The word “love” is thrown around like a ragdoll, so much so that what it comes to true, deep, meaningful and engaging love, most folks don’t have a clue. Recently, I came across this quote:
Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. +M. Scott Peck
Ah ha! I found it. This is the (at least for me) definition of love. Love is not a noun, or a ragdoll, it is a verb, an action. You have to do love–cultivate, nurture and sustain it. It isn’t a thing that you sit on a shelf and admire, dusting off occasionally to show guests.
How many of us can say that we are willing to do what M. Scott Peck defines above? How often do you extend yourself, not just to others, but to yourself? What does it mean to do so?
I take it to mean that we knowingly go outside of our comfort zones and make, oftentimes uncomfortable, contact with others, our emotions, and desires in order to move beyond what we thought was possible. Yes, love includes caring, respect, and above all, honesty, but it’s more than that. In order to be able to truly loving, we must really take the time to examine ourselves, but most people won’t take the time to look into that proverbial mirror. Why? Because they are scared of what they might find. It’s a lot easier to make decisions based on the superficial, than it is to invest time digging deeper and let’s face it, we are a complacent and easily-pacified culture.
Besides, what in society inspires us to look inside ourselves or look past the mundane? Everything around us tells us that it’s all about the new and the now. The world is so fast paced, and we are so busy trying to keep up, that we lose track of who we are and what’s truly important. How, then, can we truly know love? How can we develop the meaningful relationships that foster and encourage love?
Sometimes, it is when we are in the most desperate, confusing, emotion-filled and trying times in our lives, that the opportunity to get to truly know ourselves emerges. It’s within this confusion, that our true selves often materialize. Seeking answers to our outward issues is often the catalyst for introspection.
I write this because I know that I do not live in a vacuum and someone reading this is either in the process of asking themselves these same questions or should be. I write this because I know what it is like to not love myself or truly love others. I write this because I have interviewed quite a few young women who answered either “No” or “I don’t know” when I asked them if they loved themselves.
Knowing how to love isn’t intrinsic, it’s learned. You can always choose who to love, but if you don’t truly love yourself, who’s going to love you?