Archive for the ‘relationships’ Tag
Our relationship had been broken almost from the start. A tentative dance between two people with two left feet. The final break was years later, and it was the first time after a break-up that I didn’t rush to fill that void that was left. I felt neither happy or sad. I felt..nothing. Maybe that was what was meant by “being at peace.”
Anyway, her and I. We still talked.
So I sat and listened when she said, “Love is a feeling. It’s not about anything else.”
I shook my head. “Love needs an object. You love something or someone because of some value you get from it or him or her. You need to define love in that context.”
I thought about that some more, and realized that there was something significant in what she said. Love is a feeling. And feelings originate within you. They are created by you. And the saying how you can’t control love has a little truth in it, too. Love is when you value someone more than yourself, which is an irrational state. It’s totally emotional, illogical. But when that love ceases to come from you, and your control over love is given over to the object or person, this is where it can slide into a coup, where you become helpless to the situation or the other person.
There is a fine line between seeking love from another, and finding someone to give your love to.
Relationships can be two people who are seeking validation and value from each other and their trade results in a balanced relationship. However, I don’t know if they love each other..or they like the attention the other is giving to them. The latter is not love.
So she was right. Love starts with you. Who you choose and the time and effort you’re willing to spend. You control that decision. No one else.
I’ve been reading the non-fictional works of Steven Pressfield. He writes about Resistance (no typo there. He takes Resistance seriously) preventing you from pulling the trigger on creative endeavors, be it writing, starting a business, or implementing a major self-improvement in your life. In one part, he writes about how we may rely on icons to help us instead of helping ourselves. That’s when I realized something embarrassing:
I’d turned him into the icon that he warned about.
As my thoughts frequently turned to the resistance he’d written about and overcome, I realized I was avoiding the resistance I needed to face myself. I wanted to revisit his encouragement, instead of doing the work. The most ironic thing is, he’s the best guide of all, because he has no system of rules, just one simple direction: Stop distracting yourself and do the work.
If your guide starts presenting rules, he ceases to become your guide. Rules are for those who can’t control themselves, or their power, and they encourage that mentality. A guide who gives rules starts becoming less of a guide, and more of a dictator. I found myself picking up Pressfield’s book like a religious doctrine. I felt good after reading it, sure, but then I realized that his writings had become a crutch. And it became addictive, and restrictive.
The same applies to your friends or partners if they want you to be a certain way and follow some definition of what they want. And the same applies to our political leaders who want to help us, but sometimes pass some laws that restrict us.
These groups should empower us, not take power from us. And it’s easy for us to give our accountability away. To a friend, lover, priest, guru, or lawmaker.
Pressfield’s works are empowering, but I made them my source of power instead of claiming the power he was showing was already in me.
The good feelings I would get when picking up his book and reading a bit, became just that. Good feelings and little else. It’s nice to feel good. But if you want to produce something, feelings don’t do much. Producing something… something good, and beautiful and from you… that requires practice. Showing up everyday and doing the work.
And far from being a selfish act, this internal source of power is more selfless, because it doesn’t require you to take power from others. It gives you the capacity to generate this power at will. When you can do that, you can share it without fear, because you will have it always. And then the world stops becoming a series of partners or jobs or cars or clothes to give you validation. You stop collecting stuff in a world of scarcity where you need to guard those partners or worry about that job. Instead, the world becomes abundant, and at that moment, you not only make yourself happy, but you will unconsciously spread that happiness to everyone you meet.
If I can’t live in the present, then I can’t love. Love is NOW. Living in a future of wants prevents me from sustaining love for anything, or anyone. And expecting love from someone who looks ahead, dissatisfied with himself or herself, is a losing proposition. And sure to make you unhappy in the process.
Alain de Botton says religion is a system that works. It knows human nature. So let’s not throw away the template just because the content is questionable. He wants us to use the religious method.
Religion treats us like children. And it is well to. We need to be life-long learners, but we cannot wait on chance occurrences to teach us the important stuff. Botton describes the value of the religious system of education, from the sermons to repeated practice, which the secular world has left to the individual.
Even our higher institutions expect the newly minted adult walking onto their campuses to know what it’s all about. After graduation, the corporation is ready to provide us the structure for our lives, and the branding and clarity.
“…except they’re right down at the bottom of the pyramid of needs. They’re selling us shoes and cars. Whereas the people who are selling us the higher stuff — the therapists, the poets — are on their own and they have no power, they have no might.”
Life is about growth and discovery, and we need to get into our groups and start communicating our ideas in a more organized way. The secular world has fled so far from religion, it’s forgotten that we need to congregate. We need sermons. We need to communicate ideas.
“My concluding point is that you may not agree with religion, but at the end of the day, religions are so subtle, so complicated, so intelligent in many ways that they’re not fit to be abandoned to the religious alone. They’re for all of us.”
Tell it, brother!
Every year around Christmas, we go shopping to get gifts for our family and friends. Christmas time is when we’re reminded that we should be giving to the people in our lives. To my credit, I’m on the look-out for things throughout the year for my friends and family. Thoughtful gifts are more…well, thoughtful. These past several years, though, have made me reassess my relationships.
Have you ever bought a gift for someone because it was expected as part of social convention? Some people have somehow settled into the Varsity squad of your relationships without trying out for the team. Don’t be afraid to bump them down. Think of it this way: You’re not omnipotent. You’ve got finite time and resources, and the more you spend them on getting gifts for acquaintances the less you have for the people who you value.
Secondly, I have found Christmas to be a time to review my emotional bank account with my family and friends. The bank account works like this: You and another share it, and each must contribute to it pretty equally in order to have mutual benefit. Over the last several years, I’ve come to realize there are people I do indeed value, and that no gifting makes up for not having regular conversations with them to see what they’re doing, and more importantly, asking them why and how they’re doing it (that’s the emotion part). If I don’t know the motivations of the people I value, why do I value them, right?
Unfortunately, I’ve found a deficit in my bank account with people who I do value, and now I’m making it a point to stay in more regular contact with them. I don’t wait for them. I reach out first.
So, this Christmas, sort out whether you are sympathizing with the Grinch, or empathizing with him. If you’re empathizing, tune that emotional bank account so that you’ve got people in your life who you value and, just as important, who value you. If they don’t, then send them to the JV bench. It isn’t so bad.
I was sitting there for years.