It’s Valentine’s Day so the topic of LOVE is in the air. Love has many different expressions and even meanings. The Greeks had four different words they used to express what they meant depending on the circumstances while in English, and all other modern languages which I know of have just one, leaving things open to interpretation.
Valentine’s Day only came about in recent centuries as the day gets its name, somewhat ironically, from at least two Saint Valentines, priests who were martyred during the early days of the Church. Eros, the love of sexual attraction, is the love which gets most attention today, and let’s face it without eros our species would not be able to keep going. The other expressions of love, philia (brotherly love), agape (unconditional love which humans try usually unsuccessfully to show, even to their children) and storge (fondness/empathy), generally don’t get top billing.
Where does self-love fit within these four types of love?
I spent the past few days in Bangkok attending part of coach training course I am doing this year. My intention is to add personal coaching to my suite of personal skills/competencies so that I can better serve others in realizing their goals, dreams and ambitions. I am a CPA and work with a competent team of wealth/investment advisors, but want to offer more to people in my life, both professionally and personally.
One topic which came up repeatedly with my fellow coaches-in-training was the topic of self-love. Like me, my fellow cohorts are training with the aim of helping, support and serving people in their lives, all of which stems from love for others. It was interesting to see that a number of participants, myself included, struggled at times with loving themselves, in spite of their authentic desire to love and help others.
The Greatest Love of All
Quoting the late Whitney Houston, the “greatest love of all” is learning to love yourself. One can debate whether this is really the greatest love of all, but I found truth in her words. I need to show sufficient love and compassion to myself before I can truly live up to my true potential as a human and show love to others. For me this has meant forgiving myself for mistakes and putting the past behind me to be able to live in the present. A nagging voice telling me that I am not good enough for X or smart enough to be able to do Y is only reinforced by memories of past failures to meet my or others’ expectations. This voice can only be silenced through a loving act of forgiveness. Love shown to me by me.
And with that inspiration, I will be doing my best today to show love to my “Valentine”, mostly through actions, as actions speak louder than words. In my house that means putting on an apron and getting busy in the kitchen versus taking her out to an expensive fancy restaurant. So I’m off to the shops now to buy some groceries!
Happy Valentines Day!
P.S. While we are on the topic of relationships, sharing a funny video here from love-guru JP Spears.