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The Greatest Love of All

By on February 13, 2012

In the wake of the death of the iconic, Whitney Houston, I began thinking about how inspirational the song, “The Greatest Love of All” is.  Whitney Houston’s voice captured the essence of self-love for millions all over the world.  The following text references some of my thoughts about how the greatest love can be inside of all of us.

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows If I fail, if I succeed…

The challenge for some people to live as they believe is that they have not figured out who they are; what they want in a relationship; the personal direction that they are moving in; or whether or not they should feel positive about their life course.  Developing a sense of clarity about how you love yourself and how you could potentially love your partner is tantamount to individual happiness.  Sometimes our emotions cloud rational thinking and we compromise our values, beliefs, or ideas in order to please our partners.  Inasmuch, we suspend our own happiness because of our fear of not having anyone special in our lives.  Because of this, it is critical that people take their time in figuring out what they truly believe in and be willing to express that on a consistent basis in their relationships.  Walking in someone else’s shadow may keep you, your partner, and others from recognizing how bright your light (e.g., personality, traits, attributes, etc.) is and how powerful you can be. The song lyrics to her signature song are prophetic for us all.

…No matter what they take from me They can’t take away my dignity Because the greatest love of all Is happening to me I found the greatest love of all Inside of me The greatest love of all Is easy to achieve Learning to love yourself It is the greatest love of all…

I spend a lot of time talking and writing about relational dysfunctional and how some people continue to invest themselves physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually into partnerships where they are devalued, disrespected, or discouraged.  In some relationships, people allow their partner to call them “stupid”, “ignorant”, “ugly”, “dog”, or “triflin’”.   In these debilitating relationships, people will readily justify insults from their partner by saying, “She was just playing around,” or “He really doesn’t mean it,” or “I know he really loves me and would do anything.” If you were to truly embrace the “greatest love of all” you would do the following:

  1. Set boundaries for yourself.
  2. Acknowledge that your happiness should not take a back seat to relational/romantic happiness.
  3. Accept that self-love is dynamic rather than static and changes over time, place, and context.
  4. Readily commit to giving themselves the best of themselves.

In addition to taking hold of these four precepts, you should be willing to shift the relationship in a direction where your romantic involvement becomes an invitation to your partner to honor the love that you have for yourself.

…And if, by chance, that special place That you’ve been dreaming of Leads you to a lonely place Find your strength in love

What’s intriguing about some dysfunctional romantic partnerships s is that people will sometimes remain in relationships for the “number.”  Some people find solace in sharing with their family or friends that they have been together for 1, 5, 10, or 20+ years but they may have been unhappy for years….and are committed to remaining unhappy.

In the song, it is suggested that by embracing yourself and the traits that allow you to be you, you may discover that the relationship you’re in may not be the best one for you.  If you decide to separate from your partner and find yourself to be lonely, draw strength from those positive attributes that allow you to be a special individual.  Perhaps, spending time alone to rediscover and learn who you really are can allow you to experience the greatest love of all. The world will mourn the death of Whitney Houston for years to come and it is unfortunate that we lost a tremendous talent.  Her charisma and voice changed our lives, our relationships, and our ability to maintain the greatest love of all.


Dr. James Wadley is an Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Human Services Program at Lincoln University. He’s a licensed professional counselor and marriage, family, and sexuality therapist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The author of “The Lost and Found Box” can also be contacted at drjameswadley.com

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