This Valentine’s Day, even though single I must say I’m feeling rather hopeful and celebratory about a day for love coming up.
Mostly because I feel like I’ve developed a greater self-love over the past year, and a deeper sense of self-compassion.
Before I was always striving for a vision of myself being the “perfect” person, and therefore falling way short. I’ve come to understand that love isn’t about us being the perfect version of ourselves; rather being that perfectly, imperfect person for someone.
I read recently about the Japanese art of “Kintsugi. When they smashed a bowl or piece of crockery they put it back together with a resin made of gold that makes it more beautiful than it was before. A work of art more special, and of greater value, because it had been broken.
We all have our cracks, our quirks and our perceived short-comings, however we can also learn to accept ourselves just the way we are; loving ourselves through our felt mistakes and inadequacies.
It got me thinking to the kind of love I do want in my future, and how I want to show up as a partner, and them for me.
Accepting ourselves the way we are, is a huge part of another accepting us.
If we’re constantly judging ourselves and treating ourselves unkindly, perhaps putting on a different face to them than what’s going on inside; it’s difficult for the one we love to know us and accept us as we are.
However, this also means having to show a great deal of vulnerability, which can feel very exposing and like an emotional risk, but the returns are also a deeper love.
“When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.” Brene Brown
When we’re able to be vulnerable it allows us to be truly seen by another person, and to me that’s what it’s all about. Being accepted by another for everything you are, the good, the weird, the ugly; and let’s face it we all have these opposing qualities inside of us.
I like to think these days that “everyone is doing the best they can”, that we are the same in the respect that we all want to be happy, and we all want to be loved; therefore looking at ourselves and others with kindness.
Having empathy for whatever your partner may be going through in that moment, even when you might feel angry or disheartened with what you perceive as bad behaviour; to still look at them with compassion, and through the eyes of love instead.
Not forgetting to include yourself in this compassion, whenever you feel like you’re failing, to be kind and forgiving towards yourself; knowing that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Then letting that kindness flow out to our partners, children, family, friends and colleagues.
Whatever relationship you have with yourself, is going to be reflected back to you.
We can’t change anyone else, the only way to create change is developing from within ourselves, and to love by setting clear boundaries of what is and isn’t okay for us within a relationship.
“You must love in such a way, that the person you love feels free”, Thich Nhat Hanh
For me this means making a commitment to both ourselves and our partner to continue growing as a person and our own inner development, as well as nurturing the relationship. Keeping that spark alive for life, for your own self-worth, and for living your dreams.
This includes, loving in a way that we take full responsibility for ourselves, as when we blame someone else, or are defensive we actually lose our own inner power. If we can step back, removing ourselves from being wrong or right, with the intention of seeing the others point of view, trusting that the other isn’t trying to hurt you intentionally, actually helps us to be stronger, not only individually, but as a couple.
To love is a choice every day, and every day we choose to show up and to love the other. Even if you’re married, we still have a choice to be there and to love in a way that is accepting of our partner. Never taking the other person for granted, knowing that one day they might not be there, whether by choice or circumstance. To be open to love regardless of the fact that one day you will also ultimately lose that love. Scary I know!
For me this also means freedom, to be supported while not always being in each other’s pockets, to be able to live dreams that might not always include your partner, but feeling secure in the fact that their love is there to return to. Loving without conditions, and giving the other space to grow.
And coming full circle, when I inevitably sometimes fail at all of the above, I hope I’ve found a partner that will speak to me kindly, find the humour in my, and our shared mistakes, remind me gently of what we’re aiming for, and support and love me through it all.
Happy Valentine’s Day!