Loving Our Enemies
Mental and Physical health
We tend to forget what emotions really mean for us as human beings. They are the reason why we can be completely detached from some people and completely attached to others. This weekend I got reminded of one of the biggest lessons when it comes to our emotions. I got reminded that loving only those we want to love is of no benefit, but loving those we don’t want to, brings us greater benefit. About loving our enemies.
This got me thinking and remembering some basics about how emotions can impact not only our emotional state but also our physical state; our mental health and our physical health.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything on emotion. That’s probably because I am going through my own emotional re-awakening. This we can never do by ourselves and we always need help to make that shift. I’m grateful to know people that I can trust to help me do that, including my wife.
So, what is it that got me to write this today? It was Easter weekend and my wife and I watched some Easter movies. It was a line that you’ll find in the bible, when Christ says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44).
It was as if I heard that line for the first time, because, now that I understand how our mind works, I understood the consequences of those lines.
Our Mental Health
Have you ever been in the situation where your anger against another person has been so overwhelming that it’s the only thing you can think about? You can feel it in your body, you can feel your heart pumping in your ears, your hands are trembling from the anger, because that’s adrenaline pumping through your body.
On a day to day situation, when it’s not something you usually deal with, you’re overcome, emotionally, mentally and physically. But what has this to do with love? It’s not about that moment in time, it’s about what follows afterwards.
To be able to control our mental state at such times takes practice and repetition, under similar circumstances. This goes for every part of our lives.
Imagine a situation that you hate to be in, running it constantly over your mind, but, seeing yourself reacting the way you want to react. How do you feel? How does it make you feel? Now make it better, as much as you can, so you have a win-win situation, if possible, for both of you. Now, how does that feel?
Now think of someone you dislike. How does that feel? Is it as if you are there again? Probably. Just like the situation above. Your subconscious can’t tell the difference and so reacts as if it’s real.
Now try something else. Same person as above. Try this with the following concept in mind – wish them as good a life as is possible for them and mean it; I’m not asking you to forget – we can’t really do that. When you first do this, you are going to have a lot of resistance, so much so that you could grate hard cheese with it. Keep sending that wish, picturing that person in a neutral facial expression in your mind. I know it’s not easy – I’ve been there.
Your mind is going to be doing flips, because you are going against your mental grain of anger, hatred and bad wishing. This doesn’t help you.
Why? Look up the term “Complex PTSD”. I first heard of this from a chiropractor. He told me that a lot of cases are a result of long term negative feelings. Putting it basically, it is when you mentally hold a trauma for a long period of time which can lead to a break down in your mental health. Let me put it another way – you are slowly mentally torturing yourself to a mental issue.
All of us hold unto something like this and we all deal with it differently. That difference in how we deal with these issues is what determines our mental health. Are you going to be healthier and stronger as a result of the experience or are you going to let it drag you down?
This is not to say that you shouldn’t feel the emotions at first. You have to. They have to be expressed and not re-pressed. Be angry, upset, hurt and all the other emotions that come along; It’s human to be like this. But don’t stay there. Take control of your emotions and become whole again. For some it will take longer than others, but strive to be whole again.
Negativity in any form shuts down the most productive parts of our brain. We stop thinking the right way.
Why is loving our enemies important for our physical health?
A while back I wrote an article on the effect of negativity on our body. This is a reminder, because we all need to be reminded sometimes of the most basic ideas.
A few days ago I was watching a lecture by Dr Bruce Lipton on YouTube. He explained how proteins are produced depending on how we perceive our environment. His message was that our beliefs affect our cells and eventually our body.
When Dr Masaru Emoto conducted experiments on water and how water is affected by specific messages, he showed us how negative and positive words affect water crystals.
I got reminded how a single thread of anger, hate or dislike can affect our mind and our body. That anything we put in our mind and hold unto, that goes against our nature to be loving and kind to each other, will lead us to create that same thing in our own body. We forget that most of us are born healthy. But what is healthy?
Is being born with all limbs healthy? Is being born with a disability unhealthy? Isn’t that just a perception of society? That we determine who is healthy and who is not? Some disabilities mean that the person will face difficulties in life, but, I have seen some people with extreme disabilities that have risen high because of their belief in themselves, whilst others who have fully functional limbs and minds fall into the abyss of drugs, alcohol and despair. And their bodies follow suit.
A positive outlook may not grow new limbs but it does help the mind to see more clearly and to maintain what health we do have.
There is no known disease that we are born with and as Dr Lipton says, there is no such thing as a genetically, past-down disease either. We are not genetically predisposed to any illness. We create it.
The best example I can give is a person with multiple personalities. Each personality has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. The same body, the same brain, different mind. How? But it happens. Different beliefs. The physiology of the differing personalities can also be the same.
We don’t need a different personality to deal with our mind. We just choose that we want to be better and begin to alter those feelings from negative ones to positive ones.
Loving your Enemy
Your enemy could be you. You may hate yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror. But if you don’t love yourself, how can you give love? How can you give something you don’t have in the first place?
Isn’t it worth giving yourself that love that you deserve? Do you deserve it? We all do. It’s how we are born.
What about our “enemies”? Loving the people we love and like is easy, it has no growth involved in it, no benefit to us. Being able to love those that we dislike, helps and makes us grow. If loving someone like that is hard, then send them love and wish them a good life, even if at first you feel that they don’t deserve it.
Realise, however, that what you are doing is actually a selfish act. By sending love and best wishes you are benefitting out of it. The energy you are sending out may help the other person, if they are open to it, open to receive. But ultimately, the benefits are all yours.
It’s the same as when we pray for someone to get well or pray that they have a good life. We are doing our part, but the other person must also do their part to receive.
By sending out that energy we are becoming whole ourselves. We open ourselves up to the same thing that we put out, give out. If you haven’t got it, you can’t give it and you can’t get it. I can’t have give toast with honey, if I don’t have any honey and I can’t eat it either. It’s not there. Emotions are the same.
Our world, what we see, is a direct reflection of the way things work. We couldn’t use electricity until it was found.
Loving your enemy means loving yourself. We get what we give. We receive what we give.
Love requires a lot of effort and a lot of courage. Effort on our part, courage on our part.
What you have to ask yourself is this: what is your life worth? Because at the end of the day, this is what we are talking about. Your life.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
Lewis B. Smedes
All major religious traditions carry basically the same message; that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.