“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Friday, July 2, 2010

Loving Others as We Learn to Love Ourselves

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “To love others, we must first love ourselves.” And in some ways, I guess this is true. If we were to walk around despising ourselves, we wouldn’t be of much use to anyone else and we certainly wouldn’t be able to offer any sort of compassion, tenderness, or love. But the following has made me rethink this idea.

I’ve been reading, The Little Book of Letting Go, by Hugh Prather. It’s a very insightful book that explains how to free our minds from things such as worry and conflict, and it outlines a 30-day program with useful exercises to help achieve this. The other day, I read the following passage:

“Even when you pray, if you pray without love or connection, you may have a temporary sense of peace, but you will not touch the eternal peace within your heart. There is no kindness in first thinking of yourself, then trying to be kind to yourself alone. Love is not an act of isolation, and “loving yourself first” is not a step toward happiness. Your will never satisfactorily nurture just your own wounds or your own needs, because those concepts include no unity. Only what joins us to another can make us happy.”

I thought for a while after reading this and understood exactly what he was saying. No amount of praying, meditation, visualization, or positive affirmations will ever get us to true happiness unless we put the results to practice. And I’m not talking about accomplishing our daily or monthly goals at the gym or what we’ve deposited into our savings accounts, or how effective we’ve become at work. Accomplishing these personal objectives may help us to feel better about ourselves, but they won’t ultimately allow us to reach the point of self-love because it’s the relationships we have with others–how we act with and react towards others–how we make them feel and how they make us feel, that will ultimately lead to us loving ourselves. It’s the feeling or the realization that we do have the ability to participate in meaningful and significant relationships with others and the unfolding of those interactions that leads to us loving ourselves. Love can’t exist for long in a vacuum. What’s to love there? Love is meant to be shared. The idea of saving up our love doesn’t work. I can’t even think of a way it can be put away for later or hoarded. If we’re not loving others, then we’re simply not loving at all.

Therefore, I suggest that learning to love others, and the acts of loving others, are what teach us to love ourselves, and if we wait to love ourselves before we try to love others, it will never happen…

No comments:

Post a Comment