Just to clarify, part 1 was NOT an ode to being selfish and self-involved taking care of numero uno and screw everyone else kind of attitude. Quite the opposite really.
First things first though, that old maxim is true – how can you possibly offer real love and care to others if you’re always looking outside yourself for love and acceptance? You can’t. That’s just how it is.
You have to find your own happiness first, whatever that looks like.
But what if you’re not sure how to get there? That’s where the concept of starting with just doing things you really love, and letting the experience of doing those things take you over for a while… that can help A LOT.
Of course, for some this is much harder than for others.
What if you’re not even sure of what you like, let alone what you love or enjoy? What if you’ve suppressed all of that under a mound of unhappiness and hurt and sadness and depression? What if it’s hard to even imagine liking something a lot?
Have you ever been in that place? I know I have.
So you just start small. Perhaps there’s… I dunno… a tree you like in a local park. Or the birds outside your window sing prettily. Or a computer game you enjoy. Or a TV show you like. Or taking photos of street art (one of my secret pleasures). Or ice-cream. Or… well, it could be anything. And perhaps just for a nanosecond, that gives you a fleeting thought. Like: Hey, that’s nice.
Nice. That can be enough to get you started.
Might take a few attempts before you can get from that fleeting moment to something that lasts a little longer.
Might not seem like you’re getting anywhere. But you have to stick with it, you know?
Then eventually, one day you might just be able to say you really like something. Anything. And that should be celebrated. It’s an achievement, especially for those coming from a deeply wounded place.
Keep going. Don’t stop yet. Before you know it, you might even allow yourself to enjoy something fully. Then, you might extend yourself and find yet another thing that makes you happy.
Then you might notice that doing things that make you happy has an impact on how you see yourself and everyone else around you, too.
Like = Enjoyment = Happiness.
And eventually, Happiness = Love.
A teaching I’ve been given (many times now) is this:
There’s nothing that we feel or experience that is external. No matter how subjective reality appears. All of our experiences, things we think of as caused by other people or experiences, are really just our own reactions, feelings and thoughts…
I know, that can be a lot to take in and accept.
An example of this is enjoying the finest meal you can think of. The ingredients are fresh and perfectly prepared, the aromas are mouth watering and everything is faultlessly seasoned and spiced. It’s not like you’re just eating food – it’s more like music or poetry with every bite you take. Ever eaten food that’s positively orgasmic? Yeah, like that…
In the middle of this incredible meal, you get a call that a loved one has been in a horrific car crash and they’ve passed away. Not only are you in shock, and busy trying to work out what you need to do, if you to keep eating your meal, you’d find those amazing flavours have vanished. For all you know, it could be a hamburger from the corner shop.
This is because the taste, the enjoyment, everything that you were getting out of that experience actually comes from within. It is your perception of the food that makes it the best thing you’ve ever eaten, and again it’s your perception when it loses its appeal.
And I guess what I’m trying to get to, is suggesting that there’s a lot of people in the world out there living with a chronic lack of love.
Which is partly due to our perception of life, our reaction to other people and our life experiences. The end result is however, that we feel unloved. Neglected. Rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how that impacts us.
There are well documented studies proving that plants grow better when given love. So do people. And while many have grown up with adequate love and affection, there’s many more who didn’t.
They may not have been assaulted or abused or neglected, or maybe they were! Either way they sure as heck didn’t grow up feeling loved.
What I’m saying is that our experience growing up might’ve been that we didn’t get what we needed from our interactions with the world and other people, in order to feel confident, loved, cherished.
And that’s enough to start feeling the need to shut down. And when we shut down, we stop taking care of ourselves, including activities that allow us to generate our own sense of love.
Make sense? Yeah, it does for me too.
[To be continued…]