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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

The Art Of Love: What would a person who loves themself do? (Part III)

The Art Of Love: A month dedicated to self-love and the exploration of Love itself

And we are in week three of our experiment.

‘What would a person who loves themself do?’ stands at the forefront of our thoughts throughout the month that we dedicate to being introduced to the other side of love, the art acquired through theory, practice and dedication.

I welcome you back in this beautiful space of musings and reflections concerning love, for others and our self. Today we again explore some bits from Erich Fromm’s essay ‘The Art Of Loving. And we will cover the three main things I got to discover about myself whilst asking the question ‘What would a person who loves themself do?’ in regards to any situation where I am unsure on what would be the best decision going forward. If you have not listened to the episode so far, please feel free to do so here and come back to this blogpost if you feel drawn to it. If you, however, have already done so, this will bring you directly down to my own three experiences concerning our shared endeavours in the name of self love.

During this week’s episode we dove into the four main distinctions we can make when it comes to love. Thus, I will summarise each one of them briefly to give an overview and open up a somewhat new, and maybe healing, insight in the everyday relationships we nurture.

The most obvious of course are parental and romantic love. Less distinct and less often mentioned are brotherly/ sisterly/ universal love as well as the love for god (or source, the universe, or good- whatever applies to your preference of the about 80% yet undiscovered energy called Dark Matter by scientists).

The most interesting facts I percolated from his essay in regards to parental love was the difference to romantic love. Both cases involve two people. In one case 1 person becomes 2 and is actively concerned with assisting the second person to grow into their own person, ultimately letting go in the end. In the other case we start out with 2 people, yet contrary to our very new and very western notion, they become 1 while staying 2, meaning they keep their integrity, not losing it while morphing into 1.

The former obviously is parental love, where the purpose of reproduction becomes the ultimate sign of unconditional love, giving the growing and thriving their all without asking anything in return.

Achieving at length for their offspring to be their own mother and father, best case scenario and rarely achieved as our society today shows in a very striking way.

What I also found most significant to retell, is a phrase Erich Fromm used, namely ‘milk and honey’. Some of us may remember this wording from the very much biblical sense as the land of milk and honey. Closer to the truth though is the true meaning, metaphorically. It refers to the primary care of material necessities and nourishment, mainly milk in the first few years of the child’s life. Besides this though, there is the equally, if not more important part of honey.

And honey means nothing else than the sweetness of life, the joy of being alive, the happiness to live.

This can only be passed on through the parents if it is already instilled within them. If not, then the child might have the best care, the best parents, providing all the child physically needs, maybe even emotionally needs- yet, in the end, deeply ingrain a form of subtle anxiety, hatred, suffering in life. If parents, anxious ones, overprotecting ones, too selfish, too narcissistic, too unselfish, to either side of a spectrum, pass their legacy of mindset, of perception on life onto their children, the result is any form of adults being deeply unhappy, depressed, bitter, or show any other mental health problem.

A ‘joie the vie’, a joy for living, a sense of the sweetness that life has to offer, the beauty and grace even in the most peculiar, untimely, seemingly unfair, downward cruel situations that life offers, can bring any human being forward.

The right mindset, the mindset that life happen for us and not to us. That is the honey that we want to pass onto our children, that is the belief system we want to leave as a legacy within them, that is what makes them resilient, strong, find their unique and wonderful own way of being a brilliant person of compassion, love, perseverance and a genuine love for giving and caring.

The most intriguing concept he describes concerning romantic love is our confusion of it with any other strong emotion brought into life, connected to a strong attraction between people. Almost any feeling, expressed in an intense enough way, connected with immediate attraction to another person and the instant falling of the walls of separateness, creates a form of union. Not lasting, of course, but there as a sensation. And since we learned that all we humans strive for constantly is finding union again, fleeing from the perceived reality of separateness. The difference lies in the transitory versus the tenderness. Only love births the wish to be intimate with tenderness, all other forms of an accelerated state of mind, anything from desire, passion, overcoming loneliness, pain, revenge, vanity, boredom, conquering or even hatred, can be traced back to a transitory action culminating in the form of sexual relations, mostly leaving behind a void that is bigger than that before, which we sought to fill with precisely this illusionary act of union. Of course, being in a relationship can also be sorted into another section besides the afore mentioned ‘being crazy about each other’ experience. That is the ‘having something in common, sharing our dreams; goals and hopes, anxieties, even our childlike way of experiencing joy and wonder’ version of being intimate. We become vulnerable and connect over shared interests, communal hobbies and the union through being open about who we think we are. Through that act our barriers collapse as well, at least for a while. More often than not we exhaust this relationship after some time, there is nothing new to explore, there is nothing more to get to know. Because we don’t grow together in our shared morals, purpose, legacy, we soon crave a new love, a new search, something that can give us the next quick fix, the next fantasy of having achieved union.

Connected to all of the above is of course universal love. Erich Fromm calls it brotherly love, according to the more Christian way of ‘loving thy neighbour as you love thyself’. In essence it means nothing else but universal love, love for all.

And the premise is that you cannot divide love, only expand it.

So generally speaking, as soon as you love your own child unconditionally, you would be able to love all children. As soon as you love one neighbour, you could technically love all your neighbours until you finally reach a love for the whole globe, all life forms. Of course, because we all have our different challenges to work through, our shadow aspects to integrate. In essence we don’t love all of ourselves, thus having difficulty even conceiving this concept. As a theoretical proposal, something to work towards though, I can absolutely subscribe to this concept.

