Recently, I watched a movie called Peaceful Warrior based on a book titled Way of the Peaceful Warrior. There is one thing that stood out to me in the entire movie—it’s when the main protagonist says this: the people that are hardest to love are the ones that needed it the most.
Now, it’s not the first time I’ve seen this movie and it’s also not the only profound one-liner in it either. But for some reason, that one line—the people that are hardest to love are the ones that needed it the most—kept standing out to me and I couldn’t quite figure out why.
At first, I thought yes it makes sense that the people who act in ways that really test our patience and capacity for tolerance are usually dealing with some unresolved issues and definitely need more compassion and love in their life. I understood this on a surface level and for a while I thought this was why it struck out for me—I know some people like that.
Yet, for some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t quite the reason why those words kept striking out for me. So, I re-watched the movie for the umpteenth time and really let myself get immersed in it.
And as the scene came up again and the character said those words again—the people that are hardest to love are the ones that needed the most—like a flash I understood them immediately. I suddenly understood why they struck me so deeply.
You see, I realized in that moment that the people that are often hardest to love is ourselves and that the people that need our love the most is ourselves. I needed to say those words in the first tense—I am the one that is hardest for me to love and I am the one that needs my love the most.
Truer words were never said. You see, we often get riled up in pleasing others and seeking their approval and we give them our attention, our love, and our energy. We focus so much of our energy outward to others in a bid to get the same back from them and to not feel numb.
But too often we give way more than we receive. Actually the fact is you can never receive as much energy as you give unless you give yourself that energy first. You have to make yourself whole. You have to give yourself the time, the admiration, the love, and the respect that you so badly seek from others.
You are the only one capable of giving yourself all these things in the exact quantities you need them to make you whole. Yes, others can make you feel respected and loved but you shouldn’t have to get that from outside of yourself. And the problem is if you begin to get used to this outside delivery system, it can create a dependency.
I mean, ever wondered why some celebrities keep doing more and more extreme and outrageous things to stay in the spotlight? I can’t speak for all of them, but I can assure you that a good chunk of them do so because they don’t know how to feel validated without the attention of their fans.
The sweet spot to be in is when you have all the validation you need in the world—which is to say your own self-validation—and all outside validation adds to the sum but not the whole of your being.
In the absence of enough self-love, self-respect, and self-validation, you will find yourself engaging in many self-sabotaging behaviors in an attempt to feel only what you can give yourself.
So, take the time. Take the time to do some self-reflection, to figure out why it is you cannot find what you need from within. And while you are at it, keep in mind this other treasure trove from Peaceful Warrior: you can never be better same as you can never be less than anyone else.