“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
– Thomas Merton – Writer/Trappist Monk
Much of our everyday frustration in relationships with other people is because other people are not us. The above quote is very wise in that it speaks to a universal habit of humans to want to twist and mold other people to be more like us, to think and act like us. In our relationships with others when we do become frustrated with another person or group of people it is usually because they do not think or act as we do.
This happens in most relationships; we can often clearly see this happen in a romantic relationship. For example, in a new romantic relationship we often find ourselves thinking and doing things that the other person does in order to fit in and build the relationship. We tend to mirror each other, usually one personality is dominant and that is the personality which is mirrored weather on a conscious or unconscious level. This mirroring of the other person works initially however over time the true self begins to emerge which sometimes causes conflict because one person is no longer a mirror of the other person and therefore the reflection of their self is no longer there and with the mirror gone one may not feel as attracted to the other person.
Think for a moment how often we twist people to fit our own image. Consider how a parent may do this to their child, of course they are doing it out of “love” for them however in doing so they often inadvertently stunt or suppress the natural talents and inclinations of the child. I personally have met many disgruntled adults who have the college degree their parent wanted them to get rather than the one they desired. Consider also how a husband/wife may twist and mold their mate to fit their own image. I have heard more times than I want to count a husband or wife boast as to how well they have the other trained. Now this is usually said in a joking manner, however there is much truth in this type of humor.
We want to be loved for who we are, we want to be accepted and loved as is, we want to be loved for the perfection of our imperfection yet is this how we love others? Do we love those in our life for who they really are? Do we allow others to be perfectly themselves or do we attempt to twist and mold them into who we think they should be which is either a mirror of who we are or in some circumstances the complete opposite of who we are?
Who in your life are you attempting to twist to fit your own image? What groups of people do you not accept because they are different than you? What frustrations would be removed from your life if you love others for who they are today?
The wonderful thing about accepting and loving someone for being perfectly themselves is that we love them for who they are and we don’t get frustrated for what we feel they are missing. We also through true love and acceptance open doors to different worlds; worlds which otherwise we may have missed, worlds which enhance our experience and propel us along our journey.
Love yourself and love others as they perfectly are without expecting them to feel, think and act as you do and you will be amazed at how strong your relationships become and the doors that will open for you and the doors you will open for others.
“Every person is a new door to a different world”
– from the movie “Six Degrees of Separation”