The Greatest Love of All?

I have a passion for the dulcet tones of George Benson – this began during my teenage years and continues to date. His version of The Greatest Love of All, (Michael Masser music and Linda Creed lyrics) is a song I play during my ‘Baby It’s You & Me’ training as the opening line states: “I believe the children are our future” – and I don’t think there are many people who would argue with this. Another interesting thing for me about this song is the way it continues:

Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody is searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me

The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

So the ‘hidden message’ of learning to love yourself is something else that I like to bring to peoples’ attention. The ability to nurture, cherish, value and respect yourself is vital I believe if we want to be able to do this authentically for others. There is a disconnect for me when a person is very caring and kind to others, yet doesn’t demonstrate the same level of care and kindness to themself. And it’s not about being arrogant or big-headed – it’s about practising compassion, tolerance and empathy for people which includes us! After all, we were children once.

The final 4 lines continue like this, (I’m often tempted to bring out the karoake singer in me by then – however I normally play this at the start of the session so perhaps don’t feel safe enough to share my vocal skills with the group so early in the day):

And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love.

And that for me is literally the ‘bottom line’ as I believe the ability to feel truly loved and to love other people is only possible when we also love ourselves. And in order to do this, the need to let go of all the shame and blame that’s been collected from childhood onwards is crucial. Which reminds me of another voice that goes round and round in my head whenever I find myself slipping into ‘put down’ language – “Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare” ~ Brené Brown.

So there you go, it’s as ‘simple’ and ‘easy to achieve’ as that. The reality may be harder as the temptation to focus on all that we’re not is everywhere around us and is the reason advertises manage to convince us we need this face cream that perfume, a shiny fast car or brand of clothing to feel good about ourselves. However, as the article by Jojo Thomas: Self-Compassion: The Hardest Act Of All illustrates, being our own personal Cheerleader, believing ‘WE CAN DO IT!’ and giving the ‘child of the past’ and person we are today a virtual hug not only brings into to focus love for ourselves, but also the strength of love. (Almost used the word ‘power’ there, but realised that I would then be quoting another song and surely one power ballad per blog is enough for anyone!)