E J is a therapist and counsellor with Holistic London, specialising in relationships, emotional difficulties, and discovering life purpose.
For information about his work, visit here.
Based on romantic movies, we might think that love’s greatest expression is in those words, “I love you…”, a statement meant to assert both the present and the future, for time immemorial.
From being in relationships, however, or perhaps in and out, as is often the case, we soon learn that words are not enough; it is one thing to pledge dedication to another, and it is quite another to show up for them, day after day, in way that shows that we really care.
Certainly, parents across the globe struggle with this distinction. Their love for their children may be without limits, but their patience and ability to cope with a child’s every need may be another thing all together!
And then, we must also look at our relationship with our own self. In my previous blog, I discussed the surprisingly difficult challenge, posed by the book, The Mirror Work, of looking in my own eyes and stating love for myself, pure and simple. But, with time, my ability, and perhaps my honesty, with doing this grew, to the degree that my statement does not come out as a quavering question, but rather as an affirmation of what I already feel is true.
Once again, however, a statement to an image in a mirror is one thing. But what does it truly mean to have a loving relationship with one’s self, day after day?
At first thought, that question left me a bit clueless; I just didn't know. But in contemplating it, I realised that a parent’s best relationship with a child is perhaps our ideal reference for how we can learn to more deeply and effectively love ourself.
In all relationships, love is not just something we feel or proclaim; it is a consideration that decides how we behave. Love means that we will treat the other with the greatest thoughtfulness and care that we can, especially in those moments when it is not convenient or easy. It means doing those things that will help the person truly feel healthy and good in themselves, no matter what.
So, we must ask: “Is this how I have been acting toward myself? Do I care for myself in ways that a loving parent would care for their beloved child?”
We can connect this with the very needs of a child: how we feed, clothe, and give attention to ourselves. For example, when I look at my own eating habits, I realise that I would never treat a child in this way, and yet it seems “ok” because “I am an adult.”
In the coming week, start to pay attention to how you are treating yourself, and ask yourself, “Is this the way a loving parent would treat their beloved child?” If not, change that behaviour! Remember, “Love” is an action verb, and it all starts with ourself.