This month I am celebrating love.
With Valentine’s Day and my two-year anniversary in February, I am reflecting on what makes me feel fulfilled in my relationship.
Is it the dinner dates? Is it when he takes out the trash and I don’t even have to ask? Those things definitely bring happiness, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last forever. I’ve found fulfillment is something much deeper than fleeting happiness.
Fulfillment is about knowing what I want, believing I am worth it, loving myself utterly and completely before someone else even enters the picture and having the courage to own my vision and live my dreams.
I created this list to share the big lessons I have learned about true fulfillment when it comes to love:
1. I Learned to Love Myself First
Women are natural nurturers. We love to give. However, we need to nurture ourselves first so we don’t get burnt out. By loving ourselves first, we can be more present and have more energy to give to those we love.
The days I do my meditation and yoga practice, go for a run, take a long shower (or on a good day, a bath) and rub my favorite homemade cacao body butter over my body, are the days I literally emanate beauty. Those are the days my partner notices my shift in energy and showers me with love. Those are the days I live with ease and grace, I radiate positivity, and attract exactly what I need in my life.
When we take care of ourselves and love ourselves first, we align with the love of the universe and attract more love into our life.
2. I Figured Out What I Was Looking For, Then I Believed in it
I was longing for love for months before I reunited with my current partner. I was healing from heartbreak, and despite my grief, I knew I would be with a man who also longed for the commitment and the spiritual growth I was seeking.
As a New Year resolution, I wrote out what I wanted and believed it was possible. “I see myself in a loving, committed relationship with an attractive, ambitious, and spiritual man. He is someone who nurtures and supports me, while giving me freedom to grow my wings.”
Just one month later, magically, at Amma’s devi bhava celebration, I found myself reunited with a man I had met (and adored) years earlier. After a year of traveling, it just so happened we were living in the same city again.
So often we yearn for love, but when it comes to specifics, we don’t know the first thing we are looking for. I learned to first figure out the “what,” then imagined the feeling and qualities of that person surrounding me.
3. I Listened to My Intuition
This is key to honoring ourselves, being in the right place at the right time, and deepening a connection with a person you are already with. I followed my intuition to leave a relationship that was not honoring me, and six months later was with that attractive, ambitious and spiritual man who adored me.
So many times I learned to honor my soul’s wisdom, listen to the dreams in my sleep and that little voice that knew what choices to make. By creating space in my life for meditation and yogic practices that strengthened my intuition, I created work for myself that honors my heart, and found a relationship that honors my worth.
4. I Learned to Ask For What I Want
When we know how we want to be loved, we have to ask for it! I have a friend who wanted to receive beautifully written cards from her beloved. All she wanted for her anniversary or birthday was a hand written card or notes from him around the house. As every special holiday or anniversary came and passed, there was no card, and no notes, and she was left disappointed. However, she never told her partner she wanted a card or a note!
We can’t expect the people we love to know exactly what we want. When we ask for what we want, we empower others to fulfill our request.
On my anniversary this month I woke up and knew exactly what I wanted: a vegan banana pancake breakfast served in bed with a serenade from my partner. He was happy to fulfill my request and it was an unforgettable way to start the day. Over the years, it has become less scary for me to ask for exactly what I want, and I’ve realized it is an essential step to living my dreams.
5. I Learned to Lead By Example
This is so key to not just having a fulfilling love life, but to having a fulfilling life. When I first started living with my partner and was unemployed, I wanted my partner to earn more money and take care of me financially. Then I realized my desires for my partner were a reflection of what I wanted for myself. I wanted to make more money and find fulfilling work, but I was putting it on him to do it for me. I saw it would be a lot better use of my time to focus on myself, rather than trying to change my partner.
When we want our partner to change, we can see it as a reflection of something we want to change in ourselves. People don’t change because someone wants them to. People change because they are inspired to.
I took charge of my finances, started school, and in addition to teaching yoga, took on clients as a health coach. The funny thing is, as I focused on my business, and myself my partner started making more money as well.
We think the problem is outside of ourselves, when in reality there is always a next step we can take in our own life right now, to bring us closer to what we want. By owning our desires, we can watch our money (and our love life) prosper.
6. I Learned to Initiate Communication
Whenever I came to a spot where I could tell my partner was upset, but did not want to talk, I learned how to initiate communication.
I used the exercise “Acknowledgement and Request” from Terces and Matthew Engelhart, founders of Café Gratitude. It can be used not only in love relationships, but also in work relationships, family relationships, and friendships.
Simply ask: “Do you have anything you want to be acknowledged for?”
Your partner may be thrown off for a minute, but be patient, and listen intently. When your partner responds, ask, “Is there anything else?”
Continue asking, “Is there anything else?” until your partner has nothing else they would like to be acknowledged for. Repeat back and acknowledge your partner for everything he or she brought up.
When you finish ask, “Now, do you have any requests?”
Listen to each of the requests and then repeat back each one, saying you will do your very best to honor them.
This simple exercise has opened the doors of communication for my relationship so many times.
It’s too easy to forget to acknowledge the person I love and appreciate most in my life. Being acknowledged is kind of like hearing “I love you.” We need to hear it more than once to maintain a constant level of connection and appreciation.
I’ve learned love isn’t something I can force. However, I can focus on my own fulfillment, my heart, and myself. I’ve learned love will find me there.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Dana Gornall / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons