What is True Love?

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We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can be cultivated between two people only when it exists within each one of them – we can love others only as much as we love ourselves.

Brené Brown, “Atlas of the Heart”


True love begins within you, and it’s something that many of us aren’t taught. We’re often brought up with the idea that others must love us before we can truly love ourselves, but this simply isn’t true. 

True love is an inside job. Yup, that’s right. That means you have to do the work to feel love. In other words, you have to master self-love to attain true love.

Learning how to love and appreciate yourself first is essential to achieve an authentic, lasting kind of true love. This means taking the time to get to know yourself — your desires, values and goals. Think about setting aside six to 12 months to date yourself. It sounds a little weird, but it’s a fantastic way to shift your mindset into getting to know yourself authentically. 

What does dating yourself even look like? Where do you start? Let’s break it down a bit. 

Black woman, shopping and bags with smile for luxury, self love or self care in the outdoors. Portr
Spending time “dating yourself” helps reveal your desires, values and goals. (Photo via Envato Elements)


We can all improve how we speak to ourselves. You know that inner voice that likes to critique everything you do. Remember, perfect doesn’t exist. With that in mind, filter your inner critic accordingly.  

Let’s use the word “no” as an example. It’s the word that most folks struggle with. No is a whole sentence on its own. Practice saying it. Teach the people around you how to respect your no. 

What does this mean?

For example, imagine you’re at a family dinner. 

  • Host: “Do you want some more mac and cheese?”
  • You: “No, thank you.”
  • Host: “You barely ate; here’s a small scoop.”
  • You: “I appreciate your love, but please respect my initial no.”

Asking loved ones to respect your no will be challenging, but they’ll learn that when you say “no,” it means “no.”

We all set boundaries, but most of us don’t hold ourselves or others accountable to those boundaries.

Think about it: How often have you said “no” but ended up doing it anyway? Over time, you’ve trained your audience that the word “no” means “yes” in your vocabulary. Words matter! How you define them matters even more.


Learning to be happy alone will also help build self-love and appreciation, instead of relying on other people or activities to validate your worthiness.

Being alone scares most people. Society has told us it means we’re not loved and aren’t worthy of attention. Wrong!

Being alone is where the magic happens. It’s where you exercise your inner force and amplify your power. You can’t do this work with outside distractions. You need quiet and solitude. 

Spending time alone gives you time to process your thoughts and gain clarity. Some ways to practice being alone are salt float therapy, going on a solo hike, booking a weekend solo trip or meditation.

The whole point of practicing being alone is to learn how to provide for yourself. Internally satisfying your desire for love, attention and abundance. Filling your soul with a greater sense of gratitude and self-worth.

Over time, this sacred time you spend with yourself pursuing passions that have nothing to do with getting approval from anyone else will give you a strong sense of self-worth and allow your inner light to shine through without needing external validation from others. 

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Caring for our emotional needs equips us to manage setbacks. (Photo via Envato Elements)


The more we take care of our emotional needs first — by being introspective about our feelings and reactions — the better equipped we are to handle any setbacks life throws our way with resilience and grace. Then, when we find “the one,” we have a greater capacity for giving genuine love without becoming emotionally co-dependent on our partner as our sole source of happiness or validation. 

Emotions are a form of energy. Positive emotions release good chemicals in our bodies and replenish our energy. Negative ones find pockets in our bodies and hide, showing up later as aches, pains or even diseases. Feeling and acknowledging our emotions is significant.

Allowing negative emotions to move through and out of our bodies is essential. This can be done with journaling, salt float therapy, screaming in the shower, hiring a coach or therapist, grounding in nature, meditation and many other ways.

The more we take care of our emotional needs first — by being introspective about our feelings and reactions — the better equipped we are to handle any setbacks life throws our way with resilience and grace.

Get curious about your emotions. Ask questions. Why does this feel good? How do I repeat this emotion? Is this an external response or an internal one? Do I have control? Can I change the outcome?

Self care is not selfish. Felt letter board with body and mind care products. Love yourself
Self care is not selfish. Love yourself. (Photo via Envato Elements)


Get to know your body. Start by listening and asking it questions. Am I hungry, or do I need to hydrate? Am I tired or bored? Learn how to be present and feel what your body is feeling. 

Nourish your body with a minimum of 30 different plants a week. Diversify where your nutrients are coming from. Pay attention to how foods make your body feel. Learn how to disconnect emotions from your food. For example, “let’s get donuts to celebrate,” or “it’s been a rough day, let’s get donuts.” Stay away from SOS (sugar, oils, and salt), which are in all packaged foods. Try to eat single-ingredient items. 

Find ways to move your body with yoga, weights, cardio, hiking, breath work and anything else that gets your blood flowing. Our bodies are meant to move throughout the day. Body vibration plates and massage therapy are great ways to work your muscles.

Get to know your body. Start by listening and asking it questions.

People yoga in a park
People yoga in a park (Photo via Envato Elements)

Sleep is essential in healing and reenergizing the body. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Figure out what your sweet spot is and prioritize it. Try not to eat three to four hours before bed. Turn off all screens one hour before. Develop a night routine to unwind your mind for better sleep. This might take a few tries before you find a way that works for you that’s totally normal. 


Your words define who you are, your beliefs and your self-worth. Words bring to life how we see success and speak our truth. They are powerful and must be chosen with love and respect. 

Soul work is a lonely road. Get comfortable being with yourself. It’s your superpower. Build that muscle with love and intention. Stand firmly in your power and honor yourself. You are sacred, worthy and loved. 

Your emotions are knowledge. Get to know them. Name them so you can tame them. Your body is a temple. Nourish it. Exercise it. Pamper it.

Allow your body to rest and heal daily. Give yourself permission to love your mind, body and spirit. You only have one life. Let this one be your BEST life. 


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