SUMMARY: Mutual love with another person typically provides inspiration and encouragement to be true to ourselves.
(About a 4 minute read)
When I was nineteen, I met the first great love of my life. A woman I believed to be so remarkable that I arranged for us to have a heart-to-heart discussion about what I could do to become more like her.
Unfortunately, life’s currents soon enough separated us when I had to move out of town. But about a year after I’d met her, something quite strange happened. I was thinking over my life one evening when I recalled a traumatic event of my childhood. That in itself was strange because the event had so traumatized me that I had no other way to deal with it than — for years — simply refusing to think about it for more than a second or two at a time. Yet, here I was actually recalling it as fully as I could for the first time since the event had happened.
Moreover, I was absolutely certain that the reason I was now able to think about the event had to do with the incipient love that the woman from the year before and I had felt for each other. Somehow, I felt, that love was giving me the courage to face the unfaceable.
Until then, I had no inkling that love could have such remarkable powers.
However, since then I’ve learned so much about love that I have now almost come to expect such things from it. To be sure, I am not talking about emotional dependency — which in my opinion, many of us mistake for love. Emotional dependency doesn’t seem to bear anything like the gifts that love does.
Apart from perhaps helping us deal with our past, one of the greatest gifts of love in my opinion is how it makes it easier — much easier — for us to be true to ourselves. That is, to be authentic.
Now the caveat to that statement seems to be that the love must be mutual. It doesn’t seem to do that you love them, but they don’t love you. Or that they love you, but you don’t love them. No, it appears the only way it works is if you both love each other.
Being true to oneself has itself so many gifts that it amazes me how so few people really practice it. It’s like being given a cask full of beautiful jewels that you are never quite interested in enough to open. For instance, when we are true to ourselves, there is hope someone will love us for ourselves. But when we are not true to ourselves, that would seem unlikely.
Of course, almost no one is perfectly true to themselves. Anyone who was would most likely be socially and/or environmentally irresponsible in some way or another. But most of us could be a great deal more true to ourselves than we apparently are.
What seems to prevent so many of us from living authentically are social pressures, such as the expectations of our friends and families, or the expectations of our religions and political parties. Many more than a few people go their whole lives only to realize when nearing the end that being true to themselves would have meant so much more to them than what their boss or congregation thought of them.
Then too, there are certain folks who — for whatever reasons — go about telling others not to be true themselves. They often argue that living authentically is necessarily living in a socially irresponsible manner — just as if you cannot be both socially responsible and remarkably true to yourself.
I sometimes half-jokingly think they must be employed by the people in every nation who crave to enslave the rest of us, for — if that’s what you want — telling people that being true to themselves is for “hippies”, and idealists of all stripes, is a necessary thing. Authentic people tend not to make blindly obedient fools and followers.
There are enemies of authenticity and they are both fierce and cunning.
Love seems to release people from being overly-concerned with living up to other people’s expectations and standards. The qualification here is that it might not free you from living up to the expectations and standards of your beloved — and those can sometimes vary considerably from your own. But otherwise, love seems to give us remarkable encouragement and confidence.
And that can be so crucial to accomplishing much of anything in this world. The old saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman”, seems to me usually true. That “great woman” isn’t the sort who “inspires” her man to accomplishments by nagging or by complaints. She is someone who loves him, believes in him. And the statement is true even when it’s turned around, “Behind every great woman is a great man”.