|February is the month we celebrate LOVE. Love is praised everywhere by everybody. Love is seen as the magic potion that makes all things possible and the glue that holds people together. Love is seen as the way to solve both personal and world problems. It is seen as the motivator of progress, the inspiration for noble causes, and the road to ecstasy.
But nobody talks about what love actually IS.
And nothing gets us into more trouble than the unhealthy things we do “for Love.”
Just like fire, the healthiness of “love” depends on how you understand it and apply it. You can use love to promote healthy, fulfilling human life, or you can use love to crush the human spirit.
WHAT IS LOVE?
The best definition of love I have found is by the famous philosopher, Ayn Rand: “Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character.”
THREE MYTHS ABOUT LOVE THAT CRUSH THE HUMAN SPIRIT
1. “Love Is Unconditional.” Just like Human Life itself, Love is neither cheap nor “unconditional.” Love has to beearned by the achievement of good moral character. To think that you are a bad person just because you can’t make yourself love everyone no matter what they say or do, is to think it’s wrong to discriminate between what’s good and what’s bad. And to think that you deserve to be loved no matter what you say or do makes love an indiscriminate, meaningless “gift” rather than a meaningful tribute for achieving admirable qualities. Rewarding the bad equally with the good is immoral: it makes you a supporter of the things that are harmful to you and your fellow human beings. And it makes it next to impossible to make healthy choices for your life.
2. “Love Is A Commandment.” Just like Human Life itself, Love cannot be forced or commanded. Love is an emotional response to the achievement of good moral character. Your love response comes from your positive evaluation of a person’s qualities of character. To think that you are a bad person if you cannot “love” a person who violates his own life or the lives of other people is to turn genuine love against yourself and to aid those people who pose a real danger to your life. Again, to reward the bad is immoral and undercuts your ability to live your life and engage in civilized, mutually rewarding relationships.
3. “Love Is Self-Less.” Just like Human Life itself, Love is selfish, not brutish or self-less. First and foremost, a person must value himselfin order to put forth the effort to live as a full-fledged human being. Such a person holds each and every human life as sacred and derives great personal inspiration and pleasure from being around self-caring, self-reliant, creative, productive, aspiring human beings. These are the kinds of people he can support and help and love.
CONDITIONAL, UNFORCED, SELFISH LOVE
Conditional, Unforced, Selfish Love is the source of the “magic potion that makes all things possible” and the “glue that holds people together.” This is the source of the “motivator of progress” and the “inspiration for noble causes,” which leads to genuine ecstasy.
UNCONDITIONAL, FORCED, SELF-LESS LOVE
Unconditional, Forced, Self-less Love is the source of self-degradation, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. It asks people to ignore their own needs and NOT VALUE their own lives — but to surrender themselves instead to the needs of “others.” From this point of view, people who do not honor their own lives (the lazy, the criminals, and the power-hungry) are considered to be on an “equal footing” with (or higher than) those who do honor their own lives by earning their own living and striving for excellence in their character and their achievement.
This is the source of those who use “love” to crush your spirit.
- They distort the meaning of love to mean love for others and dismissal of yourself.
- They make love for the people who DON’T value life a virtue, and love for the people who DO value lifea vice.
- “For your own good” they tell you to turn your back on yourself and everything that is healthy for you in order to live up to their idea of goodness and love.
The promoters of unconditional, forced, self-less love set themselves up as “protectors” of those who DON’T value their lives enough to take care of their needs against those who DO value their lives enough to take care of their needs. These “protectors” demand that you give them the fruits of your labor to show “compassion” for those who are “less fortunate.” But where is the compassion for you? Because you’ve fallen for their harmful idea of love, you are the mere means to showing “love” for people more needy than you. I have known many a woman who has married a man who “needed their help,” thinking that her nurturing might save him. These women insist that they married “out of love,” but it was actually “out of pity”: they all ended up being their spouse’s parent-psychologist rather than their romantic partner.
This Valentine’s month, take a good look at your view of love and BREAK FREE FROM UNHEALTHY LOVE.
HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED:
You automatically act on your deep-down beliefs. As long as you harbor unhealthy or contradictory ideas about love, you’re going to act on them. To free yourself from their grip on your life,
1. Schedule some time to write down your beliefs about love. You can use the three myths about love (discussed above) to help you get in touch with your beliefs.
2. Then ask yourself, “Do any of these beliefs come from one of the three myths about love?” These beliefs can harm your life and the other people in your life.
3. Write down a healthy replacement belief for each unhealthy belief. Make sure your replacement doesn’t contradict your best understanding of things and that you approve of it.
4. Figure out what you can say and do to implement your replacement beliefs
with various people in your life.
5. When various situations come up, monitor yourself to see which belief you are about to operate by, and take a moment to decide to act by your replacement belief instead.
It will take some practice, but it won’t take long to see how your healthy view of love vastly improves your ability to love yourself, other people, and your life! HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
I’d love to hear how these steps work for you — feel free to email me at Terry@YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com, or post a comment on my Break Free Blog at www.YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com. Please know that you are welcome to share this BREAK FREE TIP by forwarding this message to a friend or colleague.