Love is an awareness, an attitude and an action.
As a human community, have we overcomplicated love or are we only just beginning to understand its full meaning? When I first read the statement, there are only two source emotions — love and fear, I felt relief. In this multiple-choice, highly-complex world, simplifying my decision process down to two options made a lot of sense.
Awareness: Live to love or to fear — your choice.
It’s safe to say everyone is aware of the human instinctual fear response — flight or fight (or freeze). We learned about this inate behaviour in grade school biology, but no one mentioned fear as a choice that we can control nor did they mention its alternate — love. Also absent in our emotional education was the awareness: if one emotion (fear) is genetically engineered into our psyche at conception, then the same must be true of other emotions. That is, love is an ability with which we are born. We have a love instinct.
Sadly, humans have mastered and habituated fear more universally than love. Unfortunately, instead of being an emotional alarm that warns us to pay attention, fear (flight, fight or freeze) has become the habitual human response for our interaction with the world. Of course, danger can be very real, but fear is False Evidence Appearing Real (Jake Schmidt). Habituated fear is the mental illness of humanity. It manifests such forms of suffering as anger, hatred, sadness, loneliness, envy and denial (see its other less-than-sweet siblings below).
It is an illness we all share. Don Miguel Ruiz, in The Mastery of Love, states “. . . the normal kind of relationship in this world is based 95% on fear and 5% on love.” In fear’s extreme form (where it is so great we break off connection with the outside world) it manifests as depression, bi-polar disorder, ADHD, and other forms of paranoia, psychosis and schizophrenia.
- Must, ought, have to (obligation)
- Denial, resistance
- Pity, control
- Avoid responsibility
- Suppression, deception
- Blame, punishment
- Winning, losing (competition)
- want to
- acceptance, flow with
- compassion (unconditional)
- responsible in thoughts, words, deeds
- playing (collaboration)
Our conditioned fear of getting hurt has us reacting to the world by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. However, both pain avoidance and pleasure seeking are pathways that lead, step-by-step, to disconnecting from our authentic selves and, in time, the outer world. Pain avoidance and pleasure seeking, although directed outward into the world, do not connect us with the world because our intention is self-preservation (fear-based).
Love, on the other hand, is inner and outer world directed and connects us deeply to both because our intention is preservation of all that is.
Attitude: Positive energy, positive outcomes
With our thoughts, we create our physical world. Thoughts, words and deeds are forms of energy. Where our attention goes our energy flows. This energy creates our experiences. If our energy is positive and loving, we create positive and loving experiences. If our energy is negative and fearful, we create negativity and fear in our outer world.
A very clear demonstration of this emerges when we find ourselves caught up in pleasure seeking or self-preservation. Pleasure seeking is not happiness. Pleasure is sought in the outer world (i.e., acceptance, recognition, reward) while happiness (i.e., joy, bliss, fulfillment) emerges from inside of us and is the result of our capacity to love. No one else can make us happy, nor can we make anyone else happy. Happiness emerges from within when we think, speak and act out of love.
Action: Practice loving, no matter what
This is a point worth repeating — Love in action produces happiness. Fear in action produces suffering.
Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we have learned here. The
spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back
into our hearts. Marianne Williamson
As chemistry taught us, energy attracts its likeness: need attracts need; anger attracts anger; negativity attracts negativity; love attracts love. This is how “life brings to you exactly what you need.” Our habituated patterns of fear energetically draw to us what we need to unlearn. Our loving acts draw to us what we need to learn.
To become masters of love, we have to practice love. Don Miguel Ruiz
Mastery is about action. When I confront a difficult or confusing event, I pose these questions . . . “What would love do in this situation?” “How would love behave?” My inner ‘love instinct’ always has an answer (see any one of Love’s siblings).
Can you love yourself no matter what?
For today, practice acting out of love toward you, from you, toward all. If you ‘hit the fear wall’, ask yourself, “How would love handle this situation?”
Ruiz, Don Miguel (1999). The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship, Amber-Allen Publishing, CA.