May 1 was Global Love Day, a day to give some focused attention to the concept of love and reflect on how you integrate and practice love in your life. The concept of "love begins with me" caught my attention and I spent some time focusing on my own journey to allow more love to flow into my life. For the last five years, I've given focused attention and practice to softening my heart and opening to love. I've learned a lot, grown a lot, and have a lot of personal experience I now feel ready to share with others.
I've done a lot of work to identify and release the blocks and defenses I built to keep love out. I've made significant behavior changes and have noticed differences in how I treat myself and how I interact with others. I feel myself being kinder, more compassionate, and more nurturing with myself and others. I'm more open to going with the flow rather than trying to control every small detail. I'm more present and patient than I used to be, and I'm releasing the grips of perfection-seeking and people-pleasing. I'm looking outward less; rather than constantly seeking validation, approval, and permission from others, I'm learning to turn inward more, checking in with my own heart and what's going to be best for me.
So yes, I've made progress. But I still have a long journey ahead. I still struggle with loving myself unconditionally and with *being* love; it's not coming naturally for me just yet. Old habits, patterns, beliefs, and behaviors still show up. I still let myself down. I'm still too hard on myself when I fail or make a mistake. I'm still full of fear and self-doubt. I still question the source of my value and worth. I'm still not fully trusting myself. I still grab for protective mechanisms to defend my heart in times of stress, chaos, overwhelm and vulnerability. I still have a hard time letting others see the real me and sharing my true feelings with others. I still hesitate and get nervous before pushing the "post" button when I write something this personal.
But when I find myself struggling in these areas, I'm getting better at being kinder and more compassionate with myself. When I feel afraid, I challenge myself to take action anyway. And I continually remind myself that this kind of deep, personal transformation does not happen overnight. It is long, slow work. It took a whole lifetime to become the way I was, and it's not fair to expect immediate change. I had a lot of unlearning and releasing to do so it only makes sense that it will take time, commitment, and a lot of practice in the new ways of being.
Even though it will take time, I am devoted to my practice. I'm devoted to my heart, to my wellbeing, and to my growth and transformation. So even when it's hard, I promised myself that I'll keep going. I'll keep practicing. I'll keep learning. Because I believe that's what I am here to do: to learn, to grow, to evolve, and to become love.