TRUE LOVE CHECKLIST: Is It Love Or Something Else?

I wanted to make a follow up post to go along with my last post about the misconception that Love Hurts. We discussed that Love is and always will be Love. We also discussed how if it’s not love that hurts then it must be fear. Mistaking  something else for love is not an uncommon problem.  When we have been betrayed, we think it is love that brings us pain, but really the pain was caused by deceit. “How could she do this to me, I love her.”  When we go through a loss, we think it is Love that brings us pain, but really the pain is caused by our attachment. “But I love him.”  When we go through a conflict we think that it is love that brings us pain, but really it is an unmet need.  “She doesn’t love me like I love her”. It’s misidentification like these that allow us to buy into the  belief that it is Love that is hurting us. That someone else is hurting us. If we never loved in the first place, we would be safe. WRONG! It is not how someone else is being that hurts, it is how you are being that does.

“What hurts is not love itself, but rather our unloving actions or reactions, the conditions we place on love, the fear that we are not loved, our resistance to being loved, and even out lack of faith in love… You experience pain when you are thinking, feeling, or behaving in a way that is not loving.” – Robert Holden

Love is a state of BEING. To BE Loving is a choice we must make. And if we aren’t in our loving, we are in fear. Remember, We can not be in both states at the same time. True love never dies. It is unconditional and everlasting. When there is a change in dynamic or even a loss, TRUE love still remains.  If in examples like the ones above can lead you to misidentify what love is, in what other ways may you be mistaking true love? What fearful reasons are really the root of your pain?

In Robert Holden’s book, Loveability, he has a TRUE LOVE CHECKLIST to help you “be aware of any mistakes you are making , recognize the real cause of pain, learn any unlearned lessons, and most of all, choose a better way”. 

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TRUE LOVE CHECKLIST: (the following has been copied directly from the book)

1. Is this love or fear?
“The basic fear ‘I am unloveable’ is the primary cause to suffering. When you identify with this fear, it causes many tears to fall. The fear is not true, but if you believe it, you will turn away from yourself. Feeling unloveable causes you to reject your internal loveliness…When you believe ‘I am not loveable”, it causes you to contract inside, to defend yourself, and to behave in unloving ways that add to your pain. You also experience pain when fear appears to triumph over love: for example when it looks like love is not present, that love changes, that love is being withheld, that love is not enough, and that love dies. In deep pain, the fear is that love has forsaken you. In other words, love has rejected you, too. The temptation here is to reject love. However, when you stop loving, it hurts you even more. Only by loving can you begin to face fear, heal the pain, and walk out of hell. ”

2. Is this love or dependency?
“Many psychologist view dependency as a major source of pain in love. They counsel you against needing anything from anyone, lest you get hurt. One way to counteract this fear of dependency is to be totally independent of others. Unfortunately this causes just as much pain. Independence looks like freedom, but really it is a dead end. It shuts you off to the whole creation. Imagine if you had no relationships in your life. The truth is, we depend on relationships for our growth and evolution. Relationships are how we learn to love and be loved.

Health dependency allows you to ask for help, to be open to inspiration, to cooperate with others, and not to try to do life by yourself. Unhealthy dependency arises when you feel unloveable and see others as the source of your love. You believe it is their job to make you feel whole, secure, and connected to the world, to heal your wounds, and to validate you. Inevitably, though, when you make someone your source of love, they will also be your source of pain. No one does a very good job making someone feel lovevable, mostly because it’s an impossible task.”

People can encourage you to feel loveable, but they can’t make you feel loveable. Making sure you feel loveable is YOUR job, not someone else’s. 

3. Is this love or attachment?
“Can you feel the difference between feeling connected with and feeling attached to someone? When you love someone, you feel a connection that defies all physical laws. You feel connected from the moment you first recognize each other. Your friendship is timeless. You feel connected even if you live ten thousand miles apart. Your friendship knows no distance. You feel connected even when you haven’t spoken in ages. Your friendship is beyond words. You feel connected even if one of you is in heaven and the other is still here on earth. Your friendship is beyond all form. Your love for each other serves as a memory of your true nature, and somehow you know that your connection will continue long after you have forgotten about your visit to this world.