And it becomes more obvious when we view it from the point of what we all have in common: Being human, being helpless and depending on others from the day we are born. Still, we think we are separate and self-reliable, do not need to ask for help, or connection. When indeed, the opposite seems to be true and guiding us towards a much healthier way of interacting with others. From a beginning stage of feeling for the poor, the helpless, the children, the one’s in need, it is not as far a jump to loving all strangers as we think it is. In essence, even friendships describe a love of those who do not serve a purpose, as long as there is a true, unconditional friendship, without expectations of conduct or a specific attire. If we make distinctions between those we love and those we do not, say in an example of country allegiance, political parties or religions, down to the person across the hall or on the top of the stairs, even that there can only be love between a married couple, we alienate ourselves from the world around us, digging ourselves deeper into the hole of separateness.

Lastly there is a magnificent and beautiful paradox to love, that is we can love everyone in the sense of communal, universal love, yet we only can fuse interpersonally with some and not with all, meaning romantic and erotic love relationships.

And to me this is absolutely sensibel since we also are all one, yet we are all uniquely, distinguishable souls with a light only we can shine onto this world. A frequency fusion-able with some but not with all.

Therefore you need to shine your light, it is the reason you came her, it is what makes you YOU, it is what is needed and it is what no one else can do. In a way, it is your moral duty as an incarnated soul to not deprive others of your light, your love. Indeed, continuing this thought, it is your solemn duty towards yourself as well.

But I digress.

Now I can come to the part of our weekly exercise

‘What would a person who loves themself do?’

It is a funny thing, as sometimes things present themselves that you would not normally associate with a challenge or an exercise for the department of self-love. However, this week, I was presented with exactly that and simply because I am subscribing to this effort to ask myself whenever I get stuck for a decision, this situation turned out to be a rather good, if not perfect, opportunity to pose the question and get a very valuable output from it:

The situation is that of other people having a different perspective on time than your own may be. In this specific example a time had been set, and as always, I was slightly early, nearly on time. In any case, the other person was going to be, what I did not know at the time, an hour late. There was no means of communication in between. Within, I felt disregarded, neglected, disrespected even. Admittedly there was a twinge of rage burning hot, mostly because of my tightly packed, highly valuable, own time in which I want to get all of my to do’s for the day done. What I mean: My week is packed, my days even more so and if something is set and then not adhered to, without any real knowledge about when or even if it is now happening at all, I get unbalanced. I project and I am confronted with my own shadow of unmet expectations that make me feel unsafe, because I am out of control. Now in this specific situation, I was taken aback, felt what I had to feel and then came back down to the question of self love and how to respond to what has been presented to me. And the answer came straight away. I’ll bake. Not for anyone. Just for me. I’ll bake something, and I’ll have a tea with it, and I won’t look at the phone in constant response to what could possibly come in the form of an instant message I can then get reactive over again. No, I would bake, for no one else but for me, and I would not be on call for said person’s understanding of their time value.

So I did.

And it felt semi-good. Not quite digested anger, yet using the energy I had created and could not put into any other action, because I could not settle down to begin something with the back of my mind being on edge for not knowing what is going to be happening, if anything would be happening at all.

Full disclosure, sometimes the answer to the question of self-love is obvious, you go through with it, yet it is not totally satisfactory. However, the baked goods got me through a full three days of indulging and enjoying. Maybe in total it added up to being total satisfaction after all.

Again, I will gladly repeat my inclination to disregard my work related to do list and postpone whatever gives me the feeling of overwhelm, or, more recently, whatever life throws at me that I will no longer just throw into submission to what in my head makes more sense. Meaning that if life throws a gale at me, and I need two hours to warm up and eat and relax from my time outdoors, then so be it, rather than getting anxious and then feeling stressed, limiting my own comfort just to get back to a task that then I would complete probably less thoroughly than I would have if I had taken care of me. That transpired in week one, was fostered in week two and has been now very much instilled within as we conclude week three. It being a rather new way of thinking though, I wanted to include it again. Mostly for me, also for you out there who might be struggling with this. I call it recovering from being a people pleasing perfectionistic workaholic deriving self worth from accomplishment and constant hustle.

Lastly, right now, being in the process of realising a dream,  there is one other significant change in my mindset. Aside from constant underlying pressure and anxiety that I won’t be able to reach it, aside from all the other things readily available to occupy my mind as soon as I forget to worry about this thing, aside from all the everyday challenges or struggles I encounter- aside from all of that, I will stay present. Ever aware of the process I am now undergoing. In a not so far ahead future I will look back on this episode of my life and I will not remember any of it, if I do not set my intention onto caring. I will achieve my dream and I will forget how much it took, what was required from me to get there, the growth I underwent. With mindfulness though I can take each step closer with full attention and once done, I’ll always have these memories of the before, the in between and the after. They will be cherished as there will be loads of other dreams to fulfil, and loads of times when I will ask myself if it is worth it, loads of times when I doubt myself if I will reach it and loads of times when drawing from this experience lived mindfully will assist me, cheer me on internally, make me realise that I indeed can do anything I set my mind to. The change I am talking is very apparent and clear- I will not let myself sink into the abyss of uncontrolled emotions or controlled expectations or letting life just slip by, day by day, week by week. I will try and be as present and as intentional about these last metres towards my goal as possible. And as a little disclaimer, said goal has slipped into a far distance again in the past week, so that added another layer of deep intention and grounding into my self-love journey.

With that said: My beloved souls and my wonderful ,fellow, healing onions:

I sent you, from my little corner of the world, all the love to your corner of the world.

Wherever you are, may you be blessed, and be seen and loved.

With all my heart, the light in me salutes the light in you


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