This may sound like a strange question, but when you realize that there are different ways of loving inside out and that all love is not equal, it is life transforming.
Whether you’re on a spiritual path or any path for that matter, one of the most common things we hear is that love is all there really is. We hear it in songs, books, on posters, and pretty much anywhere and everywhere.
We learn that our true nature is love and that when we stray from our true nature, we will suffer and be unhappy in some way.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 50’s and started questioning who’s responsible for what that I began to realize that there is a difference between loving from the inside out and the outside in.
What is the difference between these two perspectives on love?
When we love from the outside in we come from the perspective that it is the other person’s responsibility to make us feel loved. If we don’t feel loved, it is their fault and we are the “victim”.
In contrast, loving from the inside out means that we are responsible for our own feelings of love and that it is not the other person’s responsibility to make us feel loved. From this perspective, we understand that we are totally responsible and when we’re not feeling the love, we look inside ourselves rather than blame the other person.
The message in our society is that we need to show people in the right ways that we love them and if they don’t feel loved as a result, we have somehow failed.
When I first read the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman, I thought it was brilliant because it explained how there can be disconnects in people’s love languages and that when we figure that out we can fill up other people’s love tanks.
The book explained how we often demonstrate love in ways that we like to receive love. For example, when my daughter was little she used to leave me love notes on my pillow at night. That was her love language and so that’s the way she showed it to me, because that’s what she actually wanted. I would express love for her by giving her lots of hugs because that was my love language. One day she told me that she didn’t think that I loved her because I wasn’t leaving her notes. I then realized we had a disconnect in our love languages.
The thinking behind this is that I need to figure out your love language so that I can do those things that fill you up. With these kind of expectations, we set ourselves up for failure. How can I possibly fill up your tank if your tank is empty?
Expecting that others can fill us up is a common belief that seems to be the norm. If I just do this, act this way, say these things, give these gifts, I’ll make the other person feel loved.
The shift in perspective came for me as a result of my meditation practice. I started to realize that I had the ability to love myself and that it wasn’t someone else’s responsibility to fill me up. If I wasn’t feeling love from some source external to me, it was because I wasn’t loving myself. Being able to be with yourself, listening to your little voice, practicing loving kindness and forgiveness, embracing all your thoughts and feelings without judgment, opens up a whole new world.
In that whole new world love is fueled from within and it creates space for others to fuel their own love so when the two come together it is a different kind of love. It is pure, it is unconditional, it is the union of two wholes as opposed to two halves creating a whole.
The next time you’re not feeling loved, stop and ask yourself; is it really someone else’s responsibility to make me feel loved? Am I loving myself?
I’d love for you to share your comments below!!