Solve for L

Everywhere I go these days I am inundated with sentiments about learning to love myself. Blogs, TV, Facebook, it's everywhere.

"Simply loving yourself is the key to happiness!"  They gush.

"Oh, is that all?", I think to myself. "Thanks for clearing that up." But deep down, I know it's true. So I muster up all my courage and positive thoughts and go to the mirror. I take a long look into the mirror and that inner twinge of discomfort let's me know that this is not going to be easy. 

A wise friend of mine recently shared her theory of self-love with me. I'll state it how it looks in my brain... it's a bit like an equation:

A + T = i  and  i = √L

Solve for L

Now, I'm no math geek. I didn't do well with it back in school, but this type of equation makes sense to me. When Attention (a) and Time (t) combine in any relationship it creates Intimacy (i). And the square root of Love (√L) is Intimacy (i). 

So if we want to love ourselves, we must be intimate with our inner Self. That intimacy is born of time and attention within.

Here's another way to think about it.

When in a new romantic relationship you have long conversations and ask questions. You share thoughts, ideas and experiences. You want to spend all of your time with this new person. They are fascinating to you. Spending time doing your homework helps you know what makes this person tick. And you begin to fall in love.

You don't see their freckles as nuisances, you see them as adorable. That scar that they try to cover up is what you run your finger over when you are close to them. The way they laugh til they snort at their favorite TV show is not annoying, but endearing. These imperfections are not to be covered up and hidden, they make your lover who they are and you take all of these things together as a package. Without any one of them your dear one wouldn't be whole, they'd be a fraction of the person you love.

We accept this idea about others, but what of ourselves?

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and felt that rush that you feel when beholding your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/spouse/child or dare I say... your puppy?  If I'm being honest, there have been times in my life (ok, as recently as yesterday) that I have felt more of a rush of love about my dog than I have felt towards myself. And that is something that I want to change. I see now that the solution is to treat myself as I would ANYONE ELSE THAT I LOVE!

*smacks forehead in eureka-like surprise*
Spend time getting to know ME. Can I exchange certainty for curiosity about myself?

What are my favorites and my fears, my hopes and dreams?  What makes me tick? What lights me up?

Spend time getting to know myself just as I would in developing a relationship with someone else.

And when I know what I need in order to feel loved, I can choose to do those things. Giving myself what I need is a way to develop intimacy within instead of relying on the changing winds of the external to give me what I need at any moment. Developing that Self-Intimacy it can grow into Self-Love. Instead of reaching for someone else to love me, I can provide the love that I need. I can fill my own need for love instead of creating dependency and neediness in my external relationships. 

Instead of showing up to my life as a fraction, I can show up as a whole. And coming into a relationship of wholes, of equals, I have the chance to be more together than apart. 

And if my math is correct, by doing my own homework I can circumvent the pain that comes from using someone else to solve for L.

The square root of Love is i.

Laura Olsen