In setting out your most important goals for the months ahead, don’t forget the factor that's most likely to give you joy, contentment, and a deep sense of personal meaning and mission: Loving relationships, in all forms, not just romantic love.
This insight comes both from my personal struggles to build a love-filled life (against some pretty hefty inner and outer obstacles) and my 30 years as a psychotherapist specializing in issues of intimacy. Without hyperbole, I think I can safely say that I’ve found the best place of all to find love: Your contact list.
Let me elaborate by telling a bit of my own story: In my mid-thirties, after fevered years of clubbing, hookups, and an essentially fruitless search for love, I found that I could no longer avoid the yawning emptiness inside me. Under all the busy, what I was, was lonely.
I knew I had to find love. I had spent years searching for it with unavailable people, but I hadn’t spent enough time building it with the people who cared about me, the people I cared about already. The choice to spend more time enjoying those people changed everything. It marked the beginning of a very different, and much more love-filled life.
In my work as a therapist, I’ve seen the same pattern in the lives of countless clients who came to me because they wanted more healthy love in their lives.
The first step was almost always the same: The choice to spend time with what I call "attractions of inspiration," those friends and partners with whom there is an essential sense of safety and mutual appreciation, and gradually spending less and less time with "attractions of deprivation," those relationships which require inordinate effort to get the other person to accept us, appreciate us, and honor who we really are.
As we choose to focus more and more time on our attractions of inspiration, our world changes. It is really almost that simple.
For most of us, the best way to find those connections is to simply to look through our contact lists from the past few years. Usually, those people are there already. We just got too busy to contact them, or felt too shy because we admired them—or we just didn't take the time to build our connections.
For a more love-filled new year, find those relationships now and spend more time with them. It’s the best path to happiness I know of.
Here's a simple exercise to help:
Pull our your best contact list and review the people on it, from your nearest and dearest to people you may not have thought about for years.
Then, ask yourself three questions:
Each of the people you picked is gold. They are your personal dream-team. The very wisest path to love is to nurture these relationships by doing three things:
Micro-Meditation: The Love that’s Already Yours
In my new book, Deeper Dating, I teach intimacy “micro-meditations"—small practices that take less than three minutes but have the power to enrich your entire intimacy journey. The following micro-meditation can be your foundation for more love. Pick any person who stood out for you as you reflected on your relationships. Now try the following:
And now, just let your feelings quietly ripple through you.
Practice this micro-meditation as many times as you wish, and just watch as your reservoir of love deepens and widens, day after day. The chances are great that it will, and that your life will become richer and more enjoyable, and you’ll start meeting new people who also love you for who you are.
(Here’s one important caveat: If you suffer with a psychiatric condition which is untreated—or inadequately treated—or if you have an active addiction, the above tools may help but they won't stick. I encourage you to get the help you need as your first priority in the year ahead.)
Please write and let us know what happens to you then you try this exercise. I think you’ll love the results.
© Ken Page, LCSW 2015
To receive my free gifts including The Four Most Powerful Insights for Your Search for Love and my free downloadable audio micro meditations click here