When you are attached to someone, it is still possible to feel that love connects you, but mostly what you feel is fear, anxiety, and pain. Attachments are contracts based on form. Pain arises when the conditions of attachment are not met…Pain also arises when the form of the relationship changes. Children grow up and leave home. Parent divorce and leave home. Our best friend gets married. We get married and divorced. People we love die. We grieve the loss of form, and understandably so. But, in truth, there is no loss in love, not when you allow yourself to feel your genuine connection to each other. ”

4. Is this love or do I have an agenda?
“What do you expect from your mother? What do you expect from your lover? What do you expect from your child? from the world? Whenever your expectations are not met, you will know it, because you will feel disappointed, let down, angry, and hurt. What is the difference between an expectation and a demand? Nothing much actually. Expectations look innocent enough, but they carry an agenda, a plan, and a demand to get something. Each expectation is set on a timer, and if you don’t get what you want in time, the bomb goes off.

Expectations are fear based. They are an effort to grab what you want instead of letting it come to you. The more afraid you are of not getting what you want, the more expectations you have on your list. Expectations are frustrating because they arise from an attitude of getting that blocks receptivity. They create an agenda that acts like a wall between you and the other person. Love doesn’t have an agenda, because an attitude of love is really based on BEING rather than getting or receiving…Love helps you to BE what you want to give and receive.”

Common Expectations That Cause Hurt in Relationships:
* I expect to be loved by everybody
* I expect people I love to love me, too
* I expect people I love to love me more than others
* I expect others to know how I need to be loved
* I expect others to love me the way I love them
* I expect people I love to know that I love them
* I expect others to love me without making mistakes
* I expect others to love me all the time.

5. Is this love or am I trying to get something?
“You can’t feel hurt unless you are giving to take”, says Chuck Spezzano. When you give love in order to get love, it ends in tears, either right away or eventually. Love is not something to get. You can’t get love from people like you get a bottle of soda from a vending machine. If you did a naked dance in front of them, you could probably get their attention, some approval, and even a wild applause. This might feel pretty good, but it wouldn’t be love. If you give love in order to get love, you will end up feeling disappointed and resentful. “Look what I did for you”, you yell. “I even did a naked dance for you,” you cry. When you give love freely, you feel the love you give and you feel loveable NO MATTER WHAT the return.”

6. Is this love or am I in sacrifice?
“There are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and health sacrifice. One is based on fear and the other on love. Knowing the difference is the key to knowing how to love and be loved. Unhealthy sacrifice may appear to work at first, but love and dishonesty are not good bedfellows. Lovers try to play small in a relationship in order to heal power struggles and avoid rejection. Children get ill in a desperate attempt to heal their parents relationship. Business leaders nearly kill themselves for their cause. Unhealthy sacrifice is often well intentioned, but it doesn’t work, because it’s based on fear not love.

Healthy sacrifice is a different story. To be happy in a relationship, you have to be willing to sacrifice your fear for love, independence for intimacy, resentment for forgiveness, and old wounds for new beginnings. Above all, you have to stop giving yourself away and learn how to give more of yourself. You give yourself away when you are not true to yourself, when you play a role, when you don’t speak up, when you don’t ask for what you want, when you don’t listen to yourself, and when you don’t allow yourself to receive.”

7. Is this love or am I in a role?
“Two people in a relationship will play out a number of roles together. When you are happy, you barely notice these roles exist. However, when things are not okay, the roles are more fixed and rigid. They are your position and your point of view in the relationship. They affect your capacity to give and receive. They can cause you to polarize and to oppose each other. This is painful, as you no longer feel like you are on the same team. The perceived separation can cause a power struggle and more conflict.

