Wednesday, February 11, 2009

10 Tips For Loving Your Enemy

So let’s say you think it’s a worthy goal … how do you actually go about it? I can’t claim to know all the answers.

I’ve been working on this myself, and exploring these ideas in my life … but I have not overcome this challenge.

I’ve made progress, and I’m proud of that … but I have a long way to go.

However, here are some things I’m working on myself … I hope they can be of some use to you:

1) Stop, breathe, detach yourself.
When you think about your “enemy”, you most likely have feelings of anger or something along those lines.

Instead of letting those feelings overcome you and determine your actions, stop yourself. Be aware of the feelings.

Take a deep breath (or ten) and take a step back. Now see if you can detach yourself.

Imagine yourself floating out of your body and looking down on the situation as an objective observer.

You are no longer you.

This person has no longer done anything to you or someone you love … they’ve done it to someone else.

Seeing the situation objectively is the first step — it’s too difficult to overcome the feelings if you’re in the middle of the situation.

2) Put yourself in their shoes.

Now that you’ve removed yourself from the situation, and you’re looking down on it from above … try going down into the other person’s body and head.

Imagine yourself becoming that person.

What is that person like, from inside?

How did they get to be the person they are?

What have they gone through? Why would they possibly have done what they did? And how did they feel about it?

You’ll have to use your imagination.

But try to imagine this person as a real human being, not just someone who is evil or wrong.

All human beings try to do good things, but they make mistakes, or they have different perspectives.

Seeing the situation from the other person’s perspective is very difficult, but very important.

3) Seek to understand.
That, of course, is the objective of putting yourself in their shoes.

But it’s important to stress it here, because if you can understand what they did and why they did it, you can take the next steps (below).

Really try to understand, even if you don’t want to.

4) Seek to accept.
Instead of fighting what has happened and who this person is, and wanting them to be different or to do things differently … accept them for who they are.

Accept what has happened as a part of life. Accept that things can’t be different, because they have already happened.

Accept that this person can’t be different, because that’s who they are. This, too, is a very difficult step, but if we cannot accept, we cannot love.

5) Forgive, and let the past go.
Ah, maybe the most difficult step of all, but I’m sure you saw this coming.

Can you truly forgive this person for what they’ve done, in your heart?

If you’ve detached yourself, you’ve sought to understand, and you’ve accepted them and what has happened … it should be easier.

Try to think about this: what happened is in the past.

It cannot be changed. You can either hate what’s happened in the past, and change nothing but be angry … or you can accept it and move on.

Let it go. It will do nothing but eat you up. Once you’ve let go of the past … let go of your feelings about what this person has done.

Move on.

Those feelings can do you no good.

6) Find something to love.
If you can forgive, and release those bad feelings … you are left with neutrality, most likely.

You want to replace that with love.

And how do you do this? You find something in that person to love.

It could be anything … their smile, their willingness to help someone, their generosity, their stubbornness even.

Find something admirable or lovable. There’s something like that in everyone. You might have to get to know that person better, which in itself can be difficult.

7) See them as yourself, or a loved one.
If the above step proves too difficult, it is probably because you don’t know that person well enough. Instead, project yourself into them.

See them as similar to yourself in some ways. Or think of them as similar in some way to a loved one — and use those similarities to find something to love.

8) Find common ground.
We have things in common with just about everyone, if we look hard enough.

That might be common interests, shared or common experiences while growing up or working, people you know or love in common, personality traits in common.

This common ground will help you relate to the person better.

9) Open your heart.
Another very difficult step. Our hearts tend to remain closed to most people, as a defensive mechanism.

We are afraid of being vulnerable, of getting rejected or hurt.

And yet, this closing off of our hearts is what blocks us from happiness many times, what blocks us from forming relationships, what blocks us from loving and finding love.

Even if we’re able to open our hearts to our loved ones but no one else … that’s limiting ourselves.

This is a great challenge, and something that really can only happen with practice.

Try it here, with your former enemy … even if you can just open your heart a little, that’s the only way you’ll find love for the person.

10) Reach out to them.
It’s one thing to feel love for the person … but quite another to express it in some way.

There are many ways to express love, of course — some ways you might consider are telling them, saying nice things to them, having an open discussion about what’s happened or your feelings, giving them a hug, doing something nice for them, smiling, making a joke.

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” - Abraham Lincoln

Hearty Thanx to....


  1. //Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” //

    A very good and useful post Antony.....This seems to work out as people feel satisfied when they destruct something.....All steps seem to be simple...let me try out Antony...
    anbudan aruna


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