Love others as much as you love yourself! At least that’s what my parents constantly told me ever since I could remember. I never quite understood what it meant, until I had to learn the hard way. Your probably thinking Oh Great! Why this topic? Sooo Cliche, on valentines week..
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sold on talking about this. Who would want to hear about another story that you might have heard before? But then I thought to myself, all we ever see advertised in February is love expressed between two individuals. And hardly anything about how to love. What does healthy love look like? If there is someone like me out there who is looking for a post like this, then It is important that I speak on it.
I have been single for a very long time… 7 years to be exact. Yes I have been out on dates here and there but nothing concrete resulted. 7 Years ago, I decided that I wanted to eat, pray and love my life, to rediscover who I was. What led me to make this decision, is that even though I love the idea of love, I somehow found myself in situations that love wasn’t reciprocated in the way I gave it.
And that right there is the PROBLEM! Stick with me here and I will explain why. All my life I have been conditioned to believe that love, given must be returned. Why this is problematic is that it is impossible to find someone that will reciprocate what you have given. Why? Love is conditioned and almost influenced by experience. We act out how and who we love, based on how we have been loved. Our perception of love is based on what we have seen, or read.
There is just one problem with this? How do we know we are loving well or correctly? What is the base guide? Is there a base guide on how to love? With this in mind, I set out to discover what the best definition of love is. I searched, and researched and so far the best definition I have found is in the Bible.
The Bible defines love as patient, kind, it does not envy, boast, not proud, dishonour others, not self seeking, easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, always perseveres, fails. And what do all these things have in common? One has to abandon self completely.
I know what you’re thinking! Isn’t this contradictory to the title of this blog? I know that’s a lot to take in but bear with me. The love mentioned above is in response to the recipient of your actions. What does this mean? In order elicit patience, kindness and not to envy, you have to be considering someone to be patient with, kind to and not envious of. Boast, pride and dishnour affects the other person and not you. And the list goes on and on.
Each and every thing listed has to do with the well being of the recipient. Therefore, self in this context is not a player. It is a conduit.
SO WHAT THEN?
How do you resolve the list mentioned above and put into practice? Is there a resolve? Is it even achievable. To be honest I am still trying to figure it out. I did however discover a couple of things: patience requires that I choose to understand before I act, kindness requires that I choose empathy and compassion and look to the needs of the recipient vs my definition of what the situation needs. To not envy requires that I chose to love and be content with what I have and be happy for those that may have more or less than I do.
Boasting requires that I consider whether the recipient will feel inadequate. And yes, some may say that their insecurity shouldn’t be your problem. But what if we took a little more time to care for the one that lacks or feels like they do so that they can find their worth. You do not lose your value or worth because you choose to do so.
Notice one recurring theme, I get to self reflect first. The self reflection fosters an emotion and action that will consider the recipient. Constant self reflection operates from a place of abundance, because it starts with you. You are equipped with everything you need versus looking for answers and solutions in places and people that don’t hold your value like you do.
Hence love begins with me. Going back to what I stated earlier, I found myself expecting to be loved back the same way I gave it because I was operating from a place of lack. I felt that love was only complete because it was reciprocated. It dawned on me that I have an overflowing reservoir of love, I will continue to give it, whether I get back or not does not really matter.
I am in no means saying that you employ this when in a toxic relationship, or unhealthy relationship. Absolutely not! If you do find yourself in a toxic unhealthy relationship, walk away based on the characteristics of love mentioned above.
I said all of that to say.. Love Begins with you! Single, Married, Dating, whatever stage of life you are, I hope that this encourages you. I am in no means an expert but only here to share what I am learning as I self reflect. I hope to continue unpacking this topic and speaking on issues like this. So please come back and join me. Leave a comment below and share what you think about this. I would love to hear from you.
To all those that are celebrating Valentines day with a significant other, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY. To all my single peeps, your day comes after Valentines day ; SINGLE AWARENESS DAY. You too can get to celebrate the love you have within you. If you are looking for fun ways to celebrate on Single Awareness Day, check out the blog post 21 ways to treat yourself on Single Awareness day. Until next time, HAPPY LOVE DAY!