I love love. I love the way that love makes me feel: connected, present, open. I love little things, like a good meal, a touching movie, or the cool side of the pillow; and I love big things, like my family, and nature. But when I think about becoming the person I want to be—a person that’s full of love—I realize that I still have a long way to go. And more and more lately, I’m realizing that that’s because I’m still discovering the power that love can have when you love yourself and others.
Choosing love over fear
There is nothing in the world more powerful than love. That might be a bold statement, but I believe it, 100%. I’ve seen love transform hearts and minds. I’ve seen it breathe life into burned out creatives. And I’ve seen it take creative work from good to jaw-dropping
I’ve felt love through music, through art, and through nature. I’ve felt it from family members, friends, and even strangers. And I’ve seen it motivate and inspire me to keep going, when nothing else will.
Of course, I’ve also felt fear.
Fear isn’t as powerful as love, but it tries. It really tries. Fear is undoubtedly a powerful motivator, but instead of spurring you to action, it stalls you and leads to inaction.
A personal story of love vs. fear
A little over a year ago now, I went on a trip with my wife and some friends. At some point on the trip, I realized that my weight and health were slowing me down. I knew then that I had a choice to make. While on the surface, the choice was between “losing weight” and “not losing weight,” I recognized it as a choice between love and fear.
It would have been easy to choose fear. In some ways, fear chose me. I felt afraid to set a weight loss goal, to change my diet and exercise habits, and to start living my life in a different way. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that I would try and fail, and that it would be like a sledgehammer to my self-esteem and future goal setting.
The other choice, however—choosing to square my shoulders, set the goal, and go after it—was the choice that fell on the side of love. This option demonstrated love for myself, for my future, and for my ability to be present with my family. Choosing this would mean showing myself that my happiness is worth the effort.
I chose love. I chose to work through my fears and show myself that I am worth loving.
That choice to love has changed my life forever. And it has helped me realize that there is power in loving yourself as well as in loving others.
When many of us think about love, the first thing we think about is the love we feel for others. But I think that sometimes, we take this love for granted. We don’t recognize just how powerful or meaningful it is. We don’t appreciate what it does for us, and we don’t tap into its power in order to help us live happier, more fulfilled lives.
Why loving others is powerful
So why is there power in loving others? What can the love we feel for others actually do for us?
Loving others is powerful because it brings us:
- Connection. Human beings are hardwired for connection. Connection brings us emotional stability and companionship, yes, but it also opens up new possibilities to us. When humans come together, they’re able to do things that they couldn’t do on their own.
- Happiness. Relationships show up time and time again as a key indicator of happiness in life. Loving relationships lead to happiness, period.
- Health. Yes, love can even benefit your physical health. Love encourages you to take better care of yourself (because you have someone to live for), and it’s also correlated with lower rates of substance abuse, lower blood pressure, and longer lifespan.
How to love others
How can you build your love for others, so that you can tap into the power of loving others?
- Recognize love as a choice. Love might happen involuntarily, but maintaining love is largely a choice. Choose to love others, and to express and show that love. If you don’t, you might feel discouraged if you don’t feel love automatically, perfectly, or permanently.
- Build communication skills. Communication can make or break a relationship. Learn to listen (really listen) to others, and to openly share your own thoughts and feelings. If you find this difficult, try to explore why (therapy or coaching is great for this!).
- Remember the little things. Love exists in the small moments and little things. A phone call, text, or handwritten note are simple ways to show someone you care, as can doing the dishes, making the bed, or babysitting. Learning about love languages can also help you learn how to express love in ways that will resonate with others.
- Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is essential in loving relationships, because no one is perfect. Learn how to forgive completely; it’s a skill that will absolutely come in handy as you work to build your love for others.
There’s a lot of power in loving others, but there’s also a lot of power in loving yourself.
In fact, learning to love yourself is one of the most powerful things creatives can learn.
But what does it really mean to love yourself? If you’re going to love yourself, I believe you have to:
- Know yourself. If you’re going to love yourself in a powerful way, you first have to know yourself. Be honest as you explore your desires, fears, hopes, and dreams. Allow yourself to be seen, fully and completely. Take in the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even the less-than-beautiful parts of you are worth loving.
- Accept yourself. Loving yourself means accepting yourself. It means giving yourself credit for your strengths and grace for your weaknesses. Accepting yourself doesn’t mean you have to be happy with every part of yourself; you can still work to change things that will bring you more happiness. It just means that you don’t judge yourself for who you are (or who you are not).
Why loving yourself is powerful
There is so much power in loving yourself. Here’s why.
- Loving yourself builds confidence. When you love yourself, you’re much more likely to feel confident and secure. This will empower you to take creative risks, try new things, meet new people, and expand your horizons. Self-love leads to confidence, and confidence leads to growth.
- When you love yourself, you don’t need external validation. Everyone wants to feel loved and validated. Most of us look to other people for that validation, but if you can learn to love yourself, you can have that loved, validated feeling with you wherever you go, because it comes from inside of you.
- You can break free from the comparison game. Comparison is extremely harmful. Social media has turned comparison into an epidemic, making it so easy for us to see the good parts of someone else’s life while having to deal with the negative side of our own lives. But when you love yourself, comparison doesn’t have power over you anymore. You can see someone else’s happiness and be happy for them, without letting it negatively impact your own happiness.
How to love yourself
Learning to love yourself might come naturally to you, but for me, and for many creatives I talk to, it doesn’t come naturally at all. It takes some work to be able to see yourself without fixating on your flaws or shortcomings, and to view yourself purely from a place of love.
Here are some things to try.
- Affirmations. Positive affirmations can build self-love into your daily routine. Tell yourself you love yourself. Point out your good qualities (both current and aspirational), and let yourself believe that they are true. (Learn more about writing powerful affirmations in this post.)
- Enjoy your own company. Socializing is important, but being able to spend (and enjoy) time with yourself is important, too. Learn to enjoy your own company. Do the things you love to do, simply because you love doing them. Rediscover who you really are when no one else is around. Remember: when you see yourself, you can love yourself.
- Build self-care into your day. What recharges you? Sometimes, we see self-care as a once-in-a-while event that you treat yourself to when you’re feeling particularly burned out. But just like your cell phone, you need charging every day. (And you deserve way more love than your cell phone!) Build those recharging moments into your daily routine. Recognize the difference between self-care (necessary for your happiness) and self-indulgence (a nice luxury every once in a while). Give yourself permission to care for yourself on a regular basis.
The power of loving for yourself and others
Love for yourself is powerful, and loving others is powerful. If you can do both, you’ll start to see just how powerful love can actually be in your life.
I’ve learned that as I feel and show love for myself and for others, I am able to access my unique powers and capabilities. I can use this love as motivation and inspiration. Love gets me started, keeps me going, and helps me discover what I really want and what I’m actually capable of.
If I can tap into that love, I’m unstoppable. And you can be, too.
Let yourself love. Love yourself, love others, and let love change your life.
Love your life, with Design.org.
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