I love ‘love’, and I believe that the basis of our existence is rooted in connection. Every level of relationship in life is similar and love is our common denominator. Unfortunately, most of us are clueless about what love really is. Our notions of love are skewed by extremely superficial values which has fueled our diverse misconceptions about love. To a large extent, we are conditioned to see love as a feeling which can be switched on and off. But the truth is that love is not a feeling, it is nature. Everyone possesses this nature in them but it less expressed in some than others because there are filters that hinder its penetration.
Think of love as a bright light that has the power to illuminate the darkest places, but baggage from the past are filters that obstruct its illumination. You see, wherever light shines you can be sure to find a lot of hidden things. The natural states of things are revealed; the mask falls off and you may be slightly upset when the reality of real love hits you. This is very uncomfortable for anyone because we have been trained to live with masks.
When you look deeper into this, you would realize that there are actually no bad people rather, there are badly loved people. Everybody needs love, no matter how hard we may try to deny it. Journeying down this route is not an easy one; suffice to say it is a hard, daunting and excruciating one. How do you explain loving difficult people? How do you make excuses for those who wronged you? Pride also calls out ‘What about me?’ It is an intense war of the mind. But Love carries the same weight as oxygen, it is non-negotiable. Psychology confirms that the less love you have, the more depression you are likely to experience in life and Love is probably the best antidepressant because one of the most common sources of depression is feeling unloved. Most depressed people don’t love themselves and they do not feel loved by others. They also are very self-focused, making them less attractive to others and depriving them of opportunities to learn the skills of love. The popular myth is that love just happens but life does not work that way. You cannot give what you don’t have! It is a chain reaction and you have to push boundaries and comfort zones to get to it.
So what is a real lasting love? Love is a result of appreciating the goodness in others, what we value most in ourselves, we value in others. Love is also a choice! By focusing on just the good we can love almost anyone. Also, our actions do affect the way we feel. In order to be compassionate, thinking compassionate thoughts is a starting point, but giving charity will get you to the destination. In the same way to feel loved, you have to be a consistent giver; giving leads to love. To love is to be vulnerable; by opening up ourselves to others we enter into another person’s world and it opens us up to perceiving their goodness. It also indicates that by investing ourselves in others, it enables us to love them as we love ourselves.
I have realized that there are always core differences between people regardless of how good or close they are, and if the relationship is authentic those differences surface. The challenge is to identify these differences and negotiate them so that they don’t distance or kill the relationship. You achieve this by understanding where the other person is coming from, who that person is, and by being able to represent yourself. When you recognize the differences you must be able to negotiate and compromise on them until you find a common ground that works. This is a tough skill to acquire in our narcissistic culture. If we are going to reach out to others, we must be able to take the spotlight off ourselves in order to focus adequately on them. This doesn’t mean neglecting your own needs at the expense of others but rather, adopting a simultaneous reality that the loved one’s reality is also as important as your own.
This year, push your boundaries. Make more phone calls, more visits, lots of giving, forgive easily, criticize less and let love flow freely from within.
On a related note, I have attached in this article a TED talk by Dr. Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability. It is an excellent talk which you will learn one or two things from.
Please feel free to share your definition of love in the comments section below.
Photo Credit: congo24.net
Oluwabusola Adedire is a graduate of Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, an enthusiast on social issues, and loves to inspire people about life, God and Love. Find her on Instagram @hrh_oluwabusola and on Twitter @HRH_oluwabussie