Wellbeing Article: How to love yourself and others
Wellbeing Article: How to love yourself and others

How to love

Reading Time — 11 minutes

You will know how to love yourself and others when you connect with your true nature.

We ourselves are naturally the embodiment of love and wisdom—that’s our true nature. We should try to realise our true Self so that we can experience the love and wisdom that we are. 

The more you realise your true Self, the more you will be able to understand yourself and the world. You’ll be able to love infinitely, without running out. How can you run out of love? You can run out of fuel, but love never runs out.

It takes practice

To respond to situations from our heart requires practice. Don’t assume you will automatically respond from the love that is within you. Practice loving strangers, practice loving your family and friends, because when we don’t practice, we get rusty.

When I play a set of tennis with my younger brother after not playing for a long time, he beats me six-love. I was the one who taught him how to play tennis when he was a kid, and now he beats me! Basically, I’m rusty because I haven’t practiced. So, you need to practice.

Express your love to others and try to be open, be curious, to understand others and to feel other people’s feelings, their suffering and their joy. That’s the way to happiness—to give love and understanding.

Make it your goal

Now, who is going to practice something without a goal? If a person wants to be a champion sprinter, would they spend two or three hours every day sprinting and training if they did not have the Olympics or some other competition to aim for? Who is going to do that? Even a person with the most robust determination couldn’t do it.

When there is a goal, then suddenly we have determination to practice. So, to feel that natural love in your heart, you have to set that as your goal, instead of other things.

It is common to set a goal to graduate from university or to stop smoking or to exercise more, but rarely does a person set a goal to love others.

When love is your goal, you will see many opportunities to practice.

I remember one example, when I was sitting at a bus stop with a kilo of bananas from the supermarket. As I was sitting there, I took a banana out of the bag to eat and then I grabbed another one for the stranger sitting next to me. I said, “Have one,” and he looked at me and said, “Okay.” We didn’t really speak much, we both just sat there enjoying our bananas.

Now, I wouldn’t do that if love was not my goal. And if that is your goal, then you see all these opportunities.

It’s like if someone is a thief, their goal is to steal things and they won’t miss any opportunity to steal. They are great at it. When they visit someone’s home, in just ten seconds they will already notice what the most valuable things are. They won’t miss any opportunities.

In the same way, if love is our goal we won’t miss any opportunities to practice.

Living with love

‘Practice’ is probably the wrong word, but there is no better word. Really, you are just living with love, you are just expressing your true Self, but we can use the word practice because it is something that you do often and then you get better at it.

If you don’t practice, it won’t happen automatically.

Whenever a signal tells us not to love another, whatever those thoughts are, spiritual practice helps us to be on guard and to just ignore that, to not believe it.

So, you practice to cultivate love in the same way you practice to pass a maths exam.

There are many techniques to do this, but they can essentially be summarised in two different types:

  • One of them is to express that love in action straight away.
  • The other is to cultivate the intention to love, to build up that intention, then when you have an opportunity, you express it.

The second technique is slightly delayed in action, but they are the same in essence.

How can I love someone if I feel they are selfish?

Nobody can love another person if they don’t love themself. So love yourself. Don’t worry about someone else’s selfishness, worry about your own selfishness. Work at loving yourself.

When you love yourself, you feel beautiful. You feel such goodness in you that you couldn’t hurt an ant. Then you will know, in every moment, how to love another person.

Work at yourself. Love yourself, be kind to yourself. Get rid of your own selfishness—the ‘me and mine, me and mine, me, me, me’. Try to realise something deeper than that. Then, it’s easy to love another.

Join a Sangha that cultivates self-love—true self-love, not ego-love. Learn how to love yourself from a Master.

Make a commitment and take a vow that, “For the rest of my life, I’m going to make that the number one priority in my life. With my whole heart and soul, with every breath, with every step I take, I will cultivate kindness, compassion and love for myself. I will cultivate goodness in myself, because I want to know that natural Self in me, the beautiful true Self that I’ve read about.”

When you do that, then love towards others will happen automatically, and your love will be like the sun just shining out. The sun doesn’t favour certain things. It doesn’t shine less on a person who is selfish, so it doesn’t have to worry about who is selfish and it doesn’t have to learn how to shine on the selfish one. It just shines on the whole planet.

So all we have to do is shine. Love yourself, and let it shine outwards. Then that love will extend to everyone, equally.

How can I love someone who is harming me?

Love has many responses, and sometimes the response is to protect ourselves.

It’s like when you go near the edge of a cliff and you look over, it feels scary so you step back. That fear is actually love—self-love. The fear of heights is innate in us. It is self-love for our physical existence. It tries its best not to let you go too close to the edge. In that sense, to protect yourself is actually love.

When somebody means to do us harm, if we try to think of how we should respond, and we try to figure out which response is loving or not, that is actually the wrong way to look at it.

The truth is, when we have love our response will always be love-sponsored.

That love-sponsored response is sometimes an action and sometimes it is inaction. Sometimes we say something, sometimes we don’t say something, but love will know.

If somebody tries to harm us, sometimes love will respond with peaceful confrontation. Other times love will just keep quiet. It is not helpful to ask which one is love, because you can confront without being loving but you can also confront with love. And the other person will pick up the difference straight away.

Sometimes you might be in a situation with someone where if you say or do something that is not love-sponsored—in other words, if you do something judgemental or fear-sponsored—the person could become physically violent.

It is the love and the peace inside you that will determine whether speaking to them will calm them down, or whether saying nothing will actually calm them down.

Often, a person only has two responses—shall I do something or shall I not do something? They actually forget the other perspective—am I loving towards the person?

In other words, am I peaceful towards the person or am I not peaceful? They ask their friends, “Shall I speak to the person or shall I not speak to the person? Shall I do something or shall I not do something?” That’s the only advice they tend to ask.

Love is not weak. Someone may be soft and gentle but it doesn’t mean they are weak or fearful, because if there is love inside us, there is strength there. We don’t have to show our scary face to make a person back off. There are many ways to respond, when the response is love-sponsored.

At least don’t hurt another

For some people, it is too overwhelming to have love for everybody, especially those who hate them. They feel, “Oh, I can’t do that,” but at least they can feel it is possible not to hurt another. 

If you haven’t got the ability to love others, love strangers, love everybody—if you are not trained to that level—then try your best to at least not hurt another, verbally, physically or energetically.

If we can achieve that, just that, there will be peace on earth. The planet doesn’t need a 100% strike rate of sainthood. Just to not hurt another, there will be peace on the planet.

Summary

When we practice to love others, and set that as our goal, we will learn to connect with our true nature, which is love itself. Then, even if someone does something harmful or selfish, the love within us will know how to respond. But if we find it difficult to love someone, at least don’t harm them.

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