“We do not have to love an abusive person in any way. What we can do is to learn to love ourselves unconditionally, and have hope that it will help us to love others in the same way. But again. We do not have to love abusive people in any way, shape, or form. We can certainly wish them well if they decide to get the help they so badly need. But we should never allow someone to affect our self-esteem and self-confidence. It can diminish any self-love we may have. Or it can prevent us from learning to love ourselves unconditionally and being happy with who we are. A love an abusive person never felt. And a happiness they never had.”
I was fifteen years old when I first fell in love with a boxer named Muhammad Ali. I know that might sound strange, but I assure you, I’m not the only one that loves the man who was once The Heavyweight Champion of the World. He has, however, always been much more than just a boxer to me and millions of others, and here’s why. The self-love he showed as a young man changed when he started to grow spiritually and as person, and as a result, he began to show more kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others, and slowly learned to love people unconditionally.
It’s been over 35 years since I began my love affair with the man who called himself “The Greatest.” And although he may not be the athlete he once was, I know his beliefs allow him to love who he is today. Of course at 52, I’m certainly not the athlete I once was either, but I can also say I love who I am today. It may have taken me awhile to achieve this self-love, but I did it the same way Ali did; through spiritual and personal growth.
When we try to grow on a continual basis, we begin to love ourselves enough to be happy with who we are, and eventually we love ourselves unconditionally. When we love ourselves unconditionally, it holds the promise of some day being able to love others unconditionally as well.
It may have taken Muhammad Ali time to be able to show everyone kindness, understanding, and tolerance. But the type of self-love he eventually possessed, not only allowed him to do those things at a greater level than most, it also allowed him to love “all” people unconditionally. That’s why learning to love ourselves truly is the greatest love of all.
To be perfect is to be entirely free of any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. I know I’m nowhere close to being a perfect person and that I never will be. However, I don’t really worry that much about my imperfections, or for that matter, the spiritual imperfections I also have.
I realize that part of spiritual growth is knowing I will always need to grow and that having imperfections is a part of who I am. I don’t necessarily like having them and I certainly don’t like seeing them in other people. But because I have learned to love myself unconditionally, I am slowly learning to love others unconditionally as well.
It needs to be noted, though, that our imperfections do not give any of us the right to hurt others, nor should they be used as an excuse for when we do. But if we honestly keep striving for personal and spiritual growth, even when we fall far short of being perfect, it’s still possible to love ourselves and be happy with who we are.
An unconditional love for ourselves that holds the promise of loving others in the same way, no matter what their imperfections may be.
Whenever I think about the question posed in the title of this post, two answers always come to mind; at least for me. Happiness comes from trying to be a better person than we were before. And from loving ourselves.
Now I admit it took time for me to become a better person than I was before, and I’ll confess that I’m not always the best person I can be. However, I try not to beat myself about it. I know it’s not who I am and not only do I love myself today, but I do so unconditionally—a strong foundation for feeling good ourselves.
How can you not feel good about yourself when you try as best you can to be a more loving person than you were before? And how can you not feel good about yourself if you try to show more kindness toward others than before? Also, how can you not feel good about yourself if you try to be more understanding of people who behave in ways that upset you, or at least try to practice tolerance towards them?
Being happy was all I ever wanted to be in life, and I found out that by simply practicing love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance towards others and myself, I was able to achieve this. However, what I didn’t know was that it would someday lead to being happy with who I was.
One more thing comes to mind as to where happiness comes from; at least for me. Trying to believe that something created life and the universe for a reason.
Something that gave us the ability to create our own happiness by learning how to be happy with who we are.