I truly believe that we’re here on the planet to learn how to love ourselves and one another.
And, simple as that sounds, I’ve also discovered that this is much more challenging than it sounds.
I love M. Scott Peck’s definition of love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
He goes on to say that we often “confuse cathecting with loving” and invites us into a deeper exploration of the nature of love and our capacity for loving.
I, too, see love as the will, intention, and commitment to nurturing our own and others’ spiritual growth. Genuine love combines qualities of trust, commitment, respect, care, humility, empathy, presence, and deep goodwill toward one another.
Love and abuse are incompatible with one another. Acts of psychological violence (including criticism, dismissiveness, contempt, sarcasm, silent treatments, name calling, neglect, to name a few) are not loving acts. They are born out of unhealed trauma, unconscious defenses, and the perception of threat, combined with access to limited internal and/or external resources.
When I’m stressed out, hungry, and tired, it takes more energy for me to be loving and kind than when my needs have been well met.
Love is nurturing, caring, clear, firm, and protective. Abuse, aggression, and neglect are the antithesis of love.
It’s our lifelong practice to experience all of our relationships as opportunities to learn more deeply about what it takes to love ourselves and others, and to learn about all the barriers to love that we get to dismantle on our journeys.
When we see all relationships as a spiritual practice…
We treat ourselves and others as sacred with dignity and reverence.
We see and understand that our defenses, our ego, our personalities, our socialization, and our fears are here to be loved and tamed.
We ground ourselves in our authentic, loving, and free essential nature.
The practice then is all about remembering who we really are and understanding how to relate to ourselves and others from our most deeply loving, free, and liberated self.