Love With All Your Heart

A few years ago, once I’d come through divorce and my first post divorce love affair, I wrote a book charting my way through midlife. It’s called Best Knickers Always: 50 Lessons for Midlife. One of the fifty short chapters is about love. Up until that point I had a very skewed yet totally understandable view on love. Here’s what I wrote:

“...Until we love and hold ourselves in esteem, how can we truly love and allow another to show us love? Be open and big-hearted. Be ready to express and show love. It is so easy to crawl into our shell when we’ve been hurt and have had some hard knocks. I know; I’ve done it. It takes courage to fall in love again. Can I guarantee you won’t get hurt? No. Is it worth it? Yes.”

I was looking for love outside of myself. But to love and believe in myself was what had to happen first. Until then, why would anyone else love and believe in me? It’s so easy to become fearful of love or to love only on condition, to have rules and expectations. Following my divorce I believed that being loved by someone else would solve all my problems. Sadly, I was clingy and needy and overwhelmingly desperate to be loved. Not a pleasant look is it!

The truth was that I had to love myself first, to completely love the woman I was and am. In hindsight what I was demanding of a man I was unable to show myself. I was expecting someone else to fill the void I felt in my life. 

It’s hardly surprising I felt that way, we’re fed an intoxicating diet of disempowering love songs and Hollywood films. I know I wasn’t the only one to believe all the lies! I spent weeks listening to the gorgeous Adele on repeat who seemed to reaffirm all I was feeling! Yet, the power comes when we love ourselves fiercely, seeing our own worth. When we are open-hearted others cannot felt but see us for who we really are. When we move away from feeling a victim we take back our life. 

So how do we do it? How do we look within when we’ve spent a lifetime looking outside for love and validation? 

I ask my clients this simple question: “how are you showing yourself the love you show your friends?” It makes for an interesting conversation! Why is it okay for us to treat ourselves as anything other than a best friend? The moment we truly see this everything changes. When we love and respect ourselves we teach others how it’s done. We are no longer caught up in a cycle of abusive relationships. It no longer makes sense for us to simple settle for a mediocre relationship. It’s incredibly freeing. In fact we move from a place of ‘needing’ a relationship in order to feel okay about ourselves to ‘choosing’ a relationship because we’d like to share some time with a like-minded soul. From this place we can create a very different relationship and and post 50 life.

Rebecca Perkins is a qualified wellbeing and resilience coach and has worked with individuals and groups across all ages and sectors. Her passion is getting right to the heart of what her clients want for their lives, helping them see beyond what they currently believe is possible. 

Rebecca is co-founder of Irresistible Dating which she set up with award winning dating photographer Saskia Nelson. Their expertise lies in guiding clients into the right mindset for dating success as well as helping them create a dating profile that stands out. 

Rebecca is also the author of Best Knickers Always: 50 Lessons for Midlife. Her latest book, co written with her daughter, Recovery from Within: A mother and daughter’s journey through anorexia will be published in the autumn. Rebecca has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, BBC London and writes regularly for Medium where she was featured as one of their top writers on mental health. 

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