The biggest lesson I have learned thus far in my life (I have shared with you recently):
I can't stress how true this statement is. And it's interconnectedness with our happiness, acceptance, and growth is unreal. I had no idea just how limited I was in my ability to love and accept others in my life until I saw how critical I was of myself. I was never good enough, and no one else in my life was either. The more I criticized my body, my habits, my inhibitions... the more I saw the need to pick others apart. When we feel badly about ourselves, it drastically effects how we treat and respond to others in our life. Pent up self-resentment makes us judge and condemn others. There is a direct correlation between love for self and capacity to have uninhibited, totally vulnerable love for others. As soon as I hit a peak within my own self-acceptance, everyone else in my life immediately became this new kind of beautiful perfection. Why? Because I could accept and EMBRACE them for exactly who and what they are. Who am I to judge what they choose to say, eat, do with their time or who they decide to befriend, marry, work with? Once you can let go of all the things you want to criticize, all of the beauty begins to surface... and things that you were unable to see before (because the wall of judgement was clouding your view) spring to life! Suddenly "that" friend isn't neglectful of me, "that" family member isn't a burden, "that" coworker isn't incompetent, "that" acquaintance isn't annoying. They all emerge as wonderful in their own unique way. Sounds incredible right? It's not an easy perspective to attain, especially for someone like myself who would rather work on "fixing" someone else before I ever consider looking within my own heart and mind instead. The work must start (and continue) within ourselves before this awe-inspiring acceptance of others can really come to fruition.
So, then. What is true love? Think about this in terms of having true love for yourself, as well as the love you feel for others.
- It is acceptance. It does not judge or want to change something for selfish reasons
- Instead of judge, it wants to learn and understand
- It inspires. It teaches to promote growth and new levels of understanding
- It is ever-burning. It never dies, even when stress or challenges threaten to douse it
- It is passionate. It is excited and engrossed
- It is vulnerable. It is open and willing to accept life as it comes
- It is caring. It is having empathy and wanting to get on a mutual level of feeling
- It is balanced. It is magically suspended by the poles that vie for its energy
- It is encouraging. It wants happiness and success for others
- It is giving. It is compassionate and generous with its possessions (time, emotions, understanding, etc.)
- It is patient. It doesn't hasten to figure things out or make rash decisions
- .... I could go on and on.