What It Really Means To Be In Love
by Nicole Barton
Being in love isn’t really about the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s day; this is a very ‘outside-in’ way of looking at love. When we get too attached to this consumerism-driven celebration, not being in a relationship can leave us feeling alone. Feeling that love had disappeared is some of the deepest suffering I’ve experienced – but it also taught me a lot; I saw that if we just look a little deeper, we can see something different.
Love Doesn’t Disappear
What I discovered through self-rediscovery during my relationship heartache is that love can’t disappear, even though it can feel that way. That might sound strange, but in my suffering I had huge insights by deeply listening to what being in love really meant. I realised love doesn’t just disappear even though the person has, because it was still there. For me, it hadn’t gone and I still felt love. This showed me that the fact my partner had disappeared really meant nothing at all, other than he wasn’t here, physically, in this moment. Love was still present.
Love is Another Label For Something Greater
‘Love’ is another label for an intelligence that is greater than us, that we can’t really explain. We use many different labels for this – including wisdom, spirituality, divinity, nature – but ultimately these are all pointing to the same thing; our connection to something bigger. Despite my relationship ending, I still felt connected to love and realised it hadn’t died when the other person left. So much shifted in that. I realised my heartache was simply because I thought life should look a certain way. All suffering rests in our thinking, but when we look beyond that to the deeper intelligence that moves us through life, we can find freedom. Don’t get me wrong, it was still painful – losing a relationship can feel very tough – but my suffering was always in the expectation that life should be different, and forgetting this greater force was still alive.
Love Comes From Us
In that, I saw I was the creator of ‘being in-love’ – and I still had the capacity to access it. When I looked towards this, I realised my deeper connection and finally understood I could never truly be alone. It shifted my whole perspective. In the absence of another person, I learned so much. If we think about the feeling of love, we can really confuse the idea of being in love as being attached to the other person – but it doesn’t leave when the other person does. Being alone is an offering of insight into who we really are. That feeling of butterflies, excitement and love is really just a reminder of our natural essence, which can be tapped into at any time when we feel that same feeling. Love comes from us; if it didn’t, I wouldn’t still have felt it.
Think about it for a moment. When else have you felt that beautiful feeling akin to being in love? It isn’t just in the space of a new relationship, but it is visible any time when you feel clear and happy. Think about the first time you really, fully experienced Christmas as a child, or when you went on holiday, or perhaps when you were just sitting looking out the window and feeling a sense of gratitude. Whenever there is a beautiful feeling, we are connecting to our sense of something bigger; to our sense of possibility – and that’s what the feeling of being in love is really about. We can be in love with life.
Love is Who We Are & Others Hold a Mirror For Us To Connect to That
What’s really happening in the space of relationship, is our thinking is falling away because we feel settled; this simply leaves our true essence on full display in the absence of thought. It is as if another person has held up a mirror to remind us of our true beauty. Whilst we attribute the feelings to come from them, that isn’t possible; we are simply uncovering our deeper wisdom by allowing thoughts to fall away. In the space of a clear mind, we can always reconnect to our being ‘in love’ with life, yet often our minds fill up with what we haven’t got.
We are love; it arises within us. We were born in love – it isn’t lacking. Yet, as we integrate into society’s conditioning that all our joy comes from something external, it is easy to forget it actually lives internally. I have always felt very unlovable, as my Dad left when I was age 4, but one of my friends once said something that profoundly stuck with me:
“How could anyone not love the real you? You are love itself.”
We can’t be unlovable. There is only ever misunderstanding clouding our experience of pure love, and it can fall away instantly if we allow it. Whenever we divert from feeling in love, it is simply a pointer to our state of mind being ‘off.’ Usually because we have some ‘suffering’ thinking and forget that connection is our true essence. This is because we are human, meaning-making machines – our minds like to create narratives.
As it turned out, my partner did still feel love, he just couldn’t make sense of it because it felt scary – it made sense for him to let his thinking settle. After several years he returned, and I’m pleased to say we both learned so much in that experience. I learned I was always okay when alone; that love came from me, rather than him, and that I could cope. I learned to let go of chasing love, because in seeing I didn’t need it from anyone else, I changed. I think he learned he didn’t need to take his scary thinking seriously, too!
We like to think we know how life works, but we have no idea; just as we don’t know how nature evolves, with tree leaves falling and re-growing. We can’t explain or plan for the feeling of being in love – it’s a greater intelligence. I often point to the idea we don’t tell our hearts to beat, or our lungs to breathe, and it’s the same with being ‘in love’ – underneath, love is as present as our heartbeat. When we remember this, we can also feel this greater intelligence living us, without doing anything.
3 Self-Rediscovery Reflections to Reconnect You to Love
If you’re feeling alone, here are three self-rediscovery reflections:
1. If you feel discomfort, simply notice it, questioning how far what you think is the truth, journaling (if you enjoy that) about how your feelings can be coming from the transient thinking that you are alone.
2. In difficult moments, immerse yourself in something you love. Is there anything that reconnects you to the sense of being in-love with life? This might be yoga, nature walking, writing, reading, bathing – anything you really enjoy and reminds you what it is to be alive.
3. Reflect on moments in your life when you have felt connected to being ‘in love’ without another’s presence. Have you enjoyed solo travelling or felt bliss during meditation? Have you felt grateful? What has moved you? This is all being ‘in love’ – and it comes from you.
This Valentine’s Day, if you are feeling alone, I hope this gentle reminder shows you that you don’t need anything outside of yourself. You can be in love with life, whatever is going on externally – we are always love, deep down.
About the author
Life mentor Nicole Barton is something of a unicorn within the self-help industry for her candid notion that nobody needs self-help. She is a breath of fresh air in her admission that while anything that leads us into soul-led expression is useful to shift us from our heads and into our hearts, none of these practices are prerequisites to peace, as long as people reconnect to the simple truth of who they are. Nicole supports people in finding freedom from suffering through workshops, global retreats and one-to-ones, and is working on her first book.
Visit Nicole at www.nicolebarton.co.uk