Roles that are fixed and rigid cause hurt and pain. These roles usually begin in childhood, born of fear that you are not loveable or that there is not enough love to go around…When there is a problem in the relationship, your homework is to find out what role you are playing and also consider what good things could happen if you stopped playing this role. Here are some good examples of roles that cause polarity:”

* Am I loving this person or am I playing the role of a martyr?
* Am I loving this person or am I playing the independent role or the dependent role?
* Am I loving this person or am I playing the role of the parent or the child?
*Am I loving this person or am I playing the role of the rescuer or the victim?
*Am I loving this person or am I trying to be positive or be contrary?

8. Is this love or am  I trying to change the person I love?
“Have you tried to change your partner recently? How did it go? Were they suitably appreciative? I imagine you didn’t get a thank you note for your efforts. Have you tried to change your children? Were they receptive? Did it work this time? Children are willing learners, except when they don’t feel loved. Have you tried to change your parents? After all, they’re getting older now and so they should be weaker and less able to resist your campaign. Has anyone tried to change you recently? How did you feel about that? Did you feel more loved? Are you feeling even more love for that person who wants to change you?

A common mistake in relationships is the belief that your love will change a person, eventually. You can’t love someone and want him or her to change. For a start, when you try to change people, they do not feel loved by you. If anything, they feel judged and rejected. Love does not seek to change people, because love does not find any fault in a person’s true essence. Love can help a person grow and to bring out the best in him or her; but you will not see any of this of you do not love the person unconditionally in the first place. The paradox for love is that when you stop wanting each other to change, you are changed, and this change enables you to love each other more. “Ask yourself:

* Am I loving this person or am I trying t o fix him?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to improve her?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to save him?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to heal her?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to get him enlightened?

9. Is this love or am I trying to control this person?
“Every relationship experiences what is commonly called a power struggle. This is not just in marriage, but also in relationships between parents and children, between in-laws, and between siblings. In a power struggle, both people have to learn to give up trying to control each other so as to experience true friendship and love. When a power struggle is healed, it helps both people feel more equal, more connected, and more loved.

Control is a form of fear. When you are tempted to control the relationship, it’s because you are afraid that you are unloveable and that you might lose someone’s love. Unfortunately, the more you try to control a relationship, the less loving it feels. Too much control makes the other person passive or passive aggressive. The more you control someone, the less attractive and interesting the person is to you. Control stunts growth, it kills aliveness. Here are some points to consider:

* Am I loving this person or am I playing it safe?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to protect him?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to protect myself?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to keep the peace?
* Am I loving this person or am I trying to hold on to her?

10. Is this love or am I trying not to get hurt?
If you believe that love hurts, you will be afraid to love and be loved. This fear of love makes you want to protect yourself against love. Your ego creates an arsenal of defenses that stop you, for instance, from loving too much or loving too easily. You employ these defenses to feel safe, in control, and emotionally insured against any injury. And still you get hurt. And hurt again. Eventually, by some act of grace, you consider the possibility that these defenses are the cause of your hurt. And so it is, because defenses are made of fear and fear keeps you stuck in the experience you are trying to escape.

Until you realize that love doesn’t hurt, love will always seem to hurt you. That will be your story anyway. If you are willing to let go of your story, even for just a moment, you can start to have a different experience of love. As you begin to  dismantle some of your old defenses, you notice the love course runs more smoothly. Eventually, your defenselessness opens you up to experience pure love.”

 

If you are feeling pain or loss of love in any moment, stop and ask ask yourself, is this true love or is this something else?  It isn’t until you discover what it REALLY is, that you can start to heal and return to loving.

What are some ways you mistake pain for love? In what ways can you think, feel, and BE more loving? Leave your answers in the comment section below.

xoxo,

barista

How Can Love Be The Solution When It’s The Problem?

