the Other –
Last night I was speaking to a group of men and we were discussing the needs men have to develop self-awareness. I told them; “Self-awareness is the ability to look into a mirror and see yourself for who you truly are, the good, the not so good, areas where you excel and places in you which need improving. The ability to know yourself is the first step in understanding what needs to be done to become the man you should be.”
Knowing, accepting and loving yourself is also the key to loving others. Unless we’ve learned to see ourselves; flaws, hang-ups, habits, hurts and love ourselves we will be incapable of truly loving others. Often times our shortcomings and failings cause us to judge ourselves more harshly than we’d ever do to others. We stew in our self-hatred and weaknesses. This corrupts us from the inside out and results in a distorted view of ourselves which bleeds over into the way we see the world and the people in it.
It is only when we accept who we are, all of who we are, and love what we like and don’t like can we be free of a soul that is bitter and barren. Released from the prison which contains our hearts we find that others, like us, are frail and broken. We recognize the same limitations and discover in each other the strength to travel the path of life together.
I listened to a mom today tell of a time not so long ago when she and her daughter were not getting along. A long-simmering unspoken argument turned into a loud, heated word-fight in a public place. “I hate you! You never listen! You don’t care what I want! Nothing’s ever good enough for you!” were the words her child screamed that day. Instead of shouting back, the words of her child wounded her heart and she realized; “I might actually lose my daughter if I don’t start doing things differently.” Over the next several weeks she discovered that what her daughter said in an anger tirade was true. This mom was pushing her too much, not letting her discover herself, applying too much pressure on things which weren’t that important. In short, she was trying to make her daughter into what she thought she should be and not allowing her daughter to find herself.
Wisdom tells us that when we attempt to control others, make them presentable to us, what we think is best, we end up either chasing them away or killing the spirit within. Truly loving someone is allowing them to grow, make mistakes, choose different paths, free of our judgment and disapproval. It’s letting them be and loving them.