Hello my friend. How are you?
It's a day to day adventure around here. Some days it feels like the gaps between people are steep, deep, and growing, while other days I feel the surge of compassion, unity, and love rise up in defense of peace and harmony. The world is changing quickly, which is nudging us to change more quickly than many of us are used to or comfortable with.
So I ask you again, how are you, really?
Are you finding peace in genuine connection with others? Is your heart open to hearing, holding, and exploring differing points of view and contrasting beliefs? Do compassion and love supersede righteousness and fear inside? Are you willing to challenge yourself, to enter the realm of personal exposure and vulnerability?
These are powerful questions to ponder within, because the answers to such questions are what guide us to either evolve and elevate, or continue to suffer—not only as individuals, but as a people, world, and planet. Until all beings are safe, free, and able to thrive, none of us are...Just sayin'.
I bet I'm not the only woman in the world who has said something like, "But I love them! I don't want to let go! I don't want the relationship to end!" Oh how I remember that feeling...the heaviness of it like a weight on my heart, the tightness in my chest, and the fear that crept over my body like a wave of chills at just the thought of it.
And yet, I had to. I had to let go, and on some level, I knew it. Clinging was only hurting me, yet I couldn't let go. Why?
The usual answer is fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of missing out on love. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of never finding that kind of love again. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being alone forever.
Fear is a primal mind, survival instinct thing. It's something the mind does to "keep us safe." Fear is what trips our fight, flight, or freeze reaction.
With direct threats a thing of the past in terms of dinosaurs and such, these days our fear mechanisms mostly entice us to not change, to stay in our comfort zone no matter how pointless it may be to do so...because things are more predictable in our familiar comfort zone. We know what to expect and how to play the game there.
If we venture too far away from or out of our comfort zone, what then? Might we get eaten by a tiger? The realm beyond our comfort zone is unknown territory. Anything could happen, and the mind hates not knowing, not anticipating, not having control. And since it is bent on survival, it will almost always imagine the worst.
So how do we let go when we really don't want to? When every fiber of our being is in resistance? When we are terrified?
Oh yes, it takes a mighty courage! But really all it takes is an ownership of our highest truth—that truth we're trying so hard to ignore, the one dwelling in our deepest heart that's been shouting at us for months, asking for change, asking for peace, asking for more than the crumbs we are given.
This is an outcry of the soul, OUR soul, for breath and life and joy! The soul longs for upliftment and fulfillment. Its greatest desire is to evolve. Yet it cannot evolve on crumbs, and broken promises, and disrespect, and disappointments, and self-doubt, and self-neglect.
The soul, OUR soul, needs our clearest attention, our highest devotion, and our committed heart to honor its voice above all others. This is not selfish. It's self-aware. We are in the best position to be of powerful service in the lives of others when we ourselves are full, not starving and struggling.
Sharing genuine compassion, joy, and love comes easy when we are filled with them within ourselves first—compassion toward ourselves, joy bursting from our heart, love flowing to spare and share. When we come to that, letting go of the people, places, and things that don't serve our soul's upliftment becomes easy, a natural flow rather than a struggle inside, the next right aligned action on our path. And, we do it with not only ease, but compassion, love and grace. What a gift...
During a recent conversation with a friend, it came up that genuine love is freely held, freely given, and formless, yet self-love involves healthy boundaries. This means that while we may hold genuine love for someone, we also may hold healthy boundaries for ourselves in relation to them. Healthy boundaries are a part of being self-loving.
I frequently hear from clients on the one hand, how their ex betrayed them, lied to them, kept hurtful secrets from them, or treated them poorly (in many cases, extremely poorly), and on the other hand, how much they love them and don't want to break up. Why is that? What's behind this inner conflict?
There's not one answer to that question, but let me share this: If someone says they love you and they treat you kindly sometimes, yet in unloving or hurtful ways other times, it means they have a distorted and mistaken notion of what genuine love actually is. It also means they struggle to access genuine love inside. And it likely means they are living their lives out of subconscious coping strategies rather than true presence...but they don't yet realize it. This holds true for you as much as it does for them.
