I write quite a bit about clearing mental attitudes that trigger us into closing ourselves to opportunities. These are mindset issues, however they originate in the heart. The core issues that restrict us most were developed in childhood and can be difficult to pinpoint because they have become so integrated that we think they really are who we are.
A closed mind is a symptom for a closed heart. Because we were hurt and had no power, the only thing we could do was internalize it – do our best to make sure it never happened again by closing off any opportunity for pain. The only way to do that is to harden and close our soft hearts so we feel less vulnerable. Compounding that – we also see how our parents and other authority figures handle vulnerability and learn to also do that. You may have seen them lashing out with violence or passive aggressiveness, been indoctrinated with their prejudices, seen them being ridiculed for ‘weak’ emotions, or avoiding most emotions entirely. Clearly those were the safest routes to choose.
Because we were born with a full set of feelings we had to prune off any that were not clearly acceptable or were too strong. Love became weird. Liking was sort of acceptable, yet still very vulnerable. Is what I feel accepted, returned, appropriate…?
Let’s take the weirdness out of love. Love has such a narrow definition for most people. It’s all wound up in expectations of ourselves and others. If they love me then that equals certain expectations I can have of them. Many resist love because of the strings and pain attached. We use other words to limit expectations. We may say we like, respect, appreciate, or value another – but love???? For many that would never occur to them.
Some think that telling another how we prefer to love is the best idea, not realizing that we had made a decision long ago to prefer that – it doesn’t come from who we authentically are. If I prefer to communicate love through giving or receiving gifts, for example, that could be a symptom for not being fully open to direct communication and full acceptance of self and others.
There is a standard issue people have in primary relationships – when can I reveal my love? – Will they reciprocate? – are they just saying it because I said it? Very dangerous territory! What if you decided to love first – to default to love in every type of relationship. What?!?!?! You could love your colleagues, your boss, your clients, your broker, your mechanic, your barista… Why not? Of course we have different depths of love possible with different relationships – it is still love. People don’t struggle with loving nature or animals with no expectations. Let’s love one another.
If that sounds wrong, bad, or inappropriate to you then you have tangled something else in with simple, open-hearted love of one person for another. Let go of the weirdness. Your mind will open a little more.
Any degree of mental or emotional closure is going to limit what a person can think and feel. Consider a broad definition of Like and Love. Like comes from the head, Love comes from the heart. Like happens because we decide there is something ‘a-like’ us in the other person. Love is just there – we have to stop it if we don’t want it. We have to remind ourselves of our vulnerabilities to stay out of it. We think we have to put fear between us and love. As adults, we don’t have to do that anymore.
I often have clients come in expressing that they don’t feel passion for their career any more, they want to find their purpose, the meaning in what they do. They are ready to sell up – move on. My first step is to find out if they could even feel or recognize passion, purpose, and meaning if it arrived, and then we discuss what it means to them. We start there.
If you, like most, have a narrow, restricted definition of love then heart-centred feelings like passion, purpose, and meaning will also be restricted. It takes more than ‘like’ to arouse passion. It takes the depth and capacity of love.
Living authentically with mind and heart open will cause passion – are you ready?
Denise Miller – www.LeadershipNinjaCoaching.com