By Lindsey Kimura

What is love? We constantly talk, sing, dance, and express about it. Love is not singular but rather a blend of emotions and utmost care for someone or something.

Love begins in the womb. How one’s mother feels and acts influences the fetus. If a mother carries joyfully and without stress, her child is likely to be happy and stress free. Contrarily, if a mother is depressed, maltreated, or stressed during pregnancy, these conditions can transfer to the fetus.

When a newborn enters the physical world, he or she is oftentimes showered with love from family, relatives and friends. This audience radiates love upon the newborn.

However, during childhood incidents or circumstances can alter or threaten that feeling of unconditional love. Examples include, “My dad moved out. He must not love me,” “My grandma didn’t give me as nice of a present as she gave my brother. I must be less important,” “My girlfriend dumped me. I must not be good enough.”

We create a story or reason for why something happened rather than just accepting the incident as a fact without meaning. Our young minds are not trained to unassign meaning to occurrences and hence do just the opposite: assign meaning that challenges our perception of care and love.

A feeling of lack, loss or insufficiency arises, which then creates a tendency to seek love outside ourselves. Something convinces us that we are not enough so we turn to others: lovers, family, friends, communities, pets, etc.

I will tell you about my personal experience.

As a child growing up, I received a tremendous amount of love from my parents, family, friends, and communities. I felt so immensely loved, I did not feel the need to overcompensate and seek more. I embraced love and gave it back.

Once I began dating, opening my heart, being vulnerable and becoming emotionally attached to my lovers, my self-love was challenged because it began to rely on validation from another. It was shared. Conflict could sometimes lead to a feeling of insufficiency or lack.

We create a story or reason for why something happened rather than just accepting the incident as a fact without meaning.

After a long relationship with someone where part of you becomes them and part of them becomes you, separation can create a void, a sense of missing, heartache. Be gentle with yourself and allow time for healing. Take this time to look at yourself in a fresh light. Know that you are whole and perfect exactly as you are and genuinely believe it. Remember, you must love yourself deeply before you can properly love the next person.

Means by which you can work on self-love are meditation, chanting, doing things you love, spending time in your feelings, finding a picture of yourself as a baby and falling back in love with that ball of light (recommended by yoga teacher and inspiration Francesca Asumah). All of these methods will build your sense of confidence and true self-expression. Transformation is a journey, but take steps toward authenticating love from your inner core. Go back to that place where love never depended on another. You already are 100% love. Just learn to see, feel, and live it.