No Paragon of Mental Health Needed for Love


You don’t have to be a “paragon” of mental health to be in love! Thank you universe! This simple fact is one of the greatest gifts to “person-kind” going. Now why?

Because being “in love” is a pure and simple experience that emerges from a pure and simple place inside of all of us. We all have the potential to be in love. We bring that with us when we are born.

Problem is, that simple motivation (the need to love and be loved) is too often overlooked by the ways in which we look at infancy and childhood. But that’s for another post.

I want to stay focused on the fact that this pure and simple experience of love can and does show up on its own timeline often enough when you least expect it and when you might not be prepared for it. You see, the problem with being “prepared” involves the various thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we might be accustomed to that interfere with or at least complicate the experience of love.

Too often love shows up as an experience at a time in our lives when we can’t accommodate it. By accommodate I mean take good care of it and grow it like a precious little plant. So the problem is not with whether or not love can be experienced. The problem is whether or not a particular person is “prepared” for the experience of love if and when it shows up. 

Oh by the way, forget about trying to predict or control love as an experience. Love is squarely in the domain of uncontrollable and unpredictable human phenomenon. Think about it, love as an experience (if we are truly honest with ourselves) we all “covet” in one way or another, is fundamentally uncontrollable and unpredictable. Is that fair?

Fair or not, that’s the way life is. But I’m not giving up yet. So we can’t predict or control love, but how about being prepared for it just in case it shows up? I think we can all do that. 

One of the great disappointments in life is to experience the feeling of love and not be prepared to have it and grow it. I have some personal experience with that one. So if preparation for love seems like a viable option to you, the next question is how? The easiest answer is, by taking exceptionally good care of yourself.

Now how does this relate to that uncontrollable and unpredictable feeling of love we are talking about? How and to what extent you are taking care of yourself is certainly controllable and predictable. This is squarely in the domain of things you either do or don’t do for yourself. If you decide to take good, or even better, exceptionally good care of yourself, you are in effect “loving yourself.”

The interesting thing about this is that you have taken a phenomena (love) that I’ve already established is beyond your control and prediction, and made it controllable and predictable within yourself by choosing to love yourself. Granted you might have to learn how.

Unfortunately, knowing how to take care of ourselves is not something we are born with. It’s something we learn how to do in the course of our lives. The good news is we can “unlearn” what doesn’t work (something you were taught) and relearn better. The point is, it’s doable.

Over the years I’ve made the observation that a positive and loving self-esteem attracts love. I’m not sure how, when, and why it happens but it does. Patients who have repaired their self-esteem, basically the quality of the relationship they have with themselves, end up falling in love shortly thereafter.

Perhaps this is the best preparation for love we can have, a loving relationship with ourselves. If so, that’s a lot. We get to perpetuate love in the world by choosing to love ourselves, while setting up the best possible conditions for other forms of love to come around. Sounds good to me.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. T. Jordan

Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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