Sunday, February 23, 2014


I'm a student of human relationships and something of a people watcher, and so I've learned some things over the years. This particular thing struck me as one of the most interesting and useful. I suspect that a lot of you may already know this - it's something that you say to someone else mainly so that you can remind yourself of it.

The surest paths to love are learning to love yourself - and helping others to love themselves.
Of all of the relationships that I have seen disintegrate, several had a common thread running through them. The person who initiated the breakup found themselves having to choose between loving their partner and loving themselves. And they chose to love themselves. Their reasons for making that choice varied (some were good, and some were screamingly bad), but in the end, they could always be abstracted down to the same thing - the relationship, their partner or both came between them and their positive self-regard. "The worst loneliness," according to Mark Twain, "is not to be comfortable with yourself." And, as he noted, a person cannot be comfortable without their own approval. Relationships can be about children, religion or loyalty, but in the end, they're also about the people who are in them. A relationship that, in the end, forces a person to forgo all sources of their own approval results in loneliness and misery.

Unconditional love is often viewed as something that you give to another person. But I think that it's better viewed as something that we teach to other people. Successful couples, successful friendships, successful families - if it can be said that they are all alike it's in that the participants strive for their own approval and help everyone else strive for theirs. They may never make it to the point where said approval is completely unconditional - there may always be some price that self-regard demands, but every success lowers the cost just that much further, and lowers the chance that a choice will have to be made.

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