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In the fast-paced world we live in, the concept of love often takes center stage in our lives. Exactly a year ago, I wrote an article, “Love is a choice, not only a feeling” and emphasized that love is not just simply an emotion but requires conscious decision to commit to someone we deeply care about.
I wrote that article to discuss that our love for our nation and its people is like loving someone, we cannot say we love them without actions. Now, I am writing a continuation of that article exploring into my personal journey— the transformative power of self-love and the significance of taking meaningful action on our feelings.
There are times when we forget to love ourselves just to be with someone, we thought is making us happy or simply because we were used to be with them. After all, we really cannot be happy and contented with that person if we do not love ourselves.
The Profound Impact of Self-love
Self-love is the nurturing foundation of healthy relationships. We were brought up to be selfless and care for others not sometimes we overlook the significance of self-love in our personal growth, emotional well-being, and the quality of our relationships.
Many of us struggle with this concept, I for one, have struggled for more than half a decade confusing myself that self-love equates to selfishness. It took me some time and friendships to learn that loving myself is not only a right thing but also a necessary thing to do. Consciously knowing what we want, what we need, and what we are forms the basis of any healthy and sustainable relationship we long dream of.
Loving oneself is a complex concept that involves numerous aspects of what it means to be human. We must accept our own worth as individuals and treating ourselves with all the respect, kindness, and compassion what we would show or give to our special someone, friends, or family members.
Self-love is sometimes being misconstrued as narcissism or self-centeredness. This misconception came from the lack of understanding of the true nature of self-love that it is not about being egocentric and disregarding the needs and feelings of others. For me, self-love is our ability to balance between self-care and care for other people that we love.
The journey to self-love
Self-love is a lifelong journey, a continuous and complicated process that we must go through. It involves self-discovery and personal growth. We must learn to look at the factors that may have hindered it in the first place including our past experiences, societal pressures, social construct, and even personal insecurities.
It’s about learning to embrace our strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging our unique qualities, and gradually shedding the layers of self-doubt we have.
The ripple effect of self-love
Self-love not only benefits us but also the people around us. When we nurture self-love, it has effects on all aspects of our lives. It gives us the idea of who we are, what we want, and what we can do. Based on my personal experience, here are some ways in which self-love manifests its positive effects in my life:
In the absence of self-love, failures and setbacks can feel like an unbearable burden. I remember those moments when I would berate myself, associating my worth with my mishaps. It was a dark place where self-hate seemed like an inescapable abyss.
However, the turning point came when I began to recognize my self-worth. I started viewing these setbacks not as reflections of my inadequacy but as opportunities to grow and learn. This shift in perspective was transformative.
By loving and valuing myself, I could navigate life’s challenges with a newfound resilience. Failures no longer defined me but became steppingstones on my path to personal growth. I learned that self-love isn’t about avoiding mistakes but embracing them as integral parts of my journey. It’s a journey where setbacks become opportunities, and self-worth is the compass guiding us forward.
I’ve come to realize that relationships can be a complex dance of emotions and expectations. Whether it’s with friends, family, or a significant other, there have been times when I found myself so deeply invested that I’d inadvertently put their needs and desires above my own. It’s a common pattern, one that often stems from a genuine desire to nurture and care for those we love.
But as I embarked on the path of self-love, something transformative occurred. I began to understand the importance of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in these relationships. It was like a newfound clarity that allowed me to discern when someone’s actions or behaviors were crossing those boundaries or affecting my well-being.
Self-love provided the strength and courage to assert these personal boundaries without the burden of guilt or fear. It’s not about shutting people out or building walls; it’s about creating a safe space where both parties can thrive and grow.
This newfound boundary-setting was a game-changer, vital for fostering relationships that are not only respectful but also mutually beneficial and deeply fulfilling. It contributes significantly to personal growth and safeguards our mental health, ensuring that we give and receive love from a place of strength and self-respect.
When we are secure in our self-worth, we no longer feel the need to wear masks or hide our true selves. Instead, we can express our thoughts, feelings, and desires honestly and openly. This authenticity is like a beacon, guiding us towards meaningful connections with others.
In my personal journey, I’ve experienced the power of authenticity firsthand. By loving and accepting myself fully, I’ve been able to let go of the fear of judgment or rejection. This freedom has allowed me to be more genuine in my interactions, creating deeper and more fulfilling relationships.
