Love. It’s a transformational concept. Greek philosophers tell a story of humans initially being of three types–male, female, and androgynous.
According to Greek legend, these were not humans as we know them today. They were multi-faceted, coming from the sun, moon, and earth in origin, and quite powerful. So powerful they attempted to take the heavens and the gods over, and so Zeus knew he needed to take action.
He sliced them in half to subdue their ambition and ability and redesigned how their faces, limbs, and organs appeared.
In doing so, he also set the course of humans from that day to this day we currently live in–longing for those who would fulfill us. This myth has merit; humans are inherently wounded, and seeking to nurture and help their fellow humans while also healing themselves in the process holds ground.
As many brilliant psychological minds have concurred, it’s likely LOVE that is this glue we all search for.
It’s no secret that ‘love’ promotes our positive mental well-being and offers us stronger emotional health. This seems true whether it’s romantic, familial, or friendship love. It could even be within yourself. When you’re happy with yourself as well, the chemistry of your brain changes.
Love makes us feel better with those coveted feel-good neurotransmitters–oxytocin and dopamine. They flood our brains when we even think of someone we love and make us feel stronger in our sense of acceptance, esteem, and worth.
Those neurotransmitters can also make us want to be around those we love–again, whether it’s in a romantic or familial way. The people we love can also bring us pain when we’re not around them or when they don’t live up to our expectations; we are hurt. That’s why science also shows that ‘falling out of love,’ so to speak, affects our brains and bodies in equally strong but often detrimental ways.
Love really is limitless, though. Whatever type it is, and whomever it is that is loved, love is the most powerful feeling in the human experience.
Does Love Mean We Are Without Our Other Half?
The thing about Greek mythology is that it implies that we’re never going to be complete until we find that ‘other half’–but is that really true?
While love is wonderful and fulfilling, it isn’t always what makes us complete. Various people in life bring about surges of happy hormones and fill our lives with memories that make us warm and fuzzy, but if we go through life believing that we can only be happy or fulfilled if we find that ‘other half’ that’s been missing….we may be setting ourselves up for some major disappointment.
If we believe that another person is responsible for our completion and happiness in life, we’re not leaving very much room for any power of our own. Moreover, we’re putting tremendous pressure on that person–whoever it is–and that’s simply not fair. It could eventually damage the relationship, which is the last thing you’d want to happen with someone you love.
Love isn’t about being completed or even completing someone else. It’s about digging inward…connecting to God, the universe, or whatever energy you find that harmony within yourself.
Love: An Inside-Out Journey
In my life, I’ve learned that if I don’t love myself, I won’t be able to really have love with others in a meaningful way. I’ve gone into relationships with the idea of feeling like someone else is to complete me as I complete them.
That’s where disappointment sets in. I couldn’t grow or expand into who I was meant to be because I was looking to grow into who or whatever my ‘true love’ was looking for me to be (and they would do the same for me).
It’s really challenging to have love with others that will last any longer than the initial surge of those happy hormones if we don’t have it within ourselves. We’ve spent our lives not necessarily being taught about how to love ourselves and make ourselves the best versions of who we were meant to be, but we expect that has happened for others–especially the one we’re seeking.
Love Yourself First
The truth is, at least for me, love is a choice. It’s an opportunity to choose day after day and learn to love differently as each partner grows and evolves.
That means you have to grow, and you have to be bold enough to do so. So many of us can’t even look at ourselves in the mirror because we hold on to shame and guilt. That doesn’t allow us to really be vulnerable with someone else, and that inability to expose ourselves to another is essential in relationships. We have to be our authentic selves to even offer partners legitimate options to choose us, and the same goes for our partners being that way with us.
Do you struggle with liking yourself? You’ll likely struggle with loving yourself if you don’t even like yourself, and that’s the first step to finding fulfilling love–loving yourself.
So what can you do? Consider a daily practice that makes you look at yourself in the mirror and find something you like about yourself. Say it out loud. Be proud of it. This may seem awkward at first, and I understand that. If that’s the case, find something you’re willing to try to like about yourself. Maybe it’s not even a physical attribute (though it’s fine if it is)–maybe it’s a trait like generosity or kindness. Whatever it is, say it out loud. Do it daily for two weeks, and write down anything that comes up within you as you keep track.
Doing this will prove to you that you can make changes. You can grow. You can discover new and amazing things about yourself and hear what your heart says to you about yourself. Then, when you love yourself, you can take that outside of yourself.
Is Love Eternal?
Does love last forever? It can. Then again, sometimes it doesn’t.
Love is a choice, but sometimes, the choice changes because you and your partner also change. As a forgiveness coach, I can tell you that even if love changes to a
level where you and your partner agree that being together isn’t the way to go, doing so with an open heart and understanding that it’s not failure is imperative. It allows you to accept yourselves as you are–the goal of any loving relationship is one in which you’re the best version of yourself with that person. Whether with a romantic partner or a family member…whoever it is, they should help you be the best version of yourself.
Love is multi-faceted, but at the core, you have to love yourself first. That’s the way you can know what you need and create the boundaries you have to have to be your best. Start with yourself, and let the love flow. That’s how you’ll know what your heart really has to say to yourself!