I want to discuss these two statements: “Our love for ourselves cannot be wholly-reliant on self-knowledge. By extension, our love for one another cannot be wholly-reliant on our knowledge of one another.”
What feelings, thoughts, pictures, visions, etc., do these statements bring up in you?
Sit with those feelings, thoughts, pictures, visions, etc., for a minute. Jot them down really quickly so that you’ll have your reaction down before I influence you with my reaction.
I feel a sense of serenity when I read these statements: It’s a feeling I get when I’ve run into something True – that’s capital “T” true. There’s an irony built into this post because the over-arching theory of this blog could be summarized as saying “know thyself (through journaling) in order to love thyself.” But then I turn around and say that knowledge cannot be the sole basis for love.
I picture a bright light with rainbow lens flairs all around it when I read these sentences.
I have a vision of a couple in the early stages of a relationship. The couple has only been dating for a little while. They’ve just said, “I love you” to each other knowing that they love what they’ve learned about the other so far, they love how they feel around the other, and they know there is still so much more to know.
Love is temporal, and yet, love also transcends time. When I experience love from another, sometimes I don’t know why I am loved by the other. Love is transcendent because love doesn’t end the minute we’ve been hurt by another person. Love is transcendent because when we learn that someone has done some horrible things in their past, we can still choose to love that person. Love is both temporal and transcendent because when we tell someone we love them, we’re not only saying that we love them in this very moment, we’re saying that love is present even when we’re not in the same room together.
Love for yourself is an undervalued resource. When we wake up in the morning and we choose to love ourselves, we make better decisions. When we choose to love ourselves, we eat better, we work out, we find those people in our lives whom we can trust and we go to them for guidance, we make the tough decisions that require self-trust, we connect to our authentic and spiritual (for some religious) parts of ourselves, we ask others to treat us with more respect, and we try harder to respect others. When we love ourselves, we’re choosing life. We’re choosing the journey. We’re choosing to say that there is more to who we are. We’re choosing to affirm that we are the embodiment of whatever it is that our friends, family, and God love about us. Or, if we’re feeling undervalued or unloved, to love ourselves is to say, “I am a person of value. I may not have a clue as to what about myself is lovable but I know there must be something – I’m going to love until I can figure out what that something is.”
Love is an act of acknowledging the known and the unknown. We will never fully know ourselves and we will never fully know another person. Therefore, to love yourself fully is to give love to parts of yourself that you are not even aware exist. To love another is to do the same. That love may be what allows new parts of yourself to shine. Or, it may be the thing that brings something painful to the surface, but in such a way that it can be examined, remembered, dealt with, worked with, polished, and maybe even, with time, valued.
Love that is only based on what is known … is that liking? I’m tempted to say that love that is based only on what is known isn’t really love. Yet, I hold such a reverence for love that I hesitate to make such a bold statement. If you can only love what you know – that’s a start. I will say, however, that there is a deeper love that embraces the unknown. Love is an act of bravery.
It’s scary to love! Did you catch what I said just a paragraph ago about the potential for love to bring out something painful? I mean, it could bring to the surface that stuff that we work hard on a daily basis to HIDE! If you’re not a little scared, then maybe you’re just super brave or maybe you’re still working towards that deeper love. If you are a little scared, take a few deep breaths and know that the fear is normal, healthy even. Know that when you love, you are showing the world your absolutely bravest self.
In some ways, I wish the English language had a plethora of words for the variety of experiences of love. Communication might be clearer if we had more words to express the many ways we can love ourselves and each other. That being said, I’m a fan of the one word being very rich in meaning. There is a diversity in the meaning of love that is as diverse as the human population. This diversity is a reflection of the unknown to which love points.
Knowledge is an amazing and powerful thing. I will continue to be an advocate for self-knowledge. Loving yourself will become easier and you learn more about yourself. Loving others becomes easier as we learn more about them. But there’s something important about remembering that to love is to acknowledge, even implicitly, the unknown. You don’t need to know to love.