Authenticity is a gift we give not only to ourselves but also to those around us. When we show up as our true selves, we invite others to do the same, fostering genuine connections built on trust and mutual understanding. It’s a beautiful ripple effect of self-love that enriches our lives in ways we could have never imagined.
Pursuit of Dreams
For the last half decade, I set aside my dreams and desires, often sacrificing them to meet others’ expectations. At times, I even undermined my own worth to gain approval from others. It’s a common journey many of us traverse, but I’ve come to realize that true self-love entails recognizing our capabilities and nurturing our dreams.
Self-love has been the catalyst for my transformation. It’s the driving force that emboldened me to pursue my passions and ambitions without the crippling grip of self-doubt or fear of external judgments. It became my compass, guiding me towards the fulfillment of aspirations that I’d long held dear.
In the embrace of self-love, I found the courage to chart my path, to create the life I envision. It’s a reminder that our dreams are worth chasing, that our worthiness is not determined by the opinions of others, but by the love and belief we hold for ourselves. Self-love is the key to unlocking the door to our most cherished aspirations, and it’s never too late to turn those dreams into reality.
Choosing healthy relationships
Self-love is not confined to self-improvement; it profoundly influences our romantic relationships. It serves as an invisible magnet, attracting partners who genuinely respect and cherish us. My personal journey of self-love underscored this truth, illuminating the path to healthier, more fulfilling relationships.
As I rekindled my love for myself, I gained a profound understanding of my worth and the love I deserved in a relationship. This awareness empowered me not to settle for less, to resist the pull of relationships that offered little or nothing in return. I learned to discern genuine love from empty promises and to choose a partner who reciprocated the love and respect I extended.
Self-love, in the context of romance, becomes a filter, allowing only those who can appreciate and reciprocate our love into our lives. It’s a beacon that guides us away from toxic relationships and towards the warm embrace of love that truly nourishes our cores.
Healthier Emotional Well-being
The profound impact of self-love on emotional well-being is a lesson I’ve learned firsthand. It’s a journey that has led me from a place of anxiety, self-doubt, and occasional attacks of depression to one where inner peace, contentment, and happiness now reside.
Before I embraced self-love, my emotional landscape was often tumultuous. I found myself tangled in a web of negative thoughts and self-criticism. But self-love acted as a soothing balm for my emotional wounds. It taught me to silence the inner critic and replace self-doubt with self-compassion.
As a result, my emotional world transformed. Anxiety loosened its grip, and the shadows of depression began to recede. Instead, I discovered a sense of stability and resilience. Each day brought with it a more positive outlook on life, a newfound capacity to weather storms, and an unwavering belief in my ability to navigate life’s ups and downs.
There are a lot of impact self-love can bring to our inner selves, our relationships, and the way we see the world. It begins with recognizing our value and nurturing our physical and emotional well-being.
When we learn how to genuinely love ourselves, we become equipped to thrive in the challenges of live, set healthy boundaries, pursue our dreams, and build deep and meaningful connections. We love ourselves not just for ourselves, it is not a selfish act but a necessary foundation for a fulfilling and harmonious relationship with friends, family, and our significant other.
It is when we are confident about ourselves and open to someone that we decide to act on our feelings, that we are ready to love again.
Love in action
In my previous article, I highlighted that love is not only a feeling but a choice we make every day. Now, I have to admit that when I wrote that article, it was not full of self-love, or should I say, I was struggling to love myself that time.
The concept of conscious love for me became even more profound when I got myself back, when I have learned to acknowledge that my feelings are also valid not just that of my partner.
The power of vulnerability
One of the most courageous ways to express love is through vulnerability. It is the willingness to open your heart and reveal your true self to someone else. It often involves taking risks as there is no guarantee that the other person will reciprocate your feelings. However, it is in this vulnerability that we find the potential deep connection and intimacy.
When I met someone who would become a significant part of my life, I learned firsthand about the transformative power of vulnerability. I had discovered the importance of self-love, but it was through openness that I truly understood the depths to which love could take us.
Expressing love through actions
Love is not merely a passive emotion like I said in my previous article; for me, it is a dynamic force that requires action.
Saying “I love you” is meaningful, but it is the actions that accompany those words that truly convey the depth and genuineness of our feelings. Love is in the everyday gestures, the sacrifices, and the small acts of kindness that demonstrate our commitment and affection.
