When I first read about finding the love you seek within yourself, I thought it was total bullsh*t.
We’ve all heard the line:
You have to find love within yourself, no other person can make you feel the love you desire.
We all knowwww this, we all understand this on an intellectual level.
“Yeah yeah, I get all that, no person can make me complete. But I just want a relationship. Not that whole completeness thing. I just want to feel a connection!”
Through gold-medal-worthy fits of mental gymnastics, we convince ourselves that we just need connection and companionship.
Sound familiar, dear reader?
I first encountered this self-love notion reading Manifest Your Destiny, by Wayne Dyer, in my early 20s, before I started meditating. He described the process to manifest anything you desire, which started by imagining how you would feel if this thing came into your life.
These words sounded empty and ridiculous to the lonely, horny, aching-for-love young man I was at the time. I didn’t want to imagine love. I wanted to feel a loving body pressed in my arms, to lose myself in the adrenaline rush of a new love.
I didn’t finish the book.
In relationship after relationship, I would fall madly into infatuation, convincing myself I’d found The One. We’d have three to four months of breathless, exciting passion during which everything felt right in the world. But…then…I’d start to realize that something wasn’t quite right. The feeling of incompleteness would seep back in as the glow of infatuation faded. And I would start to blame her, start to notice the little ways she wasn’t perfect for me.
Sometimes I would try to make the relationship work for months, or years—but my heart wasn’t in it, because my heart felt incomplete.
Because there is no person on this planet who can make my heart feel complete.
Say that twice.
Then I found my meditation teacher and began the slow, exhausting, sometimes painful process of knowing myself. And I found indescribable bliss sitting on my mat. I felt Love deeper and more fulfilling than my limited ego could imagine.
My teacher explained that the feeling of love, romantic love, which we experience in a relationship, is actually the other person reflecting back to us the Love within ourselves. Although the other person appears to be the source of the love, in truth the love comes from within us. A loving person just mirrors that back at us.
Even after I started meditating, I repeated the relationship pattern a few more times, until I finally started to face the truth. I finally started to look at the void within myself and fully comprehend how deeply embedded in my psyche was this idea of needing another person to feel complete.
Real understanding arises in fits and starts, moments of “Aha!” followed by months, years of regression into blind denial. I experienced a momentous breakthrough last year, during my first extended stay in Costa Rica, and shortly after I wound up in a relationship where things again got muddy.
Then I spent a summer at my family’s cottage on beautiful Lake Lucerne in northern Wisconsin. In the majesty of that vast forest next to the serenity of that halcyon body of water, I started to find the feeling of real Love. Not the insane whirlwind of romantic infatuation, but warm, steady, nourishing Love. The kind that starts in my heart and gently suffuses my body with loving-kindness.
This kind of Love doesn’t require another person. I first found it meditating; it would spontaneously bloom within me, then disappear. But I learned I can invite it back, if I just quiet my mind. Now, even after a day spent in airports amid throngs of disgruntled people, I can reconnect to the Love within me and feel peace.
We can all find Love within ourselves. It requires immense effort to undo a lifetime of social conditioning that convinces us to look outside ourselves to fill our needs, but it is possible, and it’s well worth the effort.
If this sounds like bullsh*t to you, dear reader, I understand. But if you’re tired of repeating the same pattern over and over again, maybe it’s time to give bullsh*t a chance. What have you got to lose?