I’m still on this love kick. When you love yourself then you’re more open to loving others. It can change the world. I know it can. I feel it in my bones.
Some say that it’s more about accepting yourself than loving yourself (see articles listed at the bottom of this post). For me love and acceptance are the same. Well, more accurately, love is dependent on acceptance, but not vice versa. You can’t love without accepting, but you can accept and not love. I say acceptance in terms of understanding, not necessarily agreeing with it.
If you don’t accept someone for who they are, then you can’t love them. Not really. The same is true for yourself. That’s why I talk about balance, understanding your shadows, and all of that. It’s rolled up into one big package.
I have a temper, for example. I know that. I understand it and accept it from the perspective that it is part of who I am. Do I agree with it? Do I think it’s beneficial? Most of the time, no. It has it moments of usefulness but in general it is more of a deterrent to growth and inner peace than helpful. By understanding and accepting it as part of myself, however, then I can better address it when it raises it’s ugly head.
When you accept and love yourself, then you are more open to others. More importantly, you have such a good sense of self that you can accept others despite your differences. If you can accept your own flaws, then you can at least see past other’s flaws. You also open yourself up to other’s opinions.
Lesson No. 1: Love depends on acceptance — whether it’s yourself or others.
We need a little of that right now — we are too polarized as a society at the moment. We need to move a little more toward acceptance of others.
My recent visit to the hair salon prompted this train of thought and this post. My stylist and I have long visits. We talk about politics and societal woes. It’s a special stylist-customer relationship like that.
The funny thing is that we are on opposite ends of the spectrum politically. Opp-o-site. My last few visits kind of irked me. I just didn’t want to hear what she had to say. Like I said, I’m not a perfect example of wisdom and enlightenment. I’m working on it … that’s all I can do.
So, last night, I listened more. I usually listen, but I voice my side of things. This time I listened more instead of automatically reacting. See, the enlightenment is coming round.
As I listened, I could see holes in my own line of thinking. She made legitimate points that I had not considered. I knew I didn’t have all the answers, but I had always felt like I was morally right. Although I may still feel that I’m morally right to some degree (again, no perfection here), there are some practicalities that have to be dealt with when you are trying to come to a solution. That’s where listening and understanding other’s points of view are critical.
None of us have all the answers. Even when we think we do. We can all learn from one another — see things from a different perspective. We’re not going to be able to make the world better, to heal our wounds, if we can’t listen to other people’s perspectives. Answers are almost always in the middle. Everything really is about balance. It may sound hokey, but it’s pretty true.
Lesson No. 2: Loving and accepting yourself allows you to listen and hear other people’s perspectives. Sometimes we even learn from them.
To get there, though, to see other people’s perspectives, as crazy as it sounds, we have to love and accept ourselves first. Unfortunately, we live in a society dead set on striving for perfection and not accepting our flaws. Therefore, it is difficult for us to love ourselves fully. We may take care of ourselves. We may eat right and exercise, meditate. But we have to accept ourselves. Be comfortable with who we are, so we can fully embrace and love ourselves.
Stepping away from the things that make society go around right now, can help. Abstain from the phone, the tv, shopping, going out — all of it for a little while here and there. Get to know yourself. Take care of yourself. Accept and love yourself.
These things are best achieved in quiet moments. At some point you will be able to master them most of the time, but you have to start from scratch. Make it easy on yourself. Give yourself a break. Take some quiet time for yourself. It takes the pressure off. It truly does.
Lesson No. 3: Give yourself a break from technology and “doing” in order to get to know yourself.
I keep coming back to this idea that romantic love is a stepping stone in developing your love skills. We look at childhood development in phases — you learn these things from birth to age x, and at age y you start to develop these things.
I feel that we go through development phases in love as well. In our early years, we learn to love family, friends, pets, and that sort of thing. The basics. Then we learn to love others romantically, which requires more acceptance of others that we choose rather than inherit. We get there because it fulfills a need in us that happens to become more pronounced as we hit puberty. Just saying.
If we then take those love skills that we learned in our early years and as we developed relationships, then we can build on them and start looking externally. How can I share that love without looking for something back?
Now ain’t that the magical mystery gift? That’s a gift that keeps on giving. It’s a gift you give to the world, and I truly believe good comes back to you. You may not see it. It may not be obvious. It may be as simple as the lack of bad — it could be that subtle. But when your mindful, conscious and aware, universal subtlety is not so hard to notice either.
I felt like I kind of loosened the tape the end of the gift and got a sneak peak inside last night. I can’t be the only one who did that with gifts from family, right?
I listened. I heard what she had to say and could even accept some of it as legitimate concerns.
Even better, I noticed that she didn’t get as upset either. In the end, most of us just want to be heard. Once we’re heard, we can move forward.
The last few times we’ve visited, my stylist had gotten a little frustrated. I could see it and feel it. But last night was a peaceful night. Good conversation. A learning experience … for me at least.
Lesson No. 4: Listening and trying to understand others is an expression of love — even if you don’t agree with them.
Now when I think about Immigration policy, for example, I have a fuller picture of the topic. When I develop my ideas or solutions, then I try to incorporate solutions from the other side’s point of view.
And yes, that’s how I spend my free time. Call me a dork. It’s OK.
In the end, this is the only way we’re ever going to find answers. It’s the only way we’re going to learn to live together again. Right now, we’re not living together peacefully — not in the US, and not throughout the world.
Lesson No. 5: Build on your love skills to go beyond the self and fulfill something greater. Good always comes back to you.
I know there will be parties on both sides of the political spectrum that will disagree with me on this. That’s OK. Maybe, like me in my stylist’s salon chair, both sides can see something legitimate in my argument — even if they don’t agree with it entirely. A nugget, a seed planted is a start, and that’s all I’m looking for.