It's All About Love!By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 15, 2009
Life is all about loving ourselves and others. We can't love others if we are not loving ourselves, and we are not loving ourselves if we are not loving others.
But what does this mean?
Most people, when thinking about love, think about BEING LOVED. But, as an adult, the deeper soul's journey is not about being loved - it is about BEING LOVING. For small children, the main focus is on being loved, but as we grow up we need to shift our focus from being loved to being loving. When we do not shift our focus, we end up missing out on what life is all about.
Being loving is about supporting our own and others highest good with kindness, caring, understanding, and compassion.
When We Are Loving to Ourselves, We Are Loving to Others
Contrary to what many people believe, being loving to ourselves is not at all about being selfish. Being loving to ourselves means that we are taking full responsibility for our own feelings and needs so that we are not needy, selfish, and demanding of others to do this for us. It is when we are not loving ourselves that we selfishly make others responsible for giving to us the love that we are not giving to ourselves, and try to have control over getting their love.
Being loving to ourselves never means that we disregard others' feelings and needs. It doesn’t mean that we ignore the effect our behavior has on others. We are being selfish rather than loving when we do not consider the consequences of our actions on others.
At the same time, being loving to ourselves means that we do not allow someone's needy and demanding behavior to determine our choices. For example, if you want to do something that is important to you and your partner is angry because he or she wants you to attend to him or her rather than do what brings you joy, it is your partner who is being selfish by not supporting what brings you joy. By doing what truly brings you joy, you are not only being loving to yourself, you are also being loving to your partner by giving him or her an opportunity to learn and grow into being a more loving, supportive, personally responsible person. If you give in and do not do what brings you joy, you are not only abandoning yourself, you are robbing your partner of growing opportunities. This is not loving.
When We Are Loving to Others, We Are Loving to Ourselves
It is not loving to ourselves to be unloving to others - to be harsh, blaming, angry, judgmental, mean, or unkind. We can never feel happy with ourselves when we are treating others in unkind ways.
Being loving to others means being kind, understanding, compassionate, empathic, supportive, and open to learning about their feelings and beliefs. It does NOT mean that we take responsibility for their feelings and needs. We can care about their feelings and needs, and care about the effects our behavior has on them, without taking responsibility for how they are treating themselves and what they are telling themselves that are causing their own distress.
When loving others, we have to accept that it is their own treatment of themselves and their own beliefs that cause their pain, not our choices. We enable others rather than love them when we take responsibility for their happiness and pain. The challenge here is to care about others' feelings and needs without taking responsibility for them.
When we care about and take responsibility for our own pain and joy, and compassionately care about others pain and joy without taking responsibility for them, we are being loving to ourselves and others. Learning to do this is what life is all about!
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Do you awake each morning excited about your day, or do you awake wondering why you are alive? If you are following your joy, then your life has meaning, but if you are just doing the 'right' thing, it is likely your life feels flat and meaningless. There is no time like the present to follow your joy. What are you waiting for?
By Dr. Margaret Paul