"The closer you come to really loving anyone or anything, the closer you come to simply letting it be, without any interference at all." Happy Cow
Today there is an air of provocation and challenge, so I will start this article off with a provocative suggestion: those people who you refer to as your ‘loved ones’ are actually the people with whom you least often display genuine love.
"How dare you!" I hear some of you saying. "That is outrageous! I used to like that Swifty but this time he has gone too far!"
So how can I justify this suggestion which appears to go directly against what society might refer to as 'common sense'?
On Happy Cow we often like to point out that when we refer to ‘love’, we are talking about unconditional love. Unconditional love is a state of totally non-judgemental acceptance of whatever is. Total non-interference. Love which is for no reason, love no matter what.
Now let us think about how we behave towards ‘loved ones’. I would suggest that it is very common that these are the people who we try to interfere with the most. Parents try to steer (or in some cases even push) children in a certain direction, to teach them their standards, to make them ‘behave’.
Marriage is an institution based on restriction and control, with some still using the word ‘obey’ in their marriage vows without batting an eyelid. Husbands complain that their wives are always trying to change them. Wives complain that their husband doesn’t know ‘how to love her in the right way’.
Very often it is a game of manipulation with both parties expecting the other to behave in a certain way that pleases them. If they do not behave in that certain way, then the thing that is referred to as ‘love’ (I would suggest mistakenly) is withdrawn as a punishment.
Interference on a grand scale. Emotional coercion with affection being either given or withdrawn as carrot and stick.
Look at non-romantic, non-familial friendships and I think that you will see far more unconditional love. We love our friends, we wish them well whatever they do, we allow them their own choices without interference. We know that it isn’t our place to try to force them in a certain direction. We can offer opinions of course, but opinions remain just that - one opinion out of many free choices.
There is one person who we tend to interfere with even more than children, even more than a romantic partner. One person who we find it very hard to stop judging. One person who we find it very hard to refrain from forcing in a certain direction. One person who one might think that we should love the most, but who in fact seems to be the hardest person to love unconditionally.
Who is that person? That person is ourselves.
What does it mean to really love yourself? I am making the suggestion that perhaps it means to leave yourself completely alone, without any interference at all. It means to allow yourself to grow and change naturally, without having to judge yourself against others or against your younger self.
It means to accept yourself totally, exactly as you are, without any wish to control, direct or interfere. With genuine love, terms like ‘improve’, ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘better’, ‘worse’, ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘worthy’, ‘unworthy’ simply do not have any meaning. These and all other judgements and conditions are not present in unconditional love.
Many people find that loving themselves unconditionally seems to be the most difficult love of all.
Put on a little weight - judgement and condemnation. Don’t get that job - judgement and condemnation. Bit of procrastination - judgement and condemnation. Happen to be feeling a bit sad or angry one day - judgement and condemnation.
Imagine if we took that approach to a friend! How long before they start steering clear of us I wonder?
If you are one of these people, and if that approach towards yourself is causing unhappiness, why not try leaving yourself alone for a while and see how that feels?
You may just find that it feels like Love.
"If for just a few moments you can stop thinking about getting better, you will begin to realise that you have never been unwell." Swifty Flame-Anderson
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