Do we really know what Love Is? February is Love month… the shortest month of the year and one we associate with LOVE due to Valentine’s Day. Every year I write an article on Love and how it relates to us. I’m always fascinated by where my mind wanders as I contemplate another article on Love. When I look at it based on the theme I want to write about in my next book – In Fear we Trust – it makes me wonder if we know what love is. We typically associate Love, especially Romantic Love, with perceptions and how our past patterns have established what we describe as ‘love’. In other words: due to our first 7 years, our media exposure, our past experiences and our perceptions of how those experiences played out, and our own needs and wants and how we believe those needs have been fulfilled in our loving relationships, we have created an image of what Love is. Does this sound a little pessimistic or depressing? It isn’t meant to be. However, it is unfortunately how most of us see love. To us love is more about what we want than who the other person is.
Nevertheless with more consciousness I believe we can shift our fears and open to Unconditional Love. The beginning steps are to be conscious of our responses to the first 7 years of our lives; how media portrays love; how our past experiences and our perceptions of our ‘broken hearts’; know what our needs and wants are in regard to love; and finally understand what Unconditional Love truly means.
- The first 7 years of our lives create the patterns and story that we hold onto most of our lives. If we were lucky we were able to feel the 100% unconditional love of our parents when we were born. However, that was, for most of us, short lived. And we had to try and understand the conditions of love that our parents began to place on their love. It was little things in the beginning like: if you don’t cry (because we have no idea why you are crying as a baby) we will love you and maybe even show you our love; if you embarrass us out in public with a temper tantrum or if when you are stubborn in sharing your toys (even though we thought it was funny at the beginning when you learned ‘mine’) then we have to ‘punish’ you to teach you how to be ‘better’ and when you are behaving ‘better’ then we will love you again. The conditions began early and our perceptions of what that meant developed. For some of us we may have never known unconditional love and have, instead, only our perceptions of the conditions placed on love. And therein lies the problem – it is our perceptions of these conditions that defined Love for us. Our emotions don’t fully develop until our early 20’s so we don’t understand what is happening and are only left with our perceptions which are created from our fears that are related to the conditions of love.
- Media portrayals of love are very skewed. Our first introduction to Love is through Fairytales – often dark tales that end with a hardship overcome and just a ‘happily ever after’. Yikes! Then we see countless movies and read books that are all about the ‘chase’ and finding love and rarely ever portray lasting love or what happens after we are ‘caught’. And now with online dating the ‘chase’ can become an ongoing game as infinite possibilities open up and the idea of settling down becomes less appealing. Media does us no favors when it comes to understanding Love.
- Typically by the time we reach our mid to late teens we have all experienced what we refer to as a ‘broken heart’. Our past experiences rear their ugly heads after our ‘patterns and story’ about Love becomes cemented and this happens as soon as our perceptions of what we have all heard as a ‘broken heart’ happens to us. The thing is – our Heart – is NEVER truly broken. This expression is interpreted by our brains as something surmisable and even real. Imagine if we were actually taught that our Hearts are the strongest part of us? And since this teaching doesn’t happen our experiences seem to trump the truth. We begin to attach our feelings of unworthiness, rejection, and being unlovable to our experiences with Love. Then our perceptions create the fears that block us from knowing what Love is. Another pattern and story persists.
- Our Needs and Wants begin from these patterns and Story. We learn easily what we don’t want. Our fears tweak our perceptions of what love is and all of a sudden all of the things we have learned from the first 7 years, from the Media, and from our Broken Heart all these begin to decide what we need and want in a relationship and these, unfortunately, are based on all our fears brought on by the conditional ‘love’ of our past and therefore have nothing to do with the real Love for which we yearn. Sure we have preferences like tall, dark and handsome – preferences that elicit physical reactions that indicate attraction. And beyond that we look for certain attributes and qualities like someone who is caring, faithful/loyal and who makes us laugh and these attributes are likely determined from our experiences that have taught us what we don’t want. We may look for someone who balances us out – or the opposite and are similar to who we are. Karma and the qualities of our parent(s) are also strong motivations when determining our needs. The problem is that none of this is about Love! If we need a partner to reflect back to us what we have decided we want or need in a relationship then this is all about our fears.
- This is where we become conscious of what Unconditional Love means – whether romantic, self, friends and/or family – Unconditional Love means there are no conditions placed on our Love, the Love that flows out from us. It means that if we Love someone then we continue to love them regardless of whether they are wrong, unfaithful, or even have left us. We Love them even when we recognize their fears and don’t try and change them. We are happy for them regardless of what they do or don’t do for us. Because if we need them or want them to change or meet our needs then we don’t really love them we instead ‘need or want’ them – and our ‘love’ is conditional upon them meeting our needs. Becoming more conscious of our fears allows us to understand how we have been conditioned to fear instead of Love. We begin to know that Love is without fear. We see possibilities of Love and Let Go of all the fears we have learned throughout our lives. We value Love over all else.
So this Love Month let’s understand our fears and begin to unravel them so that the Love that permeates all of life – can support and nurture us. Let’s support one another on this journey towards Growing Up. Let’s Open our Hearts to the Infinite Possibilities of LOVE. Let’s surrender and BE LOVE!