Strategic love points to inner wounds and habits that thwart genuine love. These are generally put in place to protect ourselves when we are young and vulnerable. While they served us once upon a time, as adults, they become obstacles.
From a place of active coping strategies, accessing genuine love is challenging, if not impossible, because our strategies are how we compensate for the places we fear we are not good enough inside. And believing we are not good enough means we are unable to genuinely love our whole selves...which then means we aren't able to share genuine love with others because we can't share what we don't already have.
Some people believe they are being genuinely loving of others simply by virtue of showing them kindness. I'm guessing that most of us could say we've been that person at some point in our lives. What I have learned is that such actions, when born out of our (subconscious) coping strategies, are not genuine. They are deeply rooted in something else, something that bears strings and is ultimately self-serving. Some people might even describe such actions as controlling or manipulative, despite how they appear on the surface.
As I said before, we can't share what we don't already have. There is a big difference between the energy of genuine love versus strategic love. Genuine love flows freely out of an inner experience of genuine compassion, self-love and a sense of inner wholeness, fullness, and thriving. When we are full and overflowing with pure love inside, we want to—and more easily and joyfully do—share that same sense of love with others. In relationships, this expresses as such things as sacred relating, and genuine joy, compassion, kindness and empathy.
In contrast, strategic love flows out of an inner lack of genuine compassion and self-love, and a sense of scarcity, self-judgement or rejection, and survival. When we are full and overflowing with an undercurrent of fear and/or self-rejection inside, we grasp for and cling to the things we believe will relieve it. In relationships, this expresses as such things as unhealthy attachments, distress, neediness, withholding, blaming, passive-aggression, pleasing, control, manipulation, and selfishness.
Few people I know are willing to look deeply enough within themselves to resolve the distortions of love they live with. It's a journey not everyone chooses to make, and certainly not one we generally master in a lifetime. It demands a great courage and a precise dismantling of the conditioned habits that (subconsciously) hold our coping strategies and protections in place. And it demands this over and over and over again.
Choosing this journey takes the heart and spirit of a warrior, which is where the term spiritual warrior comes from. It refers to the battle within, the one between the conditioned self (our ego, ego mind, ego self, pain body, subconscious psyche, fear, conditioned mind...call it what you will) and the higher self (our essence, intuitive mind, divine self, intuition, pure love, intuitive self, infinite wisdom, genuine self, infinite self, original face), the finite and infinite parts of who we are. And this, my friends, is the journey of spiritual awakening and evolution.
I've heard it said that choosing this path is not for the faint of heart, yet in my experience, making this journey is much easier and more fulfilling than living a life controlled by our hidden fears and strategies. Just ask any of the women in my H.E.L.P. program tribe. They are, as I am, living examples of what that journey looks like and the inner fulfillment it offers, even as messy and ugly as it is at times.
The path may feel like a scary rollercoaster ride at first, as the car we're riding in clanks and climbs its way upward along the tracks, filling us with anxiety at the unknown realm beyond the next hill's crest. Then suddenly, we are cast wildly downward into the dark, hidden regions of our being. With dedication, eventually the tracks beneath our car and the ground beneath our feet level off, and we come to coast along the path, enjoying the ride and the beautiful scenery around us.
One thing I regularly hear from clients is this: "My head knows what I need to do but my heart just won't listen. It won't let go."
Despite what you may think, this is actually backwards! Your heart knows what to do, but your head just won't listen. Your heart is home to your deepest truth, while your head is home to your conditioned fears.
Now, I hear what you're probably thinking, and it's something like, "But if I listen to my heart, it desires my ex, and I know I shouldn't or can't go back." Let me take a moment to clear this one up, because it's a BIG one.
