Let’s indulge in a little exercise. Take a pen and paper or open a document in your word processor. Now make two columns. In the first column, write down the names of the people with whom you have been having some problems lately. In the second column, against each name, write down the undesirable emotions they are producing within you—anger, despair, grief, fear, frustration, hopelessness—anything. Once you’re done, look at the list.
Chances are that your first column is filled with some of your most important relationships—people you spend most of your time with—spouse, children, parents, other family members, relatives, friends, colleagues, subordinates, boss, business partner…perhaps even God!
Whose job is it?
You might notice how we tend to blame others for feeling bad. But it’s not without good reason. All throughout life, we have been conditioned to look outside of ourselves for self-esteem. No wonder, when someone treats us shabbily, we feel awful. No one ever told us that, to feel loved, the first step is to love ourselves. Or, that respect received from others is meaningless—all that really matters is whether we have respect for self. Byron Katie puts it succinctly: “It’s not your job to like me; it’s mine”.
Understanding this simple truth can help you develop a perspective that will strengthen every single relationship in your life. You will be without the need to please others in order to feel loved. Because, no one else can make you feel loved, respected or valued—only you can do that. Others are simply a reflection of your own inner world. If you seek love, respect and approval outside, it means you’re unable to find these inside yourself.
The most important relationship
Each of us is born with an infinite source of love and joy inside us. When we tap into it, we feel loved, valued and respected 24/7. And once you find love inside you, you will find love everywhere and in everyone—even when others don’t behave in loving ways. Moreover, you won’t care if others don’t believe you deserve love or respect.
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This brings me to the essence: The most important relationship you have is with yourself. Indeed, it’s the only one that really matters. Once you meet yourself truly, beyond the layers of your personality, you will realise that you have met the love of your life. And this is the one love affair is guaranteed to last forever.
No one needs to be different for you to be happy. You can be happy right now. Just stop blaming others and take complete responsibility for how you feel. That’s what true freedom means. And that’s where true love blooms. In your own heart.
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