Adding oomph to “I love you”

Have you noticed how “I love you” can be like an empty gift box–wrapped well, but with nothing inside?

I first observed this sitting with couples where one was ending the relationship. “I don’t want to be with you. But I love you. I’ll always love you.”

Watching the recoil of the receiver of this mixed-up message gave me pause as I wondered how we use these three words. I. Love. You. I vowed that if I were going to invoke their power, I’d mean them.

Here’s what I mean. Take a moment to think of something or someone you love easily.* Where, when you imagine that place, piece of music, dog/cat/parakeet, child, moment, you are filled with a sense of warmth, expansiveness, heart-felt connection. (Partners and family members may not be the first choice for this exercise, as their image may invoke a mixed spectrum of emotions.) Breathe into this felt-experience like you’d breathe onto tinder as it’s starting to blaze into a fire, gently, invitingly. Let it fill your whole body.

As you savor this experience of what love really is (and I’d add, of what loving yourself consists of), make a commitment to evoke this sensation when you speak, write, or even think “I love you.” Make love into the verb it really is, an actual transmission of a powerful, highly expanded, transformative energy.

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful reminder to share your heart, be it through a doily-covered card or simply a conscious breath in while connecting to thoughts of those you love. Go from experience to expression by adding oomph to your “I love you”s.


*Read more on this subject in Gay Hendricks book “Learning to Love Yourself”

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