Love Yourself First

A few weeks ago I came across this quote: “Love is a serious mental disease” by Plato Phaedrus, one of the world’s most influential ancient Greek philosophers and it made me think as to why the correlation between love and mental disease was made. So, I researched it, only to find:

Love is “an intangible connection between two people that feels exceptionally good.”

The strength and depth of the connection is determined by two conditions:

1. The level of self-acceptance each person has for themselves.

2. How open, honest and exposed each individual is willing to be.

Qualities always present with these connections are:

· Trust – believing in one’s integrity and good intentions towards you.

· Respect – concluding they are good and worthy of appreciation.

· Affection – demonstrating your good intentions through your actions.

Love is not an emotion. It is the connection.

Our feelings are a reaction to the quality of that connection. The part I find most interesting in this definition is the conditions that make love more powerful. First, Self-Acceptance. You’ve heard the phrase “you can’t love someone more than you love yourself.”

What exactly does that mean and how does it work? If there are aspects of yourself you reject, these issues are your hot buttons; and they are a source of discomfort. When someone hits one of your buttons, you’ll react to the discomfort with blame, shame, disrespect and withhold your affection until the discomfort dissipates. And if they trigger something painful inside you, you’ll react with fear, hurt or anger. That’s why accepting all of yourself, creates ideal conditions for experiencing more and deeper love. There’s less button-stuff to get in the way. Connection is about fear and dependency, and has more to do with love of self than love of another.

Love is a practice, it is not something you find or don’t find.

You can practice love for the rest of your life. It is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. And there are many kinds. It is not how you feel, it is more about how you act. Try to think of it in this way and you won’t go far wrong. If you treat it as a feeling, when you are getting something from someone else and then you stop getting it then your feelings will change along with your behavior. An example of this is, if you start to act a certain way and are not requiring someone else to be something they are not, then that love is unconditional. Therefore, it is not based on what someone else does or says, which means you can continue to act the same way regardless of how other people behave.

Understanding that Love is an action that is practiced but should be giving to ourselves first, I decided to identify the meaning of disease. Nowadays the word is more commonly used to refer to an illness or disorder. According to Plato, dis-ease (from old French and ultimately Latin) is literally the absence of ease or elbow room. The basic idea is of an impediment to free movement. This provided insight into how it internally impacts us to the point where some are willing to change and others refuse to accept changes. Because it is an action, we can feel uncomfortable in this act…causing a feeling of limited “elbow room”.

To love someone under any circumstance is a true test of unconditional loving.

And although it may seem simple, it is probably one of the toughest attributes to possess. This requires an unconditional love of yourself first, so you can have the strength of heart and mind to give the same to another human being. This is where we fall down. Within our society there seems to be so much pressure to be perfect that loving ourselves has become a pretty hard task to achieve, but it is the key to total, unconditional love of all others.

Monretta Vega, LPC


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