Lately I find myself talking about Love a lot. Ok fine, always!! Love is all we need right? The one thing that took me some time to realize was my misconceptions about what Love is.

I think most people think that Love is an emotion or a feeling. A Noun. Something we can find, have, or keep. I used to. “He loves me because _______” or even better “He doesn’t love me because _______”. We narrow love down to an “it”. Yet “it” can mean something different to everyone.

What I am continuing to come to realize is that the  more experience I have with Love and the more I understand Love, the more exact Love becomes yet the indescribable and undefinable all the same.

One thing I do know for sure now is that Love is and ALWAYS will be Love. There is only ONE Love. Love is NOT different depending on the person. It all comes from one place. Your heart, your soul, your existence. Love knows no boundaries, no comparisons, no conditions, no separation. Although Love knows many expressions, it is all the same Love.

Love is the ONLY thing that is real. Everything else is an illusion. Love is always available, even when we think it’s long gone. When all you can see is pain, Love will sit there patiently waiting for you to return and welcome you with open arms when you do.

“Love always loves you, even when you can’t or won’t love yourself.” – Robert Holden

The second thing I know for sure is that LOVE DOES NOT HURT, even when you undoubtedly think it does. That is probably the biggest misconception of them all. That loving in the first place is the problem.

If Love hurt, how could it be Love? Love is nothing but itself. Is and ALWAYS will be. If Love does not hurt, then what does? That’s easy. Fear does! But don’t get it twisted… fear may seem like an enemy to love but in reality fear is there to show you where love needs to be. Love sees no enemy, it ONLY sees Love. So where is the Love in fear?

In Robert Holden’s Book, Loveability, he discusses the obsession with “falling in love”. He goes on to tell a story about his five-year old daughter and a boy she liked from school. He mentions that it would be wonderful if “children were introduced to their own eternal loveliness before they started obsessing about falling in love”.

He states that:

“The early obsession with falling love is a sign that we have already started to doubt our own Loveability. By falling in love with someone, we hope we will remember how loveable we are. We hope someone will catch our fall, in the fall from grace, and thereby save us from the basic fear that ‘I am not loveable’. Much of the desire to fall in love is about being loved rather than being loving.”

He then goes on to quote  J. Krishnamurti.  “You want to be loved because you do not love; but the moment you love, it is finished, you are no longer inquiring whether or not somebody loves you”.

love-vs-fear

image from: word from the well

One concept that I am exceptionally fond of, is the concept that we have two basic choices in life. A choice between Love and fear. Although expressed in thousands of ways, there is only one love and there is only one fear. “Love is the mind of the real Self, and fear is the mind of your self-image or ego.”  We are constantly choosing between Love and Fear. Worthy and unworthy. Loveable and Unloveable. Whichever you choose to identify with, is the one that you give power. If Love is the only thing that is real, then the idea that you can be unloveable is not real. LOVE IS YOUR EXISTENCE. If your source were not that of Love, you would not be here.

The fear that you are unloveable is the extension to all other fears. It’s the fear the hurts. Not Love. Love is what heals!

In Holden’s chapter “Love and Fear” he states that:

“Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing. Love and fear have the opposite effect on you. The principle effect of fear is that it prevents you from seeing where love is present, whereas love helps you to see where you are afraid. Love makes you conscious. It switches a light on in your mind. This light brings everything into view… Love does not judge, so nothing is hidden. Love does not condemn, so there is no deception. Love does not censure, so all is revealed. Love exposes the fears you identify with, the secret shame you haven’t forgiven, the old wounds not yet released, and every other unloving thought that blocks the awareness of love’s prescence… Love shows you what you think of yourself and also how you relate to yourself. Love and fear cannot co-exist…Love brings fear into full view so that you can see if there is a message for you, a lesson for you, or even a gift for you. This is how Love heals fear. This is how love helps you to be fully present, undefended, and open to your life. Love brings up everything unlike itself so that you can let go of fear and be the loving person that you are.”

