May 2021: True Love
When I started writing this blog, I was sitting outside on my deck after a light drizzle had refreshed the great outdoors following a few very warm days. Imagine with me the vivid green of the new leaves, the birds singing nature’s soundtrack in the background, punctuated by the drone of a helicopter. Surprisingly, there is a lull in the usual cacophony made by vehicles and voices.
A moment of peace and serenity. Just a moment. Vehicles are once again steadily passing by my corner. The sun is burning through the cloud cover. I once again hear voices throughout the neighbourhood. A moment.
Sometimes I would like to live in the woods away from all these background noises. To soak in nature’s quiet existence. But something always pulls me back. I suppose it is that innate need for connection. Something currently in short supply in our world. We seem to be headed toward a dystopian society. Some would say we are already there.
Why is it so hard for humans to maintain kindness and compassion? Why do we impose our beliefs on others or shut down disparate voices? Why can we not invite dialogue? Listen to each other’s experiences? Make reasonable and informed decisions? Why do we insist on being antagonistic? We all have the same capabilities of operating from kindness or apathy or aggression. Why do we choose the last two on a consistent basis?
I know these are rhetorical questions. Just where my mind is wandering. Which leads me to wonder how does one maintain hope in dystopia? And…it comes back to connection, reaching out. Finding one person that can be your anchor. Reminds me of holocaust and other genocide survivors. Their saving grace: community. A group of safe people providing consistency and connection.
During a global pandemic, it is very challenging to find a safe community. Meeting virtually has its limits. Humans need to touch each other. To offer comfort and support: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally. In direct contrast with our need for community and connection, I informed a client the other day that true love can only be found within.
I realize those with conservative religious beliefs will counter that with statements about God. However, most religious faiths acknowledge the inward attunement that requires: even praying is an inward focus formulating thoughts that are sent out into the universe from our innermost being. Most of our prayer conversations happen inside our head. Most faiths also espouse that God already is within us and/or we are part of the divine Oneness.
Maybe that’s where to find community: in our oneness. But I digress from my thoughts on True Love. We tend to externalize love. We seek it outside ourselves in other people (and/or deities that are defined by faith systems). In doing so, we subject feeling loved to the vagaries of people and situations beyond our control —much like the weather. Similar to the external vs internal locus of control for our sense of self.
If our sense of self is based externally, those externals are in flux; and we lose security or stability. We never know who we are at given moment unless someone or something provides feedback (aka external validation). If our sense of self is based within, it is not dependent upon ever changing external factors. Much like shooting at a moving target.
So. To pull these thoughts together. If we can find “True Love” within instead of without, how does that impact the choices we make? How we seek to get our legitimate needs met, including connection and belonging? How we pursue our passions? How we center ourselves? How we shape our lives? How we choose romantic partners? When we develop a strong inner core, that may or may not include religious beliefs or spiritual practices, we know that we always have our own back. We can provide the consistency, stability, and security we crave and constantly seek externally.
How many of us actually treat ourselves with the compassionate care we crave from others?
For me, practicing “True Love” means making sacrifices as well as indulgences. By choosing to live as close to nature as I can, it involves living without the security of a steady income. My love of nature means I live further away from urban conveniences. Practicing True Love also means setting boundaries such as limiting contact with toxic people. I am an introvert, so I need to ensure I have sufficient alone time to recharge after interacting with fellow humans. Being an animal lover also means I make choices that impact where and how I live and how I spend some of my money when I have it.
Most importantly, True Love means I talk to myself much more gently than I used to. It means listening to my gut, my intuition, my Higher Self. It means interacting with the Divine Mystery, keeping an open mind, and a guarded heart. What True Love is not is narcissism, selfishness, arrogance, and the like. True Love makes us better humans, not less-tolerable ones.
While I was writing this blog in my journal, my pen ran out of ink. The last thing I wrote was: By looking within for consistent caring presence…
I’m not sure how I was going to end that sentence, but my current thought sees it as a challenge for me to look within for a consistent caring presence. My True Self is my constant companion. I am always with myself. As ludicrous as that sounds, there can be comfort there if we treat our Inner Selves well. I cannot say that I do. I tend to be very hard on myself and unkind. As a recovering people-pleaser and workaholic, looking within instead of without for validation and support is not any easy task. And as I mentioned, sometimes looking within is just as troubling as without.
Finding True Love within is about checking our judgements at the doorway to our heart and mind and soul. It is about offering ourselves grace, speaking kindly, acknowledging limitations and mistakes, as well offering comfort and support. It is about taking responsibility for our lives—not for the externals that shaped us, but living with the consequences of unmet attachment needs, childhood woundings, conditioning, and imposed value systems.
By looking within we can make sure our inner compass is set to True North. And not everyone’s compass settings will look the same or point in the same direction. Unlike our planet, the inner workings of people have a variety of directions to turn to. I admit I have difficulties with this as there are some things I believe are universal such as opposing racism, sexism, poverty, injustice, and the like. Others do not believe as I do. My only hope is that I learn how to invite dialogue instead of drawing lines in the sand. And that I can turn within for support when I fail rather than punishment—whether that is seen as encountering the Internal Divine, my Higher Self, my Inner Compass, or my Interior Family.
My hope is that when you look within today, you will also encounter True Love. Maybe we can start by addressing ourselves as “Dear One,” as in, “Dear One, I see you.” Namaste. Perhaps that is enough: to look in the mirror, make the hand pose, and greet yourself: The spirit in me sees the spirit in you. Namaste.