In my journey, I found that actions speak louder than words. When we choose to act on our feelings and express our love through meaningful deeds, we create a tangible connection that can withstand the tests of time and adversity.
We may have different ways of showing our love for someone and accepting that differences between partners is a conscious decision both must make, a compromise, when we believe that that person is the right one for us.
Love languages revisited.
It was 2017 when I was first introduced to Dr. Gary Chapman’s concept of “Five Love Languages.” As times progress, and especially through my journey of rediscovering self-love, I saw and understood that it goes beyond understanding and giving them their love language, but it should be a two-way compromise instead.
To those who have not read my previous article, I have talked about these love languages in the perspective of a giver. My journey to self-love, really, was not an individual journey. Now, let me share and discuss these five love languages in a purview of being both the giver and the receiver.
· Words of Affirmation
I touched upon this language describing it as the language of expressing love through praise and appreciation. However, the depth of this love language goes far beyond mere compliments; it’s a powerful tool for building and nourishing a healthy relationship.
For me, Words of Affirmation have become a cornerstone of my relationship. It’s not just about saying kind words—it’s about the reassurance that love brings. When my partner expresses their love through affirming words, it acts as a reassuring embrace, soothing any doubts or insecurities that may arise.
I can personally attest to the potency of this love language. It’s the unsung hero of our relationship, the steady reassurance that we are cherished and valued. In moments of doubt or vulnerability, hearing those words of affirmation acts as a lifeline, pulling us closer and reinforcing the foundation of trust and love we’ve built together. It’s a reminder that love is not only felt but also spoken, strengthening the connection that we hold dear.
· Quality Time
This love language transcends the mere quantity of hours spent together. It’s not about clocking in endless hours side by side but rather how we make each second count. Every moment shared is an opportunity to deepen our connection, fostering a sense of intimacy that truly defines our quality time.
Even in long-distance relationships, my partner and I have discovered the profound impact of spending time together intentionally. Video calls, despite the physical distance, become a bridge that connects our hearts. What’s remarkable is that it’s not always about engaging in deep conversations; sometimes, it’s merely the act of being present with one another, doing our respective tasks while the comforting presence of our loved one graces the screen. In these moments, words are not always necessary; it’s the shared experience of coexisting in our own worlds that strengthens our bond.
Quality Time isn’t confined to grand gestures or extravagant dates; it’s woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. It’s the laughter shared over a simple meal of a hotdog sandwich bought from separate stores; or a funny punchline Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago throw at each other, the comfort found in each other’s presence during quiet evenings, and the knowledge that every second spent together, no matter how mundane, holds a treasure of connection. In the end, it’s not about the quantity of moments we share, but the quality of those moments that truly define the richness of our relationship.
· Physical Touch
Physical Touch is a love language that has held a special place in our relationship, complementing our experiences of Quality Time. For us, being partners living far apart from each other, the connection between physical touch and quality time is undeniable. When we’re apart, Quality Time serves as the bridge, helping to offset the longing for physical touch. However, when the miles finally disappear, the magic truly happens.
The simple act of holding each other’s hand, leaning on each other’s shoulder, or locking eyes for an extended moment adds an indescribable depth to our time together. These touches are like love notes written in the language of sensation. They magnify the value of our time, making it even more precious.
The power of physical touch is most evident when we’re reunited after weeks or even months of separation, primarily seeing each other through a 24” inch monitor and a crappy internet connection when it rains, and the ever-consistent electricity interruption in their area. The sensation of being in close distance, of feeling the warmth of each other’s presence, is a soothing comfort for the heart. It’s a reminder that love can transcend distances and screens, and that physical touch, when finally embraced, can reignite the flame of our connection. It’s these moments that make the wait, the longing, and the anticipation all worth it.
· Acts of Service
Acts of Service is not merely about assisting with household chores or running errands; it’s a profound expression of love that encompasses various sides of our lives.
It extends far beyond the ordinary. It’s about actively engaging in each other’s daily struggles, whether it’s helping with schoolwork, carrying the weight of a tiring day, or simply being there as an unwavering source of support. Importantly, it’s not a one-sided endeavor; it’s a mutual, give-and-take relationship where we both contribute to each other’s well-being without feeling enslaved by the tasks at hand.