Love is the energy that runs ALL things. Underneath anger is Love. Underneath sadness is love. Underneath control is Love. Underneath judgement is love. If Love did not exist there, we simply would not care. Love is never really the problem though… Love is the solution that lies UNDER the problem. Love is who you ARE! .The problem is simply not knowing your own Loveability.

So when you find yourself angry, sad, controlling, or judgmental…. ask yourself where you need healing and just apply a little love. Remember you are loveable. Remember your existence. Turn off the fear and Turn on the LOVE! Your wound will begin to heal.

What are some ways you choose love when fear is present? Leave a comment, you may just help someone out.

xoxo,

barista

Tiny Buddha: Trusting in the Present When You’ve Been Hurt in the Past

Re-Post via Tiny Buddha
 

Photo by Damian Gadal

“The only way to know if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~Ernest Hemmingway

In a world where it seems as though all we hear about and see is how one person betrayed another, how do we allow ourselves to trust someone to get close at all, let alone trust them to be near the most fragile parts of us?

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been working as an intern-counselor at a residential high school with around 70 teenagers. Many of them have come from unbelievably challenging backgrounds where they have had to learn to not trust anyone as a matter of survival.

Imagine having spent your entire life always having to watch your back literally and figuratively, not just because there are strangers who may want to harm you, but also because even those who are supposed to be close to you could turn against you in an instant.

How difficult do you think it would be to let down the defenses that kept you safe and in some cases, alive, for so long?

In my own world, I’ve struggled with allowing people to really know me because for most of my life, it felt as though I was burned every time I did.

Over time, I learned how to seem friendly but kept virtually everyone at a distance, and those who got too close I rapidly pushed away, sometimes completely out of my life.

I was already struggling to put my pieces back together after several major tragedies in my family, and allowing others in meant (the possibility of) compounding my heartbreak. I just couldn’t handle anymore at the time.

Eventually I began to open up, but each time found myself wondering why I had been so naive again.

Then there came a point where, slowly but surely, people began to enter my life who showed me what it meant to be able to trust—trust them to show up, trust them to listen, trust them with commitments, and the biggest one of all, trust them with my heart.

These people came in the form of friends who are now my family and have had my back in countless ways over the years, and the most surprising and recent of all, a man who is not only telling me, but showing me, what a man does to express his profound interest beyond just the physical.

If I wouldn’t have begun to take down my walls, I may have never found these amazing people. They didn’t appear because I had perfectly learned to trust already. They appeared because I was willing to learn to trust, even if imperfectly.

As I’ve been learning to trust and lower my defenses, I’ve been working with my students to do the same.

Their stories are different in that many of them have come from a history of abuse and/or gang related activities. But we share a similar outcome in struggling to realize that what once protected us is no longer needed, and in some cases, is actually hurting us further by isolating us from the love we need to heal and move forward.

It’s like taking too much medicine; sometimes a certain amount is necessary to get better, but beyond that it can break our systems down.

We each come to crossroads in our lives where we have to make the decision to let go of our old survival mechanisms in order to grow and make room for something better.

Sometimes what used to protect us becomes what harms us and stifles the capacity for our lives to be open and full of joy, love, and peace.

When it comes to trusting each other, we have to accept that our past is not our present. We have to be able to recognize that what hurt us before is not necessarily what is currently standing before us—even sometimes when the situation looks frighteningly similar, and sometimes even when it’s the same person.

Does this mean we won’t ever get hurt again? Nope. That’s a part of life. People will let us down, and we will let them down, but that doesn’t mean our efforts to disassemble our defense mechanisms are in vain.

If we never allow ourselves any vulnerability, we lose out on the opportunity to make incredibly deep and meaningful connections that open up our lives in ways that couldn’t happen any other way.

Those connections draw out the very best within and create a new reality—one where we learn that the only way to know if you can trust somebody is to trust them.