I’ve been wanting to write about this subject for awhile now. When there’s a really potent topic brewing inside me, I usually need to wait until it’s just begging to be written before I can actually sit down and do it. I think the reason is that I need to gather the right amount of inspiration, knowingness and experience before I can craft it into a digestible format. Whatever, either way, I’ve known for like 6 months that I needed to write about this, and finally – today – it started pouring itself out. Today, when I have 10,000 things other than blogging on my to do list. But I gotta listen to that urge, because blocking creative energy, in my experience, is the furthest thing from good.
For months now, I’ve been marinating on – and seriously practicing the fine art of – loving people anyway. Meaning, just loving people regardless of my expectations of them, or expectations of what the relationship “should” look like, or the role I think I want the person to play in my life. I’ve been learning a lot.
Most of the time we have these totally “inside the box” ideas about relationships. It’s either friend or enemy, good terms or bad terms, lover or get the hell out of my life. If you date someone and it doesn’t turn into a lifetime commitment, it “didn’t work out.” The thought that men and women “can’t ever really be friends,” or that any kind of intimacy you experience with someone in any form needs to develop into something “bigger.” I’ve been challenging all of this lately.
We’re all familiar with what usually happens when we have a spark of romantic interest with someone and it doesn’t go where we pictured it going, or they don’t reciprocate in the way we think we need them to, or we are disappointed in some way. We tell our friends about it. “Just forget about him (or her), he’s a total douchebag,” they say, and we agree. If someone doesn’t reciprocate exactly what we want, on our timeline, well, fuck them. Because we think it feels better to be pissed off than to actually admit we feel love for someone who disappointed us. Like admitting that would make us weak. I remember, years ago, when one of my favorite humans said, “I want all of my ex-loves to love me forever.” I was like yeah, YES, you totally get me, that’s what I want too. If they don’t love me the way I love them, or they’re unavailable or with someone else, I’m just gonna feel vindictive and ragey about it until they finally realize how awesome I am.
What a cop out. It’s SO easy to be resentful. I used to feel so good doing that. But recently I’ve taken on a more difficult task. A task that doesn’t come so easily. The task of letting go of expectations and loving people anyway. Last time I felt myself going there, listening to the endless voices of people telling me to just say “fuck off” to someone, my intuition started screaming. Wait, wait wait. Put on the brakes. The story doesn’t have to go that way.
Feeling loving feelings towards people, with compassion for their own flawed humanity, without needing anything back…it actually feels good. Way good.
It’s not easy and I’m definitely nowhere near perfect at it, but I think it’s revolutionary, transformative and rewarding, and instead of making you weak, it actually FILLS YOU UP WITH MORE LOVE. Not to mention it completely transforms the energy of the world, opens up possibilities that didn’t exist before, and blazes new trails for different kinds of relationships to blossom. Relationships that that can end up being way more significant than what we originally imagined. Powerful friendships. Incredible business partnerships. Beautiful support systems. All kinds of things we can’t even begin to conceive of without taking the chance of just loving someone anyway.
Love opens doors. It’s like that.
Every moment where I choose to focus on something I love about someone rather than what I’m not getting from them, my heart opens up a little more, and I energetically let the person off the hook, which means they can breathe easier too. That’s a bold act of service, in my opinion.
I was at a Marianne Williamson lecture in LA the other night and she said, “having a grievance about something is like attacking God’s (or the universe’s, etc) plan for you.” Whoa. That’s some food for thought, right?
What if everything is actually happening PERFECTLY? We spend all this time lamenting on why things “didn’t work out.” But what if it actually did work out…we just didn’t realize it?
What if we could see that life really is just a series of moments? And that if you had even one beautiful moment with someone, that might be more than some people ever get to experience in a lifetime? Instead of being pissed off at a person for not fulfilling our exact desires (we’re usually not putting ourselves in their shoes anyway), what if we focused on how incredibly beautiful and fulfilling those MOMENTS were? What if we could bring those moments to mind and smile? Focusing on that fulfillment brings an entirely different energy to the table. Because no matter how a relationship unfolds, we can experience so much in moments.
I mean yeah, I know I’m being suuuuper intense, but come on, this stuff is freaking beautiful!! These incredibly intimate moments happen every day. I live for these moments. If we get so lost in looking at the bigger picture, or caught up in the longing for the relationship to turn into something different in order to be relevant, we are losing out on the present moment, which is often epic and knee-weakening and full of shimmering beauty.
I mean don’t get me wrong – the feeling of deep mutual romance or any kind of love reciprocated on both ends is one of the most incredibly mind-blowing things in the universe. I am all for it. But in those circumstances where it doesn’t feel that way….where we feel the desire to close ourselves off and be resentful…what if we loved and honored everything we could muster up to love about a person anyway, and just let that be it?
What if we dropped the need to fit every potential relationship into a pre-designed box, looked at it in terms of possibilities rather than limitations, let go of grasping on what we think it should look like? What about accepting someone for who they are and meeting them where they’re at?
Gabby talked this week about what happened when she and her current fiance broke up years ago. They took romance off the table, and decided to be friends anyway. With those specific expectations dropped, she was able to finally be her true self around him, and it was then, as friends, that they were really able to fall in love with each other. No pressure, no specifics, just letting things unfold…what an expansive way to fall in love!
What if you gave a relationship the energetic space and breathing room to come into your life in a better way than you could have ever imagined it to be? What kind of magic and beauty can come from that? I think this is huge and pretty inconceivable for most people, but if you can set the intention to do that, I think it will change your life.
To clarify, I am not suggesting we stay in relationships that aren’t serving us, or that we over-give in relationships, or anything like that. All I’m suggesting here is that we play with changing our default energy and focus…locate the situations where we’ve chosen to feel resentful towards someone, and just see what it would feel like to focus on loving them, even from afar.
Danielle LaPorte recently wrote THIS blog that blew my mind and acknowledged everything I was feeling about it (and she wrote it in a wayyy more concise way than I am). 🙂 Wishing happiness for people even when they don’t meet our specific expectations is super revolutionary.
I feel like I’m just at the beginning of this exploration…but for now, I’m catching myself in the moments when I’m lowering into the feelings of longing, and instead bringing myself up into what has been fulfilling about the situation (thank you, Kamala, for that suggestion).
As a result, I find myself falling so deeply in love with so many people all the time. Not in a way that feels needy or expecting, but in a way that fills me up with crazy good feelings and kinda just makes my heart burst open.
It’s easy to default to being resentful. What about taking the more revolutionary path? What would happen if we just took our specifics off the table and made some room for the universe to rush in?
What kind of intimacy and transformed relationships – or even just more positive feelings – might we experience if we just loved people anyway?!
(a huge thank you to everyone who has been my teacher and my assignment in this arena – past, present and future…i love you). 🙂
“Never throw anyone out of your heart. Your life, maybe…but never your heart.”
-Sharon Salzberg, Love Your Enemies