First thing is that the heart holds love. That's what it is designed to do. And it will even hold love for a toxic ex. But it's not that feeling of love for the ex that you're in a struggle with. It's all the rest of it. It's all the mental bullshit racing through your mind and stirring up your emotions and fears, and the desires and drives of your ego.
Second, desire does not equal love. Let me repeat that because it's important: desire does not equal love. Genuine love is pure, unconditional, unattached, and freely shared. While desire may be a part of how we experience loving someone, it is not love itself. In fact, it's hormones...
If that confuses you, you're not the only one. Nearly every woman in my After A Breakup H.E.L.P. program is confused by this idea until we unpack it and they start working with the tools. But it's important to understand that this is backwards, because correcting this error is essential to your journey out of painful experiences, including toxic relationships.
This is about placing your personal power in its proper home where it originates and belongs—in your heart. When you can do that, and guide your life from your heart wisdom instead of from your conditioned mind, well, that's when you free yourself from the struggle. That's when you begin to step into sovereignty, and that's when your life begins to align with what you really want.
Why is it so hard for so many of us to genuinely love ourselves? I see this regularly with clients. When challenged with self-loving, they are surprised to learn that they aren't sure what it means or how to do it. And they get uncomfortable.
Why? Because for most of us, we grow up under a subtle (and for some, not so subtle) barrage of messages that tell us there's something wrong with us, and eventually we believe it. This is a problem because from a place of shame, self-judgement, or rejection, we can't be genuinely self-loving.
Many of us are also raised in a way that confuses self-love with selfishness. These are two very different things! Self-care, i.e., self-love, is not being selfish. It's being self-aware. If we don't shore up our own boat, we can't hold ourselves with sovereignty or show up for life with any real power. It's like when flying on an airplane, the directive is to put on your oxygen mask first, then you can help others from a place of strength.
So you may be starting to see why most of us aren't masters of genuine loving. We grow up taking on wounds that distort our sense of who we are, and what love and self-love are. In time, we forget the purity of both, and try to manage or control things to access pleasure and avoid pain.
This is the hand of our conditioned self (ego, pain body, subconscious psyche, ego mind, etc.) at work in our lives. Its mission is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to live a life filled with pleasure instead of pain. Yet when we guide our lives by the desires and drives of our conditioned self, we miss the boat. Here's why: it's not a great idea to guide our lives from our fear, and that's what we do when we guide our lives from our conditioned self which rules our mind.
So, what do we do then? How do we guide our lives if not from our head? I unpack that in PART 5...
It's a curious thing that when I start talking about genuine loving, I hear things from clients like, "I don't want to be anyone's doormat!"
Who said anything about being a doormat? Women seem to hold a belief that says, "Unconditional or genuine loving means you put up with other people's toxic bullshit." I'm here to tell you that this is absolutely WRONG—error thinking through and through. And here's why...
Unconditional or genuine loving does NOT involve being a doormat or putting up with other people's toxic bullshit because unconditional or genuine loving STARTS with unconditional, genuine self-loving. And you're not being self-loving if you allow yourself to be a doormat and put up with other people's toxic bullshit.
Genuine self-loving means we honor our truth, maintain healthy personal boundaries, and embrace our personal power. In a nutshell, it means becoming sovereign. From a place of sovereignty, we extend genuine love to ourselves first, and stop treating ourselves in unloving ways.
Through sovereignty and genuine self-love, we stop allowing others to treat us in unloving ways too. When we master that, we are in a better position to both receive and offer genuine loving in an open, empowered way instead of a fearful, controlling one.
Not many, if any, of us grow up learning how to genuinely love ourselves, which is why this is another focus of my After A Breakup H.E.L.P. program. I see it all the time—women who are 100% clear about what they don't want, but have no idea how to truly embrace and love themselves as a start to creating what they do want.
Why is it so hard for us to genuinely love ourselves? I unpack this question in PART 4...
