From Self-Abandoning to Self-Love
We, the tender-hearted people, all seem to have one thing in common. At one point or another in our lives, we were selfless. We sacrificed our needs and wants for what we believed was the greater good: the greater good being love. Whether it was for our children, a certain cause, a lover, or a friend, we found it perfectly appropriate to put another person (or perhaps everyone) before ourselves.
For some us, this particular character trait became a habit. We consistently and repeatedly began putting other people’s needs and wants before our own. We unconsciously began taking responsibility for other people’s choices. We cleaned up their messes. We did without so they might have. We voluntarily took mountains of stress upon our own shoulders in an effort to reduce the load others were carrying.
Maybe, we did it because we had a martyr complex. Perhaps, we did it because we were taught at a young age that “this” is what you do when you love someone. Possibly, we were never taught love at all: so we had to take a guess at what it meant. Regardless of the reasons why we did it, we did it. And we kept on doing it, until the shadows of unhappinesss and discontent surrounded us completely.
We loved to the point of our own helplessness. And then watched others abandon us, as we had abandoned ourselves. We stood alone in the empty places left behind by those who could only love us when we were strong. Somehow, we always found the courage and determination to regroup and start again. We became adept at enduring the pain and struggle of loving others more than we loved ourselves.
We didn’t mind abandoning our own Self in what we believed was service to others. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. But it took a hefty toll. Finally, we left our Self behind so many times that it became lost to us. Abandoned and adrift, the Self which represented our sense of personal identity (our safe harbor in a sea of the masses) was no where to be found.
We became Self-Less. And we suffered the dark loneliness that self-abandonment brings.
If this description fits you or if you suspect it might one day, there are a few things I’d like to share with you about love.
In the West, most of us were not taught about the value of self-love as children. Instead, we were taught (or shown) everything that love of others is not. In living out the false beliefs and misguided teachings that were passed on to us, we developed our own misconceptions about love, in general. And it was these misconceptions that led us to deprive ourselves of the love and affection we needed.
There is nothing wise or noble about depriving yourself of love: there is no honor in abandoning your Self. It is a lesson that too many of us pay a high price to learn. The journey of self-reclamation is a journey that all of us tender-hearted people are forced to eventually undertake. For we cannot do without our Self, at least not while we’re being human.
So, let me pass on to you what I have learned about love, in general, on my own journey of self-reclamation. And I hope it helps you understand better what love is and what love is not. Perhaps, if you have a better understanding of the true nature of love, you will be inspired to start loving yourself more (without guilt or shame for doing so).
Love is a giver, not a taker. Love would never take from you that which you need for yourself. Love is too generous to cost you.
Love is a lion, not a lamb. Love guards and protects itself and others, with pride and dignity. Love is powerful, and it makes you stronger. Love is not a parasite, an obligation, a responsibility, or a challenge. Love is a privilege, for the lover and the beloved.
Love is a well-spring: a never ending supply of hope and inspiration, of promise and of promises kept, and of safety and heart-warming comfort.
Love is expansive, not constricting. Love is liberating, not confining.
When we deprive ourselves of the love we need under the guise of loving others, we are living a lie. We are feeding a fantasy that, through our own self-sacrifice, someone else can be saved. We ignore the simple truth that none of us can actually save another. In the big scheme of Life and living, we are each responsible for saving ourselves. Whether we like it or not, it is the reality of our human experience. It is an indispensible component of conscious evolution that we, ourselves, must choose to evolve. Free will must be exercised, and each one of us must choose our own destiny.
Certainly, we are all here to help one another. We are, afterall, One in Spirit. But helping one another is much different from saving one another or from taking responsibility for other people’s choices. When we take responsibility for other people’s choices, we are contributing to their disempowerment. We are passing on the same false beliefs about love that ended up creating a sense of incompleteness within us.
If you want to help others, you must first help yourself. If you want to truly love others, you must first truly love yourself. If you want to support others’ needs and desires, you must start supporting your own needs and desires.
You cannot give away what you do not have. You cannot share a lost Self. The only way to give away love is to have plenty of it within yourself.
Find the well-spring inside you, and go there often. Strive for inner harmony, through self-love and self-acceptance. And this is what you will share with the world.
Ignite the light of love within yourself so that you can shine before others.
Do it in honor of your Creator. Do it because, in your heart, you know it is the most right thing you can ever do. Do it so that, by the lamp of your self-love and -acceptance, others might find their way out of the darkness too.
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