We all remember that one, right? “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.” We’ve heard it all of our lives. But what does that really mean?
I was struck today by the thought, can we really love our “neighbors” if we truly don’t love ourselves? Wow! Great question, I thought. Is there something to this? So, I asked...
How do we know if we love ourselves?
When asked, people often say, “of course I love myself.” Well, let me share a bit of my story with you. Maybe you can relate. I thought I loved myself, and I mostly did, but there was a whole lotta room for more. With the loving guidance of some fabulous coaches, I learned I could amp up my self-love a notch, or two.
It starts with being better with receiving.
Yep, receiving. How does that play out in my life? It means I let people buy my dinner when they insist; I no longer argue. It means I ask for help when I need it, and I gratefully receive it. It means when people want to give me something, I don’t refuse it (out of some crazy thought I’m being humble, or I don’t deserve it - goodness, where do we get this stuff?!). It means I say “thank you” when someone compliments my hair. It means I can even receive from myself. If I’m feeling especially tired I give myself and nap, and I receive that nap. Self-love, and self-care requires you to be a good receiver. It also means I accept the idea that I’m worthy of receiving.
This is a biggie for some. So many of us don’t feel worthy on a deep level. We’re really, really good at giving; we could give all day, right?! But, what about receiving? And, how does all of this fit in with “loving your neighbor as yourself?” Well, love is reciprocal.
Without reciprocity ... giving and receiving ... the circle is incomplete.
So, if you’re not “lettin’ in the good stuff” others want to give you, you’re blocking their love, and you’re most certainly blocking love for yourself.
You know how it feels. You’re at the coffee shop, and you want to buy your friend’s coffee...because you love them, and you’re feeling generous. Then your friend goes on, and on about how it’s not necessary, pushing your hand away from paying. Why do we do this? We do it because no one taught us how to receive. We’ve been taught it’s selfish, or un-holy, or something dumb like that. Really?!
So, if we won’t let others love us, how can we possibly love ourselves, and others (our neighbors, per se?). We can... but, it’s been my experience it’s not as BIG of love as it could be. We’re holding back. Learning to receive all that life brings to our table is BIG. When I was first introduced to this idea, I welled up with tears. Well, that was a sign in itself; I had some work to do. So, I went to work...
My experience over the past months has taught me this receiving thing is BIG. It means I freely give, and I freely receive. The way it’s showing up in my life is that my heart has opened up in a way I’ve not experienced before. There’s a tenderness, a calm, and a peace. I feel more worthy (truth-be-told, I was always worthy; I just didn’t really embrace it). And, all of this because I got out of my own way!
I have allowed others to give me gifts, celebrate me, offer me fist-bumps and high-fives, buy me lunch, and dinner.
This Sunday I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m throwing myself a birthday party. Sound selfish, and self-centered? It’s not; it’s self-love. I invited friends and family that love me. And, you better bet they’ll get a better, more loving version of me than they’ve ever experienced.
I’ll be “loving my neighbor as I love myself,” and it’s going to be fun! They’ll be lots of giving and receiving on both sides of the fence. And, of course with an exchange like that, they’re will be a lot of gratitude, too! A complete cirlce, whatdayaknow?!...feels really good, too. And, isn’t that what we all want?
Give it a shot, and let me know what you experience as you “let it in.” I’d love to hear about it!
A typical day for most folks includes frustration, anger or disappointment with people in our lives. No, not every day, and not all of them...but I bet you can name a few. Have you ever noticed the same “kinda” people keep showing up?
Doesn’t the genie in the sky know we’ve had enough BS, drama, irritating and disappointing people (aka, “them”) to last a lifetime?
What if I told you life is very kind?
What if everything (insert “them”) that shows up was reflecting back to you something for your benefit? Now, hold on...don’t get your panties in a waddle over this one! I’m talkin’ kindness and love here. I know it’s a stretch, but bear with me... Would you agree that life has taught you a lot? And, would you agree that in the long-run, you’re usually better off for it? I know that when we’re in the middle of times with “them,” we’re usually spitting nails, pounding the steering wheel, kicking the dog, and ranting to anyone who’ll listen to us. But, when it’s all over and time has passed, most of us can agree that hindsight’s 20/20, and ultimately the challenge was to our benefit. Sometimes, this 20/20 perspective takes years, sometimes just days.
Eventually, we see that we grew; we became better at handling life; we matured.
Now, what if you’re having a really bad time with “them?” Maybe “them” is someone at work who angers you because they’re a negative-Nancy, or don’t pull their own weight. Maybe it’s a child who never listens, or follows through on their commitments to you. Maybe it’s a partner, or spouse who is aloof, distant, and is not wanting things to improve. We can all think of at least one “them” who gets us going, right?
But what if that person was a gift to you?
I believe life is meant to be kind to us. It shows us where we have room for improvement.
It does that by having the “thems” show up in our lives to reflect back to us un-finished business.
For example, your son says he’ll do his homework and then he consistently disappoints you by not keeping his commitments. You get angry, he promises to be better, and the cycle continues. Why does it continue? Well, it may have to do with you. Back to that “life is kind” thing... When the “thems” show up in our lives and make us angry, irritated, or uncomfortable, it might be because we need to work on ourselves, and they’re simply mirroring back to us what we need to know to become that improved version of ourselves. I know, that’s a tough one for some of the “thems” in your life. You may think you have nothing in common with “them;” you could never be “them!” Well, let’s examine how we might benefit from “them,” on the premise that life is kind.
This is how we do it...
We start by turning it around. We look into the mirror.
Ask yourself where you disappoint others, don’t keep your commitments, are aloof, and even not trying in your own life?
It doesn’t need to be specifically with “them,” just think broadly over your entire life. What are they mirroring back to me? If we’re honest, and we want to improve our lives, and world around us, we’ll take a moment and reflect. This is powerful, even if it’s uncomfortable. You may even thank yourself later for being brave and courageous enough to inquire. You see, when we do this, we stop pointing fingers at others (have you ever noticed when we point at another, three fingers remain pointing back at us?!). We get real with life, and ourselves.
And, life gets really kind.
You may ask then, how could this possibly improve my life? How does this make my son do his homework? For time and memorial, philosophers, and metaphysicians have said that our outer world is simply a reflection of our inner world. If this is so, once we clean up our own messes, our outerworld just seems to look brighter. It’s as if the lessons we learn no longer show up in the faces of those around us. Amazing, huh? Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it. I’ve personally experienced this. Not once. Not twice. Many times. And, you know what? The outcome is “them” improves, changes, or they simply are no longer a part of my world. Sometimes, I realize I was the one with the problem all along, and that takes a lot of courage to admit. In all cases, my life is better all the way around. Life becomes less chaotic, more peaceful, and there are seemingly fewer of “them” showing up. Funny how that happens!
Yes... remarkable, and so kind!
I help others see Magic and Miracles in the Mess of this journey we all life.