The other day I bought a used book, and inside the cover there was a handwritten note that said: “you are who you love, not who loves you.” (I don’t know how frequently normal people come across these things, but I tend to often.)
It’s an idea I wholeheartedly agree with, and think more people need to understand: you are not what you earn, you are what you do; you are not who gives you love, you are how much love you give, etc.
It made me think of something I’ve wanted to write for a while, a colossal misunderstanding that we collectively sustain and then suffer because of, all at the hands of our own… I don’t want to say ignorance, so I’ll say… silliness.
It is the belief that the happiness you desire exists anywhere outside of you… and especially in someone else. Not only that a partner can give you that peace, joy, contentment, excitement, etc. but also that there’s something wrong with them, you, your relationship or your life… when they don’t.
The point is that love is not something you find, it is something you become and then choose to share. It is not a label, but it is a choice. Love is all there is; well, love and fear. Loving is experiencing, fearing is rescinding and avoiding that experience through anger.
We’ve been beaten over the head with the idea that love, in every way you can be open to it, is the most important thing – the only thing – you need. But what we often don’t realize is that the only way it can expand and project and manifest into and onto and through everything in your life… is if it begins with you and in you.
The love you really want is your own. The pursuit of someone else is simply trying to find that through something outside you. It’s because of this that we are so disconnected from what love really means, and as evidenced by generations first breeding discontentment and divorce and then avoiding intimacy altogether out of misunderstanding, fear, and the simple reality of not understanding what it takes to really live as a love-based being. So here, 16 common misconceptions that keep people from the love they really want:
1. You want someone else to do the work of unearthing, creating, activating, and then convincing you of the love in your life.
You want someone else to do what you were taught that you couldn’t do for yourself. Every time you think, wish, imagine or hope for someone else to give you something, dream of the day when they will, belabor and obsess over why they aren’t, realize that thing is what you are not giving yourself.
2. Historically, it has not looked the way you thought it would, and that’s because it never looks the way we think it will or comes the way we think it should.
When we hold an idea of what love should look like, we attach to something that often just quells an insecurity, saves us from a reality, or helps us prove ourselves to someone else. Love never looks the way we think it will… because it’s not supposed to look any certain way. Because the look of it won’t actually give us the experience of it, but the pursuit of that will distract us from actually finding something genuine.
3. You think that love is just a good feeling, when love is really a consistent state of being in communion with body mind and soul.
It is a daily commitment to learn what it means to love someone else, in small, practical, mindful ways. You can be more or less attracted to someone, more or less compatible, but choosing to love and appreciate someone regardless of those variables is a constant that you can choose (and it’s the belief that you can’t because love must give you what you cannot give yourself, that leads to so many breakups, divorces, etc.)
4. You are unaware of the fact that love is nothing but an enhancement.
It magnifies and brings clarity to whatever is most present in your life. So if the things that are most present are self-doubt, lostness, insecurity, etc. you will only have more and more of that. Love is not your life, it is the avenue through which you share your life (and more palpably, see yourself.)
5. You believe that love will ‘blossom’ when the circumstances are correct; as though you must place two reactive chemicals together and assume that an instantaneous physical/emotional response should equate to lifelong, sincere love.
Hormones are reactive. Expectations are reactive. Love is cultivated from and because of those things, but more effectively, because of a mutual appreciation and respect for one another.
6. You are caught up in trying to make yourself objectively appealing to the opposite (or same) sex, as opposed to really finding who you are and then attracting someone who appreciates that person too.
I am so saddened by how many young girls (and boys, for that matter) are instructed to present themselves a certain way, because that’s just “what’s attractive.” It’s so silly to think generalizing what “every” person likes is helpful, because more insidiously, it keeps you trapped in avoidance of your true self, as you assume that person isn’t “good enough” to elicit the approval of the masses.
… And then we sit around crying and cursing the stars over why we can’t find somebody who loves us for who we really are…
7. You aren’t clear on your intentions about what you want, and that’s because you’re still trying to edit and enhance them to appease, impress or elicit someone else’s approval.
In other words, you can’t be honest about what you want because you aren’t comfortable with the truth of who you are. So long as you are functioning from that mindset, you are filtering your life, and whether or not you see the love in it, through how well it fits the “image.”
8. You blame others because you don’t realize that every relationship you have is with yourself.
Love does not suck. People do not suck. You suck.
Relationships are the ultimate teaching tools, the most intense healing opportunities, the most explosively beautiful chances for us to really see what is unresolved within us. You run into the same problems, you find the same faults, the same relationships, the same pain, because it is all in you.
9. Likewise, you do not realize that negative emotions are calls to heal, not to change or drown or ignore because you don’t want to ‘feel bad’ anymore.
Our feelings are how we communicate with ourselves. Healing is, essentially, re-opening to seeing good, to being hopeful, sustaining and then creating more love. Our “negative emotions” are not signals of what other people are doing wrong, they are meant to show us how we are mis-navigating, misunderstanding, or being controlled by past experiences and fear-based beliefs.
10. You don’t know how to use your heart and mind in tandem – the heart as the map and the mind as the compass.
We’re given two opposing sets of commandments: follow your heart irregardless of logic, and don’t do anything stupid and illogical when it comes to who you choose to share your life with. The reality is that so long as you are polarized in the utilization of the most important guiding tools you have (or worse, you don’t realize you have them…) you will be lost as hell. That’s a technical term, by the way.
A quick cheat sheet for you: the heart will tell you what; the mind will tell you how. Let them stay in their corners of expertise.
11. You have yet to honor the child inside you.
If you want to know who you really are, imagine speaking to yourself as a child, what would you say and do to make them feel happy? That expression is reflective of what you really need to give yourself, and is very, very helpful for people who are seeking love. Because learning to love yourself is, as odd as it may sound, learning to honor, respect, love and acknowledge the child in you, or in other words, your most essential self.
12. You want love to change your life.
You want it to provide for you what you think you cannot give yourself: stability, security, hope, happiness. So long as you function on this belief, you place “love” as being something that is outside of you when the reality is that you cannot see, create or experience on the outside what you are not already on the inside. Speaking of:
13. You don’t realize that what you love most about others… is what you love most about yourself.
The more you are open to your own joy, the more you appreciate others. The more you are healed of your own anxiety, the less you have to cast, blame and try to fight others into fixing you. Loving someone else comes down to being able to see what you appreciate about them, as it is similar to what you appreciate about yourself.
14. You not only think that somebody else is responsible for fixing you, but that there is something wrong with them if they don’t.
And so you want to change, fix, or condemn them for how they’ve wronged you. You want to blame them for not being good enough. (You want to impose on them a whole lot of what you’re really feeling about yourself.)
15. You’ve forgotten kindness, when kindness is the fabric of love.
I don’t think there are people crueler to one another more than people who really, really love each other. They see so much of themselves in one another that they simply cannot stand it, and retaliate in all the same ways they are rejecting themselves! The foundation of a happy relationship (and life, really) is unconditional kindness. It’s synonymous with love, and maybe even more effective, because it shows you the action as opposed to the feeling or expectation.
16. You are looking for the answer outside of the question.
For the tenth time, say it with me now: the love you really want is your own. What you’re seeking in someone else is what you aren’t giving to yourself. What angers you is what you aren’t accepting and healing; what gives you joy and hope is what you already have within you. Finding a relationship to be that great enhancer, to have someone to share everything with, begins with you. It’s as though we were taught to “love ourselves first” without ever being told that “loving yourself” is giving yourself what you want someone else to.