Our lives begin in an effortless state of lovability. Infants are irresistibly lovable to their parents. But then, as we grow up, our angelic natures fade. Hormones and hardships change us for better and worse, but life inevitably diminishes our unqualified lovability. Fortunately, cultivating lovability can be as doable as cultivating a beautiful garden that will attract the attention of other garden lovers.
The first secret to becoming more lovable is to be love-able. Being able to love is a much bigger deal than simply being in love. Being in love is not what makes us lovable. Being able to love makes us lovable.
Being able to love is more than saying “I love you” and offering to do the dishes, although both are indeed loving. Love-ability is a matter of cultivating a loving nature. It’s not simply what we do so much as how we are. It’s something to become. Becoming love-able, though simple, requires changing your mind and practicing certain skills until they become your natural state of being.
Begin by imagining that you have 3 different characters cohabitating in your subconscious mind, each with their own distinct personalities and purposes. The first character is your loving heart, the second is your controlling judge, and the third is your competitive ego. They’re each valuable members of your subconscious family, but they need to take turns driving your thinking, attitude, and behavior. And although they all serve you in their own way, each can undermine your lovability.
Your heart’s job is to feel and express affection (which can be hard in a competitive and judgmental world). Your judge’s job is to maintain control and order (so it may express a lot of criticism and disapproval – of yourself and others). Your ego is responsible for maximizing your reputation and social status (so it has the potential to rub others the wrong way if it projects an air of superiority). So how do you become more love-able and lovable with all of this going on?
Each of your characters needs to make specific adjustments in order for you to become more love-able and lovable. Your judge needs to learn how to be less judgy, more understanding, more empathic, and tolerant. Your ego needs to be less competitive and preoccupied with status comparisons. And your heart needs to express kinder sentiments more often. Together, these adjustments will alter your nature for the better.
The details and strategies of these character adjustments can fill a book,* but you’re only going to get the cliff notes version here. In a nutshell, your judge and ego need to be reined in, and your heart needs to express more affection.
Reining in judges and egos can be like taming wild horses, but practicing the following simple exercises will make it easier.
Ask your judge to translate its criticisms into the language of concerns and to replace its condemnations with more understanding and empathy. Expressions of concern are less harsh than criticisms. And we all prefer expressions of empathy more than condemnation. So develop the skill and habit of putting yourself in other people’s shoes to better understand where they’re coming from. Being more understanding and empathic will go a long way toward making you more lovable. You can still express disagreement, disapproval, and set limits, but you’ll be doing so in more loving ways.
Next ask your ego to develop the skill and habing of converting pride into gratitude. Pride feeds the ego empty spiritual calories like ice cream feeds a sweet tooth. Both leave us craving more and don’t satisfy our fundamental emotional needs. Gratitude is a nourishment for the hearts of self and others, and its effects are more enduring. So whenever something excites your ego, give your ego a reasonable cut of pride and convert the rest of that excitement into heartfelt gratitude. In this way, I’m great because I won becomes I’m grateful for my good fortune. This is how to replace egotism with humility and graciousness.
As your judge learns to be more empathic and your ego more grateful, it is then up to your heart to express these kinder sentiments. Expressing understanding, empathy, and gratitude softens and warms other people’s hearts. They’ll feel better in your presence and then find spending time with you more desirable. Conversely, judgements and egotism put people on edge and drive them away. Being more able to express love in these ways will make you more lovable.
There’s more that your heart can express in addition to empathy and gratitude. Praise, admiration, affirmation, encouragement, reassurance, forgiveness, and active listening are all forms of love-ability that will make you more lovable. But the greatest love-ability of all is compassion. Most of us feel and express compassion automatically when people we care about suffer from serious illness, tragedy, or loss. But there’s always room to express more compassion in our daily lives. The more you develop your empathy, the easier it will be to feel and express compassion more often.
There are two more very important points for maximizing your love-ability and lovability. The first is that if you want to emanate affection and compassion for others, you’ll need to learn how to do it for yourself too. Request that your judge become more understanding and accepting of your mistakes, shortcomings, and vulnerabilities. Learn to direct your heart’s beams of love and compassion toward yourself. Many of the most caring people express love to others but don’t know how to do the same for themselves. This can also be learned, practiced, and become part of your nature.*
The second important point is the principle of reciprocity – what goes around comes around. Being love-able and lovable is contagious and attracts others with similar natures. It’s the best way to create valuable personal bonds with other love-able people. In these relationships you can both give love to and receive love from more naturally. The circulation of love is far more precious than being in contest or conflict with others.
We all need more love and compassion in our lives. Learning to become more love-able and lovable is a most pleasant journey toward that destination.
* Whole Mind Healing (Kandle 2020) Read me!