I’ll bet we’re more alike than different. I’ll bet there have been seasons in your life when you, too, have felt like you had been incredibly blessed with so much, yet still felt a gaping sense of something missing—and you couldn’t quite put your finger on it?
For me, this mysterious blanket of emptiness became pronounced after the unexpected death of my furry, 6-pound soul mate, Kobi, a stunning Yorkshire terrier. He was my best friend and my companion for nearly 14 years; the one thing I loved more than anything in the world, and which loved me back—fiercely and unconditionally. He filled voids in my heart that I didn’t fully realize were there. But in January 2014, Kobi left his earthly body—and left me with a massive hole in my heart and in my life.
To be clear, the psychological impact of the death of my beloved dog wasn’t a one-off, or an emotional break. Instead, my profound loss and devastation was the culmination of a series of events in my life that reminded me that something was missing; and became the tipping point for my search for the elusive element of happiness.
At that point, I’d searched for love and meaning to my life through relationships, an array of careers, living abroad, material possessions and more. Yet this insatiable desire for something more to fulfill me remained relentless. It was gnawing at me. What I was really searching for was peace, love and freedom, and I believed I’d find it from something or someone outside of myself. At the time, I truthfully didn’t know better.
Maybe you can relate.
Have you ever felt tired and frustrated with being on an emotional seesaw, where your happiness is predicated on the comings and goings of your life? I had reached that place, which led to a very confrontational discussion with God, asking—no, demanding—the answers to those important questions: Why am I here? What is the purpose of my being? And is there more?
Here’s the thing: God never fails. Through a series of subtle and profound “coincidences,” the questions I’d long sought the answers to were given to me. While crying inconsolably over Kobi’s passing, I received a calling to love myself. To love myself as ferociously and unconditionally as I could, the way I’d loved Kobi, and the way he’d loved me back. And, most important, to then share my valuable lessons with anyone and everyone who would listen.
Through the pain and labor toward wholeness, I was forced to let go of doing things my way; pushing and willing relationships and things to happen, and to simply co-partner and co-create with God. In that process, Love Sanctuary was born. Love Sanctuary is an online spiritual and personal-development site centered on helping individuals create success and transformation through self-empowerment and self-love.
You might ask: What’s self-love got to do with it? I say, “Everything!”
“Self-love” is a phrase that means different things to different people. Over the past several years, I’ve come to understand what self-love is to me, and what it means in real-life application. For you, it might include forgiveness and gratitude; ending self-sabotage, self-doubt and limiting beliefs; creating emotional boundaries and trusting yourself; releasing judgment and fear; or simply stepping into your purpose.
Once I began to trust God and apply the tools I was learning through that surrender, my heart and life radically changed.
To share just a few, I found greater meaning and purpose to my life, I fell in love with myself—beyond any ephemeral circumstance thrown at me. I moved and lived for two years in Bermuda (a dream come true), where I co-authored three books and wrote an e-book within 18 months.
The moment I stopped searching for love outside of myself and realized that the love I needed was within me, magic began to unfold in my life.
I’ve come to understand self-love to be the most important relationship we can experience, one that is essential to our capacity to give and receive love. Experiencing self-love is a gift I think we all deserve; that’s why Love Sanctuary and I are proud to partner with Veronica Webb and The Glow Up to offer you a yearlong journey to self-love.
Each month, I’ll provide you with practical tools, tips and strategies to support you in embracing love for yourself. We’re going to explore what’s holding you back and how you can expand your heart. And each article, just like this one, will end with an invitation for you to engage in your own Love Work. You might consider keeping a journal handy.
A couple of housekeeping points as we begin our journey together: First, the journey to self-love is by no means an easy one. There may be a series of painful feelings and discoveries, but the pathway to the heart is moving through the old muck we have covering it. We must feel in order to heal. So, brace yourself. You’re not alone. We’re all taking the journey with you. Ask a friend or relative to join you on the path. It’ll be the most worthwhile journey you’ll ever take.
Second, don’t worry about fumbling. It happens. But in those moments, that’s when self-love is exercised best. When you make a mistake—which you invariably will, because you’re human—rather than berate or judge yourself, can you offer yourself compassion and kindness? Can you speak to yourself as you would to a 5-year-old or to your best friend? Practice being your own best friend.
Our Love-Work Assignment
For our first month together, since we’re in the holiday season and spirit of giving, let’s practice the art of giving as a self-love practice.
If you tend to be more of an over-giver, I challenge you, for this month, to give more to yourself. Each week, can you find something loving to do or to give to yourself? No matter how big or small.
And for some who may be “under”-givers, can you commit to giving away something to someone else each week for the entire month of December? That might be a hug, a smile, a compliment, a prayer, any warm gesture, or a small gift or favor.
The journey to self-love is never-ending; there is no destination or race to the finish line. It’s a lifelong practice. So allow yourself ease, patience and grace.
The Glow Up gift tip: To further support your journey and get you started right now, Angela Holton would like to invite you to a very special—and entirely complimentary—online event, the Radical Self-Love Summit: Discover the Powerful Tools to Build Self-Confidence, Create Healthy Relationships and Live With Greater Health & Purpose, which launches Dec. 4. This unique summit gathers more than 20 leading experts to offer you powerful insights, tools and guidance all centered around self-love, including The Glow Up’s own Veronica Webb. For completely free access, visit the event’s website.
Angela N. Holton is an international coach, speaker, author and founder of Love Sanctuary. She is author of the e-book The Love Sanctuary Guide: 30 Days to Deepen Your Relationship to Love & Abundance, and co-author of Whispers of the Heart, Manifesting Modern Miracles, and 111 Morning Meditations: Create Your Day With Intention. She is a contributing blogger for HuffPost, Elephant Journal and Tiny Buddha and coaches clients around the world in one-on-one and group programs.