Valentines Day. Lauded as a day of love and connection, to me it feels more like an opportunity to come face to face with my expectations, disappointments and judgements around the way I give and receive love in my life.
Year after year, despite the relationships I have or don’t have, I find myself more ready to eat the whole box of chocolate in hiding than to cheerfully post on facebook about my awesome Valentines experience. Somehow, there is always this nagging fear of not having enough love or not loving in the "right" way.
As humans we inherently value love and belonging. We are physically, emotionally, cognitively and neuro-biologically hard wired for connection. It's what brings purpose and meaning to our lives. Naturally, this deep desire for connection creates a fear of disconnection. Where there is an absence of love and belonging there is always suffering. What could be more painful than rejection from the tribe?
We all have this fear. Researcher and social worker, Brene Brown (who I am currently obsessed with - check out her TED talks here) identifies it as shame, which she defines as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. Shame is the barrier to self-love. It is the opposite of what we are going for as humans deeply longing for connection.
You might recognize shame as that voice that comes up in your head and says "you are not smart/pretty/capable/strong … (fill in the blank) enough to be worthy of love". It's the fear that prevents you from asking for a raise, from talking to the cute guy at the coffee shop, from taking that yoga teacher training, from going for what you REALLY want, because it risks failure.
I used to think that the way to solve the problem of shame (or not-enoughness) was to be perfect. Just get it together and be more smart, more fast, more pretty and strong than everyone. To do the job right the first time and impress and please everyone. It turns out this is a recipe for disaster and a surefire road to disappointment.
The real antidote for shame is to develop a sense of self-love that is so strong, we can feel it even when we fail (because the truth is, we all do).
In the words of Brene Brown, "its about waking up in the morning and saying “yes I’m imperfect, yes I make huge mistakes, but it doesn't matter what mistakes I make, and how much I get done, and what gets left undone. I am worthy of love and belonging'.” In other words, its about feeling like you ARE enough even when there isn't enough.
How can we develop this level of self-love and acceptance? While there are no magic tricks to instantly love ourselves no matter what, the good news is that self-love is a skill we can practice and learn. Today, I want to offer you my favorite resource for cultivating self love -the Braid of Truth meditation inspired by my teacher & master yogini, Ana Forrest.
This meditation has helped me to connect to my own inherent value and my capacity to give and receive love. It is a way to connect to my worthiness no matter WHAT the external circumstances are. No matter what came up for you this year on Valentines Day, or what types of connection you have (or don't have) in your life right now, it's possible to cultivate a connection with your own heart. I recommend giving yourself the gift of doing this practice whenever you feel the winds of doubt and fear blowing through your life.
>> listen here <<
Enjoy this meditation, and remember, you are already enough. In fact, you are in incredible love-producing, love-receiving, love-worthy human being!