Love is not just a pleasant feeling – it’s a physical and psychological need. Of course, I don’t mean just romantic love, but rather a caring relationship with oneself and the world. Although it’s tough to feel that your life is lacking in love, there are things we can do for ourselves to foster loving feelings.

Love recipe
Photo: Content Pixie

Here, I’ve described a “love recipe” – it is the magic given to us by science and traditional spiritual knowledge. When we combine the two through holistic psychology, we receive the most benefit, and I hope that what you read here will be meaningful and helpful to you. I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below 🙂  

Do You Believe You Deserve Love?

One of the things that unite us as human beings is that we all want to love and to be loved. However, apart from the thoughts, we realize we have, the ones visible for our mind’s eye, there are also many unconscious processes happening within us. One of the most famous metaphors is the iceberg – the conscious mind (thoughts, feelings, actions, which we can think about) are the part of the ice that’s above water. But as we know from “Titanic” 🙂 there is a lot more under the surface. This part of our “me” is called the unconscious mind – all the processes which we are not aware of but which control a large part of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. The content of the unconscious mind is much bigger than that of the conscious mind.

Love recipe
Photo: Hubert Neufeld

For some of us, in this invisible underwater level lurks the idea: “I don’t deserve to be loved.” It’s no coincidence that the phrase “Everything is rooted in childhood” has become a cliché – it’s truth calls for repetition. This understanding that we are not worthy of love and care often comes from the period of our lives when we were most fragile and vulnerable. Whatever we experience as children becomes the base of our lives. The foundation of our psychological house. And if in our core we believe that we can’t receive love, then no matter how much someone gives to us, no matter how they try to convince us of their love, we will never feel truly loved, satisfied, accepted, and understood.

Love recipe
Photo: Drew Coffman

If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that our parents (or other adults who took care of us as children) did not love us. It’s possible that they simply couldn’t express their love the way we needed them to. Besides, just like all people, parents have their traumas and deficits. And unless they engaged in focused, aware self-work before making us, then we might have absorbed some of these traumas. Therefore, having the unconscious experience that we were not accepted, wanted, or loved by our parents.

Love recipe
Photo: Jude Beck

In cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, these unconscious beliefs on which we build our lives are called “core beliefs.” But just because they were constructed a long time ago does not mean we have to live with them for the rest of our lives. On the contrary – we can change them, as long as we put in the effort. Although it’s a long process, best aided by a psychotherapist, there are also important things we can do on our own.

Affirmations

These are simple phrases to help us remember that we are good enough, valuable, beautiful, smart, interesting beings, who deserve love. Affirmations are meant to influence the subconscious mind, so it’s important that we repeat them often. This way they can reach far into our minds and help us build new, healthier core beliefs about ourselves and the world.

How Do Affirmations Work?

It’s a simple principle based on science. Every thought that’s repeated creates a trail in your mind – a neural pathway. The more you repeat a thought, the bigger the trail becomes. We all know that controlling our minds requires strenuous effort and magnificent focus. It might feel like most of the time our thoughts are running wild. Actually, they walk the biggest, best-maintained trails. So when we use affirmations to create trails of love and appreciation, in the future our minds will automatically choose those paths.

Love recipe
Photo: Efe Kurnaz

And when we start believing that we deserve love, we will be capable of accepting it. Otherwise we will sabotage it and run away from it, because the child within us, who didn’t feel loved, is whispering: “You can’t be loved genuinely! Don’t open yourself up, you’ll get hurt!” If we live our lives based on this traumatic core belief, we risk having unfulfilling, lonely lives.

Examples of Affirmations

Before publishing this article, I sent it to a friend. His feedback was that he didn’t feel comfortable with some of the love affirmations that follow. This is completely normal when we are not used to talking to ourselves in a loving, kind way. But it’s also a wonderful opportunity to understand ourselves better. Why does it feel uncomfortable to say something loving to yourself? Is it awkward to be gentle with yourself? Are you embarrassed of it? Does it make you angry or annoyed? Every discomfort is a precious opportunity to discover more about yourself, so I lovingly suggest that you observe your thoughts and feelings, as you read these love affirmations.

Love recipe
Photo: Alisa Anton

I am a loved child of the universe. (I learned this one during a Tantra course, and it relates to one of my favorite Alan Watts quotes: “As an apple tree apples, so the Universe peoples.”)

I treat the world with love and it responds with love. (Often, what we receive is a reflection of what we project. Do an experiment – when you talk to someone today smile at them and notice how they smile back.)

I deserve love. (Short, sweet, and confident.)

I am love.

These are just a few examples. Feel free to come up with your own love affirmations that meet your personal needs. You might want to repeat them to yourself when you go to bed, when you open your eyes in the morning, or whenever you feel your heart needs a bit of support.

Small Rituals of Pleasure

Big things come in small packages. Taking a sip of coffee, tea, juice, or just crisp water, with a sound of pleasure (“Mmmmm”) – even this simple act can change my day for the better.

In order to feel that we deserve love from others and to be able to accept it when they offer it to us, first we need to learn how to love and enjoy ourselves. If I can’t appreciate myself, if I don’t allow myself to fully experience pleasure, then I can’t be satisfied with anything in the outside world. Whatever marvelous treats come to me, if I don’t know how to accept them, I will unconsciously put a barrier between them and myself.

On the other hand, when we are able to treat ourselves with love and kindness, it becomes easy, pleasant, even instinctive to accept being treated this way by others as well.

A few examples of simple self-love rituals:

When I open my eyes in the morning, I massage my body; I enjoy it and fill myself with gratitude for it. 

Love recipe
Photo: Ava Sol

I stop and smell a flower on the street, light an aroma candle, essential oil, or an incense stick. I breathe in deeply and allow the sweet scent to fill my body.

Love recipe
Photo: Christin Hume

I lay down on the grass and feel the Earth’s support beneath me; I relish in caressing the green grass and focus on how it makes my body feel.

I prepare a bath with calming essential oils, such as lavender, light candles, and play soothing music. It doesn’t happen too often because of sustainability reasons but whenever I feel the need to indulge myself I enjoy this experience fully.

As I do these things, I try to stay completely focused on my physical and emotional experiences. This is the practice of mindfulness that you’ve probably heard about – being as present as possible in every action. By doing this just for a few minutes per day, we set ourselves up to explore deeper within our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, in the daily grind, we forget that other than working, helping, and problem-solving, we also need time for rest and pleasure. Next time you walk past a tree, you won’t be late for anything, if you allow yourself a few moments to run your fingers through its leaves, or stop and smell a blooming flower. Small gestures of love and appreciation like these teach us that we deserve love and help us feel loved.

I based this article on my knowledge and experience with psychology, mindfulness, and Tantra. I do everything that I’ve described here as often as possible and enjoy the positive changes that it leads to. Which is why I’ve shared it, hoping that it will hold value for you as well. I would love to hear what your thoughts and feelings are in the comments below 🙂