I spent a lot of time these past few months thinking about what love is. We use the word a lot, and the problem with using a word with an abstract meaning is that it is hard to clearly communicate our message, when we ourselves don’t know what we are communicating.
So, while on a retreat this past weekend, I opened up to a new definition of love, which I believe to be the best definition available. Love is acceptance of other, coupled with commitment to other.
In a relationship, therefore love means acceptance of other, even though they aren’t perfect. You accept them in their best and their worst, and are committed to sticking around. That is the message we give when we say, I love you – as well as what feels so good when someone says they love us.
This is what we mean when we tell our children that we love them. And what we want to hear from our lovers.
Now that we have defined love, we can also understand why acceptance of self is so important to love. Since we can only express that which we have experienced, if someone doesn’t find and understand self-acceptance, how can they ever love truly another? Of course, they can say they love someone else, but it is only as strong as their own love for themselves.
On the other side of things, the only thing that blocks us from love is out own fear of self-acceptance. For once we achieve self-acceptance we are no longer fearful of true intimacy since if someone doesn’t like us, it is nothing personal.
So find self-acceptance, and find love.