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How to Create Deeper Love
by David Truman
We all "know" that love can heal humanity and save the world. And many of us aspire to unconditional love, universal love. But honestly, how many people deserve to be called truly SKILLED in the art of loving? Precious few. Not surprising -- generally, we invest far more effort into learning to drive a car than in learning to love.
The results are obvious. The usual "love relationship" is more like a head-on collision between two people who are dysfunctional in love. And afterwards, like survivors of traffic accidents, they slowly, tentatively, nurse their way back to health. If they stick with it, maybe they'll recover. After a long time.
It doesn't have to be that way. A person CAN regain health tremendously faster than most people do. It only takes so long, normally, because after most people jump out of relationships, they just atrophy. Like a guy who was in an accident, and then he stayed in bed for five years. He just didn't feel ready to get up yet. When people do that with love relationships, they grow weaker, more dysfunctional. They become crusty, alienated, and out of it.
There's a better, healthier way: approach recovery the way a serious athlete does. Athletes often suffer injuries. But then, by using a maximally healthy exercise regimen, they get better just as fast as the body CAN get better. And it's amazing how soon they're back in the game.
Recovery goal: better than normal
Not only can we recover a whole lot FASTER than we ever thought -- we can heal much BETTER than we ever thought. We can become a TRULY functional person. All we need is the right exercise program, and a real will to exercise, and get really strong. That way, we can do more than just recover: we can achieve a condition far BETTER than "normal health." Now that's a good goal. And, practically essential, if you think about it.
My physician once told me, "If I was in normal health, I'd commit suicide." That means, normal health is only a state of dysfunction. If GOOD health is what you want, "normal" isn't your goal.
Similarly, if you want to be in good shape for relationship, make it your goal to get MUCH better than normal. You can. Where there's a will, there's a way. If you have the will, here are eight suggestions for a well-rounded program of healthy relationship exercise:
1. Do things WITH others.
Throughout history, wise observers have found that practice helps. People get more comfortable with things and adapt better as familiarity grows. By the same token, we get less comfortable with something we rarely do. Use it or lose it! So: Get involved. BE with others. It doesn't matter so much WHAT you do. It matters more THAT you create abundant social activity.
2. Stay clear about what's the real problem: ego, not love.
Many are convinced that love hurts -- and will gladly show you their battle scars to prove it. But what CAUSED those scars? Was it a gentle caress, perhaps, or a tender look; or was it the fights, the betrayals, the abuse? Look: those are scars of UNLOVE, not of love. Love is NOT the problem. Never was, never will be.
In order to stop fearing love, review the fear-creating "content" in your brain. If, for example, you've been hurt in relationships, figure out what really caused the hurt. Love didn't cause it. Living together didn't cause it. Consider the matter, and you will realize that in almost every instance of emotional problems between people, EGO caused it -- or rather, EGOTISM. Selfishness caused it. Self-protectiveness. Reactivity.
The reason love has become so confused in our minds is this: so much distancing and unlove has been created in relationships that we considered to be love relationships. Not that there is any relationship that is totally lacking in love. There may have been SOME love, but when selfishness becomes too predominant in the relationship, then selfishness, not love, determines how the relationship feels, and where it leads.
Then, as they say: once bitten, twice shy.
Hey, we're right to want to protect ourselves from repeating the same mistakes and deepening the same wounds. But we'd better be clear about this: what, exactly what, should we avoid? We need to avoid being unloving in relationships. We need to avoid being excessively self-oriented in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We need to avoid knee-jerk doubt, distrust, irrational fear, withdrawal, insincerity, and all the other ways ego convinces us to pull our punches in relationships.
We can resolve social fear by understanding what causes what, and consciously making a clear distinction between things that are clearly different. Unlove is not love. Love and ego are opposites: ego ruins love.
3. Improve your MOTIVE: If your motivation in the scene is selfish, it's gonna be a bad scene.
Deeper intimacy has deeper satisfactions, but also deeper requirements. One of the most important requirements is this: a sincerely giving orientation. Think about it for a moment, and you'll see why. The deeper the relationship gets, the more people want to know things like what's up between us, what are your intentions, etc. If they're not in it for each other, the intimacy needs to be protected from the truth. And it's not only about what the person SAYS; it's really about where a person's deeply coming from: whether they MEAN the right thing; whether they're about the right thing in their HEART. If one or both persons' orientation isn't giving enough to support a close intimacy, maybe they can still enjoy certain activities together, like shopping, perhaps even sex. But nothing truly deep.
