Finding happiness and love inside you (instead of yearning for the outside world to be perfect)

As humans we’re famous for feeling incomplete and that we’re not quite enough, yearning for a future where we find the perfect….job, partner, home, expensive car, weight, …(fill in the blank) and finally feel complete, sated, happy and loved.  We do this despite our own past experiences where we’ve wanted something, received it and then felt a temporary blip of satisfaction and then a quick return to our baseline of feeling that something is missing or not enough in our lives and ourselves.   We also do this despite seeing people who seemingly have it all be miserable (e.g., celebrities) or people who have little and have struggles in their life but are nonetheless happy.   So why do we continue with this quest to try to fill ourselves from the outside in, instead of from the inside out?  Why do we fool ourselves with this game?

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Instead of questing for these external sources of possible happiness and love, why not try to gain this sense of being filled with happiness and love from the inside?  It’s definitely a journey, a process and work but if you know trying to get this sense of self-worth and love from your external world doesn’t work..why not try a different approach. Below I share some of the things I’ve found worked well for me on my own search for inner peace and happiness.

The first step I recommend is trying to become aware of your thoughts and feelings and how much your sense of love, acceptance, and worth come from the outside world.  Are you constantly striving to be the perfect friend, partner, parent, employee or worrying about what others think? Does your world turn upside down if a component of your life goes out of whack, if you fight with your son, or have a project go off kilter at work? Are you criticizing yourself or thinking negative thoughts about yourself? What is driving your need for something to fill you from the outside.

Once you get a handle on those thoughts, start trying to turn the tide inside and replace those negative messages you may be giving yourself with positive affirmations.  Replace negative beliefs you may have about your self, and your “lovability”, if you will, and worthiness. Once you start to feel these affirmations are true (see my previous post on affirmations, you start to feel differently about yourself.  You will be more resilient to the influence of external factors.

You can quiet those thoughts of wanting this or that by simply recognizing all that is good in your life. Replace the lack with gratitude.  When you go to bed each night think of the range of the things you can be grateful for..from your hot shower in the morning, smile from a neighbour, to a hug from your child. When thoughts of wanting arise, question would that really, really, really make me happy and think of something you have that you are grateful for, and let the wanting go.

Once you’ve tackled these internal assessments, start testing the waters with the world a little. Give up the fight to be perfect – say what you really feel (in a kind way), say no when you don’t want to do something, and see what happens.  Start learning to separate yourself from the things that influence your feelings about yourself – your family, your friends, your work, your community. See yourself as a whole being and start to feel the love you can feel for others for yourself.  Think of someone you truly love, feel that intense feeling of love, now can you feel that for yourself??  Can you delight in your own being?

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A meditation I like to do to help feel filled with self-love, is to imagine the love you feel for another.  Now picture that feeling, that love as being tiny soft pink bubbles of energy you are transferring to that person.  Now focus on that love energy and picture it filling your own body.  Picture those tiny pink bubble of love energy filling your body with this soft pink light.  See it filling every bit of your being. Sense whether there are any dark areas where you don’t feel this light hitting…these are your blocks to feeling self-love and worth.  Now keep picturing your body filling with this light with these light bubbles until the dark areas one by one are cleared.  Recognize any thoughts that arise when you encounter one of these dark areas then let them go.  Get to the point where you body feels loved, overflowing and cleared in its entirety.  Then start to see yourself as a fountain bubbling over with this pink light. This is the source of the love you have for yourself and others. It is always there and will never run out.  You don’t have to feel depleted when you give love to others because you give it to yourself first.

Practice the above meditation when you go about your day picturing yourself being a fountain and transferring that love to your coworker, strangers you see, to the squirrel on the branch, and to the universe around you. Start to see yourself as a loving being.  Start to let go of co-dependency and let your love for others and the love you receive be less conditional. Start to try accepting people for who they are and where they are and do the same for yourself. When you start to shift these beliefs about yourself your relationships will change for the better, become healthier, and those toxic people in your life will see they can’t influence you like they once did and start to interact differently.  Keeping a journal to track your progress on your sense of self-love and worth can be a great tool to help you see your progress on days when you stumble and feel like you’ve fallen into an old pattern. It is a slow process but such a nourishing thing for you to do for your self and for your soul.  Often what we are yearning for and looking for when we think if I could just meet the perfect partner, find the perfect job, change this or that about my really just that sense of love and worth that fills us with genuine lasting happiness. When you have that feeling of love inside of you, the happiness will be there automatically. They go hand in hand. Give it a try.

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