By Ross Bishop
’Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in the past was that I believed love was about finding the right person. In reality, love is about becoming the right person. Don’t look for the person you want to spend your life with. Become the person you want to spend your life with.’ – Neil Strauss
‘and the rest will take care of itself.’ – RB
We all want to be liked. After all, it’s human nature. Who wants to live in a world where you are despised? But what does it mean to love and be loved? We don’t often think about the difference, but it is significant.
First of all, love is not something like gravity that exists between people. In its essence, love stays with the individual who has it. ‘I love you’ means just what it says – ‘I totally accept you.’ It may even mean, ‘I am willing to sacrifice my life for you,’ but the love is mine, you may feel it but it remains with me. Contrary to common misperception, love is not something that passes between people.
There is mutual love, where I love you and you love me, but it is still a matter of you doing your thing and me doing mine. So if we trade feelings, that makes the whole process easier and much more satisfying, but it doesn’t change the basic dynamic. If you are the object of my affection, that makes you feel good, but my love still remains with me.
I remember some years ago being in the presence of Michelangelo’s “Pieta.” I was simply thunderstruck by its beauty and magnificence. It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. Michelangelo wasn’t there, so I was unable to share my feelings with him, but it didn’t change my profound respect and appreciation one iota. Those feelings were mine and they stay with me to this day.
When I say, “I love you,” your defenses, which are always tense and alwayson alert, ease a little. The internal message is, “Maybe we can trust this person and relax.” A protective system that has been on high alert for God knows how long, relaxes. And look, I am not being naive, it is pretty wonderful to have the comfort (and security) of another’s embrace, after all, we all long to be accepted, to feel safe and to be able to let down, and that longing can be profound! But that’s about ‘being loved,’and that brings up the question, ‘Why is it so difficult for us to love ourselves?’
Being ‘love-able’ means that we must have worth, and that opens up a
whole can of worms regarding the development of our souls. Most of us feel like there is a ‘hole’ in us that we don’t know (yet) how to fill. It has to do with our sense of worth, our feelings of worthiness, our acceptability – in other words, our lovability. And in some of us, that hole can be pretty big.
Most often, we didn’t receive the love we needed as children. In some cases there was even outright abuse or neglect. Also, we can carry feelings of unlovability over from past lives too. However we get there, the void we feel in ourselves is both palpable and painful! That longing, that feeling of emptiness, can drive us like almost nothing else we experience. It governs our self confidence – or lack of it, determines our success in life, the quality of our relationships, our competence as parents, etc.
So the dilemma is that we need to feel loved, but we do not know how to give it to ourselves. So what we do is, out of need, turn to others to fill the void. And we sometimes pay a very high price to fill that need!
The bargain is that the other person needs to have a hole in them filled too, and so we enter this rather risky arrangement where we both surrender the determination of our self-worth to the other. And that then leaves us vulnerable to the vagaries of the other person’s feelings and temperament and that puts our acceptability (which connects to our feelings of self-worth) at risk.
What if they decide not to like us? What if they find someone else? This then leads to the need to compensate which marketers are only too happy to take advantage of to use the ‘right’ toothpaste or latest fashion or hair color or whatever. We take solace from our partner in the time we spend together and in his or her declarations of love for us, but deep down, it is always an uneasy bargain. We get lulled into a false sense of security over time, but the threat remains.
And God forbid, if they break the agreement and leave! It rips us to the core because we used their acceptance to mask our own feelings of unworthiness that: 1. we do not feel ready to address and 2. we don’t want to go into because we secretly fear it might be true.
So love, instead of being the frosting on the cake it was designed to be, becomes, of necessity, the cake itself. And that’s a trap. It puts a burden on relationship, a dependency, that is unhealthy and unsustainable. And it also burdens love with something it was never designed to handle. The design flaw in the dependency relationship is so that you won’t remain there forever. The frustration of not feeling complete, of not really being satisfied, will eventually drive you to the truth.
To view things from a wider perspective for a moment, the purpose of our journey here on earth is just what we have been talking about – to learn to love ourselves – to learn to fill that hole ourselves. The thing is, there is no hole! There never was!
You are intact and complete, just as God made you. BUT you don’t accept that yet, and that is the source of your dilemma. But it is also an opportunity for growth because you can change things. Until then, you are destined to wander in the desert searching for love, without realizing that you’ve had it in your pocket the whole time.
So how do you resolve this dilemma? As with all spiritual things, the concept is simple, but it can be tough to do. And this is because of the safety mechanism that God has built into the process. In order to step over to ‘the other side’ you cannot be partly committed. You must be sure of your worthiness. You have to really believe it and want it.
So how do you get there? By deciding that the negative beliefs you hold about yourself are not true. And how do you do that? Like so many other things, you try to live according to your false beliefs until you get sick and tired of them not working and finally, when nothing else works, surrender to the truth.
“It took me a long time to realize that you can do everything right and still end up unhappy. You can say all of the right things, do exactly as you are told, follow in the footsteps of all the people who swore by their success and their strategy surrounding it, and you can still end up displaced — because you didn’t ever choose to simply listen to yourself.
The best thing I ever did for myself was simply listen to what I actually wanted. I drowned out the guidelines, the advice, the “shoulds.” And I messed up. I made mistakes that I’ll never forget. I hurt people I loved, and I got hurt.
See, self discovery isn’t this comfortable, miraculous thing. It can get ugly, it can get confusing. It’s gritty, it’s hard. It’s difficult to confront yourself sometimes, it’s difficult to be the person who does things differently, who doesn’t settle.
But it’s the greatest gift you will ever give yourself. It will push you towards figuring out what your own personal version of happiness looks like; and when you grow on your own terms, when you figure out what actually matters to you, and when you carve out your own path, you live on your own terms. You love on your own terms. You become the person you have always wanted to be, rather than the person you were always told to be, and that is beautiful. Because when it comes down to it — life is about making yourself proud on your own terms. It’s about finding a happiness that works for you.” bianca sparacino
copyright© Blue Lotus Press 2019