Of course nobody's perfect. And, everybody has a mixture of motivations, partly unselfish, partly selfish. But it matters HOW unselfish, versus how selfish. The balance determines what can happen, how much can happen, how good things can be.
So if you want deep relationship, make GIVING your reason for being. Make it your reason for waking up in the morning. Make it the thing that you concentrate on during the day. And when other thoughts come in, other motivations that are more selfish in nature, shine them on. Don't put any energy into the downers, the no-way ways. Just put your energy into giving.
Do that, and you're changing your viability in love. You're upgrading your presence on the planet! You're not being a problem, even to yourself, by being too self-oriented. Instead, you are really giving; you're really participating. And you're bringing joy to other people by the fact that you're really trying to do them good. Excellent!
4. Be flexible and willing: the only way to "be ready"
When people start doing something and find a lot of resistance in themselves, they think it means that they're not ready. The thing about resistance is this: Training yourself is like training an animal. Patterns are like the dumb and automatic resistance that any animal will have when you try to make it obey. This is where RESOLVE makes a tremendous difference. The animal needs to be made to obey, that's all. An animal will only really be MADE to obey if the trainer is absolutely certain he's going to dominate and prevail. It's a matter of will.
The real problem, then, is not that we have resistance, but that we have little or no real intention to overcome it. Instead, we expect to be beaten by our own resistance, and then give up. That's how people start feeling stuck. Almost invariably, when people say, "I can't change," the fact is they haven't really APPLIED themselves to change. Most likely, they've only spent ten percent of their actual power to the problem of trying to change -- if that.
It's the same with being ready for relationships, in the sense of being "PRESENTABLE." People don't want to go into relationships and cause other people problems. But you see, the problems we cause others would soon be tremendously less, as long as we are seriously committed to OVERCOMING those problems. So the REAL problem is not HAVING problems; the real problem is not being thoroughly committed to overcoming them.
To say, "I'm not presentable" is like saying, "My room isn't presentable." What do you mean when you say your room is not presentable? Do you mean it's PERMANENTLY unpresentable? Actually, that's what I believe people do mean when they feel unpresentable -- that for all practical purposes, they're PERMANENTLY unpresentable. They're not really thinking of themselves as clay -- they're thinking of themselves as rock. Clay is easy to change: "My bedroom isn't presentable, but if you wait five minutes, I'll clean it up." Such a DIFFERENT attitude! So, logically, we can worry less about being PRESENTABLE, and more about being FLEXIBLE.
Presentability is flexibility, adaptability. Readiness is willingness. No one who's unwilling is ready. And, no one who's willing is unready. True willingness is not merely a whim of the moment, a passing fancy. True willingness is real commitment.
It's no use to just sit there and worry about being stuck. I want people to do the highest experiment of living: Sincerely TRY to do things that are fresh and new, that are breakthrough. LIVE. Just try, and see what happens. That's how you earn your freedom.
5. Commit and invest
In this world of disposable relationships, when one person doesn't suit another's fancy, or something difficult happens, people may just bail out: "I don't need this!" Ah, how convenient -- to run away from the problems ( -- except, of course, the many problems caused and perpetuated by running away). It's so common to do this, we take it for granted. But it makes rocky ground for the growth of love.
As you know, fear of rejection and abandonment tops the list of social fears. In a world of disposable intimacies, how can trust grow? How can we hope that our beloved will feel secure with us, open up to us, and stay with us? Without loyalty, commitment, and strong investment, how can we credibly claim to love someone?
We will be committed and loyal, but it takes time, we say. . .
It doesn't work to wait until the relationship is deep and stable before you commit; it won't BECOME deep and stable WITHOUT commitment. People who hold each other too lightly, and with too little real commitment, can't EXPECT that their relationship could ever grow strong. What creates functionality in love is committing to love someone, and then living that commitment. Only in a committed context can our love relationships thrive, grow, blossom, and bear fruit.
It takes years of sincere, hands-on practice . . .
to grow a strong relationship.
to build unshakeable trust.
to refine love skills.
6. Keep the pond clean -- we're all in it together
If people dump a lot of toxins in a pond, guess what? The pond will be polluted. And if the pond gets too toxic, it will not support the life within it. Well, the same goes with relationships.
Actually, the circle of relationship is even more sensitive than physical ecosystems. Everything that happens in any sphere of human relations is bound to affect everyone in it. And of course, that goes DOUBLE in intimacy.
