“Love is in fact our natural state, from which we have veered as a species and to which all of us long to return.” (Marianne Williamson, as quoted in Tears to Triumph, HarperOne Publishers, 2016)
We all long for healing: Healing of mind, body, relationships, etc. We have also been told that love heals. We are also given scores of different definitions of love; and platitudes about love. Yet, when it comes right down to it, very few of those who give out the definitions and spout the platitudes can actually tell you how to give love, or how to receive love. The advice usually boils down to, “Just Do It!”
Most of us believe in the power of unconditional love, and believe that the giving and receiving of love heals us. Yet, when someone wounds our ego (betrays us, hurts us, disrespects us, or even has a drastically different political perspective), we tend to want to set them straight, teach them a lesson, etc.
In these situations, we can either approach the person from our ego (a useful part of our defense system against harm); or approach the person from our heart (a symbolic word for that part of us which can give and receive love). The ego, while it has its place in our lives, is no authority on unconditional love. It wants revenge, retribution, consequences toward the person who hurt us. So, in order to truly love in difficult situations, we must bypass this tendency to listen to Ego, and find a way to our Heart. In doing that, we can experience the healing effects of love.
Choosing unconditional love (in which we all believe) can be very difficult. We do not feel all warm and fuzzy toward the person who hurt us, or toward the person who strongly disagrees with our wisdom. Love is not always warm and fuzzy; It’s often tough and gritty. It can be the most difficult thing that you attempt to do in your life.
I recently experienced an exercise which was transformative for me, in that it helped me to experience a whole new kind of love for someone who had deeply wounded me. It involves getting in touch with your loving self (heart), and bypassing the ego, while at the same time not going into denial about the conflict that is bothering you. It is an interesting and often powerful exercise: Relax your mind, and focus on your heart (literally your physical heart); then think of someone with whom you have some conflict; then focus on love flowing from your heart to that person. See what thoughts and/or feelings come to you in that exercise. It can be transformative.
Beware the ego, in matters of love. It will lead you astray. The next time your ego tells you to resent someone who bruised your ego in any way, do that very brief exercise in focusing on your heart, picturing love flowing to that person from your heart, and paying attention to the thought and/or feeling that comes to you. This exercise can be used with any type of relationship. It can open you up to receiving more love and more healing in your life.
Giving and receiving love does indeed heal us in many ways. It is worth the effort.
May you experience more love and healing in your life.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D. February 15, 2017