Updated: Jun 9, 2021
All too often, we choose to hold back, denying ourselves, our loved ones, and especially strangers the healing balm of love and compassion. But wait a minute, If I've declared that my religion is love, then why do I keep catching myself doing this?!
There's many people, places, and religions/spiritual practices that espouse the virtues and value of Love, and many of us subscribe to those teachings. But yet, we're still not being Love in action in the fullest capacity.
How can I tell?
Do you ever find yourself withholding a loving comment or affirmation from a loved one, because they didn’t really “earn it” in this moment? Mad at them and prefer to judge them rather than love them? Yep, we've all been there!
How about from yourself? Do you have to meet certain standards before your self-talk turns loving?
Do you ever pass on reaching out to a friend because, well, “the ball’s in their court right now,” and you just don’t feel like efforting to reach out to them?
What about the people, strangers especially, that you see and make a judgment about. Certainly they don’t deserve love and compassion, right? Especially those who look, act, and love differently than you, right?!
Is it just me, or do we humans tend to care for each other conditionally? Why do we do that?! I’ve been pondering this for a while, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
Sometimes we fear looking “weaker” by reaching out and expressing love and compassion to another, no matter how close we are in relationship. “They didn’t say ‘I love you’ before hanging up, so I’m not going to either!” “I can’t be too nice/kind/loving, they’ll think I’m weird or needy!”
Sometimes we fear creating a stronger connection with someone, so we withhold genuine feelings of love and caring. “If we become closer friends, I’ll have one more person I have to give my attention to!” “I’ll be really seen if I let them into my life, and maybe even heard, and that’s scary! I’d rather continue being ‘invisible.’”
Sometimes we're too quick to see "The Other" and immediately wall our hearts off from the human in front of us because we don't like or approve of their behavior. Did you know that Judgment is a fear response? I wonder what we are afraid of when we see "The Other?"
Sometimes being Love in action means taking the "High Road," and that could imply that you're "wrong" or need to apologize, or that you're "letting the Other win or get away with something," Most of us avoid those feelings at all cost!
All these stories we make up in our heads about why we should withhold our love and compassion—so many man-made rules to adhere to—it’s exhausting!
Sometimes we even think, “oh, they don't need it—they’re the ‘strong one,’”...but trust me, they do. Think about it: do you get so many loving gestures and kind words that you’re over-saturated and don’t want/need more? For most people, the answer is no!
And here’s a radical thought: The worse the person in question is acting, the more they need some love! Think about how far a kind gesture goes for you when you’re having a bad day. The person who holds the door open, offers a compliment or a hug, pays for your coffee...they really turn your day around, don’t they?
Imagine the thrill of being the person who does that for another! And what does it cost you? A little bit of effort. Worth it? I think so. Especially in times like these during a pandemic and we’re all struggling to get through the day. Life’s too short not to shine your light for another, or share your love and compassion.
But let’s take it a step deeper. Because I also see how we humans, especially the Sensitives (HSP's, Empaths & Introverts) and people who have been abused, tend to withhold our love, kindness, compassion and approval from ourselves. We tell ourselves the same recycled negative things we hear from society at large: you don't belong, you’re too sensitive, you shouldn’t need to __ because nobody else you know needs that, you don't deserve love, etc. We bully ourselves and deny ourselves of our basic needs. All in the name of fitting in!
Here’s the deal: we’ll never fit in. We were never meant to! Our needs are different than non-sensitives, and we so have a right to have our needs and wants fulfilled. Just like we also have a right to be loved. But we think that since society doesn’t give us the love and approval for being Sensitive, then we shouldn’t love or approve of ourselves either.
That, my friends, is a big, fat lie.
We are just as deserving of our own love and compassion as anyone else is. That's right, we are all deserving of love and compassion and grace and kindness!
Take a moment to imagine giving love rather than withholding it, to another or to yourself . . . it feels really good, doesn’t it?
And now imagine it’s your last day alive. Do you want to walk around keeping your light and your love to yourself? Or do you want to share it and watch it grow?
Love is one of the rare things that expands as you share it.
So the next time you catch yourself holding back the urge to express love, compassion, or kindness, whether to yourself, a loved one, or a stranger, I invite you to ask yourself,
"Is it really better for me to withhold my care right now?
Does it hurt anyone for me to be loving and caring right now?!
If we're all living on borrowed time, can I really afford to not express my love/kindness/compassion right now?"
The world needs love more than ever these days. And friends, in case you haven't guessed this yet, the "Other" that you encounter out there? It's true: the "Other" is Love.