12.09.2013

One for All: The Dynamics of Withholding Love

rays of love

It's all or nothing.

Your heart can't give love to some and hold it back from others. Your heart withholds the best from all if you withhold it from one. Your heart is either open or closed. Your heart can't pick and choose where it shines its rays.

Withholding love from the kid who called you a name back in high school or the stranger in the news who shot his best friend, is a strategy that isn't going to work. Because it doesn't matter if you know them or not, spend time with them now or in the past, when you start choosing to give to some and not to all, love falls apart.

Withholding love from one person withholds love from all.

This is what I believe, and I see this truth now because I have done this in the past, am probably doing it now, and anticipate I will engage in this behavior in the future. It's the way I programmed my heart to keep me emotionally safe. It's my futile attempt to create an illusion of certainty so as to remain free from fear.

How do you reprogram your heart? Do loving kindness meditation.

Really and truly in my search to be more open, loving kindness meditation is one of the most powerful tools available. It helps you naturally cultivate compassion for others and undiscriminating love. To learn how to do loving kindness meditation click here.

Loving the Unlovable

Do we respond only to people who seem to find us interesting? ...Was I that avid for praise, to feel so warm toward them both because they professed to like my story? Do we all buzz or ring or light up when people press our vanity buttons, and only then? Can I think of anyone in my whole life whom I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me?
- Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety

Let's face it most of us have criteria for loving others. Once I was talking to a friend about her sons, and quite boldly she said that it was easier to love one over the other because he caused her less hassles. Sadly, if I get really honest with myself, this made sense to me. First of all because I know I'm a difficult person to love. I've made unpopular decisions, mistakes that have caused hassles, and in general tend to want to go left when everyone else is turning right. I'm a challenge to embrace.

On the flip side when I was teaching I saw how simple it was to give my attention to the people that were easy to love. When kids and adults weren't following directions, blundering off on their own path, questioning my leadership, reacting negatively to the learning experience, or just plain didn't like me, it seemed natural to want to cling to my fan club.

It's human to love what's easy. Maybe this truth is something we keep locked away in our head and don't voice it aloud because it can sound unloving, but it's there and is part of our reality. Unconditional or undiscriminating love is an ideal few of us can live up to on a consistent basis.

So it's good to have a practice that challenges you to love people who are neutral or difficult. Loving kindness meditation is a practice that helps you face the truth about your circle of love and who it extends to, then it asks you to stretch it a little farther and include people who you may consider unlovable.

Creating Boundaries

Does love mean I need to hang out with the person who stole my car and is serving jail time? Does love mean I need to go out to dinner with a co-worker who continually creates an unhealthy work environment through their words and actions? Does love mean I need to go home for the holidays to a family that drinks to much when I'm trying to stay sober?

Healthy boundaries allow you to continue to love people who may be unhealthy for you. Sometimes to love someone you need to say "No" or make choices that create spatial distance but not spiritual disconnection. Healthy boundaries can give you the space to send love and kindness to another who may not honor your needs for emotional or physical safety. Boundaries allow you to detach with love and loving kindness meditation engages you in the process of keeping your heart open to all without trying to fix the other person.

Divine Love

You might think you can hoard or manage the distribution of love. This person only gets a little. This person doesn't get any because they hurt me. This person is scary so I don't want to attract them. This person is bad, and I want them to suffer. If you hold any of your love back, it's all held back like water behind a dam.

The most important thing to realize is that love isn't yours to begin with. It's divine energy and moves through you towards others. To hold back divine energy in a bank of love is to block the flow of something greater than you that was suppose to be temporarily on loan.

Learning to open my heart will be my life long practice. I might spend my whole life bringing awareness to when I withhold love from others. Coincidentally, the more loving and open I become, life seems to sense this change and brings into my sphere people, events, and things that seemingly appear even more challenging to love.

It's as if life senses when you're ready to level up and open to more and more love. Life throws at you the stuff that says "Hey lightweight, you thought you mastered love, try this one on for size." Life has a way of pushing you to open to more and more love, so hang on!

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, yes, the balancing act of boundaries and love. But I totally agree that you can extend unconditional love without compromising who you are. I think that at the core of it is knowing who you are. It's not about surrounding yourself with walls to protect yourself. It's about acceptance of yourself (and loving yourself) and acceptance of others even if they are very different from you. I think that when you can accept difference that you have a spring board for growth. Very thoughtful of you to bring this to the light.

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