I hear clients tell themselves all kinds of funky stories about love, and then believe their stories to be true, blaming love for their pain. Yet none of the stories are true because they are a fabrication of the conditioned self (or ego, ego mind, conditioned mind, pain body, subconscious psyche...take your pick).
Love itself, in its purest, most genuine state, doesn't generate pain for pain's sake. It has no attachments to form or structure. It is unconditional and unbiased. And it doesn't have to be earned. It is simply and freely given.
Where we often get into trouble in love is by attempting to control its form and structure by attaching our desires to it. By doing so, we try to lock it into a specific look and feel, when love is by nature as free as a breeze that tickles the trees.
Part of the struggle around genuine loving that I witness with clients and within myself is that we 1) aren't very good at it, 2) misunderstand it, and 3) try to control it. Let's unpack these...
1. We aren't very good at love because we've been conditioned to protect ourselves from pain. Love doesn't generate pain for pain's sake, but feeling a deep love can hurt inside when it is buried in suffering. And the reality is that we can't grow and evolve without experiencing things that challenge our conditioning and wake us up to existing pain and suffering, because until everyone is free from pain and suffering, no one is. When we avoid healthy growing pains, we cut ourselves off from opportunities that allow us to emotionally mature, spiritually evolve, and uplift ourselves OUT of pain and suffering. This leaves us stuck in the same old conditioned default patterns that keep us from thriving.
2. We misunderstand love because we've forgotten that love is our essence, our true nature. We are born of love and are made of love. It dwells within us from the moment we are conceived. But we forget this and believe we must seek for love outside of ourselves. In reality, we don't have to seek for love because we don't lack for love. We must remember that we already are love. All we have to do is learn how to access it inside, and share it from our natural state of fullness and wholeness.
3. We try to control love because we aren't very good at it, we misunderstand it, and then we blame it for our pain and suffering. Trying to control the flow and structure of love distorts it. Then it isn't genuine love anymore, it's fear. GENUINE love arises naturally, is unbiased, is unconditional, is freely shared, and is infinitely available to us. We just don't "get" this yet, so what we end up experiencing instead is a conditioned version of love that flows out of our fear instead of our heart. When we base our thoughts, words, and actions in fear, we are destined to create suffering.
So, how do we get ourselves back to a more genuine state of loving? This is the BIG question, right? We all yearn for a sense of love and belonging. It's a primal, basic need. And as so many spiritual teachers have said before me, it starts with genuinely loving ourselves. This is absolute, and is why self-love is a central focus of my After A Breakup H.E.L.P. program. Why is self-love so hard for us?
Well, before we go there, I want to answer a question that comes up regularly with clients when we talk about genuine loving. It has to do with being a doormat. Pop on over to PART 3 to read about it.
I frequently hear things like this from clients: "I don't ever want to love again. I never want to go through that hell again." If this is you, you'll want to read this blog...
The thing is, closing ourselves to love and the sharing of love closes us off from divine life force itself, from the very flow of life through us, and from the most powerful healing energies we have access to. We can't close ourselves off from love and thrive. In fact, we can't close ourselves off from love and survive.
Love is what nourishes and sustains our life force so we can thrive. We aren't designed to live without love. Living things that are deprived of love shrivel up and die a sad, slow death. We are organisms that need love to live—love from things like the sun, the rain, food and water, compassion, and community. We thrive on loving words and touches. This is true of all living organisms. Love is what creates, sustains, and nurtures life so it can thrive.
The highest reality is that we ARE love. We are born from love, and we carry love inside of us from the day we are conceived. It's our essence. We just have to remove the obstacles that keep us from embracing that essence within.
Once we do so and can open ourselves to the breadth of genuine loving, we are filled with it, and it flows easily in and out of us without fail, because pure love is an infinite stream. This is the energy we feel when in the presence of enlightened masters such as Jesus—genuine, overflowing love.
But few of us here have reached a level of spiritual enlightenment that allows us to access this. I've come to believe that this is what our earth journey is about. It's a journey of our heart, our soul, back to its essence—pure, genuine love itself.
