Swami Shankarananda always says that first, before we can love others, we must learn to love ourselves. He says that this is the true goal of spirituality–to love ourselves and to give that love to others. He learned this by devoting himself to the teachings of his Guru, Baba Muktananda.
Most of the great realized beings say that it is love that sustains the world. We create our lives in love, and we expand and grow them from that love.
When we give our love to our lives, life works. However, when painful things intrude on the heart we withdraw our love, and that is when our lives destabilise and begin to fall apart. However, if we stay connected to the inner Self we will remember that which we love.
When the heart shuts down, we are tempted by the glow of the temporary. We seek status, money, relationship, power, or something else—hoping to feel complete. Perhaps in the beginning, in the first blush of acquisition we do feel satisfied. However, as the rose fades, so do we, and our search for love in the outer world becomes our nemesis. We can feel separate and apart, the sense of other drives a wedge in our heart. We close our heart and withdraw our love.
In order to sustain love we must maintain a connection with the inner Self, with the Shakti, the spiritual energy. It is that which gives the experience of nectar, it is that which keeps us feeling alive, it is that which nourishes our soul.