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Love: What is it? by Penny Cohen, LCSW

What is love?

The missing piece.

No.  The missing PEACE!

When I first wrote this little ditty above, I had to really think about what it meant.  How is love the missing peace?

The Act Of Loving or the State of Being Loved

Many people think love is doing for others, caring for others, and taking care of others.  And that is the “act” of loving.  However, unless we care for ourselves first there is no “I” inside to love another. Just like the instructions on an airplane for survival, before helping others, we have to put on our own oxygen mask first. Love isn’t something we do, it’s something we are. And that comes by taking care of ourselves first and being open to receiving love and being loved.

And what is love?

Love is a feeling that comes to us and through us when we’re in a state of inner peace and open to receiving. It comes with being intimate with ourselves; our higher selves. And what is our higher self? It’s the peaceful, loving, creative, compassionate part of ourselves that lends itself to goodness.

Most people are givers rather than receivers of love. And when we keep giving and feel like it’s not returned that’s when we criticize and blame others for not being there for us. We begin to withhold love. When we withhold love to others, we also withhold love from ourselves. Our hearts close off. In reality we’re not there for ourselves because we’re so busy giving we’re not open to receiving goodness. Just ponder this for a moment. How easy is it for you to receive compliments, to ask for help and let other people help you?  How easy is it for you to just be rather than do and experience the warmth and love within yourself?

The act of “being” isn’t a passive state. It’s rather an ecstatic state.  It’s a state of being open to creative flow and universal love. And it’s in this state of open-hearted love that we feel whole, complete, creative and compassionate. It’s in being in the flow that we feel so fulfilled within ourselves that we love doing for others and also can stand up for ourselves and set boundaries.

How do we experience this flow?  By being in a state of inner peace. And that comes with loving ourselves by honoring ourselves enough to reach that state of peace.

What does it mean to love ourselves?

I have many clients tell me they do love themselves. They take care of themselves through a regular exercise regime, eat nutritionally, get massages, manicures, and pedicures regularly and are generally good to themselves. They feel like they’re good, caring people who do for others. Yet, they still feel unfulfilled and often unloved. That’s because they’re taking care of themselves physically, but not mentally or emotionally. They do regular workouts but not workins. They neglect themselves and their souls by resisting to look within.

I had a client who constantly complained about her husband being too materialistic. She said she isn’t like that.  However, she learned that what we criticize in another is usually something in ourselves that is unresolved. So she asked me, “Do you think I am materialistic?”  I asked her, “What’s your priority, shopping or processing thoughts and feelings?  She said, “Ouch.”

How do we love ourselves?

To love ourselves is to honor ourselves by looking within and processing our thoughts, feelings, speech and actions and tempering them until we reach a state of peace. It’s in that state of inner peace that we experience an expansiveness, an openness to our innately loving, wise selves; our Souls. Loving ourselves is staying in touch with this part of our Self. It’s honoring the love within ourselves that comes from our Higher selves. It’s when we’re in this state of inner peace that we experience the deeper love from within. That’s why love is in the “missing peace.”


I invite you to take some time every day to open to inner peace and your own innate love and creativity and radiate that love to others.

Keeping in touch and in love,


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