“To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.”
I came across this quote yesterday and found it to be quite beautiful. I am a true lover of love and these kinds of words just speak to me. But as I spent time in front of my meditation altar this morning and reflected on what I like to call “my heart space situations,” I reflected on this quote and had a simple but seemingly profound realization. While it’s important to know the songs of those you love, it’s more important to know the song that lives in your own heart. What is it that makes you sing? In other words, before you can fully love another, it’s important to love yourself first and foremost.
The road to self-love is not an easy one. In my 20s, I always thought as soon as I’d hit my 30s, this feeling would take over and I would simply fall in love with me. I will be turning 37 in just a few days, and I can firmly say that has not happened. Instead, it’s been about experiencing the highs and lows of life and learning from how it has all shaped me.
I have always been a seeker. I’ve explored different religions and I’ve always wanted to find a place of peace within myself and know what my life’s higher purpose is. In that way, I have always been on the journey of self-love. But it’s the work I have been doing over this past year that has really put me on the path. One of the most significant lessons I have learned during this course of time is summed up in one word: Non-attachment. I have often heard of why we shouldn’t be attached, but it took me a long while to finally and fully grasp this concept. When it comes to me, I have learned that I attached my happiness to people, things and circumstances I have no control over. By doing so, I put myself in the front seat of an emotional roller coaster. When the things I was attached to were going well, I was happy. When they were not so great, I was down. And when things are down, you feel like you are suffering. Attachment is the foundation of suffering. But as my Yoga teacher always told us during my Yoga teacher training program, “If suffering can be avoided, it should be avoided.” Over the course of this past year, I have learned not to get too caught up in the high moments of life, and not to get too down during the low points. It’s about trying to find and maintain the balance between it all.
Life situations happen that can make it easier said than done to simply detach yourself. I know this firsthand and often find there are days when I’ve made great strides, and days where I feel like I’ve taken ten steps back. On the good days, I allow myself to celebrate the small victories but I also remind myself that a more challenging day can be just around the corner. And when the challenging days happen, I remind myself that I am still a good person and I am still on the course. It can be a hop, skip and a jump into absolute despair if we are too hard on ourselves during moments that seem like personal setbacks. We fall in love with people who don’t have the capacity to receive love and/or love us in return, or who simply are not in a space to act on that love. We are in jobs where we feel that if the people we work with or the job itself would change, we would be happier. We often feel like we are stuck in life, with no options for things to get better. We feel like that one thing that will make us truly happy is an arm’s length away; something you can see, but just can’t touch. I believe – or at least, I have learned – that loving yourself is knowing life will go on if that person you love doesn’t love you back, or you can find a new job or take the time to finally explore something you’ve always been interested in and seeing how it opens up new doors for you. It’s about knowing the song that lives in your heart and singing it to yourself when you have forgotten.
Before we can ask anyone else to love us and meet whatever our personal needs are, we have to know within ourselves what it is that makes us happy. What makes us sad? What can you learn to live with? What is it that you can’t seem to live without? Looking back on my life’s journey so far, I realize I placed expectations on other people by making them answer those questions that I ultimately had to learn to answer for myself. It’s taken me this past year of choosing not to date, of choosing to spend quality time with myself, of choosing to do the work of looking within. At almost 37 years-old and wanting companionship and more children, it admittedly is a little scary (to me) to make a conscious choice not to be in a relationship with anyone. But through meditation, Yoga and seeking counsel from my spiritual circle of trust, I have learned to be at peace with what is not and better accept what is. There is a future I want for myself, but I have had to learn not to attach myself to that specified future being the outcome. Instead, I have made a conscious effort to focus on continually refining what my life’s purpose is and the work I need to do in this world. I have often heard that when you learn to fall in love with yourself, everything you desire in your heart will begin to attract itself to you. I am learning my song. More importantly, I am learning to sing it to myself.
I wish you peace, love and light on your journey towards self-love.