Have It All or Lose It All
By Bill Cottringer
John Lennon was right. All we need is love. There are many different kinds of “love,” that we can experience in one variety or the other—love of nature, parental love, brotherly love, relationship love and divine love.
Probably the most difficult love to deal with is relationship love, which is often missed, misunderstood, or misused. A built in difficulty with this particular type of love is that there are really only three possible reactions to it and two of them have painful outcomes. It is like a pass in football—it is either a reception, an interception or lost down. In this sense, a relationship is the ultimate test of character in response to love.
Taking the time to fully explore and understand this special love experience that happens between two people in a relationship can transform your life, enlarge and sharpen your awareness of reality, and help you become more effective in fulfilling your potential—all with increased joy and satisfaction. It is a magical moment of opportunity to have it all or a moment of danger to lose it all. Unfortunately most of us have already gotten smacked with the down side of this type of love, some with more “bleeding, bruising and broken bones” than others.
The mysterious love experience we are talking about is the strange, but very real thing that happens between two people that we know as “being in love” and involves these sorts of curious “symptoms” in the beginning.
- There is an overwhelming, powerful magnetic attraction that is mutual and almost instantaneous and it keeps growing until your think you will explode.
- The mind, body, heart and spirit are all pulled together in union and there is difficulty in breathing because of being so close.
- Intense internal dialogues and vivid images occur that preoccupy both people.
- Neither person sees anything wrong with the other person, as everything is completely acceptable and perfect as is.
- You already “know” each other on a very deep level, and normal cock-tail chit chat is secondary.
- There is a strong realization of fear of vulnerability and rejection that can make you more frightened and “needy” than you want to be.
These love symptoms are designed to get your attention and let you know something very powerful is going on. Now when this powerful experience does happen between two people, there are three typical mental and emotional interpretations:
- There is an unexplainable chemistry that is felt and difficult to resist without wanting to carry out a lustful and sexual response.
- The whole experience may be seen as a meaningful coincidence in temporarily bringing two people together so they can exchange important clues to help each in their journeys through life.
- The two people may be offered the opportunity to be “in love” for a good loving relationship, all the way to coming face to face with their once in-a-lifetime true love soul mate to be with forever.
The interpretation of choice on this love phenomenon hierarchy is related to the perceived intensity of the experience and the personal developmental level of the two people having the experience. There are only three possible reactions to the love experience and two of them always have negative outcomes and becomes exceptionally painful when any of them are mixed:
Let’s explain these response options.
The murder option is the metaphor for the very natural response to aggressively try to control the love experience for your own selfish, personal reasons, making it into what you want and need on an ego level. This impure motivation spreads from trying to control the other person’s response to many other unproductive and unhealthy behaviors that can take the relationship sideways, backwards and upside down.. This negative response has a library of competitive passive-aggressive, win-lose, approach-retreat games in which you gradually squeeze the love to death. The negative, hurtful emotions totally bury what is going on and the love can’t breathe.
This unfortunate misguided approach over-focuses on a limited local use of the love experience at the expense of missing a much bigger picture that can take you much further in your personal and spiritual journey in life. Murder of love brings tears to God’s eyes; it is not the answer because it has some heavy karma penalties. Physical and emotional abuse, irresponsible infidelity, one-up games, deceit and dishonesty, cruel words, selfish manipulation, ,mean-spirited control and other such things have no happy ending.
The suicide option is the metaphor for the passive reaction to the love experience—wanting to run from the overwhelming feelings and protect yourself from the vulnerability and fear of rejection and all the other potentially uncomfortable consequences of exploring the experience. But don’t let this passive approach fool you; it can be just as destructive as murder. Sometimes when one person is approaching and the other is retreating it is like pouring some 190 proof grain alcohol on both peoples’ exposed, beating hearts. And when the retreating person won’t communicate about what is going on, the silence can be deafening and stir up all the wrong assumptions and fears about what may be going on.
Love can be a very scary and frightening emotional episode, and some natural responses are to not even acknowledge it or to run away from it and retreat back to the safety and status quo of a previous routine of rationality. Two legitimate justifications for the suicide approach may be when (a) one of both persons are already in a relationship or marriage committed to growth, love and health (b) there are other real obstacles that suggest the timing is just not right. That has to be a personal decision that no amount of good intentioned guidance can tell you what to do. It can also be one of the most gut-wrenching decisions to ever have to make.
There is no metaphor in this reaction. In fact it may be the only sane thing to do if the circumstances are right for exploring the love phenomenon. Actually, it is the only way to stay “alive” in love. You really can’t understand the purpose and utility of anything—especially this mysterious love experience—until you do let go of your illusion of control and give into openly exploring where this thing is going to take you.
After all, love is probably one of the most important and real experiences in life from which to learn. Ironically, this loving approach brings your conscious free will closer to your unconscious destiny where the two can gradually be joined into one path to help you to be twice as productive. The more you let go to love, the more this central paradox of life makes sense, along with everything else.
We all search for this type of major love experience with different rigor, preparation and expectations; but we must eventually find it serendipitously. It is simply not something you can create or control. It just is and it appears quite unexpectedly on its own schedule—sometimes at very inconvenient times. That is when suicide may be the most appropriate response, with loving flavor, taking it back a notch to the second interpretation where you can just share something valuable with the other person to apply where you both are now, waiting patiently for its return at the right time. Of course this can be the single most difficult humbling experience to bring you to your knees in learning how to love with more acceptance, patience and understanding than you have ever had to show.
So, if you really do want it all, here’s what you can do to best prepare for this kind of love:
1. Keep busy learning, growing and improving in doing things that increase your lovability and likeability—especially making small efforts to learn how to love unconditionally.
2. Work on being happier where you are right now.
3. Be courageous and live life inside-out to increase your empathy for others which opens the door to the mysterious love experience.
4. Be still, imagine what you want and remember the clues to let you know when you are about to have it.
On the other hand if you have love and want to keep it, you may want to do these things:
- Communicate openly and honestly, especially when you are feeling hurt, vulnerable or fearful, in an assertive way that doesn’t blame or judge anyone or otherwise put them on the defensive.
- Try to put you ego aside and be unselfish enough to realize when to give in to a conflict of needs, when you can see it is the right thing to do.
- As painful as it may be, always try to discern some positive purpose—something that you can learn to grow and improve—from each love conflict that happens.
- Become sensitive to your own needs to control the situation and be right; letting go and giving into creative compromises is love unfolding.
- Never take love for granted because it can fade without nurturing.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA. He is author of You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too and The Bow-Wow Secrets. He can be reached for comment at (425) 454-5011 or bcottringer.pssp.net