10/03/2013 05:47 pm ET Updated May 21, 2014

The Joy and Grace of Loving

Have you ever had the profound experience of feeling your heart and soul filled to the brim with love -- so full that you feel love for everything within you and around you? So full that the world looks brighter and clearer? So full that it brings tears to your eyes that overflow in gratitude?

For me, this is the very best feeling in the world, the greatest joy, and I feel it when my heart is fully open to loving myself and others, and open to awe and gratitude for the privilege of this life. To me, this is the experience of Grace.

This was the feeling I had when I viewed each of my babies for the first time. I could hardly contain my fullness of heart. This is the feeling I sometimes feel for no reason at all. It sweeps over me and brings me immediately to tears from the bigness of it. I love this feeling more than anything in life, so I'm very motivated to get back to it when I don't feel it.

I've learned that this incredible feeling comes, not from being loved, but from loving -- both myself and others. I used to think that getting love from someone whose love I wanted would be the very best feeling in the world, but I was wrong. While getting love certainly feels good, it doesn't come close to the joy of being loving with myself and others.

What Stands in the Way?

Fear and love do not co-exist in the same moment. We need to let go of fear in order to fully love, but how?

It's a circular thing; it's love that heals fear -- but how do we love when we have a lot of fear?

Love is not something that is generated from within us. Love is what enters our mind and heart and soul when we open to it. Love is what we live in -- it's the intelligence of the universe and the life force that keeps us alive.

But when we are filled with fear, we are not open to love. How do we get beyond the fear, to love?

Beyond Fear to Love

When we were not loved in the way we needed to be as babies, we learned to close our heart, to manage the pain of not being loved -- or of being abused. We learned that love didn't exist for us, so there was no point in being open to it.

Now, as adults, we need to have the courage to open to the love that is truly here for us. There are two sources of love: One is from others and the other is from Spirit. If we are lucky enough to have a partner, friend or therapist who is able to offer unconditional love, we might start to feel safe enough to risk opening our heart. But it is not realistic to expect unconditional love from most others, because unless they can love themselves unconditionally, they cannot love us unconditionally.

What needs to happen for you to risk opening your heart to love if you have never received love? Or if you have a history of trauma and abuse?

If you have had trauma, it is very important for you to have trauma therapy to release the triggers and/or freeze response from your body. Trauma therapies include EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique -- a powerful self-help technique that you can learn free on line), SE (Somatic Experiencing), and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) -- these need a facilitator trained in the technique. These therapies can pave the way to opening your heart to love.

The Inner Bonding process is invaluable in learning to love yourself. When you practice Inner Bonding, you learn how to connect with your Source of Love and how to bring it inside where it can fill you with what you need to feel the joy and Grace that are your birthright.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, and join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships." Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.

Connect with Margaret on Facebook: Inner Bonding, and Facebook: SelfQuest.

For more from Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.

For more on love and relationships, click here.

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