There is so much truth–and dare I say, wisdom?–in the saying “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” The eyes of love do indeed see the world through a prism which colors everything…often for the better, thus referring to “rose-colored glasses” truism.
When we genuinely love, we cease to see solely in the physical. The outward shell of those before us becomes unimportant.
Think about it, when asked to describe our loved ones, we don’t focus on their physical traits such as tall, short, blond, thin, husky. Instead, we chronicle the attributes we love best and which bring up warm and fuzzy feelings. Characteristics such as funny, honest, truthful, wise, etc.
When in our mind’s eye, we picture our loved ones, we don’t concentrate on their physique. Instead, we feel their essence. The very essence we miss when they are no longer with us and the same essence we still perceive long after they have departed from their bodies.
For instance, as parents, we love our baby before birth and then as a newborn. Then, as a three-year-old, a tween, a teen and then an adult. Although their outward appearance changes, the love remains.
This fact is true for everyone even if they are not parents. Our loved ones will age and change, the love between us–if it is True–will not. When my paternal grandmother was in her 90s, her oldest son was in his 70s. One day, upon asking him to wear a scarf on a cold winter day, he replied: “mother, don’t you know you’re talking to an old man?”
Indeed, by all worldly accounts, he was indeed an old man. Nonetheless, to his mother, he remained her beloved son, her baby. While my uncle’s physical form most certainly had changed, his mother’s love had not.
Hard to Love
Undeniably, there are those individuals who are hard for us to love although it is usually not due to their appearance nor their gifts and intelligence–or lack thereof. Most often, our lack of affection is due to their crummy or annoying behaviors or because we don’t fully know them, or maybe a combination of both.
It is true that love does cover a multitude of sins.
When we love, idiosyncrasies instead of annoying traits become things that endear our loved one to us: a hand gesture, a crooked smiled, blue eyes lost in a wrinkled face, a specific way to pronounce a word. The examples are endless.
It is equally true that humans are capable of outstanding acts of altruism or horror.
While we cannot make blanket statements, most atrocities are committed by beings–who more often than not–felt unloved and rejected. The saddest thing of all is when we reject ourselves.
I believe the reason we don’t love and accept ourselves is because we stand as a self-appointed judge. We indeed critique and uphold ourselves against some man-made yardstick despite the fact these benchmarks are ephemeral for they change from culture to culture and from era to era.
We look in the mirror and see someone who wears a size 10 or 18 rather than a size 4, someone who has thighs which we think are too fat or flabby. Maybe, it’s hair which is not thick enough or the “right” color, or it’s the face with fine lines where there used to be none. It could very well be that we think “I am just a mom,” a secretary or a plumber, I don’t have a Ph.D. or CEO after my name. I am not as smart as “blank,” or as pretty as Suzie, or as thin as ….and so it goes. The examples are far too numerous to mention here.
In our minds, there are a million things which disqualify us in some way from being lovable and accepted. We erroneously believe that if these “things” did not exist, all would be well. We would belong. We would surely find love.
The lies whisper we are not enough and we believe them because the proof stares at us from the mirror.
So few of us, wear rose-colored glasses when looking at ourselves, but I am here to say maybe we should buy some of these fancy and magical glasses– and wear them.
The Curse of Not Enough
The belief–we are not enough–is not only misguided, it is also dangerous. It is a faulty premise–albeit a prevalent one–to believe love is earned.
Love and acceptance are not prizes to be won. They are gifts freely granted from one heart to another. True love does not have a price tag, and if it does, it most assuredly is NOT Love.
If the people in your life hold you against some man-made laundry list to be check-marked in order to receive their love, trust me, you need a new tribe…as in now!
While not all our behaviors warrant unconditional acceptance, neither should they disqualify us from love and belonging. Jails are filled with human beings who never felt loved nor that they belonged. People who have a hefty dose of self-acceptance and who feel loved and accepted, do not usually commit unspeakable acts.
While outward love– from parents, friends, or other significant people–is essential, self-love is equally necessary to our well-being…maybe more so. We will never receive the love of others if we believe we are unworthy. We will be like a bucket with a hole in it, unable to be filled.
Your Own Best Friend
Treat yourself as you would your best friend. In fact, become your own best friend.
Give yourself love and acceptance despite the shortcomings you think you have–or those you indeed have. See yourself not as your “envelope”–nor by what you can do and achieve–but as the letter inside, the sacred being you genuinely are who is most undoubtedly worthy of love and belonging.
I’ve got news for you: we don’t get to pick our bodies, our intelligence, and our abilities. However, we do get to choose our attitude. Love is a choice we make despite our own imperfections and the imperfections of others.
Make no mistake, we all have them–flaws that is.
While–according to the world–beauty, intelligence, and unique gifts are not handed liberally to everyone, human frailties are dispersed plentifully to every being of the human race. Honestly, when we rid ourselves of man-made standards, we can see we all contain within us magnificent gifts of real beauty.
If you have ever seen a diamond in the rough, you are well aware it’s nothing to write home about. It holds no great beauty. Only the eyes of the wise–educated–can spot its worth. Ditto with the geodes which hold amethysts. These objects are plain on the outside but exquisite on the inside.
Humans are most often the same, as precious as stones in the rough.
Not all individuals of outward beauty are beautiful beings, trust me. Rather than complain–or mourn–about what we cannot change, or alternatively, go under the knife, starve ourselves or over-exercise hoping to finally meet “The Standard” and gain entry to “belonging and love” as to a country club or a sorority, let us instead focus our energies on what we can change.
We will never feel worth –even in the midst of adulations–if we do not first learn to accept and love ourselves.
True belonging and true love start with us where we are and with what we do possess. There is no love in “not-enough land”–zero, zip, nada.
Genuine beauty does indeed spring from the depth of our souls. If you experience–and believe–in your true beauty and your true value, no one will ever be able to make you feel less than unless you first acquiesce to their view…and please, don’t do that–for anyone.
I am well aware self-acceptance is easier said than done–for most of us anyway–and while we may not love and accept ourselves entirely, we can strive toward this goal. Love is not about perfection. It has never been. Thank God.
Self-acceptance is a journey. And, as all odysseys do, they come with hiccups and less than pleasant stretches of road. The great news is that journeys are not stagnant. Even if the scenery stinks we can: 1) find beauty even in the most deserted places AND 2) know that we won’t stay in this crummy place forever.
I have been on this journey myself and while not by any means easy, it is magnificent. Don’t take my word for it, do it…for you and those you love.