Learning to Love

By Susan Deitz

April 24, 2019 4 min read

"People find it difficult to take risks of love because they do not feel anyone has ever loved them without reservation or conditions. They do not feel worthy." Those are the words of Dr. David Viscott, author of a favorite book of mine, "Risking," an oldie in my library, a fount of wisdom to be read again and again, at different phases of my life, to be lovingly shared with you, my readers, hoping those words will spark your deepest thoughts — as they do mine. Enjoy the ride.

"Learning to Love Yourself

"People find it difficult to take the risks of love because they do not feel anyone has ever loved them without reservation or conditions. They do not feel worthy. But how do you correct a situation like this? You can't return to your childhood and ask your parents to love you the way you needed to be loved. Each person has the lifelong goal of making himself lovable. You do this by saying yes to all the things that give you pleasure and nurture you. This isn't an invitation to self-indulgence, it's a statement that says if something gives you pleasure, do it. (Within reason, of course.) Buy a piano, plant a garden, take up painting. Get out your best china and silver and use them for yourself! If you don't think you're good enough for it, who will? When you start loving yourself, doing the countless little acts of caring (for yourself) you may currently consider stupid or trivial, too small to even consider, you'll begin to feel cared for. (And isn't that the object of this exercise?) Maybe you feel other people should do them for you. But who should, and how can anyone know what to do if you don't show them by your own actions? Furthermore, people may believe that if you don't do (this thing, this action) for yourself you really don't care that much about it, and so they won't risk your disapproval/lack of appreciation if they give it to you. (Yes, it's complex and a bit twisty, but take it slowly and say it out loud. It does make sense to consider others' reasoning.)

"As you nurture yourself, you will gradually become a more giving person. Fulfilled people always are. In that fulfilled state you'll feel more comfortable taking risks of love because you now feel more love for yourself, and because you now know what is important to you. When you have felt what self-love can do for yourself, you're more willing to love another person. IF YOU DON'T LOVE YOURSELF, YOU CAN'T LOVE ANYONE.

"You have to make yourself complete. It isn't the job of another person to fulfill you as a person. It is your responsibility to become you.

"You may never find love. That is so sad, going through life loving only by approximation, investing everything in children or yourself because your relationship with your spouse isn't that fulfilling and there doesn't seem to be anything in the world you find worth changing for. That is sad indeed, but sadder still is finding a love worth risking for but being unable to take that risk because you have deprived yourself so long that you believe you're not worthy of love."

Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected] Write for your free signed copy of the "Declaration of Undependence" on parchment. Send your request to: Susan Deitz, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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