Love, Love, Love…
I had an insight centered on the “experience” of love versus the “feeling” of love that I wanted to share, because so much of what I see in this life is infused with, as well as complicated by, this sticky topic.
The saying goes, “you must love yourself before you can love another.” I thought I understood what that meant. I believed I did love myself, and yet as I look back now I see countless moments where I had overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I just couldn’t see it because in this illusion that I loved myself, I was confronted and bombarded by situations that caused suffering and angst, and so I spent all my energy trying to trouble shoot those situations. “What’s wrong with me? Why does this have to be so hard? How can I change? Why can’t they change? Why can’t they just love me the way I am? I think I’ve made a huge mistake, but I don’t know how to fix it…”
If this feels very personal, like I’m telling a story about you, that’s because I am. It’s my story too. It’s just one of the many stories that we each carry inside of us. We all want the same thing: for others to love us and trust us and accept us just as we are, unconditionally. But wait…there’s something just behind those words…can you feel it? Look at them again, only this time, feel the words, savoring each one, instead of just reading them.
The paradox: if you loved them and trusted them and accepted them just the way they are, unconditionally, you wouldn’t need them to treat you any differently than they do. I know that stirs up a lot of defensive feelings, but please just try to bear with me for a few more minutes. Not needing someone to treat you any differently is dramatically different than putting up with mistreatment. It actually empowers you to effectively address those issues of mistreatment. But that paradox is just the surface: let’s go a little deeper.
The bigger “a-ha” (hopefully): If I loved myself and trusted myself and accepted myself just the way I am, unconditionally, I wouldn’t have gotten myself in the situation where I am perceiving mistreatment in the first place. I would have recognized the seeds of mistreatment much earlier and dealt with them then instead of letting things slide, because somewhere inside I didn’t feel worthy of better treatment, until it reached the point of: “Okay, enough is enough. I may not deserve much, but I deserve better than this.”
And all because you thought you loved yourself. Now, are you going to flog yourself with that personal failing too? It’s not necessary, I assure you. Does it mean you deserve the treatment you get? Absolutely not. But until you know better, that’s just what you’re going to get more of.
There’s so much more in there that I would enjoy expanding on, but I feel it’s important to explore the other side of the equation: the “experience” of love.
There is a part of you that is love, pure and untouched by all your many “flaws”. Yes, I said it: flaws. It’s those perceived flaws (“perceived” being the operative word) that create the situation where you put up with any mistreatment in the first place. “I know I’m not perfect, so I guess I’ll let that one slide for the greater good.” When you can experience that pure love, you are freed from having to lower your standards, and you no longer look to any situation to provide you with a sense of self worth.
Those “flaws” are nothing more than limiting thoughts that you’ve carried with you from the past, the big ones go all the way back to childhood. They have colored every choice you’ve made, and have set you up so you put yourself in situations that support the illusive truth about those illusive flaws. They are nothing more than thoughts in your head, and they have no bearing or relevance to what is true for you Now unless you continue to identify with them.
Once you have had a direct experience of that pure love, you even love your flaws. They’re like quirky little pests that try to keep poking their head in where they don’t belong, but because you love yourself, you recognize them and have the awareness to make the conscious choice not to feed them.
All of a sudden, you are free to love everyone just as they are, with all their flaws, because you know now that the only reason they keep trying to mess with you is because they just haven’t experienced the love within themselves. You have compassion for them, and your interactions with them shift and become more productive and effective. You make the changes that need to be made, but you do it with love instead of with resistance. You love yourself, and you inspire the love in others.
And because I love myself now, I don’t need myself to be any different than I am. And because I don’t need myself to be any different, I also don’t need others to be different than they are. I am free to love them just as they are because I am not afraid that they are going to mistreat me or steal my energy. I have enough energy for myself and for them, so I am not threatened if they don’t agree with me. It creates a space where we can meet and talk openly and compassionately. Trust me, I am different than I was, I just no longer need myself to be different than I am, and the changes that had to be made to support a truly fulfilling life just happened organically.
And what’s more important than telling others the truth about my experience of love is living that truth. And by living this truth, I set the example for others that it can be done: that they can let go of the fear that another is mistreating them and be okay. Better than okay.
Thank you for spending the time reading this post. I hope it was helpful somehow. Be sure to email me if there’s any questions or comments.
In peace, compassion, and absolute love,
Care Mycue :)
“Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.”
– The Beatles, All You Need Is Love