I was raised like our backyard,
only tended with a sigh
It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
When two people go on a first date, they’re behaving in a way that will facilitate their future together. They want to be lovers, to have joy, to offer support and pleasure to their partner, and they want to have fun.
During the courting and honeymoon period, our behaviors primarily come from our conscious minds, putting us on our best behavior. As long as we don’t revert to thinking during this time, we will be operating with our hands on the wheel. Unfortunately, in the world in which we live, there’s so much demand on us that thinking is inevitable. Later in a relationship, downloaded negative programming in the subconscious begins to manifest, and it alters the character of the relationship. The joy dims as each partner compromises in order to accommodate the negative behavior that their partner never revealed during the honeymoon phase. As you start compromising, you ask yourself where your limit lies. In many cases, the compromises are too many and the relationship disintegrates. The more you come from the subconscious, the faster the beautiful honeymoon will vanish.
Suddenly, but too late, it’s obvious: we didn't see any of the familiar signs that usually indicate a conflict is about to erupt. Perhaps they say something overtly cruel, or make some passive aggressive comment to remind us where we went wrong earlier that evening, or maybe even five years ago.
Almost instantly, from out of our mouth comes pouring a host of tried and true things we tend to say in similar situations; words with edges to cut, some smooth enough to defuse the situation, others more forceful, and all designed to turn the tide of battle and push our partner back onto their heels.
But then, a shift; something within us remembers that we’ve been where this fight is about to take us at least a hundred times, and that there’s nothing new or good about getting there; just more of the same.
In that same revelation, in fact as a part of its remembrance, we now see what we couldn’t before: we’re about to wade into a “war” with our partner that can’t be won no matter which of us seems to come out on top! And so, given what this new level of higher awareness shows us as being true, there’s the only logical, and ultimately loving action left for us to do: we refuse the call to combat.
We hear the term unconditional love a lot these days, especially in spiritual circles. But what does it mean exactly? At first glance, it seems to mean loving without conditions. Yes, it is that. Yet it is more than that. As I live my life, I begin to see other levels to it. Something that involves seeing clearly someone’s human vulnerabilities and seeming faults as well as their divinely sweet magnificence–and loving them for all of that. Holding it all in my heart at the same time, seeing it as part of this particular individual’s soul journey. And seeing myself that way too. I’ve found that viewing everything as perfectly lovable in just one other person unlocks the ability to do the same for everyone in my life—and then for everyone on the planet.
Love often appears at our door as a beggar in disguise. There are countless ancient myths that tell how the gods would show up at the door of someone’s home, appearing to be in dire straits. On the surface of things, they seem to be seeking food and shelter; but, in truth, they’ve come to ask if the ones they have chosen to visit will make room for them in their lives. And, as these stories go, whoever agrees to make this kind of sacrifice – for the sake of their unexpected visitors – is rewarded by them beyond their wildest dreams.
In much the same way, love is always knocking on our door. But it never does so more stridently than when our heart closes itself off to our partner in the name of some unconscious pain that we blame on them.
In unhappy moments like these, not only do we slam the door shut in the face of the one we love but, without ever knowing it, we also deny ourselves the precious, timeless gifts that only love can offer us: a full partnership with all of its powers. These gifts include the unfailing presence of an unconditional compassion for all that it embraces. This level of higher self-understanding can never be pulled into a fight with our partner because it can’t be deceived into identifying with one side or another of some unconscious opposing force.
Often when someone feels wronged by their partner they demand “payment” for the pain they feel unjustly inflicted upon them. History proves they will argue until this well-established pattern completes itself, one way or another. At some point, unable to resolve who’s to blame for the pain, one or the other will either storm off to brood over the mistreatment, or decide that “retreat” is the better part of valor and make some kind of peace offering, perhaps an apology. Sad, but true to say, in the long run, neither of these “solutions” makes any real difference. Their suffering passes into the night, but not the unseen reasons for it.
This situation sounds familiar, doesn't it? One event, a single word or critical glance triggers a negative reaction. Then and there we feel our partner has set him or herself against us, and – a moment later – we respond in kind. The feeling of being disrespected or misjudged morphs into a certainty that we’ve been betrayed; pain, not love, becomes our common denominator.
Knowing all of this, how do we achieve ultimate happiness and heaven-on-earth? Stay mindful, stay present (Resource List Here). If you stay in the present moment, the conscious mind is the pilot and your hands are on the wheel.
When my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I heard the words, but it took me several years to accept the realities of the disease.
I’ll never forget one moment when we were sitting outside in his backyard together. It was just a few years after he was diagnosed. There was traffic racing by on a nearby highway, but he thought he heard water flowing.
“Don’t you love the sound of that water?” my father asked me.
I corrected him. “No daddy, that’s traffic.”
He shook his head and insisted that he heard water. I corrected him several times until finally, I accepted his version of reality.
“Wow, Daddy, I hear the water, too,” I said. “It’s so calming.”
He smiled and nodded, relieved that I had met him where he was.
Pain, regardless of where or how it appears in our relationship, can either remain the seed of a distress destined to flower into a mounting resentment, or we can choose to use this same pain consciously. Then it can be transformed into the seed of something new, true, and beautiful: the birth of a new level of self-understanding – the realization of a higher order of love that can never turn against itself or anyone else.
A student once asked me, “It feels like my partner and I have come to a dead-end in our relationship. I don’t think he’s aware of it, but I sure am. I love him, but...I can’t let go of an old resentment that always rears its ugly head anytime he acts out one particular part of his nature that I just can’t stand.”
