Now that one of the most bitter elections in American history, watched by the whole world, draws to a close, where do we go from here? Even as many are celebrating now with joy and relief, others are disappointed and angry. Beneath all this, there is a deep pain of antagonism that seems to pervade our atmosphere as our minds are heated and our hearts hard. Can you feel it too?
I believe the pain we are all in cannot be assuaged by simply changing the person in power. The challenges we face go deeper than that. Our leaders reflect the collective mindset of our society. This is not simply about the people who voted for them. It is about a more profound truth. Those who rise to power are embodiments of something within our shared societal and personal consciousness. We have the chance then to practice self-honesty and compassion and ask ourselves what that may be showing us about our own choices. We must ask ourselves what it is we are voting for, not just at the ballot box, but in every moment. Regardless of the state of our democracy, each of us has the extraordinary power of choice. Are we using it to amplify love, compassion and peace? Or are we using it to amplify anger, greed and struggle? The choices we make moment-to-moment shape our world.
Loving awareness of our inherent interconnection and acting upon this with compassion for all is essential for our survival. Through it, our hearts warm, our minds cool, and our spirits soar. A time of crisis gives rise to the courage we need to make profound change while caring for others and supports the growth of leaders to do the same. So, this week, let’s consider how we can learn to set aside antagonism and see each other, love and understand one another, and bring peace to our hurting world.
If you have been following along, you may recall that several weeks ago here we explored what it means to have love for yourself. We also looked at why self-love is foundational to inner peace and to being able to love others. If you are just coming to this workshop for the first time, welcome!
On the foundation of self-love, we are ready to be present in love for others.
None of us is perfect. None of us does things that are completely lovable all the time. Yet, as we explored in the past series on self-love and self-confidence, each one of us is loved to the core of our being. Each one of us has the capacity to be the light of love amid the darkness of anger and ignorance. When we are willing to get our ego out of the way, our unconditional presence can be the greatest healing gift for someone else’s pain and for ourselves in turn.
When we understand ourselves, we can understand others. It is also true the other way around: when we understand others, we can better understand ourselves. Here is an exercise that helps me recognize myself in others and feel deeper love and compassion. Find a quiet space and give it a try for yourself and let me know how it goes:
“Everyone wants to be loved.”
Take a moment just with that.
“Everyone wants to be loved. And everyone fears they will not be loved.”
Think about that.
Think about it some more. Breathe it in. Let it resonate.
“Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone fears they will not be.”
Apply that thought to someone who pushes your buttons. This includes someone with whom you have differing political views. Think of him or her that way, just wanting love, fearing he or she will not get it. Think of how you want to feel loved. Perhaps, you two are not that different.
Think of your parents that way. Try to feel the fear they have (or had, if they are no longer living), their hunger for love, and consider that perhaps, you are not so different. The love you seek is also the love they want. The fear you have, that you won’t find love, is the very same fear they have.
Think of your friends and other family members. See the way they hope for love, the way they feel disconnected from love, the way they do love. Where is the love in all these relationships? In which ways do you love? What if it is not so much about how much love you get, but about what you give?
When you see yourself—the fears, the hopes, the desires you have for love—in others, when you see you are not that different, then love can blossom. You can feel connected and fulfilled, even in the face of adversity. And you can be present for others, loving them as they are.
Now think of yourself. Touch that place of “I just want to be loved, and I’m scared I will not be.”
This is a deep place. It has been there likely a very long time. Perhaps it was exacerbated by your family of origin, or someone else or a painful situation in your life. But it is a hurt that you carry. No one made it. Since you are the one holding on to it, you can let it go.
We all have the fear that we will not be loved. Sometimes, around that raw and fragile feeling, is a feeling of vacant hopelessness. But this will not last. Beyond all these painful places is a fountain of unending love. The goodness of life is within even the most desolate times if you allow yourself to settle in and open, patiently, to the flowering spring. The force of life emerges again, without compromise.
Beyond your fear of not being loved, is love. In your fear of not being loved, is love. Around your fear of not being loved, is love. The fear itself is love, as it shows you your very humanity, your potential for openness and your ability to be receptive to a force beyond our ego’s grasp and comprehension.
When you are willing to be in stillness with this fear of not being loved, you find tremendous creativity. It is in some ways the linchpin of the psyche that moves you from the grip of divisiveness into a place of unity and compassion. Rest there and you will find love.
From my heart to yours,