Acceptance, Love

True Love: To Be Loved Just As We Are

I believe there is a deep human need to be loved and accepted exactly the way we are. We all need someone in our lives to tell us that we are worthy, we are enough, and we are loved. I believe this is the kind of love that Fred Rogers was referring to when he ended his program with “I like you just the way you are.” He was saying you don’t need to do anything special to be worthy of love, you are loved just as you are at this moment.

This is the kind of love many of us get from our parents (and rightfully so). And – if we are lucky – we might just find someone who loves us this way to get married to and make a family with. I am fortunate enough to say that I am one of the lucky ones who is loved this way by my wife. I often say that it was my wife who taught me what love really was. By this, I mean a romantic love that is deeper than romantic love so often can be.

Before I met and fell in love with my wife I had girlfriends who might at some point in our relationship reach a point where they said they loved me, but that love always seemed to come with conditions. They might say things like, “I love you, because of the way you look at me.” or “I love you, because you treat me so well.” Their love also often felt like they loved me a certain amount, but they would love me even more if I could simply manage to change this one thing about me or that one thing.

My wife was the first woman who ever loved me just the way I was. And what was even more wonderful about her love was that the more she got to know the real me the more she loved me. She even loved me for things that I saw as weaknesses about myself, such as my sensitivity. She was able to look at those parts of me that I didn’t so much love and say, “You’re being too hard on yourself.” We all need that kind of love in our lives, don’t we?

I believe the kind of love and acceptance I have received from my wife has probably helped me grow into a better person than I might have otherwise been. That’s what acceptance can do. It helps us see the best in ourselves and think the best of ourselves and want grow to be even better – by strengthening our finer qualities. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but she knows this about me and loves me anyway. And that’s the point.

If my kids ever one day ask me what they should look for in a partner I will say this: “Look for someone who loves you for who you are and supports you in who you want to become.” To me, that seems like real love. True love. Love that can last a lifetime.

So, this Valentine’s Day I am grateful for my Valentine. Like her love for me, I love her just the way she is. And this Valentine’s Day and every day I wish for that kind of love for you – whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey. I wish you love that accepts you the way you are and wants you to grow in all of the ways you wish to grow. Happy Valentines Day.

With Love,

Matthew Vasko

Founder, Century of Compassion

Acceptance, compassion, empathy, kindness, Love, RECK, respect, Tolerance

Why RECK Pact?

It feels like eons ago now, but way back in 2005 I had the desire to create a new vision for our young century. The 1900s had been the bloodiest and arguably most violent century in the history of the world. There were more deaths from war and genocide than ever before in the world’s history. We were only half a decade into our new century and things weren’t looking much better. The United States was fighting wars on two fronts and many parts of the world were in conflict.

My plan was to help people take on a new vision for our young century – for them to envision a century defined by compassion instead of violence. This is how Century of Compassion was born. After several years working on Century of Compassion and sharing my vision, I realized that compassion alone wasn’t enough to change the ways in which people interacted with one another in any significant way that was going to lead us toward a brighter and more peaceful future.

I spent several months in the summer and early fall of 2017 reflecting upon what had been most effective in the ways we interacted with people through our Century of Compassion events. I came to realize that the crucial ingredient that helped to spark positive interactions with people was respect. It’s amazing. It doesn’t seem to matter who the person is or what their station in life might be, being treated with respect always seemed to elicit a positive reaction. Through respect, you can create immediate connections with people. I also learned this through my classes I have taught to school children. As early as ages 5 and 6, respect is a hot-button issue with people. Everyone desires to be respected and to be treated equitably.

Next, I considered what allows us to go deeper with people when we are developing relationships. This led me to empathy. People love it when you “get” them. Everyone wants to be understood. And to truly meet people where they are you must empathize with them. Empathy deepens relationships and leads to a clearer understanding of one another.

This led me back to compassion. After you establish respect and empathy with people, then you begin to have compassion for their suffering. Everyone suffers. This is a basic fact of life. I truly believe that it is impossible to have genuine respect and empathy for people and not have compassion for them as well.

Finally, I noted that interactions and relationships would inevitably fall apart if there was not also kindness built into the scenario. Ultimately, all of our relationships hinge upon the kindness and love that we share with one another. This sustains relationships. Without loving kindness, indifference develops and things eventually fall apart. Kindness begets kindness and thus our relating go on and on.

Tolerance and acceptance of one another also play a role in our relatings and relationships, but I tend to feel that these develop over time. They have to be built upon a foundation of genuine respect and empathy. Ultimately, everyone desires to be accepted for who they are. Everyone wants to be loved for their whole selves – for the good in them and in spite of that which they themselves see as bad. Everyone needs this kind of acceptance. And, starting from a place of respect and empathy heading towards compassion and kindness gives us a path to get there.

I realized that when I put the words in order by first letter I came out with the acronym “RECK.” When I looked up the word reck in the dictionary I was pleased to discover that it means “to have concern or regard.” It is the root word for words like “reckless” and “reckon.” How perfect that the word that stands for respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness means to have concern or regard! For truly, if we have concern and regard for other people then we should treat them with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

I launched a bit of an experiment by starting a RECK Pact Page on Facebook. Here, I call people to pledge to treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness, regardless their differences. I also provide daily doses of inspiration to help people uphold their pledge. Please check out our RECK Pact Page and like it if you wish to agree to treat all people with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

I still believe a century defined by compassion is possible. And I believe RECK Pact is the path to get us there.

Thank you,

Matthew Vasko

Founder & CEO, Century of Compassion