Many people have a similar problem. Here are some helpful tips for transcending the pain of relationships.
Love is in the air! Can you feel it? I think autumn is the most romantic time of the year. Yes I know it’s spring down under but It’s this time of year for me that turns on my romantic buttons. I know I’ve said this before but I just love all aspects of love. I love being in love and helping people understand and experience more love. I love my awesome husband, I love my job, I love my dogs, my friends, my students, my employees and you know what -my world is brimming with love! I have so much of it to give. And so I do!
It was not always like this. I used to look for love, and determine my worth for how much the outer world would reflect my lovability and value depending on who was there or not there to prove it to me. I thought longing and yearning was love but it wasn’t – it was the focus on the lack of love that was so compelling and “romantic.”
For many years I struggled with this need to be loved and seen as worthy. When I was single, for a long time to me it was a message that I was flawed. I could only see the empty part of the glass. Yet thank goodness I saw the Light. It was only when I surrendered this fully, and learned to love myself and be a channel for love that I no longer saw myself that way. And paradoxically the more I let go the need to find love, the more of it came to me!
I know that for many people, the mention of love and relationships elicits frustration, regret, anxiety, and a sudden need for chocolate. You want to meet the right person, but things just never seem to pan out. Or, you keep thinking you’ve met “the one” only to discover that he or she is just as commitment phobic or dishonest as “the one” before him/her. It’s the same old story with a new leading love interest, and you wonder what you’re doing wrong.
Do you believe in love?
Have trust in love.
Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can't see air, but it's always available for you.
Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see — but it's in you and all around you.
In the press of life — dealing with hassles in personal relationships and being bombarded with news of war and other conflicts — it's easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can't place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity — between complete strangers! Let alone with one's friends and family.
Most of us tend to pick partners who reflect the vision we have of ourselves and our world. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Compatibility and a sense of ease in a relationship come from having similar preferences, ideas, and values about things like money, religion, monogamy, parenting, and even what makes for good sex. The Legacy Project at Cornell University even did a study on this. They interviewed hundreds of people who had been married 40 or 50 years, and even longer. Most agreed that shared values are at the core of a healthy, long-lasting marriage.
But we don’t pick the people we’re with based on values alone.
We also choose people who have similar ideas about what relationships look like and how they should play out. This sounds good but it can also backfire.
What would it be like to feel love in every moment, to live your life from that place? Is it possible? I believe it is. In this week’s video blog, I talk about how a new dimension can open up to us when we center our hearts and minds in loving the people and the world around us. When you see possibilities instead of problems, everything begins to unfold in expansive and magical ways.
Why do we have cheerleaders?
Don't rain on others dreams.
Let's say you've had an interesting idea or moment of inspiration, or thought of a new project, or felt some enthusiasm bubbling up inside you. Your notions are not fully formed and you're not really committed to them yet, but they have promise and you like them and are trying them on for size. Then what?
You’ve probably heard the saying “what you put your attention on grows” and this is especially true when it comes to love. If you desire MORE love in your life, you can it today!
In recent years, science has discovered that our brains are filled with something now known as mirror neurons. These are a type of brain cell that responds equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action.
For instance, let’s say you are watching a couple holding hands, snuggling or kissing – whether it’s in person, or on a TV or movie screen, your mirror neurons fire off the same synapses as they would if you yourself were doing the snuggling or kissing!
In case you were wondering, love really is the answer!
It doesn’t matter what the question is.
The answer is always love.
Love is a high frequency attribute of the True Self.
Science tells us that love makes us happier, healthier, reduces stress, relieves anxiety and can even help us live longer.
Who wouldn’t want more of that?
The sad reality is that there are millions of wonderful, beautiful people in the world today who don’t feel loved… who don’t experience love at all.
Have you or someone you know ever felt unloved or unlovable?
A life with low levels of love is a life of suffering.
Here’s the good news…
When we are fully connected to our True Self, love is who we are!
According to my late sister Debbie’s favorite holy man, Rabbi Ezagui of Chabad La Jolla, marriage is the highest calling of mankind. He says:
“True love is loving the person for what they love, who they are, for what they stand for. If you go into a marriage loving what you love, not what they love, that is not love. Real love is not finding someone to hold your hand and find common ground with; the institution of marriage is to push you out of your comfort zone, to lift you up above what you need, so that you can provide what you’re needed for,” says Rabbi Ezagui.
A year ago, I wrote a blog piece that got an amazing response. It’s called, “How To Love A Woman [A Letter To Men]”.
So many people shared how much they were inspired.
Women shared that they were seen and understood. Men shared they were inspired to love women more deeply.
I decided to turn this into a very special video that is sure to inspire you.
This video is quite different and unique. It will touch your heart.
What Are They Feeling?
The Practice: Try to understand others.
Imagine a world in which people interacted with each other like ants or fish. Imagine a day at work like this, or in your family, aware of the surface behavior of the people around you but oblivious to their inner life while they remain unmoved by your own.
That's a world without empathy.
Empathic breakdowns shake the foundation of a relationship; just recall a time you felt misunderstood – or even worse, a time when the other person couldn’t care less about understanding you. In particular, anyone who is vulnerable (e.g., children, the elderly) has a profound need for empathy, and when it’s a thin soup or missing altogether, that’s very disturbing. In my experience as a therapist, poor empathy is the core problem in most troubled couples or families; without it, nothing good is likely to happen. With it, even the toughest issues can be resolved.
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