What could possibly be more important than learning how to love?
Did anyone teach you how to love?
Did anyone teach your parents how to love?
Are you teaching your kids how to love?
If you want to teach your children how to love, teach them how to live their lives in such a way that they love themselves.
You’ve probably heard the expression,”you can’t love another until first you love yourself.” But that’s not what I’m suggesting, and it’s not true that you can’t love another until you first love yourself.
For most of us, part of learning how to love ourselves comes as a result of loving others and being loved in return. We need other people to reflect our beauty, our goodness, our generosity, our humor, our wonderfulness. We need to feel loved so that we can believe in ourselves. Developmentally, this typically occurs before we love ourselves.
But being loved by others is only part our story, that alone is not enough.
Seeking the love of others can be a slippery slope, one that may result in self-sacrifice to a degree that is not healthy—and not loving. The love of others cannot fill us. It offers us a foundation, but it is up to us to build upon this foundation. We must live our lives in such a way that it is easy to love ourselves. So how do we do this?
We must do three things:
1. We must hold an ideal—a realistic ideal—of what it means to be a good and loving person.
Pursuing this ideal guides our conduct and informs us as to how to treat other people. If we conduct ourselves well we will be proud of ourselves, which is one ingredient of love. If we treat other people with kindness and generosity we will feel kind and generous, which also are ingredients of love.
2. We must nourish ourselves, not deplete ourselves, in the pursuit of love.
We want to stretch ourselves to live up to our realistic ideals, but not push ourselves to the point of depleting ourselves. Because once we deplete ourselves we are no longer caring for ourselves, and then we become—consciously or unconsciously—resentful. Once we are resentful we are no longer loving ourselves, no longer being kind to ourselves. So, part of learning how to love is learning how to create appropriate boundaries.
3. To learn how to love, we must transform our limitations when we encounter them.
We are continuously growing and evolving. We will inevitably encounter parts of ourselves that are immature or reactive or undeveloped. When this happens, we must transform the ways we limit ourselves, either with compassion or by taking responsibility for ourselves. When we are dealing with parts of ourselves that are deeply wounded or undeveloped we can’t always ask those parts to grow up and be responsible. First, we must provide compassion. Only after those parts feel understood can we take full responsibility for ourselves.
This is how to love. We walk toward our ideal of love, because if we do less, we disappoint ourselves. We must not overreach, or we will deplete ourselves and become resentful, leading to self-victimization, which is nothing more than an excuse not to fulfill our ideal. We must transform ourselves along the way, dealing respectfully with the limitations that we encounter. As soon as we do so, we are being loving.
The principles of Live Conscious make it easier to learn how to love because Live Conscious promotes personal growth, teaches us to nourish ourselves, not deplete ourselves, teaches us to create healthy emotional footprints so that we feel good about ourselves, and teaches us to nurture all aspects of ourselves.