Love is the most overused word in our language. We use love with the same reckless abandon we reserve for other four-letter words. Because love has been used to describe how we feel about everything, we lessened its meaning; to sense a strong or constant affection for another person or group. Here are some examples, we love a television show, or tacos or our hometown football team. We love our home, our car, and our office. We love sunsets, the mountains and the beach. We even love beer and hotdogs.
This is not love, these are preferences, habits and desires. These things may make us feel euphoric at times, but their effect is temporary. Real love transcends everything.
Love is something that comes from deep within. It is generous, has the power to heal, can transform us into the highest version of ourselves. Love opens the door to commitment, sacrifice and kindness, it gives without boundaries. Love can transform and lift us to levels of joy we never imagined were possible.
Love can also bring suffering. Anyone who has experienced a broken heart knows there is no medicine that can relieve that pain.
The Five Types of Love
I believe love comes in five different illustrations. Although each differs from the other, there is a symmetry that unites them all; giving of ourselves to others.
1. Love of self
Love of self is by far—at least for me—the hardest one to master. My life trials have taught me that if you are incapable of loving yourself, you cannot love someone else. Loving ourselves is our responsibility, someone else cannot do it for us.
Knowing you have an important value and purpose is the cornerstone of self-love. What makes this difficult is that, as part of our upbringing, many of us grew to accept we were not good enough, not worthy.
Love of self also entails forgiving our mistakes, we did the best we could at the time, period.
A person who loves him/herself knows they are entitled to live the life he/she wants. It also allows us to say no, to set boundaries and expect others to honor them.
A healthy love of self gives permission to follow our passions whether or not those around us agree with them. It encourages us to pick those we want in our life because of their positive influence.
Self love feeds our faith in our ability to handle anything that life sends in our direction.
Remember, if you deem you are unworthy or not good enough you cannot reach deep enough to evolve into the highest person you were meant to be.
I believe we are directly connected to a Higher Power, therefore, love of self encompasses love for a Higher Power.
2. Love for a partner/spouse.
The great gift of my two failed marriages is that they taught me what love for another is and isn’t. This is the knowledge I offer about romantic alliances.
When two pledge love for each other, they are committing to walk their life path hand in hand. When two submit to this kind of relationship, they do so as equals.
Love for a partner demands intimacy at a physical, spiritual and emotional level. Each partner learns to risk being open and vulnerable to each other based on a level of trust that assures one the other has their back and vice versa. Passion between two lovers becomes, not just a fountain of pleasure, it transforms sex into love making.
Lovers commit to make their relationship the nucleus of their lives.
I am convinced love unions offer partners their best opportunity to evolve into their highest potential. They are also the most difficult.
3. Love for your children
When I reflect on the person I was before I had kids, I must admit that I was a narcissistic, self-seeking human being. All of that changed with the birth of my first child. It was then when I learned that love for a child is selfless.
To love your child is to be their provider, protector, teacher, mentor and a good example. Being a parent also teaches you many other things. My children brought out parts in me I didn’t know I had. Mainly the willingness to sacrifice. I dedicated myself to give them greater opportunities and the freedom to evolve much higher than I could ever dream.
Every loving parent wants to give their children the eyes, imagination, experience, tools, courage, respect, and love necessary for them to soar like eagles. Although I did not always succeed, I did everything I could to help them in that direction.
To this day, I still want more for them than anything I want for myself. This is what loving my children means to me.
4. Love for family and friends
To one extent or another, every one of us is searching for our tribe. I know that sounds funny, but it is true, we spend a lifetime searching for the clan where we belong. Just because someone has your same blood does not make them part of your tribe. Furthermore, spending years side by side with another or a group of people does not make them your clan either.
Being part of a tribe happens by mutual agreement. You choose them, and they choose you.
Your people are those whom you turn to for help and support during perilous times. They count on you to do the same. In fact, in your tribe, their well-being and yours are of mutual importance to all. You rely on each other no matter the circumstance. You support them in fulfilling their dreams and you can count on their support for yours.
Your tribe are the people you celebrate with. Being around them fills you with hope, love and joy. They make you feel accepted just as you are and that you belong in this world. You radiate the same in return.
No matter how large or small your tribe is, they are your soul mates in this life.
5. Love for all human beings.
I am so fortunate to have lived through many trials in my sixty-seven years. The myriad of successes and failures imbedded in me the awareness that every human has a great purpose to fulfill in this life. Even if they are not part of your tribe, they have as much right as you for being under the same sun, moon and sky. This awareness grounds my love for all humans.
When we realize that everyone comes from the same source and that their purpose is just as important to this world as our own, then we will see it is our responsibility to ensure that every person fulfills what they were meant to do in this life.
Imagine a world where we build each other up and not seek to destroy, separate, discriminate, ostracize and ignore one another. This is within our power to do.
Love is the greatest force in the universe, we should not water it down with trivial comparisons. We need to own our love, cherish it and share it with the rest of our planet. Love is the key to the ascendance and survival of our species and our world.
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