If you were asked to write a few sentences on what you believe love to be, what would you write?
Would it have something to do with caring for the other person? What about being a loyal companion? Would your idea of love include a warm, fuzzy feeling?
There are many ideas of what love is and how it feels out there. I would guess that each person has a unique experience all their own.
However, something I am learning about love, what it is, how to love someone, is actually about myself. I am learning that I cannot love anyone the right way without loving myself first. It is about first accepting myself warts and all, as I am.
Loving myself doesn’t require me to “clean myself up,” or achieve some great accomplishment. Those things don’t make me “lovable.” Those things are conditions we put on ourselves and on others. It is about making someone earn or deserve our love. That isn’t really love.
Instead, love is about the essence of who we are. It is about our identity. Love is about our good qualities and our bad ones. It is about our achievements and our failures. Yes, we can grow and learn and “better” ourselves, but even if that never happens the way we’d like, we can still love ourselves without those qualifiers.
I am learning to love and accept myself.
Loving who I am is about being who I am too. It is about showing people the “real” me. It is about not hiding behind what someone wants me to be or thinks I should be.
When I can learn to love myself unconditionally, then I can truly love others the same way. As they are, without any strings attached, without any unrealistic expectations from me to change them into something they are not. I think this is where most relationships get twisted and fall apart. Instead of loving the person as they are, for who they are, we instead make an idealized image of who they can become, who we can make them be, and “love” that. When they don’t and can’t live up to that expectation, we try to make them into it by loving them based on how they meet that standard. When that person cannot live up to that idealized version of themselves, and don’t want to be that version, then things start to break down and the end is near.
How about taking a different approach? Understand who you are, understand your limitations, understand your flaws and failures, and then love yourself despite it all. Then, when you see another flawed, imperfect person with wonderful qualities and with downfalls, you can still love them unconditionally with eyes wide open to who they are, and without any unrealistic expectations.
In that atmosphere, relationships can thrive. People can know and be secure that you love them even when they fall on their face. If they can love you in return, you will have the same assurances of love.
It is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is something that takes both work and recognition. But the payoffs are huge. It will transform who you are and how you live and see the world around you.
What do you think? Share your thoughts below.