The Love For Others
By Jessica Manuel and Rev. Anthony Tarasca
Hurting People Hurt People.
Would it change the way you treat others if you knew that it reflected how you feel about yourself?
The ability and willingness to express love towards others can stem from how one is loved from their family, which subsequently allows one to have love for themselves.
Choosing to love others is not always easy, especially if someone grows up in an environment of neglect or dysfunction as it can lead to an inability to show affection, understand boundaries or learning how to share love with others even though they may disappoint you. Some people choose to avoid investing or loving others for decades, only to eradicate the same disappointments experienced in their childhood.
At the end of the day though, one can choose to love others despite the circumstances they have faced as it is our responsibility to be accountable for our own actions.
We are humans in need of connection. If one fails to have acceptance and honesty with others because they avoid rejection for who they really are, it will erect larger walls around their emotions and limit the amount of acceptance they have for themselves. This is truly a vicious cycle that needs to be broken as it encourages loneliness, depression and leaves someone feeling worse.
We are best as our true selves, especially when it comes to serving others.
A Story from Jessica
Someone once told me that I was selfish.
Someone told me that I would never attain success or happiness.
I even overheard someone say “that poor girl, she’ll never amount to anything” …
Well they were wrong, or at least they were referring to the Jessica that I was transitioning out of, dealing with or learning from her personal experiences. I don’t blame them; how could they see or accept the Jessica that “would be” when Jessica struggled to understand who she was?
Accepting these words made my circumstances seem even more negative, dark and unfair. Worse, the same words chained me to lower standards of myself. It was easier to accept that I would never be happy rather than accept my potential.
Taking these statements personally was like putting Chains on my body, carrying a burden that was not easy for others to understand.
Until I experienced love from others and learned how to receive love these Chains kept me captive. I had a fear of losing the people who had empathy, each with the capacity to be honest and see past my bullshit, encouraging pure honesty and vulnerability from me.
The start of this foreign love from others made me think things like:
“They don’t understand me!” …. “I’ll never be good enough”…“I have so much work to do” …“Will I ever arrive?” …“This is totally unfair” …“I can’t go see _____ again today, I’m not emotionally ready” …“I need to have a nap, I’m emotionally exhausted”
Was this the love I needed? Yep.
Sometimes it seemed easier to walk away from the people who were showing me tough-love, not because they were awful people or because I really, really wanted to be a part of their life. It was a result of unhealthy thought patterns; barriers that made me feel “unworthy” of love.
So why do I share this with you? Well, I learned a very valuable thing; because I made the choice to accept my short-comings and thus earn true, loyal and sustainable friendships, I am now able to love well in return. This love is not limited to a close circle of friends or family, it gives me an ability to love, accept, mentor and influence thousands of strangers through Motivational Speaking.
Going for a coffee with a friend felt like a marathon most of the time a decade ago, but each experience gifted me with another choice to make; to pay it forward. Learning “how to be loved” allowed me to “choose” to “give love” to others, sometimes better than others.
I have empathy for people who are broken, who are searching for acceptance or dealing with understanding themselves. I know what I can do to help them feel loved. Stronger boundaries, unmeasured joy and minimal disappointment is what I received by being vulnerable and authentically myself.
No one is perfect but everyone seeks to be understood, and most times, deserves to be listened to, respected and loved. I choose to love because of the way love felt; it is powerful and life-changing.
Think about it….Someone holds the door for you and you think ‘wow that was thoughtful and kind of them’. You then are left with a choice, receive once and forget about it, or learning the behaviour, opening the door and making others feel good too.
Your love is a gift that keeps on giving, it never stops where you leave it. Cause a chain reaction of love because, you and so many others are worth it.
A Story from Anthony
Without question, the ability to express love towards others hinges on how one is loved early in life and how they in turn are able to love themselves. As parts 1 and 2 in this series have shown, I speak from personal experience. The years of being something other than who I truly was left me as an island unto myself, not wanting anyone to get close to me just to avoid being hurt again and again. By convincing myself that I was not deserving of great people in my life, it caused me to evade being honest. Why risk being disappointed or rejected as a result? In the end, I learned that I was not the “bad man” I convinced myself that I was after years of being told this from those who should have supported me starting from my childhood. It is easy to become bitter when faced with this, but in reality the only person bitterness hurts is the bitter person.
I came to understand that adverse circumstances only define the person you can become if you allow it to, as an alternative to “bad choices” is always available. While we can never go back and erase the “bad choices” we have made, we can most certainly learn from them and use the experiences as a launching pad towards building strong relationships based on mutual love, respect and devotion.
In order to love others you must learn to love yourself and all the imperfections that make you unique and relatable to others. People relate more to pain rather than perfection, yet we all try to be perfect even when we are struggling.
This journey requires breaking down those walls of separation, and thus letting yourself become vulnerable to the extent that others are finally welcomed in to the person you are striving to become. Is it uncomfortable? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
By Breaking Chains of suspicion, self-victimization, self-failure or doubt, you then come to understand that there is always a risk for others to hurt you emotionally when you are both vulnerable and honest. By taking this risk, you have a better chance of finding the right people in your life and feeling secure whilst be authentic and genuine. You can only love others well when you are living honestly with yourself.
As a person who used to shut people out, I can tell you now that such a way of walking through life only displays cowardice, as true strength and courage emanates from one’s ability to stand firm within themselves and accept others into their world regardless of who they are.
If I can do this, you can too.
Hopefully this post helped you see the importance of loving yourself and others enough to be vulnerable and “authentically you”. These two stories show some barriers, whether circumstantial or from thought patterns, which can limit one from freely receiving or giving love.
The blog also demonstrates that, in spite of barriers, someone can choose to Break free and love anyway. Life is too short to be anyone other than ourselves, and as such we all need to be surrounded by the right people who will accept us as we truly are.
Most importantly, every one of us is worthy of love and capable of change.
Change only comes when it is worth it, and you only love if you feel worthy of it.
Whether you decide to run or rest, there is always someone willing to listen, learn from and lean on. You’re never too far, it’s never too dark. Take a leap of faith, be yourself and give abundantly.
See you next week for Part 4; The Love in Relationships.