One of the most intimate ways we practice this is through culinary love. Cooking each other’s favorite meals—a gesture that speaks volumes about the care and thoughtfulness invested in our relationship. Additionally, the ability to anticipate each other’s needs, sometimes even before they’re articulated, a feeling of being in an environment of trust and appreciation.
However, perhaps the most significant act of service in our relationship is the act of wholehearted listening. It’s in those moments of sharing our day’s stresses and triumphs that we truly serve each other. Listening attentively, offering empathy, and providing a safe space to express our feelings is a profound act of service that underpins the strength and resilience of our love.
· Receiving Gifts
In our conscious relationship, the act of gift-giving transcends materialism and consumerism. It’s a practice grounded in the understanding that it’s not the value or price of the gift that matters, but the thought and intention behind it. Gift-giving becomes a heartfelt way of expressing love, appreciation, and thoughtfulness.
Receiving the perfect gift from my partner is like a magnificent dance number that shows knowing and understanding each other. It’s a testament to how deeply we’ve connected and how well we’ve come to know one another’s hopes, desires, and quirks. These thoughtful exchanges of gifts serve as a tangible reminder of the profound connection we share, and they bring an added layer of warmth and intimacy to our relationship.
The most treasured gift isn’t something that can be wrapped in a box or adorned with a bow. It’s the gift of their conscious presence, their unwavering support, and their commitment to nurturing a loving and harmonious partnership. This conscious love is the foundation upon which our relationship thrives, and it’s the greatest gift we can give and receive from one another.
Embracing regrets and seizing opportunities
Regrets often haunts us when we fail to act on our feelings. Inspired by one of the quotes from the American Comedy TV Shows, “The Big Bang Theory”, we are more likely to regret the opportunities we did not seize, the words left unsaid, and the chances we did not take rather than the ones we pursued. My personal journey has reinforced the idea that love is too precious to leave unspoken and unexpressed.
I firmly believe what I write, and practice what I believe in, and with that in mind, I can say that I have no regrets seizing an opportunity to tell someone that I love them. Of course, I did it because I was ready.
The weight of unexpressed love and the power of taking chances
For months, I held the weight of unexpressed love in my heart. Countless nights were spent tossing and turning, consumed by the relentless “what-ifs” and “maybes” that echoed in my mind. It was a burden I had chosen to carry, a story left untold, and a love left unspoken.
One of the worst fears that concerned my mind was the possibility of them choosing a different path, not because they didn’t share the same feelings, but because I had failed to convey my love. It was a haunting thought, a future tainted by regret and missed opportunities. In those moments of reflection, I realized that unexpressed love had the power to alter the course of our lives, and it was a risk I could no longer handle.
But the beauty of life lies in our ability to choose differently. As I embraced the courage to express my feelings, I unraveled the chains of uncertainty that had bound me for far too long. It was a pivotal moment of transformation, a declaration of love that carried the promise of a future unburdened by regret. In choosing to express my love, I opened a door to a different narrative, one where “what-could-have-been” gave way to “what-will-be.” It was a reminder that love, when expressed, has the power to shape our destinies and pave the way for a future filled with hope and possibility.
It is when I decided to act on that unexpressed love, to seize the opportunity and take the risks I found myself in their arms.
Embracing Love as a Transformative Choice
In conclusion, this extended exploration of the concept “Love is a choice, not only a feeling” highlights the transformative power of love, particularly when directed towards oneself and expressed through actions.
At the very foundation of this discovery lies the idea that self-love is the cornerstone of all other forms of love. It’s not merely a selfish endeavor but a necessary one—a prerequisite for authentic connections with others. Through self-love, we unearth the capacity to love and cherish those around us, creating a ripple effect of positivity and affirmation.
But love isn’t a passive emotion; it’s a dynamic force that requires vulnerability, effort, and unwavering commitment. It’s in the willingness to open our hearts, to step into the unknown, and to embrace the risk of vulnerability that we unearth love’s true potential.
Every day, as we rise with the sun, we have the opportunity to embrace love in all its myriad forms. It’s a choice worth making—one that has the power to transform our world, one loving action at a time. So, let us walk this path with open hearts, knowing that love is not merely a feeling; it is, above all else, a choice—an extraordinary choice that has the potential to infuse our lives with profound meaning and boundless joy.
At this point in time, I can confidently say that I am happy, I am loved, and I am being taken care of, FR. I love you, FR, for reals.