Can You Love Others?By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
March 25, 2012
What is loving to yourself and others is not always clear. This article presents some important questions to consider.
"Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you." Wayne Dyer, Author and Speaker
Please read and fully take in this wonderful quote by Wayne Dyer. Can you do this? Can you fully support those you say you care about in doing what they want, with no expectations that they satisfy you?
Let’s take some examples of situations that might be challenging for you.
- Your partner wants to do something on a weekend that doesn’t include you.
- You want to have sex and your partner doesn’t.
- You want your partner to come to bed at the same time as you, but your partner doesn’t want to.
- You want your child to go to college but your child doesn’t want to.
- You want your child to work hard and get good grades but your child doesn’t care about grades. He or she is bored with school.
- You want your child to be a doctor but your child wants to be a beautician.
- You want your partner to be social, but your partner is not interested.
- You want your partner to spend evenings with you watching TV, but your partner would rather pursue his or her hobbies.
- You want your partner to be interested in processing conflict with you, but your partner will have nothing to do with processing.
- You want your partner to read the same books you are reading and your partner isn’t interested.
These are just a few of the situations that I often run into with my clients. Do you find yourself feeling angry and resentful when your partner or child does what he or she wants rather than what you want? If you do, then you are not being loving to them.
In the above situations, you can find ways to take loving care of yourself in the face of your loved one’s choices. In these situations, being able to be caring with them means that you need to be caring with yourself and meet your own needs – satisfying yourself. However, what about when another’s choices have a direct negative effect on you? Some situations arise that are not so clear regarding supporting someone you care about – like when your partner’s or child’s behavior puts you in a bind.
What are some of these challenging situations?
- Your partner does not take care of him or herself physically – eats poorly and gets no exercise - which is leading to illness. You love your partner but you don’t want to be stuck taking care of a sick person who is ill as a result of their own lack of self-care.
- You have a family member who is irresponsible regarding money, and you know this person will run out and expect you to take care of him or her.
- You have a child who refuses to go to college or get a job. Your child just wants to stay home and play video games, and expects you to continue to take care of him or her.
In these kinds of situations, you need to go inside and decide what is in your own highest good and the highest good of the other person. Is it in your highest good to just accept the situation, or is it in your highest good to leave the person or ask them to leave? Is it in your highest good to continue to support someone who refuses to take care of themselves, or is it in your highest good to let go of the relationship, even if the person ends up on the street or commits suicide?
Obviously, these are hard questions to answer, and there is never one right answer. The answer lies in your own heart regarding what you can live with and what you can’t live with - what is truly in your highest good and the highest good of all.
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We often confuse loving actions with indulgence. You are not loving yourself when you indulge in junk food, TV, spending, anger, judgment and so on. You are not loving others when you support them in indulging themselves. Freedom mean responsibility. Loving action includes supporting personal responsibility in yourself and others.
By Dr. Margaret Paul