The Second Truth About Love
In one of our previous posts called The Truth About Love we asked an important question - How can you love someone else when you don't even love yourself? It kind of stings, right?
There's a punch of truth in that question. We cannot love someone else when we don't even love ourselves. No matter what excuse we pull out of our hats, the old adage rings true. You can't give what you don't have. If you don't have respect for yourself, you cannot respect someone else. If you don't have compassion for yourself, you cannot show compassion to someone else. If you don't have love for yourself, you cannot love someone else. Can you give something to someone when you don't even possess that thing? Never.
Then we learned some tips on how to love ourselves. It's critical that we do because we want to give love to others and to pursue our dreams. In both endeavours, self-love is very critical. It is the armour that will make us strong from the inside and give us strength to face the adversities that lie ahead. But we discovered something along the way. We discovered that we all have varying degrees of repairing to do.
Yes, we are already practicing the art of loving ourselves. We are finally aware that for days, months, or even years we have suffered mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse from other people and from our self-neglect. The result, we didn't know how to love ourselves. For some of us repairing the damage and rebuilding our core will take some time. For the rest of us the repairing and rebuilding will take much, much longer. The deeper the sorrow, the higher is the ascent to happiness. The deeper the wound, the longer the healing will complete. And so we doubt ourselves and say, "I am loving myself now but I am so far from perfect. I am mired with imperfections and flaws. I don't think I can love someone else this way. In fact, I shouldn't love someone else as long as I'm not fully fixed yet." Well, you should know one important thing. You should know the second truth about love -
You don't have to be perfect to love someone else.
Here is a story about one guy. He had been going to a certain gym for years. From the beginning, he had enlisted the help of a personal trainer. Because of the wall the presence of the trainer brought, he never really got to interact with other people in the gym. The time came when he and his trainer had to part ways and he began training on his own. He knew some other faces at the gym, those he would see even when he was with the presence of his former trainer. Already going on for a while, he had wondered what it would be like to be friends with them for they were both familiar and strange to him. He could close his eyes and imagine their faces yet their names, voices, and personalities were all unknown to him. When he was finally on his own, his yearning to connect with those people became stronger.
Despite his soul's desire to build a bridge with those people he had good feelings about, he couldn't do it. For a long time he had let fear enslave him in many aspects of his life. One of the manifestations of fear's hold in him was his inability to connect with new people. But he was already aware of that. Albeit, he was afraid to do something about it.
To make matters worse for him, new faces arrived at the gym. In front of his very eyes, he watched as those new faces made friends easily with the old faces. It was another blow to his self-confidence. "They could. Why couldn't I?" he asked himself.
One day, a blessed thing happened. One of the new faces struck a conversation with our guy in the locker room: small talk, exchange of names, and a quick hello and goodbye. The same thing happened in the following days and the following weeks. The ice slowly began to crack.
Our guy saw what was happening as an opportunity. He disappeared from the gym for a week for a short trip out of the country. When he returned, he brought some treats with him and gave it to the new faces and the old faces through the new faces. He was scared initially but he did it but eyes figuratively closed and hands figuratively inside his pocket trembling. The ice continued to crack.
With the Christmas season in the air in the next few weeks, our guy took advantage of the spirit of giving. He brought some Christmas treats to the gym with him and gave it to the old and the new faces, that time with more confidence. He wasn't expecting for other treats in return. He just wanted to give. The ice continued to break further.
Let us fast forward to the present. The old and new faces are gone already. Only familiar faces remain. The guy has already become friends with them. Despite the presence of imperfection and flaws, love has manifested in the form of connection with those other people. How do I know? The guy in our story was me.
In the beginning of our story, my recognition of my desire to connect with the old and new faces at the gym was a step in loving myself. The next rightful step after that was to do it - to make a connection with them. But fear paralysed me. Fear whispered to my ear that I wasn't good in forming connections with new people. Fear was right. It exposed an imperfection, a flaw in my personality. I wasn't good in making new connections with people but that didn't mean that I couldn't do it. Fear tried to trick me into believing that I couldn't do it. And I almost believed it. I almost believed it.
My giving to those old and new faces was a symbol of love. I took a chunk of my heart and gave it without the expectation of getting something back in return. I could've chosen to give to a family member, or a friend, or even a romantic interest but I chose strangers. I chose to give to people I hardly knew because it was the hardest thing to do. When we pick to do the hard things, we learn a lot from it. And I learned a lot. I learned a lot.
After that, I found it easier to give love to others who I had known before: my family, my friends, my co-workers, even my pets, and even strangers. Love heals and manifests more love. If only I had truly known that earlier...
I didn't need to be perfect to love someone else. You too don't need to be perfect to love someone else too.
If we wait for ourselves to be free from flaws before we love someone else, we'll be waiting for eternity. We will be like a teacher who thinks she must read all the books first before attending her first lecture, or a runner who wants to get in tip-top shape first before putting on his running shoes and making a go for it, or a writer who wants to learn every rule of grammar and style first before sitting in front of a blank page to craft her first draft. It's stupid. It's really stupid.
We don't want to be the teacher who keeps on reading but never gets to teaching. We don't want to be the runner who doesn't put on his running shoes. We don't want to be the writer who never writes. Remember love's second truth - you don't have to be perfect to love someone else.
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