“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi
Real talk: I can’t teach you to love yourself. I also can’t tell you why that guy didn’t text you back, why she ghosted you after a promising couple of dates, or why your boyfriend doesn’t make you happy. (In fact, no one can “make” you feel anything, but that’s for another blog post entirely). What does “loving yourself” and “finding someone to love you” even mean?
Love, whether it’s self-love or loving someone else, is hard.
It’s risky, vulnerable, and messy, with no guarantees of a particular outcome. Love can lead to wild, exceptional happiness, or we can wind up surrounded by the emotional devastation of heartbreak and disappointment.
We become so afraid of potentially experiencing the sharp pains of a relationship lost that we begin to give ourselves emotional padding to protect us: a wall up here, a blind spot there, feigning disinterest in someone (or ourselves) to prevent anyone from getting to close. This makes sense-if we could prevent pain, why wouldn’t we?
I hear you. It’s scary to love someone (and in turn allow them to love you), but it’s downright radical to love yourself. The problem with building walls, stockpiling ammo of critical words or harsh rhetoric (especially when it’s self-inflicted) is that it really only keeps us from ourselves.
While I can’t tell you how to love yourself or anyone else, I can guide you inward to find your truth. I can help you investigate and reframe the narratives you hold so deeply about why you are “unloveable” or “why they always leave.” I can show you how to get out of your own way and together we can explore the importance of your own thoughts, feelings, and desires.
And should you work to tear down your barriers, put down your weapons, and wave your white flag of surrender, you’ll find that this will lead to love. But remember, love is not something to be sought after. It just needs space to grow.
Illustration by Jon Ehinger