“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” Henry David Thoreau
Years ago, love letters littered school lobbies, classrooms and canteens. Today it’s text messages, email and social network posts. But has the meaning of love remained in this world of "virtual relationships" where sometimes even lovers don’t meet face to face? There is explicit sex everywhere, but are people actually connecting?
Or has love really become this widely misinterpreted concept, fallen so far from its original meaning, "choice that one makes." Whatever happened to the phrase "love is patient" - not to mention - kind?
Love is expressed as an action and experienced as a feeling. Yet, love has an essence that resists defining in any single way. It encompasses compassion, tolerance, endurance, support, faith, determination and more. I humbly recommend some ideas on how to love deeper and with more meaning.
Acknowledge The Breadth Of Love
Love isn't simply about romance––to define it so narrowly is to deprive yourself of the beauty and full extent of love. Love is a feeling, drive or emotion that we experience in association with people, pursuits and nature, and love can be found in many places, situations and relationships.
Learn To Recognize What Love Is
Some people confuse love with feelings of lust (e.g., purely sexual interest), ownership or control (e.g., co-dependency or manipulative motivators), worry (e.g., over-involved parenting or a spouse always checking up), neediness (e.g., insecurity or low self-esteem) and so forth. Love isn't a tool for using people or binding them to your side; if you find yourself calling such actions "love", then it isn't love.
Begin By Loving Yourself
You can only truly love another being when you love yourself properly. Otherwise, you risk spending a lot of your life projecting inner hurts, pain and other negative emotions onto other people, seeing the worst in them so as to avoid facing it inside yourself.
Loving yourself is not about putting yourself before others––that's another form of confusion. Loving yourself is about having self-respect, discovering what really makes you tick…that which makes your tail wag!!!... and spending your life being true to your real talents. It's about not putting yourself down and not comparing yourself to others.
Once you learn to love yourself, you will be free of any sense of feeling threatened by others' success (real or apparent) and you will be able to share freely of your love with them.
To love truly is not only having a capacity to give love, but also to gracefully open your heart to receive love. Know that you deserve love. You are worthy of love. YOU heard me! The more you feel the love in your heart, the greater you are able to give more love to others.
Actively Show Love
Ultimately, you are the one who must take action in order to discover love. Show your devotion to others by being considerate, respectful and thoughtful of their needs, by doing little acts of random kindness and by showing them that you care about their well-being.
Tell people you love that you love them, as often as possible. Regularly say "I love you" to your child, your parents, your lover, your spouse, your friend, etc. There are other ways to express love where "I love you" doesn't seem appropriate or lacks clarity on the breadth of your love for the person, such as "You mean a great deal to me," "You inspire me," "You are the most amazing person I've ever known," "I am a better person for having known you," and so forth.
When you say the words "I Love You," say them with real conviction. You're not telling a person that you love them just because you want to feel good––you're saying it because you want the other person to feel good!
Love doesn't just reveal itself through good vibes. It's an active emotion that needs constant input, stoking and tending. It blossoms with attention and shows through the things we do and say to other people each day.
Love is an action from which you should not expect anything in return. If you cannot love another person without attaching stipulations such as expecting to be loved in equal measure in return, then it is not love at all, but a transaction.
If your interest is not in the other person as such, but, rather in how that person can enhance your experience of life, then it is not unconditional. If you only love others for how they can ensure your well-being, you do not know pure love.
If you have no intention of improving that person’s life, or allowing that person to be themselves, accepting them as they are, and not who you want them to be, then you are not striving to love them unconditionally.
Expecting nothing in return doesn't mean you should allow someone to mistreat or undervalue you. It means that giving love does not guarantee receiving love. Try loving just for the sake of love. Realize that someone may have a different way of showing his or her love for you; do not expect to be loved back in exactly the same way.
You cannot say in one breath that you're a loving and caring person and in the other breath say that you hate a particular person or type of person. To do so is to deny the reality of love, which is accepting of even the things you find hard to love in another person.
Love does not compartmentalize––it sees a person as a whole, rather than focusing on a part you dislike and turning that disliked part into the person's whole. Love doesn't judge; it tolerates the differences, accepting the choices people make for themselves in life.
You may have heard someone say that they love a person but do not like them. In this case, the speaker is likely telling you that they accept the person and respect the dignity of that person as a whole but that they couldn't get along with that person, or that they disagree with much that this person thinks, or that they would never choose to spend time with them in companionship. Love doesn't ask you to befriend a person––it asks you to tolerate, to think beyond your own notions of how the world should be and to accept differences without judging.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Rather than imposing your own expectations or attempting to control another person's viewpoints or lifestyle, seek to understand how they feel, where they come from, and who they are. Realize how they could also love you back just as well if you open the way.
Love Those Who Don't Love You
YES…You heard me! Where hate is directed toward you, repel it with love and use their hatred as motivation to show that tolerance, kindness and acceptance are better ways to get along in our communities.
Love teaches you that hateful people are often driven by a lack of self-respect and that they're churned up about all the things they don't like about themselves, causing them to project this hate onto others. Of all people, haters need your compassion most.
You cannot love without accepting that there is always a chance of loss of the love or of being hurt. That is what makes love so powerful though––we risk much because the reward of love is so great. And in losing love at times in life, you learn to appreciate the love you do have even more.
You have a choice to let a loss of love ruin you for all time, perhaps becoming like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations - embittered all her life, emotionally stuck at the time of the loss. Or, you can make the choice to learn from hurtful experiences, however difficult the lesson, and move on to discover the many other people who won't reject your love and who will give freely of theirs.
Think how lucky you are to have people in your life to love.
Never seek to make an idol out of any person you love. This is likely to lose the person in the long run, as they'll feel pressured to live up to something you've imposed upon them. Let them be who they really are around you––that's a true expression of love. Stay tuned for my latest book on “Love idols”.
Never Stop Loving
By sharing love constantly, you create a loving environment and you inspire others to do the same thing. You also show the best reflection of your worth to others when you love.
More people showing love in our world means endless forgiveness, a willingness to give people second chances and a commitment to moving humanity forward, ever striving for greater harmony.
Jean Anouilh once observed that "love is, above all, the gift of oneself." In giving of the best of who you really are to others in the name of love, you transcend selfish motives and introspection, and truly seek to appreciate others.
Love is a means by which you start to see things more clearly together, to reach compromises or to collaborate, and to make room for finding a way forward that includes others, not just your ego.
To Our Health, Happiness, Well-Being, & Empowerment Together!With Much Love & Blessings!
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"There is a mighty Power within you. There is that Spirit of Life, Light, and Love. The more you feast on these ideas and fast from old corrosive ones, the closer you experience the Life you desire."
-Frank Richelieu, The Art of Being Yourself
Rhonda M. Farrah, MA, DRWA
The Wellness Institute International
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