We live in a culture predicated on one basic assumption: I deserve to have everything I want when I want it. It’s a “me, myself, and I” mindset with widespread ramifications, including the decimation of our planet. We take and take and take without giving back. We plunder and consume without reciprocity and gratitude. In order for our planet to survive and thrive (and before your eco-anxiety gets too spiked here I do believe that we will survive and thrive ;)), we have to learn how to shift from a mindset of taking and self-centeredness to one of giving, gratitude, and reciprocity.
It’s this mindset – of taking and expecting – that filters into your relationship and leads you to believe that your partner exists for your pleasure and to make you feel alive and in love.
Your partner does not exist to make you feel alive. They don’t exist to make you feel worthy, filled up, or loved. Hopefully you do feel loved by your partner, but it’s not their job to make you feel loved. They’re not here for your consumption or to fulfill a culturally-conditioned fantasy of a “perfect partner.” They’re not here to lift you out of pain or heal you or relieve you of the existential loneliness of being human.
If you expect that it’s your partner’s job to make you feel alive, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable relationship.
Alongside this “my, myself, and I” mindset is the expectation that relationships should be easy. We expect to flow along the euphoric rivers of infatuation until death do us part. We expect to be served, to be turned on, to be instantly and effortlessly attracted. We expect not to work at love. We expect love to be as easy as pressing a few buttons on a microwave oven or ordering a book on Amazon and PRESTO! – it arrives the next day.
Love is not a microwaved meal. It’s a slow-cooked recipe that draws on ancestral wisdom and wounds.
Love is not 1-day delivery. It’s old-time mail that travels across vast distances to deliver a hand-written letter while the sender patiently awaits a response.
Love is not an instant fix to life’s struggles. It’s a place where we can struggle through life together, learning to hold hands and become a safe harbor for each other.
Love is not what you get. It’s what you give.
What we learn from the world of commerce, which is predicated on scarcity and greed, we dangerously apply to love.
As Paul Gilbert writes in The Compassionate Mind (thank you to the course member who sent this excerpt):
“Modern business life wants us to focus on the half empty, so that we will be dissatisfied and want more and better. However, if we apply this orientation to our relationships, we’ll want to get more and more out of our partners. If we’re not careful, we’ll focus on the way they can make us unhappy and we’ll miss the happiness that comes from appreciating people as they are, building friendships and learning together how difficult thoughts and emotions can be, upsetting and forgiving, liking and disliking – all in the tumble dryer of real relationships.” (p. 177)
I find it interesting that Gilbert italicized the word “building”, as this speaks to the heart of what long-term, intimate relationships are about: we learn and grow over time. We build a friendship and a life together over decades. The culture says that it must all be there from day one, that we must know how to love, to feel passionate, to know how to navigate rupture and repair from the get-go, but the truth is that these are skills that grow when we hold hands through years and decades together with the headlight of learning strapped to our foreheads. Just like it takes decades to reach expertise in any field, so we cannot know how to love in the early stages of a relationship. We’re all babies when it comes to love, no matter how old we are when we meet, for the only way to learn is on-the-job.
But it helps if we learn in the right way with direct tools that will help us grow love on a healthy foundation. And because most of us – especially the more sensitive among us – are taught and wired to focus on what’s not working and what we perceive to be missing, we have to orient consciously in the direction of what’s working and what’s wonderful – essentially creating active and specific practices to counteract the physiological and cultural tendency to focus on scarcity and the faulty expectations around love.
This is what I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction to your partner. It’s a full-heart immersion in the practices that will help you rewrite your stories and rewire your heart pathways so that you more naturally and easily fall in love with your partner on a daily basis.
To love is to give.
To love is to honor.
To love is to bless.
To love is to learn how to love well, which, for many of us, isn’t obvious since it wasn’t role-modeled in our home growing up.
If you would like to receive the roadmap I’ve shared with thousands of people that contains the Love Laws and Loving Actions that will help you grow love and attraction – and learn how to shift into a mindset of giving and abundance – please join me for the seventeenth round of Open Your Heart, which will begin on Saturday, August 8th, 2020. You can learn more and sign up here. I look forward to meeting you there.