partners have cultivated a loving space of their own that is only magnified when they join together in relationship. When you focus on being in love with yourself through a daily practice of living in a space of love, you begin to radiate it and you attract much more of it towards you. And the love comes in a multitude of ways, not just romantic, which is truly beautiful. Within this space you begin to thrive, grow and become truly radiant.
“Stop looking for the right person as the right person is only a reflection of who you truly are. Instead of looking for the right person, become the right person.” ~ Deepak Chopra
An exercise that I really love doing is to identify what makes me feel truly loved and then practice giving that to myself whenever I can. So as an example, things such as affection, physical touch, presence, being listened to, quality time, flowers, experiences, massages, dancing, to name but a few, are all on my list. And I find ways to show and give myself these things whenever possible. I am very affectionate to myself, I ditched the negative self talk a long time ago and whenever that horrid little voice decides to show up, I have a fairly quick override switch and happy to sit and listen to myself to see what triggered it and just let it out. Whenever I buy myself something online and it has a gift tag option, I always choose it and write myself a lovely little love note! Frequent massages, either professional or ones I do myself are a must. I have no qualms buying myself beautiful flowers that just light me and my home up. I love to learn and see new things and so am happy to indulge in these whenever I can, this trip to Bali being a perfect example! Dance classes, nights out, dancing around my flat like a maniac, all things I do often and love! Life is just too short to spend time waiting for others to give you things that light you up, indulge, indulge, indulge in your ‘I am loved list’ often and see how it can transform you!
So for you, my beautiful reader, I have created a free PDF download of the ‘I Am Loved’ playsheet. Have fun creating your very own list and begin indulging in all the things that light you up and make you feel super loved from the inside out! This need not be an onerous task, quite the opposite. Play with it, get out your coloured pens and pencils and write down everything that possibly springs to mind as to what makes you feel loved on the left hand side and then on the right, write down all the ways in which you can start giving these things to yourself right away. Stick the list up somewhere you can see it everyday and live it! I’d love to see what you come up with so feel free to comment below or post pictures of your fabulous lists and you living them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #LoveLightMiracles. And if you find it doesn’t come easy at first well don’t give yourself a hard time, you’re creating a beautiful relationship with yourself and as Shakespeare so famously said “the course of true love never did run smooth” and learning to love yourself is no exception!
“We’re all (mostly) a bit twisted up about Love. Loving ourselves, loving each other. Illusions, attachments, de-tachments. Past lives. Soul contracts (which are burnable, by the way). It’s incredibly complicated. Just know that and proceed. Here’s my REALLY practical suggestion that seems really impractical to the practical mind: YOU ARE LOVE. Your Soul, cells, spirit…it’s the stuff of Love (or “LIGHT”. Same thing.) Original, essence, your core. You’re Love today, you were Love yesterday, and you’ll be Love…forever. So go easy on yourself. Really and truly, so eeeasy. Celebrate yourself no matter what — even if they think you’re tacky, terrible, too much of this, too little of that. Make how you move through the world an homage to your beautiful, luminous, powerful, magnificent, righteous, sacred…self. That same self who may f**k up tomorrow, but will still be made of LOVE. THAT Self. Love.” ~ Danielle LaPorte
Be patient, take it slow and in time you will realise that “the one” was within you all along. Happy Valentine’s my lovely, enjoying spoiling yourself silly! Here’s to an abundance of Love. Light. Miracles.
Download your free ‘I Am Loved’ playsheet here and share your journey online using #LoveLightMiracles.
Do feel ready to take your journey to happy and healthy love even further? Why not book in a no-fee, 30-minute Calling in “The One” discovery coaching session with me here! Let’s have a chat about where you’re currently at in life, find where you’d love to be and see how we can get you there!