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L.O.V.E. - 9/27/2013

I’m not exactly sure where this originated, but I do know that it was included in a workshop given to the Essel Group by Mr. Gulrajs Shahpuri, a renowned Indian educationalist and founder of Promise. I also know that Dennis Waitley, in one of his books, spoke about love, using the same format. Essentially, they said that, to love, you have to:

L Listen more and talk less, because others might have more to say than you’re aware of. Too often, when you should be listening, you tend to concentrate on how to defend against what is said, rather than being receptive to what is being said.

O Overlook mistakes and shortcomings. Don’t concentrate on the flaws and lacking of others. Instead, direct your energy toward looking for positives.

V Voice appreciation and encouragement to others, rather than criticism and fault-finding.

E. Energize you to actualize L O and V.

Overall, it’s a simple, helpful means of remembering how to behave in your interactions with those you love. But, after reading it, I thought to myself, “they missed the most essential step you have to take to love others.” Throughout your life, you’ve heard the axiom, “You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.” I don’t believe there are any truer words in the world. When you don’t love yourself, you can’t truly love another individual. The reason is, that you can’t pour water out of an empty bucket. Simply put, if you don’t have it, you can’t give it. That being the case, you might ask, “how do you go about loving yourself?” Follow the same steps toward you.

L. Let me try to be more specific. In order to love you, you have to listen to yourself.  Most of you don’t. More often than not, you say things and then defend them. You try to prove that what you have to say must have validity. It’s no crime to do so, but it seems to me that it’s far more important to determine if what you say has validity before you say it. To do so requires you to be honestly introspective, that you listen to your own words, and give thought to the positions you take and the actions that result from them. You need to ensure that the foundation or premise you base your actions on have substance, comes from an unbiased position, and take into consideration your natural tendency to validate your thoughts and feelings, rather than to evaluate them.

O. The second step is to overlook your shortcomings and flaws. This is an essential step for everyone, because no one is perfect. Therefore, no one is without shortcomings or flaws that they must learn to live with. To overlook them doesn’t mean to hide from them, deny them, or justify them. Instead, it means to forgive them. I cannot begin to tell you how many people I see in therapy who beat themselves up emotionally, physically and intellectually because they’re unable to forgive the mistakes they made in the past, or the insufficiencies they perceive in themselves. As a result, they never leave the past; they stay there, either rationalizing or justifying what occurred earlier in life, rather than owning up to and then forgiving previous errors, acts of poor judgement, or self-destructive behaviors. Guilt governs their emotions and consciously or unconsciously, they punish themselves by undermining or sabotaging their efforts to succeed . To avoid this end, it becomes essential that you learn to forgive yesterday’s mistakes, so that you can learn from them and positively alter your words, emotions and actions in order for them to correspond with what you have learned. Further, you need to view your mistakes as an almost fortuitous event. It’s an opportunity for change. Without them, you stay the same. You remain firmly entrenched in positions that are often indefensible and hurtful to your relationships with yourself and others.  Conversely, if you forgive and learn from them, you grow.

V. You need to find your voice. Too many of you live your lives as chameleons. You alter who you are, what you are, and what you do in accordance with where you are, whose company you’re in, and what the environment dictates. In effect, you capitulate, give in to the whims and wills of others, and forfeit your voice. You alter your true thoughts and beliefs so as not to offend or hurt others. You dare not be authentic, open or honest, and the person that you portray yourself to be is a lie. Let me add that voicing your honest opinions shouldn’t be a hostile act, but too often it is, because you use anger to provide you the courage to express yourself. It is, nevertheless, essential that you, as a person, say what you have to say in an non-hurtful, honest manner. Avoiding issues, hiding what you believe, and at times even distorting your truth, are your way of playing it safe and avoiding being vulnerable. The end result is that your relationships inevitably deteriorate. It’s not that people don’t initially appreciate your agreeing with them, but over time, they can’t trust what you say, because if you don’t have the courage to disagree, they can’t believe what you claim to like or love. Even more importantly, when you can voice your honest feelings, thoughts and emotions openly, no matter how another person may react to you, or what price you may have to pay, inside you come to appreciate you. It’s then that the “V”, in “love” begins to stand for valuing yourself.

E. “E”is for effort and energy, which you will need in order to behave in accordance with L, O and V. You see, it isn’t natural for human beings to listen to themselves, to critique, to recognize, accept or forgive themselves own shortcomings and failings. It’s too hurtful. As a result, the natural reaction of most human beings is to defend, deny, and justify. Similarly, it almost follows that when you do see your faults, the natural reaction is to beat up on yourself, or to punish yourself, consciously or unconsciously. The fact is, most people don’t have permission to overlook or forgive themselves. It is only after you learn to accept yourself that you can take the step which will enable you to voice your feelings, emotions and thoughts, and to value you, because you had the courage to do so. The bonus, the cherry on the top of the whipped cream, is that when you get to the point where you value self, you will feel that you deserve to be loved, that you needn’t walk on tip-toes, choose your words carefully, or be frightened of how someone else will react to you. Conversely, nor will you have to intimidate, control, or depreciate others in order to bring them down to your level so they won’t abandon you. Instead, you’ll know that you have value, and that you deserve to be loved. The very courage that enabled you to look at self  will also lead to your reaching out to others and giving love, in order to lift them up to you, as opposed to putting them down. All because you are living your life in accordance with what you believe and desire, instead of what the others and the world dictate.

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