While I disagree with the commercial exploitation of Valentine’s Day, with its manipulation and emotional pressures, I do think it is good to think about love. Not just on February 14, but throughout the year.
You see, we have an innate focus on love: every human needs to be loved. It’s like oxygen, water, food, and sleep. You can’t go long without it.
Love is not confined to an exclusive romantic relationship, nor is it found in multiple romantic or sexual encounters. It is much more than giving a feeling to another, or getting something from someone. Love is foundational in business, education, commerce, and our social worlds. In fact, love starts in me.
Until I love myself, I can’t love others. Love is a two-way street; giving and receiving. Acceptance, affirmation, encouragement, correction, service and self-sacrifice are all facets of love. These are all given and received. Until I accept myself, I can’t love you. Until you love yourself, you will struggle to accept love from me.
Yet love is not just an internal awareness or personal wholeness. Love is inherently interactive. The golden rule counsels us to love others as we would love ourselves. The focus is on how the love we have embraced for ourselves overflows in the way we express love to others. Love is only love if it is given and received.
Receiving takes courage, it is a vulnerable action. I can’t receive from you if my defenses are up, or I have rejected your contribution for some reason. I can only choose to be vulnerable if I have already come to peace with myself; who I am in the present, and who I am created to be (my purpose). In that love of myself is the power to choose vulnerability, to receive from others. What I receive may be pleasant or ugly: I can learn from both. Input from others is treasure, if we will seek and receive it.
As I reflect on what I receive, I can put new understanding into action toward a unity of purpose, strengthening my love for myself. And I can also offer my whole self to those around me, loving them as I love myself and doing all I can to make my offerings to them beneficial and affirming. This pays dividends in business, education, government, and all of society. There is power in interaction, and love is the fuel source.
How will you love yourself more fully? Who will benefit?