So how do we start to get there? I cover that in Part 2...
When the relationship road we are walking along comes to an end, it feels devastating. WE feel devastated. "WHY?" we ask, "why can't we work this out after all these years together. Isn't it worth it? Aren't I worth it? How could you do this to me?"
It's personal, or at least it FEELS personal. We feel rejected, discarded, undervalued, betrayed, and hurt. We question ourselves and our worth. We blame ourselves, desperately wishing we'd done things differently...not said that thing, not reacted in that way, been more open during that encounter, as if any of that would have made the difference.
It might have, but we were not the only player in the partnership. It takes two to make a relationship work and to keep it healthy, fulfilling, and thriving, not one. One person cannot hold a relationship together.
Finding ourselves alone (again) is disheartening and discouraging. It stirs up fear of being along forever. Nobody wants that. We long for connection and intimacy and companionship. We crave the comfort of a "comrade in arms" to be there and support us through life's ups and downs, not because they have to or feel obligated to, but because they genuinely love us and want to.
The problem is that we seek that comrade in the wrong place—outside of ourselves. Until WE are that person within ourselves and for ourselves, we will live our lives feeling less than whole, unloved, undervalued, and alone. It's through the journey of genuine self-loving that we find what our heart seeks most...
We've all heard about "self-love" and how essential it is for relationships. In my coaching, I find that many women confuse "self-love" with "selfishness," yet the two are very different! This is something we tackle in the H.E.L.P. program because it is true that without this foundational piece in place, our relationships will struggle and we will continue to suffer.
Learning how to genuinely love ourselves puts us into a more evolved state of awareness and onto a different game board in life where the tools and norms are different, more emotionally and spiritually healthy. And that is when our life begins to change for the better.
When we're in the midst of a challenging experience, we can't see it for what it is. All we see is the pain of it, and all of our energy is focused on surviving it. We go into defense mode and our subconscious strategies kick in...you know, the ones that DON'T help!
It's typically months or even years after an experience that we can finally sift through the rubble from a place of witness rather than victim, and see it with new eyes. Having the courage to LOOK opens the door. And taking the time to EXPLORE bears the clarity and healing we yearn for.
It's hard to look at ourselves, really look, and to admit our errors. We don't want to be victims, but we don't want to be perpetrators either. Sometimes it feels easier to be a victim than it does to take responsibility for our pain or the pain of others. Victims get support. Victims can justify their feelings and actions. Victims can be the "good guy."
Perpetrators - people who hurt - don't get much support. They catch a lot of blame and are held as the "bad guy." Even when the hurt is unintentional, we don't want to hold it. It feels too personal and heavy.
The problem is that NONE of us are 100% perfect or evolved or enlightened. None of us get out of here with a clean record, even as hard as we try. Heck, even Jesus had emotional reactions, and he was about as spiritually awake as a person can be!
Imperfection doesn't make us bad people. It makes us humans with a LOT of emotional and spiritual maturing and growth to do. What's not helpful and where problems enter our lives is when we deny our need for this maturation and growth, point fingers at others, ignore our sacred responsibility to love, and place our personal power in the wrong places when it belongs in our own heart.
To rise above these egoic strategies, we must come to realize that we are all players in a sacred soul dance, a flow of LIFE. It's sacred because every part of it serves to awaken and uplift our souls. But we have to open to and receive the gifts to benefit from them. And that takes a great courage.
When we feel like life has let us down, it hasn't. It's giving us an opportunity to heal something deep, deep within our individual (and collective) psyche, our soul, to uplift us. It's not life that lets us down. It's us who let life down, because life is love and we are just not that great at genuine love.
But we can get better, which is what the women in the H.E.L.P. program are doing: healing their hearts, ditching their ego strategies for choices that serve, and getting better at genuine love. Way to go, ladies! You know who you are...
This blog offers alternative insights and practical coaching to help restore a sense of personal power and sovereignty in relation to some of life's challenges.