The Power of Love

The Power of Love

It’s February, so it’s the perfect time of year for therapists to write long-winded blog posts about love, relationships, and all that jazz that makes the world go round. And of course, these things are important all year long, but February is the month dedicated to love and so I couldn’t resist. I want to tell you this caveat though: we should be talking about love in all its forms (romantic, agape, familial etc.) all year long and we especially need to be talking about relationships and how we can have healthy ones.

So, why is love such a powerful thing? (Cue Huey Lewis and the News). I think Viktor Frankl (you can tell that Man’s Search for Meaning really spoke to me) has a lovely answer–either way, I have been thinking about this quote for a few months now. Here it is in all its full glory:

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality…By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables that beloved person to actualize these potentialities.

Here’s another one from James Baldwin that I think nicely complements Viktor Frankl:

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.

So, why is love such a necessary endeavor? Because love enables those who love each other to peek under a person’s mask and see all the potentialities underneath. Love is the ultimate cleanser–it removes all the gunk so everyone can clearly see the real you.

Even more, as Frankl says, when we love someone, we see their potential and we can hold it for them, even if they cannot see it in that moment. (That’s also hope, but that’s for another conversation.) To me, that’s one of the most beautiful things about love: to see someone clearly for everything they are, embrace them for it and love them because of and despite it. Without this clear-eyed vision, true love does not exist. Love cannot live or flourish when people refuse to remove their masks. And in this space, when the mask finally does come off, love thrives and grows in the fertile ground of vulnerability and compassion.

Love is truly being seen and I am convinced that is one of the most powerful gifts we can give one another.

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