I remember reading a powerful short story in college, A Tree, A Rock A Cloud. I do not recall the name of the author. The story described a man that was trying to learn to love again. He had been hurt and was trying to start over. He found it very difficult to love and as a result was taking baby steps. He started by learning to love small things and moving up the chain. Naturally, based on the title he started with a tree, a rock, a cloud. Over time moving up to a crowd, and his ultimate goal was to be able to love a woman again.
As I’ve learned more about life and love over the years, I’ve begun to think he missed a step. I believe he should have started with himself. Once you love yourself and accept that you have worth and value, you can truly love others. Once you have practiced compassion and love for yourself then you will understand what is needed to practice compassion and love for others.
I think that love, when pushed outward, without first loving and accepting yourself, often does more harm that good. It sends a confusing message to the recipient. Tainted love, as it were, comes from a source that says “I will give you something that I am am unable to accept myself.”
Once you have learned to love yourself you can then radiate compassion and love that is a comfort to others. There is a natural and smooth progression that will then be easy to share with a tree, a rock, a cloud, a crowd and an individual. It can be freely accepted and transmitted without baggage to those around us.
Learning to love yourself is one or our life’s challenges and one of life’s great gifts. There are many practices that can help, but at the forefront are acceptance and compassion. Allow for the truth that you are worthy, valuable (priceless really) and a blessing to the universe. Practice endowing yourself with love and that love will radiate from you like the warmth of a star.