Surely, a little joy or pain in a relationship between two people is unavoidably the experience of both. We human beings are so sensitive! We may remember a casual remark made in irritation (or in pleasure, for that matter) months or even years ago. Harsh words or feelings, in general, cast a lingering doubt over the security of a relationship for days, or weeks. Or more. Thus, while we may feel justified in reactive outbursts from time to time, we are wise to observe that a hurtful action or response may pollute our personal world for some time to come.
We may not always realize the power of our impact on those around us. In the extreme case, a self-centered person in a foul mood might be quite surprised to learn they are affecting others at all! But connection IS, whether we acknowledge it or not. No fantasy of disconnection or separation prevents everyone from harvesting the results of careless deeds, hurtful words, negative thoughts.
To rely on separation to shield others from the interpersonal effects of our own negativity is similar to the cartoon idea of the huge elephant hiding behind the tiny sapling. Perhaps, in his mind, he THINKS he's hidden. But in reality, he's sticking out all over the place! Similarly, the ostrich is not protected by putting her head in the ground: she is still as vulnerable as ever, despite her illusions to the contrary. The illusion of separation is just that -- an illusion. Separation fails to protect because it does not exist.
Once we understand the unchangeable reality of connectedness, and its implications, it behooves us to act within our relationships as we would in any tiny and delicately balanced ecosystem upon which we depend, and which is our home. Toxic reactions and attitudes -- such as skepticism, doubt, reactivity, distrust, anger, etc. -- pollute the habitat of relationship. We need to keep the habitat relatively free of pollution, clean enough to sustain life and growth, so the human heart can be comfortable there, can survive and thrive there.
7. Maximize positive creation
We fear that some of our mistakes may hurt others, and we don't want to do that. Very considerate! But what about the fact that people could BENEFIT FROM the good things we have to offer? We're killing humanity with kindness if our only way of "protecting them from our mistakes" is to do nothing at all.
In response to past mistakes, it's easy to add a NEW mistake on top of the old ones. The new mistake is to get tied up in "nots" (NOT this, NOT that). For example, if she feels insecure, a woman may err on the side of caution, and approach her lover with a resolve like this: "I will not make this or that mistake." And perhaps her lover has made a similar resolve himself. But here's the question: Now that we know what WON'T happen, what WILL happen? Anything?
Surely, love is not just the absence of problems we've avoided. When it comes to love, what counts is what happens. Love needs positive interactions people can enjoy. The heart and soul of any relationship is fed by the positive incidents and feelings contributed by the participants.
And I'm not just talking about simply doing things. Relationships easily fall into ruts of ritualized activities, habitual patterns. People who fear closeness always offer something ELSE instead. But if you pay attention, you always find that no one can keep a relationship alive with just a little worm on a hook: a walk, a material gift, etc. Unless we share ourselves with others, most people will quickly lose interest, and leave. No one values any "thing" or "experience" as much as they value a real human being.
Fortunately, you always have something of infinite value to offer: your Self. To bring anyone close enough to win their heart, give of your SELF -- truly! The mind thinks it's a risk, but to the heart, it is the only safe thing to do. We MUST extend ourselves in love.
8. Be the change you want to see.
A relationship is a dance for two, in which each person's contribution is essential. What does that mean? Let's do our part!
Why approach a situation demanding that the world or the environment must do something to prove to us that it is sincere, that it's willing to fill us, sacrifice for us, prove its goodness and worthiness to us. When we do that, what generally follows is a tragic standoff between our unwilling heart, indisposed to give itself, and the unwilling hearts of the world. Like two children trying to trade toys, but not trusting each other. One child wants the other to give him her rabbit's foot, the other child is unwilling to relinquish it unless she FIRST receives the cat's-eye marble. We cannot get what we want, because we will not give what we have. This happens all too FREQUENTLY in life.
Love is not barter, trade. In love it is essential to give what you have in order to be fulfilled. Just as it would be deluded to demand a huge profit from an investment not made, it is unreasonable to expect great love where great love had not been given. One cannot get what one has not been willing to give. We must become willing to give of ourselves the very thing we desire, in the quantity or with the intensity we would like to receive it.
What about the other person's part? Well, as you know, the only person we can control is ourselves. The only person we can change is ourselves. But that counts more than we may think! According the birds of a feather theory, we attract to ourselves what we ARE. That's a true theory. If we are truly loving, we attract to ourselves others who truly love. And, by the principle of resonance, we bring more of what is truly loving out of all we meet.
And therefore, to see the change, we have to BE the change we want to see.
by David Truman
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