Living a Meaningful Life

The Reflection

Building a loving, reliable and consistent relationship with ourselves is what allows us to show up and live a meaningful life. What constitutes a meaningful life varies among people, but living one is a universal desire. A common ingredient of a meaningful life is living our life with love.

We reach for our dreams and goals not with full confidence that we’ll achieve them, but with full confidence that we’ll be there for ourselves when life gets hard, when we want to quit, or when we fail. With that full confidence, we know we can pick ourselves up and dream again.

A loving relationship with ourselves is a prerequisite for loving others — both those we know and those we don’t. After all, that’s where the love comes from: within our own wise, compassionate heart. How can you expect to share love with another if you have no (or limited) experience of loving yourself? When we don’t love ourselves, we spend most of our energy trying to get love from others. If or when we do get it, there’s no place inside for love to land — like we have a hole in our love bucket. We keep trying to get more because the love never seems to last.

Loving our self is the only way to heal from the wounds we received early in life. We have all been shaped by our early life experiences. From some of those experiences, we created strategies that were protective at the time, but they turned into patterns that continue to play out in adulthood. Those strategies and patterns became unnecessary and maladaptive, ultimately blocking our happiness and negatively impacting our relationships with others. Since we can’t go back and change the experiences we’ve had, we are left with two choices: 1) continue to suffer by reliving the painful patterns, or 2) relate to ourselves NOW in a loving, caring, parental way — by giving ourselves the love now that was missing and needed back then.

Let’s Practice

When you feel triggered by another person’s unloving behavior or by a life circumstance that feels difficult and/or challenging, instead of mentally making your case against the other person or situation, take a slow deep breath. Then ask yourself, “What does this part of me, the part that’s feeling the pain, need from me right now? What would be a loving way I could relate to or interact with myself right now?” Allow yourself to show up for yourself as the ideal loving parent or friend we’ve all wished we had in times of distress.