Higher love is the kind of joyful, fulfilling, authentic, and emotionally intimate love we all desire. If your mind immediately conjures an image of your romantic partner or crush when you read “higher love,” you’re not alone. In our society, romantic love is often the most idealized.
But the ultimate love is the love of our self.
If you crave a deep soul-to-soul connection, whether romantic or platonic, with another person, you must first develop that connection with yourself. Fostering self-love is not selfish; it is one of the most generous acts you can do for your partner, family, friend, coworker, community, and world.
The first step to developing self-love is embracing the true nature of life: Everything in the universe is one. You are not separate from the sedimentary rock forming Mount Olympus, the dog or cat lying at your feet, or the person who cut you off while you were driving to work. You are a spiritual being having a physical experience. So, although you are embodied, you are also an energy, a frequency, a vibration. Therefore, the frequency and vibration you are attuned to affects all the beings in your orbit.
And if everything and everyone in the universe is one, then everything and everyone belongs. When you reflect on your relationships, how many of the issues or challenges you experienced stemmed from an act of self-contraction? How many times did you self-forget, self-abandon, or self-defeat? Putting someone else’s needs above your own because they were “more important” is not an act of love — it is an act of fear.
Once you start to tap into your higher self, you will recognize and believe that you are enough, you are important, you are precious, and you belong. Then you invite self-expansion into your life. By awakening your deeper self and honoring the interconnectedness of all living and nonliving beings in the universe, you accelerate your personal evolution and influence the collective’s.
Living higher love is the pursuit of growth and development. To begin your personal transformation, you must practice living consciously. This means cultivating awareness, honesty, and responsibility. It means living deliberately, harmoniously, and beneficially.
Conscious living requires presence — the ability to hold, contain, and identify what is happening and provide inner support without trying to change or fix the situation. To enhance the possibilities of love, you must first lower your threshold to reactivity. Being present with your feelings and experiences is the foundational practice of self-awareness and self-compassion, which allow you to navigate your relationships from a place of honesty and truth. It also leads to self-acceptance, another essential ingredient for higher love. You must first have a fundamental regard and esteem for yourself — a grace — even when you make a mistake, act selfishly, or live unconsciously to extend the same compassion and understanding to others.
Your relationships with others mirror your relationship with yourself. Therefore, your relationships can never be better than the one you have with yourself. So, when you self-forget, self-abandon, or self-defeat in your relationships, you also forget, abandon, and defeat the other person’s higher self. But when you initiate and cultivate a conscious, generative relationship with yourself, you initiate and cultivate a conscious, generative relational field for others.
The next time something happens in one of your relationships that triggers you, pause before reacting. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how you are feeling in your body. Name that feeling; give it a container and extend yourself understanding and compassion.
How will you react now that you are present with your feelings? Will you self-protect, self-promote, or self-flagellate? Or will you lead with curiosity and extend an invitation to the other person to explore the higher truth of your relationship that is revealing itself through this conflict?
True friendship is reciprocal, not transactional. Too often, relationships are based on what one person can gain from another, such as box tickets to your city’s NBA games or free medical advice. But true friendship occurs when each party is interested and invested in the growth that wants to happen between each person. Being present in your own internal experience in relation to others allows you to not only be courageous enough to ask for what you need in that moment but also attune to the other person’s emotions and tap into the deep place within you that is still and wide enough to contain, witness, and welcome the other person’s feelings with love.
When that happens, you and the other person both feel less alone in your experience and you live into and align with the oneness of the universe, where the possibilities for love are infinite.
Steve Farrell is Co-Founder and Worldwide Executive Director of Humanity’s Team, a nonprofit organization and transformative education platform that aims to make conscious living pervasive worldwide by 2040. He is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle and lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his family. humanitysteam.org