Got problems? The world certainly seems to have lots of problems. It seems overwhelming – how can we get ourselves out of the mess we are in? So much fear, war, anger, hate, deceit, self-serving behaviors and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The solutions to these problems that we face on a global level are not clear.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Most of us believe that we really can’t make a difference – we feel so small in the shadow of the enormous, daunting, and frightening realities that we face. The solution I propose is not the ONLY thing that needs to be done. It is, however, something that each and every one of us can do.
This solution is simple (anyone can do it), empowering (makes us feel like we are making a difference individually and collectively) and positive (puts the right kind of energy out there).
And, it’s within each of us, available for each and every one of us to tap into.
The answer is LOVE.
Love is the energy that makes life worth living and makes relationships yummy. Love is like fuel. Remember when you were infatuated and you knew you could accomplish anything and you felt euphoric? You can re-gain those feeling when you love unconditionally, deeply, and soulfully.
“The only lasting cure for hate is love, and unconditional love means opening our hearts to people ‘as they are’ rather than condemning them as evil or writing them off as hopelessly ignorant.” Scott Noelle, The Daily Groove
I am not talking about the kind of love that is most familiar to many of us, that is conditional love….”love me just the way I want to be loved or it’s not right” love or “I’ll love you if you love me first” love. I am talking about the kind of love where you take risks, get vulnerable, speak from the heart, genuinely want to know each other, allow for messiness, love first with no expectations, and most of all, deeply love yourself. Yes, this is a POWERFUL way to heal the world.
The context of this blog post might seem mostly applicable to “romantic partnership” love. It’s easier to describe it that way. However, I really would encourage you to contemplate this as it relates to your friendships and family. Then I would stretch you to think about expanding your love further…reaching out more and more…eventually to people you don’t even know. Yes, you can love people you don’t know. I was a skeptic, but I have experienced it and it’s pretty damn amazing. Sometimes we are given the impression that loving “just anyone” is not normal or ok. Not true.
Love is contagious. The more you can open your heart to strangers and love them, the more they can do the same.
“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even when they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” Miller Williams
Those who seem least lovable need love the most. And everyone is worthy of love. Everyone. Just by existing. Therefore, you are worthy of love, just by existing. Sadly, our minds aren’t so sure about that.
Most of us love with our minds, but when we do that, we start keeping track of who did what for whom, remembering all of the times when he left his underwear on the floor or she didn’t appreciate that you emptied the dishwasher.
Our minds are guided mostly by fear.
Our minds think they are doing right by us because they are protecting and guarding us against potential hurt. Sadly, this is a false sense of security. It is what prevents us from having deep lasting love with those in our lives. When we are guided by fear, rather than love, we never truly give everything to a person. We hold back just enough to mentally protect ourselves from being vulnerable, open to being hurt. Unfortunately, we cannot achieve true happiness and fulfillment if we are holding back and scared. When we love with our minds, we are concerned mostly with how well we think we are BEING loved rather than paying attention to receiving the beautiful love that is actually being showered upon us and how well we love others.
Do listen closely to how you are asking to be loved, however. This provides great clues as to what is missing in our lives. If you are asking to be listened to and nurtured, you have uncovered unmet needs – the need to be heard and the need to be nurtured. Everyone has needs and unfortunately many of them are unmet. It’s necessary to admit and to communicate what your needs are. Most people look to others to meet their needs. Here’s a radical concept – can you find ways to give what you need to yourself? What does it mean to be nurtured? Can you nurture yourself? What does it mean to be listened to? Are you actually listening to yourself? Or do you ignore your deepest desires?
To love openly and deeply, we must learn to love with our hearts.
Within our hearts, there are no tally marks, only open and unrestricted kindness and compassion. Loving with your heart means that you are free to love unconditionally – you don’t expect anything in return and you allow others to love you in their own way, with no expectations of what that love needs to look like to call it love. When we love with expectations we are fraught with disappointment and a lot of waiting to be loved “just right.” When we love others by guessing how they want to be loved, we are left feeling depleted and disappointed when we don’t get it right. That is loving with the mind. When you love with your heart, you love authentically in your own unique and special way. When you feel that you are allowed to do that, you will begin to allow others to love you in their own special ways. It really is much easier this way.
Many of us struggle with the act of receiving love. That has certainly been hard for me. We protect ourselves with a shield that does not allow people’s gestures of love to fully penetrate to our souls. We sometimes take their gestures in on the surface and feel thankful, but never let it touch us deeply. This could be because we don’t feel worthy, or it feels too risky. It’s different for everyone. What is it for you? I often need to stop after someone does something loving and remind myself to feel it in my heart – this person is showing me that they love me – THEY-LOVE-ME! Wow! It feels pretty darn good to feel deeply loved. Work hard to allow yourself to be loved. If you want to honor the people you love, let them love you. Try to pay attention to where people are loving you and you have not really acknowledged it as an act of love towards you. Take it in.
A few steps towards living a more loving life:
- Forgive – forgiveness is not about saying that what someone did is ok, it’s about allowing YOU to let go of the resentment and anger in order to free up that energy and to move on.
- Practice gratitude. It’s been proven that people who take time each day to express gratitude are happier. Before you go to sleep at night, say out loud (to your partner would be great) or write in a journal 3-5 five things that you are grateful for.
- For more fun, try not to have any repeats over the course of one week. It feels pretty terrific to go to sleep feeling grateful.
- Expand your heart – when you walk into a room and you notice all of the things your partner did “wrong,” you may feel let down and unloved – pause. Choose the path of love and expansion. It’s a habit that quickly begins to feel good and rewards you for your choice. Reach out and express love for your partner (or child or friend or other) instead of criticism. Likewise, when your partner talks to you, listen with a heart that trusts that it is loved, rather than one that feels judged and criticized. Consider a child – if a child listens with judgment when mom says “put your jacket on,” he will hear “you are not responsible enough to take care of yourself.” If the child listens with love, he will hear “I love you so much that I don’t want you to be cold.” Try that with your partner. Allow yourself to be loved and trust that you are.
Go forth and spread your love!
Namaste My Friends