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7 Ways of Cultivating Love in Your Life
Most of us love someone or look for someone to love us. We don’t think about cultivating self-love or realize the origin of love. You may be looking for a relationship, but studies have shown that single people are actually happier than married people, with the exception of happily married people. But it also decreases with time. A new study shows that, on average, after the first year, spouses return to their baseline state of happiness before marriage. Thus, similar to the findings of studies of lottery winners, after marriage and winning, we eventually return to how happy we are as individuals.
Self-esteem is important. Research has well established that this is a major factor in the health and happiness of marriages. Low self-esteem can prevent us from reaping the rewards of love in relationships.
In fact, our level of self-esteem before a relationship can predict its longevity.
We think about ourselves based on false beliefs informed by things we’ve been told, wrong assumptions, and trauma and the parenting we’ve received. These learned beliefs, defenses, and habits are not who we are, not our natural, authentic selves. How can we restore it?
Cultivation of love
Cultivating self-love is a worthwhile endeavor for ourselves and for building happy relationships. Science has shown these significant benefits associated with love:
Improved stress management
Good heart health
Reduced risk of depression
We are all born innocent and worthy of love. Our faults, mistakes and things that happen to us affect us, but we are not inherently. When we carry shame, we can self-sabotage the love we want. Once we understand this, we can begin to change our self-concept and nurture our true selves.
Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are seeds.
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Love is like a garden that we have to fertilize and cultivate. To fully give and receive love, we must first pull out the weeds that sabotage it. We protect against invasive pests in the form of toxic relationships and welcome animals that protect and help grow our garden.
What we resist persists. When we don’t accept ourselves, we reinforce a negative self-concept. Low self-esteem makes self-empowerment, change, and self-acceptance difficult. Paradoxically, when we accept our flaws, it’s easier to let them go.
Self-acceptance is greater than self-esteem, and self-acceptance paves the way for self-love. It means respecting and accepting all of ourselves, including our flaws, looks, mistakes and feelings. Learn to stop self-criticism and boost your self-esteem.
What we do is not who we are. Self-condemnation and dwelling on self-condemnation is harmful. On the other hand, guilt can motivate us to change and reach out to others. Great healing is possible through confession, self-forgiveness and amends. Overcoming guilt frees us from our past and the person we were. It paves the way for transformation, wholeness, self-respect and self-love
Love is indivisible. It’s hard to love ourselves when we hate someone else. Moreover, resentment toward ourselves or others holds us back. When we forgive others, we feel freer and better about ourselves. Similarly, when we develop self-compassion and forgive ourselves, we are more accepting and compassionate towards others. Forgiveness has specific steps and stages. Follow Them in Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness.
After pulling weeds, we must nourish our garden with self-praise. Our mind does not distinguish between praise from others or our own words and thoughts. Do you focus on your flaws and deny or embrace your positive attributes? Gather your strength, accomplishments, loving qualities, courage and your desire to give, love and grow. Practice appreciating yourself and others. Each day write down three things you did well and qualities about yourself that you or others admire. Focus on the positive rather than the negative. Replacing bad habits with life-affirming ones takes time and consistency.
Whether due to growing up in a dysfunctional family system or trauma later in life, when we deny painful emotions, we actually block positive emotions as well. When we stop pain, we cannot experience pleasure. We close our hearts and numb ourselves. Suppressing feelings is a form of self-denial that can lead to depression and lead to poor health and disease. We develop self-love when we express our feelings, needs, and desires. Negative feelings dissolve and positive feelings increase. We are liberated and have more energy to move forward.
Cultivating love through action
When we ignore, hide, or discount our needs and wants, we become irritable, resentful, and unhappy. But getting our needs and wants met is an essential way to cultivate the self-love that lifts our spirits. It is the key to happiness that calms and rejuvenates us. Conversely, when we act against our values, such as lying or stealing, we undermine our self-worth. Doing honorable work boosts our self-esteem. We are able to hold our heads and feel worthy of respect and love. Do random acts of kindness that you can add to your “good done” list.
Gratitude is a high vibration that opens our hearts. It is scientifically proven to be curative. Practice gratitude by finding things in your life and in the world to be grateful for—even when you don’t feel it. Write a daily gratitude list, and read it to someone.
Visualization of self-love
You can improve love with visualization. Breathe into the center and out of your chest. Imagine it opening like a door or a flower. Picture pink or green light flowing in and out as you breathe. Focus on the beauty and the things you are grateful for. Say loving affirmations. (Listen to my self-love mediation.) Send this love to those you care about, to yourself, to those in need, and to the planet.
The above steps open your heart. Practice expressing love and compassion in all areas of your life to experience greater peace and joy. Learn more self-care tips.
© 2020 DarleneLancer
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