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Growing Your Capacity to Love
by Greg Baker
2/01/2010 / Relationships
We're all born with the capacity to love. After all, we are born in God's image. For some, that capacity is limited only to self, which usually makes it difficult to love others. In a nut shell, our capacity to love is dependent upon our ability to absorb, accept, and deal with being hurt by someone else.
Loving someone isn't the euphoria and paradise that so much of our main stream philosophy tends to portray. In fact, the more love you give someone the greater the chances will be that they'll hurt you. It doesn't mean that they will do so intentionally, but either way, their ability to hurt you emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually increase proportionally to the degree of love you show them.
If you truly love someone, you make sacrifices for them. You open yourself up to them and tie parts of yourself to them emotionally and spiritually. This is a big deal. Getting cussed out by a stranger doesn't hurt near as much as being cussed out by someone you really love.
So, if you love, then you're going to get hurt. This isn't something to be afraid of, nor is it something that you should ignore. It is just a fact of life. I would rather love and be hurt than never to love and never to be hurt. Not loving someone does more damage to your spirit and emotions than being hurt by someone you do love.
The benefits of loving people can far out strip the down side of being hurt. If you have enough people that you are loving, you always have people to retreat to when another of them hurt you. But loving people gives you a much more positive outlook on life. It allows you to experience peace with your surroundings and circumstances. Yes, love people. It is so worth it.
HOW TO GROW YOUR CAPACITY TO LOVE
The more pain and emotional trauma you can absorb and deal with the greater your capacity to love others. It sounds like a rotten trade off, but it's not. If you can't handle being hurt, you'll build walls between you and people. You'll withdraw into yourself, carry a chip on your shoulder, and generally push people away. You won't experience a close relationship, and it could lead you to begin to hate yourself.
I pastor a Church and I look to love every one that steps in the doors. This means that each of them, in their own way, has the ability to hurt me. I accept that. And, indeed, I've been hurt by many of them. But I strive not to take things so personally in life. I try to be a shock absorber. I don't crack under the pain, I just absorb it and shunt it off.
You keep so many more relationships if you can do that. I can't recall the times that I've managed to strengthen a relationship because I absorbed the pain inflicted on me by someone else. If husbands would learn to do this for their wives, they would have the position and ability to strengthen their marriage to such a strong degree. If wives could learn to do this for their husbands, they wouldn't feel so alone and find they have a unique position to strengthen their marriage.
When you get hurt, you get defensive. You take a position and start lobbing verbal artillery shells at the object of perceived attack. Instead of absorbing the hurt and looking for a solution, injured people usually make the situation even worse. You start building walls that shuts out everyone.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
1. Don't take things so personally.
2. Don't focus on your pain. Instead, focus on the other person and what might be done to fix the relationship. If you can repair the relationship, your pain will be relieved.
3. Think of yourself as a shock absorber. Look for the best in people instead of the worst.
4. Don't quit because you get hurt. You only got hurt because you cared. That in itself is worth the price.
5. If you handle it right, you have the opportunity to strengthen the relationship.
6. Remember, you've probably hurt people too.
The larger your capacity to love, the greater your happiness can be. Oh, you'll get hurt here and there, but dealing with it right will allow you to retain your joy.
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