The Google search terms “how do you know if you’re in love” or “not in love with my partner” are some of the most common ways that people find their way to my work. Because our culture has sold us the bill of goods that romantic love is the answer to life and that when you fall in love with the “right” person you’ll have arrived at the golden elixir of happiness, when you don’t feel that feeling, it’s understandable that you would wonder what’s wrong. The culture tells you that you should feel swept away, and when you’re not you assume that there’s a problem. How many healthy relationships and marriages have ended because one person says to the other, “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” Translation: You’re not making me feel giddy and alive, so you must be the wrong partner.
While the culture instills the belief that real love means longing and infatuation, giddiness and glitter, the culture is merely exploiting a basic human longing to feel wholly alive. In times past, when it was largely understood that marriage was a business contract above all else, people sought to meet this longing through their connection to creativity or spirituality. But when the idea of romance altered our expectations of longterm relationships, the culture seized on the opportunity to capitalize on the primal longing for aliveness. The problem isn’t the longing itself; the problem lies in cultural belief that the longing can be met through the “right” romantic partner.
What you’re longing for is the elixir that new loves brings. What you’re longing for is the feelings of aliveness that arrive on the wings of new love, and most often with infatuation. As I’ve said a hundred times on this blog but I’ll say it again: It’s not your partner’s job to make you feel alive; that’s your job and yours alone. It’s not your partner’s job to fill in your empty holes and light up your sky; it’s your job to fill in those empty places. It’s not your partner’s job to drip the elixir of life down your throat; it’s your responsibility to learn how to create your own elixir. As Robert Johnson writes in his autobiography, “Balancing Heaven and Earth”:
“Probably the next important evolution of Western humankind is to find a proper container for religious life so that we do not unrealistically expect another mortal human being to carry this high value. In short: don’t ask a human to be God for you.”
What Johnson is saying (and is the essence of his book We: The Psychology of Romantic Love) is that the aliveness we seek must be found in our own spiritual experience, whatever that means for you. For some people, that might mean a traditional religious devotional practice of following the prayers, rituals, readings, and customs of their lineage. For many others these days for whom religion has lost its luster, spirituality may come through creativity, connection to nature, working with dreams, meditation, or through their own innovative prayer practice. What matters is that we stop projecting our gold onto other humans – real or imagined – and instead reel in the projection and claim what is rightfully ours. The gold is our aliveness. The gold is our magic. The gold is our purpose. The gold is the voice that says YES and WOW and HALLELUJAH. The gold is our compass: how we know ourselves and trust ourselves. The gold is our passion. The gold is what makes every day worth living.
But how, exactly, do we take back our gold?
By falling in love not with a person or a house or a job or a hobby but with life itself.
When we’re connected to flow – whether through art, nature, prayer, gratitude, acts of kindness and service – we fall in love with life. And when we’re in love with life, we fill in the holes in our well of Self and edge out fear. On the other side of the fear of death is embracing life, and the fear of death is the portal through which we’re invited to learn how to embrace life, which means falling in love with life. In other words, when you fall in love with life, you edge out the fear of death. The two work in tandem to propel us into a deeper relationship with life itself. Then, instead of being buffeted by life’s waves, we begin to have a conversation with them, and eventually we learn to ride them.
And that’s when life gets fun ;).
If you’d to learn the information and practices that will allow you create your personal toolbox for taking back your gold and falling in love with life, please join me for the inaugural round of Grace Through Uncertainty: A 30-day course to become more comfortable with the fear of loss by falling in love with life. The course will begin on Saturday, September 29th, 2018.