Sunday, 19 August 2012

In Search of: Love

Love does not cause suffering; what causes it is the sense of ownership, which is love's opposite. 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I spend a lot of time thinking about Love. Part of this fascination comes from my curiosity about relationships and the way people relate to each other, part of it is due to my romantic and idealistic nature; and then, there's the spiritual questor and philosopher in me that can't resist.

Apparently, there are lots of different kinds of love: familial, platonic, unconditional, conditional, romantic, religious, self-love etc. People really do like sticking things into boxes. As if it makes it any easier to understand.

We could start from the beginning. Love is a feeling. When a person experiences this emotion, their system is flooded with happy hormones which makes the sun shine brighter, their smile even wider. The absence of love causes all manner of physical and emotional problems. Children have been known to wither and die without it; growing up in an un-loving environment creates shocks that may take years to over-come and some people never do. Living without love can create a state of un-health and non-wellbeing.

The personal development industry moves to address these issues and it's so saddening to see the genuine suffering of so many. And all from the poverty of emotional experience. It seems to be the root cause of so much unhappiness.

I wonder if by trying to define Love causes part of the suffering? Or if it is more the lack of expression and acknowledgment? Sometimes I think people say "I love you" and there's so much more attached at the end of the sentence. The full-stop at the end of "I love you" is actually a colon and what comes after is a litany of expectation, demands and conditions.

I wonder what would happen if people say "I love you", enforced that full-stop and breathed through the silence.

Wouldn't this keep things really simple? Love would just be, what it is; with acceptance, reverence and joy. Just to be able to be acknowledged, for itself. I think there would be so much freedom: freedom to be yourself completely. There would be freedom from pain, because there's no disappointment, no lack, no expectation, no judgement. Nothing to cause discomfort.

And of course, Love is free to be expressed and experienced universally. Because, if you're not expecting love to be fulfilled by one individual - you are experiencing Love for yourself, so you don't need them to love you back, or even from a human being, you are free to experience Love all around you. You see it in your pets' eyes when they look into yours. You lavish it on your home, your economic endeavours, your community...there is so much abundance. 

I am Love; you are Love; we live in Love. 

How simple it is really, how incredibly complicated we try to make things.

Our soul journey then is the quest to come back to this simple state of being: joy.

Friday, 10 August 2012


After a particularly unsuccessful relationship, I took away a couple insights that I've found particularly useful and will share with you today. 

When I started writing essays for the various humanities subjects I studies, I was taught to state the definitions of the words I was using to formulate my argument. It's a standard part of academic writing and beginning your argument with clear frameworks means that you're less likely to go wandering off into the intellectual wilderness and never find your way home. It sets up your thinking, which informs your argument (because all essays are supposed to be arguments).

Please let me make it clear, I believe relationships are not arguments.

I do believe in communication within relationships (oh yeah, and I'm using relationships in the broadest sense of the word, not just loving, intimate relationships). I believe in communication, mostly because my own telepathy is pretty rubbish, and sometimes people do things which confuse and may make perfect sense to them...but leaves me scratching my head. Rather than try to rationalise or create stories around someone's actions, I'd rather ask.

When I first start getting to know someone, I like to find out their definitions of things. Firstly, because I'm nosy, I remain deeply interested in how people create their realities. Being a writer and an NLP Practitioner...only adds to this nosiness. The definitions people use reveal the frameworks for their thinking, it reveals how they construct their world and it because as human beings there will be tension between what they want and what they do.

I find people endlessly fascinating.

When you know where people are coming from, what their core values are, where their beliefs lie, you've got the foundations for a strong friendship or loving relationship.

I have found this to be very useful when talking about the vague words we use all the time. Consider 'love', 'friendship' and 'relationship'. 

It all sounds straightforward doesn't it? Not quite.

Using someone's definition assumes a couple of things: firstly, they are articulate and self-aware and secondly, that they will always follow through on their definitions.

You see, there exists a kind of schism between what I would like to be, as a person and what  I actually do. Within my behaviours there are paradoxes, anomalies and contradictions. And that's what makes human beings endlessly fascinating to me.

And what do I trust, when someone's behaviour and action are not joined up?

I trust the action. Always.

And I trust how their actions make me feel.

I once dated someone who claimed to be 'into me, big-time'. Yet, he was always late. He was stingy emotionally and he'd change/downgrade our plans at the last minute. I'd gently broach the subject, he'd say 'baby, you're fun and hot, of course I want to be with you.' I'd leave the conversations feeling insecure. In the end, I called things off.

I don't particularly like being called 'baby'. I'm a grown woman with a long and lanky teenager. I've gone past the age where being called 'baby' is cute.

And I didn't like how I felt around him.

And that was the other big lesson I've learnt in relationships.

It's not how I feel about someone, which I take most notice of now. It's how the other person makes me feel when we're together and when we're apart. But we'll maybe talk about that another time. 

So, has that been useful for you? What are your definitions? What are your partner's definitions? How do you resolve the differences?

Thursday, 2 August 2012


Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
Mario Andretti

What do you want?
What would you like?
What do you need?
What do you desire?

Small innocuous questions aren't they? Bet they've got big resonance for you. Have you noticed the difference in the intensity when you ask yourself these questions?

I find them incredibly useful in goal setting. When you start trying to fill in the columns, you come to realise that the things you thought you wanted...well...those really live on the Like Section, the things you thought you start scratching your head and asking why and as for the things you desire...

How often do you feel desire? Wanton desire? And no, I'm not talking about sex. I am talking about the salivating mouth, churning, got to have/do this thing or you're going to explode! When did you last feel like that?

I bet you felt it when you were a small child, prepared to throw yourself on the floor and scream with the frustration of not having/doing the thing. Hopefully, you were encouraged not to share your emotions in quite such a loud and disruptive manner. Hopefully, you don't do that any more.

But, when you stop and consider, when did you want something that badly in your adult life? Did the fear of disappointment take over? Did you start to think desire was a bad thing because you might not get it? Do you talk yourself out of wanting something because if you get might not live up to your expectations?

Mario Andretti talks about determination and commitment as being key to success, desire being the mere starting point. I'm not sure I agree with him. I think it's desire that feeds and fans the flames of determination and commitment. Because, let's face facts here: Life doesn't always hand you the things you want. Sometimes, in order to get what you desire you have to dig deep into your resources, your determination and get up off the floor to carry on moving  towards your goal. There are shifts along the way to be made, sometimes the path to a goal is a long and winding road. Life may insist on adjustments.

In personal development terms, the safer version of desire is motivation. It's less primitive, more in control. 

But, I'm not sure about this whole control thing either. No, I'm not talking about the control that stops a person from committing mass murder; people, that's a good thing. I'm talking about that part of you that's afraid to let go of safety. There is no safety in nature, there are no guarantees either. So doesn't it boil down to 'Why not?'

What do you think? Tell me your experience of desire (not sex, please. This is *not* that kind of blog) and how did it work out for you? Are you working towards your goal? Did you have to change your plan? What is it like for you?