By Peter M. Kalellis
June with its sunny days makes us rejoice! Velvet green grass carpets the barren earth, and nature has already reached its ultimate glory—trees and flowers are in full bloom. Somehow we feel happier, kinder, more loving and satisfied with life.
Imagine if all human relationships began with the belief that people are innately wonderful and beautiful—and with an inner capacity to love. It may be hard to conceive, for we may not see this capacity in ourselves. Beyond our superficiality we are people with a potential for loving. We need to learn to respect and with practice we will realize that we can look inside others instead of just at them. In fact, we will understand others with a capacity to love despite some outwardly unloving behaviors. Why take the trouble? Because our peace of mind and health of body and soul are dependent on the relationships we establish with others.
Sometimes we may find ourselves disappointed in caring for a friend or associate at work or loving our spouse because as months and years go by, we realize that we are all human beings and to a degree limited, inadequate, blemished, and sometimes boring. No matter how rich and talented our personalities are or how good looking our bodies, none of us can indefinitely excite and generate novelty, sexual attraction, and psychological pleasure within an intimate relationship or marriage.
Any relationship is like a long trip and there is bound to be some long dull stretches. The fact is we cannot always please each other. It’s respect which makes it possible for us to sustain a long relationship or marriage: Love your partner as you love yourself. Forgive the errors of your partner, as you would expect to be forgiven. True love implies effort and emotional availability. By being emotionally available and giving of ourself, we will receive love in return.
Unlike a valuable piece of furniture or a precious painting that can be completely restored within a specific time frame and remain intact, the restoration of self requires longer time, persistent effort and constant maintenance. As long as a person is alive, there will be something that could be done to improve and refine the self. As we have explored previously the complexities of our human condition do create obstacles for our growth which need to be removed and problems which need to be identified and resolved.
However, resolution involves an inner discipline, a gradual process of identifying and rooting out destructive patterns and replacing them with new and constructive behavior. To regain and sustain a healthy self requires the development of resources that can facilitate and nurture the restoration process. You need to ask yourself, what is it that I want out of my life? What steps do I need to take to attain a loving, healthy and satisfying life?
One of our greatest needs is to know that we are accepted and loved. Each one of us has to feel confident that someone loves us, cares for us, and has our best interests at heart. That is a deep-rooted need in everyone’s inner self—our psyche. Reality tells us that we cannot look to an idealized person as one who will lead us out of the anguish of establishing our own identity.
That very process of creating a relationship designed to give a sense of being needed creates dependency, entirely fitting in infancy but out of place as an adult. It is essential to think about how we deal with the people we encounter daily. Do we see them as equals or do we think of some people as inferior?
Long ago, I visited a millionaire’s office where I found a picture of a man in work clothes among portraits of his family. I asked him about the photograph. The millionaire answered, “He’s our custodian; I think of him as family.” Confirming the millionaire’s attitude and as Thoreau once said, “I could call no man charitable who forgets that the persons who work for him or with him are made of the same clay as himself.”
To put it simply: We need to move from love platitudes to loving attitudes and actions.