1 : a quality or feeling of strong or constant affection for and dedication to another
2 a : attraction based on sexual desire : the strong affection and tenderness felt by lovers b : a beloved person : DARLING
3 a : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion b : the object of attachment or devotion
4 : a score of zero in tennis
– in love : feeling love for and devotion toward someone
For centuries, poets, scholars, philosophers and artists have been trying to answer the age-old question: What is love?
As you can see above, Webster’s Dictionary has several definitions of the word. Depending on who or what you’re directing it toward, it can mean everything from “I love my new shoes” to “I’m deeply in love with my husband.” It’s also a score of zero in tennis, which is news to me…
Depending on who you ask, you’re likely to get a different answer on what love is. Is it a noun or verb? A strong feeling or a decision? Is it blind or the greatest truth of all? For something that’s so fundamental to our livelihoods and optimal health, there’s a lot of theories floating around.
After centuries of pondering this question, have we even scraped the surface of what love is?
The truth about love is that there is no ONE perfect definition. We each have a unique perspective of love, one based on a lifetime of experience, that it’s impossible to define the word in general terms. Think back on your life…how was love modeled in your home? What were you told love was by parents, teachers, and others whom you looked up to?
The definitions you were given formed the foundation of what you believe love is today. Add in the heartbreaks you experienced along the way, and you’ve got your own personal story of love. One that’s completely unique to you.
Even if love doesn’t have one definition, the one thing we can all agree on is that it’s something powerful when we experience it. From deep compassion and intimacy felt when holding a newborn baby, to those familiar butterflies in your stomach when your beloved gazes in your eyes, love’s effects on us are magical.
As beautiful as love can be, it can also cause a lot of pain—especially for the people who feel they don’t have it. For them, February can feel like the longest month of the year. A month filled with constant reminders that they’re alone…and sad…and that their life isn’t complete until they find their ‘one true love.’
For years I was one of those people. I struggled with depression and believed that love was the answer to my woes. “If I could just find someone to love me, everything will be better,” I thought. Desperate to find my sense of completion, I, like many, sought love everywhere I went (often in the wrong places).
It took me dedicating 15 years of my own heart healing to learn a life-changing lesson: the greatest love you will ever have is the love of your own self. In other words, you don’t need to look for “the one”—
You are THE ONE you’ve been seeking.
Yep, I’m talking about self-love. Ugh. (*cue the eye rolls*) I can’t tell you how many subtle, dismissive looks I got when sharing this truth with my therapy clients, friends, or family. Just like me, they didn’t want to hear that they held the key to their own happiness. Why would they do that, when they could just put all their hopes and dreams into the hands of another?
The problem with this approach is that you place all of your power—your happiness, freedom, and ability to create a profound life—outside of you. You indirectly send a message to yourself that you’re not enough. Keep reinforcing this message over and again and 1-5-10 years down the road, your self-worth is starving, your confidence is running on empty, and sadly, your heart is breaking.
If you’re one of the countless people who has longed for your beloved to arrive to feel complete and are feeling the effects of all your energy going into a dream that’s starting to wither, here’s something to consider: If you were the most lovable and desirable person on earth, how would you feel? How would you act? What would you wear? Where would you hang out at in your free time? Who would you spend time with?
Now ask yourself this….What keeps you from being that person right now?
Growing up, my dad had a great saying that “you are who you are because you choose to be that way.” So here’s my challenge to you: choose to be LOVE. Choose to be the best version of yourself TODAY, not when Mr. or Mrs. Right decides to show up.
You’ll find that when you do, others can’t help but want to be around you. Your radiance will be infectious. You’ll find more love all around. It’s also when you’ll get to experience that deeply sacred nugget of wisdom that all the wise healers and mentors taught me:
The one you’ve been seeking all along….is you.
Photo Credit: Thomas Rohner