What do religious expression, goodwill, friendship, and romance all share in common?
They’re all neatly packaged holidays that we only have to deal with once or twice a year. If you’re like most of us, the last time you gave someone a present was probably on their birthday, Christmas, anniversary, mothers or fathers day, or Valentine’s day.
We live in a world where presents and gifts of love and appreciation are few and far between. How often do you show those you love just how much love you have for them? “Oh, but they already know. I don’t need to tell them“. OK, well how often do you show them? “Look, I’m busy!” OK, but when do you stop being busy and take care of yourself as well? “Well…”
In this 150km/h paced life we rarely make the time to do what really matters: to love wholly, fully and daily. Before we know it, time is running out and those we care for begin to slip away, or die without warning.
Below you will find 6 tried and tested ways that I have found to be profoundly beneficial for expressing sincere love towards others, and towards ourselves.
How to Show Sincere Love to Others
These 3 exercises can be performed in only a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds. They’re not a lot to ask from us, and don’t take anything away from the tight schedules of daily life. Just imagine the feelings of sincere love you will transmit to those you care for, and how appreciated and nurtured they will feel as a result. What gift can be better than that?
1. Look deeply into your loved ones eyes. Each and every day.
This exercise is profoundly powerful and is perfect for rekindling an immediate sense of connection between you and your loved one. This is one of my favorite things to do on a daily basis, and invigorates and deepens the bond I have with my loved ones.
Some cultures refer to this practice as “soul gazing“, as the eyes are the most expressive and arguably the most intimate areas of the body. Try setting aside some time to look silently and softly into your loved ones eyes. Don’t be surprised if powerful feelings overcome you, or if you suddenly feel the unreality of your life become a reality.
Soul gazing is the perfect way to say “I see you, I understand you, I appreciate you, I love you“. One of the saddest things I have observed in some couples is their continuous lack of eye contact. These couples almost always display dysfunctional behaviors, such as hostility, aggression, irritability and general boredom toward each other. Imagine how disconnected you would feel from someone if you never made eye contact!
2. Do something unasked for.
No one likes to feel like a beggar constantly asking and nagging for things to be done. When we do kind things that we were never asked to do, we make our partners and loved ones feel like Kings and Queens. We show the people we love consideration, respect and appreciation when we open ourselves to serve them.
How often have you taken out the bin, done their dishes, bought them an unexpected gift, or simply offered a massage? Even if your partner isn’t aware of what you’ve done for them, remember that true sincere love expects nothing in return – apart from the joyous feelings we get in return for making another person’s life richer and more enjoyable. Why not treat your loved one as a King or Queen today?
3. Discover something new that you love about your partner each day – and tell them.
This may seem difficult at first, but just remember that each day we are all evolving. Each day our bodies become just a little bit older, each day we see just a little bit more and experience a little bit more. The you yesterday isn’t in truth the you of today.
The beauty of life is its growth, its evolution, and its transformation. When you’re with your partner, observe them. We do this many times, often unconsciously during the day. Have you noticed anything new? Perhaps it’s the beautiful curvature of their mouth? A mischievous coy look they adopt? A newly developing virtue of open mindedness? Perhaps it’s something you can see that was always there, but you never told them you loved – their laugh, the twinkle in their eyes, their beautiful use of words, their striking complexion in the color blue?
We can never run out of things to admire in those we love. No matter how minuscule it is, verbalize your appreciation. After all, tomorrow could be too late.
How to Show Sincere Love to Yourself
Self love is essential for anyone hoping to live a peaceful existence with themselves. You could even say that love starts with ourselves, and the way we treat ourselves. Eventually the level of self love we have is reflected in our dealings with others.
Below are 3 of the techniques I found were the most helpful and healing in regaining a positive relationship with myself. Hopefully they will help you as well.
1. Look at photos of yourself as a child.
If you’re uncomfortable with the whole concept of “writing to your inner child”, this may be an easier alternative. Looking at pictures of yourself as a child can have a powerful psychological effect on you. When I first started, I broke down and wept reflecting on my present embittered self, and the gentle, peaceful child I was in the pictures.
The best way to remind yourself that you’re still a child at heart is to put a few pictures of yourself around the house, or even carry one in your wallet (like I do). This way, you can take a few minutes out of each day to reflect on the soft, vulnerable and innocent side of yourself.
This may sound wishy washy, but looking at pictures of your younger self truly reminds you that you need to take care of yourself. At all times.
2. Become your own best friend.
How many of us criticize ourselves, berate ourselves and punish ourselves on a daily basis? The truth is, many of us are our own worst enemies.
Our subpersonalities: the victim, the skeptic, the perfectionist, and the idealist all wreak emotional and mental havoc inside our minds on a daily basis. What we need is to befriend ourselves again. We need to support ourselves, encourage ourselves and embrace ourselves as the people we are. That’s what true best friends do.
We can do this on a daily basis very easily. For instance, when we make a mistake, we can choose to support ourselves instead of berate ourselves. When we feel scared or apprehensive, we can encourage ourselves, instead of bringing ourselves down with negative, defeatist thoughts . And when we find ourselves depressed, struggling, or ailing, we can nurture ourselves and treat ourselves, instead of wallowing in our melancholic mires.
Not everyone has A-class friends, and not everyone even has friends at all, so why not take the time to show yourself how much you believe in yourself each day?
3. Open up to your negatives.
Many people mistakenly think that self love is looking at all the positives and filtering out all the negatives. Sure, that may be a good approach at first, but after awhile we need to come to terms with the darker places of ourselves.
Do you love someone because they’re absolutely perfect, or because you embrace both their good and bad sides? To live in an illusion of greatness, where everything you see in yourself is beautiful is not only narcissistic, but self-deceptive. True self love explores the nastier bits of ourselves, and tries to work through them with care and consideration. It acknowledges that we’re not perfect, just like everyone else.
A few ideas you could decide to adopt would be, for instance, setting aside a a few moments each day to work on your impatience, your anger, your prejudice, or any other part of you which makes life disharmonious. You could meditate, practice mindfulness, or simply reflect on your actions and how they could be altered in the future. Embracing your dark side is the best way towards improving yourself, and a fundamental component of self love.
I hope this article has inspired some thought. Please feel free to leave any of your own suggestions below, I’d love to read them!