It is easy to love people we like. It is more challenging to love difficult and awkward people. But, it is the nature of real love, that it encompasses all. Love should not be self serving – and in loving difficult people we learn its real meaning. In the words of Shakespeare (Sonnet 116):
“…Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or Bends with the remover to remove.
O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
It is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
But how to love difficult people?
Look Beyond Defects
Feel that a person’s defects and weaknesses are only a partial reflection of his real nature. Feel that behind their exterior personality there is their real self trying to break through. Often difficult people are seeking attention / love in irritating ways. They are like a child struggling to know what the right thing to do is. We don’t have to love their weaknesses, we are trying to love the self hidden underneath.
Our Peace of Mind.
Other people may give us reason to dislike them; we may even start hating them, but what do we gain by hating others? When we hate or condemn others we lose something precious in ourselves. When we judge others, it is often because we have that quality within ourselves.
“Hate is often an obverse form of love.
You hate someone whom you really wish to love but whom you cannot love.”
– Sri Chinmoy
When we love others without judgement it brings our own best qualities to the fore. If we love others, if we seek to see the good – even in difficult people, we will benefit tremendously and gain peace of mind. It is one of the great paradoxes – by loving unselfishly and unconditionally we benefit ourselves.
Love does not Mean Acquiescence
We can love people without agreeing with their bad behaviour. Nor do we have to agree with their demands and unreasonable expectations. Because a mother loves her child, the mother will reprimand the child when he places himself in danger. We can love a person whilst at the same time discouraging them from behaving badly. We can love the person whilst at the same time disliking some things they do.
In their own way people are trying to do the right thing. At times, it may not feel like it; however, we can gain a lot through sympathetic understanding. We can try to feel that the mistakes they are making are something that we ourselves have done at various time. When there is a feeling of superiority there is no real love and oneness. But, if we can feel the other person as part of ourself then we will naturally have good will towards them. It is this ability to identify with others which enables a real feeling of love to develop.
Don’t Expect to Change Them
If we feel responsible for changing those whom we love, we will always be doomed to disappointment. Even our own kith and kin are responsible for their own lives. The biggest obstacle to loving difficult people is to think – I will love them, but, they have to become better people first. If we wait for people to become better before loving, then we will be doomed to disappointment. It is because people are imperfect that they need our compassion and understanding. If we can accept people as they are, then even difficult people we can appreciate.
- How To Distinguish Between Love and emotional dependence – The word ‘love’ is perhaps one of the most casually used terms in the English language – so much so that it has become an umbrella term for a whole variety of very different emotions!….
Photo by: Ranjit Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries