I stood gazing out the window to avoid looking at him.
“I can’t do this,” I said. “I’m already in so much pain from my husband’s death that I can’t risk being hurt even more. If I trust you and you leave, I don’t think I am emotionally strong enough to bear it.”
He moved closer and put his arms around me, his chest pressed against my back.
“I’m not going to leave you,” he said. “But who knows what will happen in the future. All we’ve got is right here and now. It is senseless to shut yourself off from love just because you might get hurt. Let’s stay together just for today and see how it feels.”
Loving someone else is risky and dangerous. You reveal the tender unprotected parts of you leaving them exposed. You have no control over what’s going to happen. Loving another person without knowing the outcome is scary.
The concept of loving yourself is so much safer. You are the one in control. You decide if you’re worthy or unworthy, if you’re good or bad. When all you’re doing is making a choice about things you have power over (I look great because I lost a few pounds/this dress makes me look sexy/my haircut really flatters me) then there is no risk.
The relationship between you and you is simple. You have the inside scoop on everything that’s going on. All the information is there on the table.
So it’s no wonder the experts tell us that until we love ourselves we are unable to love others. It is the easiest pathway to take. No risk, no surprises, no uncertain outcome. It’s a message that’s been preached for years and yet we still struggle with this elusive goal of loving ourselves.
I believe that you cannot be warm, open and comfortable in your own skin until you get out of your head.
There is a time for self-reflection and self-analysis but it follows after you have moved out of your own way.
I’m not talking about losing yourself for the sake of others or letting people walk all over you, I’m talking about the act of being a conduit for love. It’s not giving the love you already have inside you, it’s opening yourself up for love to flow through you.
When you look into the eyes of the sales lady, give her a genuine smile and say “thank you”, you’re not depleting a finite stockpile of love that could be better spent on your family. You are channelling the infinite love of the universe into a direct point of focus.
Think of it as a beam of natural light. You don’t have to conjure it up inside you, you just open up your heart and let it flood in. You become a magnifying glass taking all the scattered beams and concentrating them outward into a single point of light. And in the process, the light can’t help but touch you on the way through, unfreezing your stiffness and illuminating your dark corners.
This is not a new pathway but one that ancient religions have taught for centuries.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
We are not asked to give what we have — that’s what makes us feel drained. We are asked to give what we don’t yet have. When we give (or channel) love we don’t feel for ourselves, we are transformed in the process.
Don’t take my word for it. If what you’re doing is working then keep doing it. But if you don’t feel like you are the embodiment of divine love then putting your attention on loving others might be worth trying.
It’s scary and risky. You’re vulnerable.
The people you love may not love you back. That sales lady might dismiss your gratitude with a grunt of disapproval. You will get hurt. But you will be more alive than you’ve ever been. You will soften around the edges and lose your grip on anger. You will smile and catch yourself singing to yourself. The world will be full of bright reds, greens and blues.
We can afford to open ourselves and join the rest of the world with a sense of tremendous generosity, tremendous goodness and tremendous richness. The more we give, the more we gain — although what we gain should not particularly be our reason for giving. Rather, the more we give, the more we are inspired to give constantly. And the gaining process happens naturally, automatically. ~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
What do you think? Do we have to love ourselves before we can love others? Or can we choose to let love flow through us and be startled by our beauty reflected in the eyes of those around us?