No One Will Thank You for Being Who You Think They Want You to Be But Plenty of People Will Love You for Who You Are

We’re almost always wrong about the image of ourselves in other peoples’ heads.

I think that bears reiterating.

We don’t have a stinking clue how the people in our lives see us.

Yet we believe very strongly that we do. We look at the other halves of our relationships–our friends, parents, significant others, siblings, colleagues, etc…–and we form an image of them in our minds based on how they present themselves to us.Thus, we conclude, they must also have an image of us in their mind, which we then feel obliged to live up to in order to maintain the relationship.

This makes absolutely no sense.

If this sounds familiar though, maybe we are ready to drop the facade.

At some point, many of us learned–incorrectly–that we have to earn love. Love is unconditional. If it has conditions, it’s not love. Sometimes, though, it takes many years to learn this. In the meantime, we create false identities, along with a whole lotta trouble.

When we believe we must earn love from other people, we strive to make ourselves lovable to them, presupposing that we aren’t already. We carefully plan our behaviors and appearance to find approval from them.

We do what (we think) they want us to do, say what they want us to say, look the way they want us to look. After all, we’re only being considerate of their feelings, right?

Wrong.

All we’re really doing is lying.

And hurting both of us.

Because, you see, when we aren’t true to who are, we create problems. The more we labor over what to do or say in every situation, the more it will backfire in our faces. We will inevitably say or do the wrong thing, and then we will be hurt because we were trying so hard to make the other person happy.

When we try to be someone else to please others, we get angry. We resent the people for whom we’ve changed, even though they never asked us to change in the first place.

Angry, resentful people are not fun to be around.

Every mask, every facade, every false identity is born out of the fear of rejection. Sadly, what happens is that we reject ourselves before we even give others the chance to do it. We just assume that they will. Then they do, and we feel hurt.

In seeking validation from others, we create our own drama in which we play the victim. This is a nasty, toxic cycle that only ends when we step out of the play and stop acting.

If we were meant to be something other than ourselves, we would have been born into a different life.

Every relationship we have is ours for a reason.

Our task is not to earn others’ love. It’s not even our task to make others happy. That includes our parents, our spouses, and our best friends.

Our task is to relate to each other. That’s it. Everything we say and do is meant to come from our real selves. We will still inevitably do and say things that upset each other, but that’s no reason to fear.

Relationships are meant to make everyone in them grow. Growth hurts (a lot) sometimes, but it’s always a good thing. As living things, we are meant to grow, and we are meant to grow together.

That’s why it’s so important for each of us to be true. When we lie to each other about who we are, we inhibit the other people in our relationships. Our growth is tied to theirs. When we do not share ourselves with others, we deny them the good we could be bringing to their lives and we prevent them from blessing us as well.

Not all relationships are meant to last, but some are. If we are going to have real relationships, we have to be brave enough to invest ourselves in them.

Real relationships are built on love, and love is unconditional. Love encompasses everything, and that’s why, in real relationships, there is room for both people to be themselves completely. When we love and accept ourselves without conditions, then we can know and relate with others as they really are. No filters, no masks. Just us.

No one will ever thank you for being who you think they want you to be, but plenty of people will love you for who you are.

And that’s who you really want to be anyway.

 

Why We’ve Got It So Wrong About Giving and Receiving

Give to receive.

This is a beatitude, some would say a platitude. It is a Universal Law. It is common sense.

Reciprocity. The Circle of Life. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Water a plant and watch it grow.

We may say we believe this, that we know it to be true; yet, as we go through our lives, we often see the opposite in practice. Some willfully choose not to practice reciprocity, but I believe most of us don’t understand it in the first place.

Discussions on this wisdom tend to focus on the giving aspect. Don’t be selfish–give. If you want to be blessed in your life, give. Give give give give give.

What about receiving?

Well, giving is the active principle here, right? Receiving is passive, right? So if we give, the receiving will just happen…? Nope.

The way in which we discuss this simple truth reveals the reason why we aren’t experiencing it in our lives.

We don’t know how to receive.

And honestly, we don’t know how to give either.

Looking at human history from the perspective of spiritual development, we can see that, as a species, we were moving through the third chakra–the personal power chakra. In other words, we have been concerned with understanding our power and learning how to use it on our environment. The monotheistic revolution, the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the technological revolution…

During this stage, we have prioritized our masculine energies and suppressed our feminine energies. We wanted to see how much power we can have, how much we can achieve. We’ve achieved a lot, to be sure, but at the same time, we’ve caused a lot of damage because we ignored the universal law of reciprocity.

In the pursuit of power, we have given. We have given our bodies, our time, our minds. But how many of us have given authentically? How many of us have given our true gifts?

The saying goes, “As you give, so shall you receive.”

If we give who we truly are, we will receive the blessings that are meant for us.

If, however, we give from a place of inauthenticity, we will receive likewise.

Also, because we have collectively devalued our feminine energies, we have forgotten how to receive. Actually, we have closed ourselves off from receiving.

What we have done on the collective level, we have also done on the individual level. We have divided our whole selves into superior and inferior aspects. Because we are so interested in exercising our personal power, we fabricate identities and lives that match a preferred image.

Yet we’ve found that this doesn’t really work. We try to control what cannot be controlled. We have broken from our true selves, and the result is illness–physical, mental, spiritual.

When we mistake this broken fabrication for our true selves, we give from this state of falseness and thus cannot receive the gifts that are meant for our true selves.

If we are living a lie, we push away what we are meant to receive because it scares this false self. If we are open to receive our truth, then the false self will be destroyed. We will necessarily see that we’ve been living wrongly and hurting ourselves–and by extension, the world.

They say, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but the truth is that both happen at the same time.

Receiving is a lot scarier than giving, because receiving requires us to acknowledge that our power isn’t everything. Receiving is surrendering control, which is also exactly how we need to give.

We give and receive by being our true selves.

When we give of ourselves, what it is in us to give, by doing what we are naturally designed to do…then we receive what we need to continue giving and doing.

This is the basis of faith and trust.

It’s not a promise of a comfortable life in which we always have the answers, but it is the path of a meaningful life.

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In the last several decades, we have begun moving collectively into a new developmental stage–the heart chakra. We are seeing a return of value to feminine energies. The desire for wholeness and health are pulling us up.

The time is ripe for stepping into our authentic paths. As each of us does so, we make the world a better place for all of us.

It’s time to stop trying to control everything. We only end up making messes we can’t clean up.

It’s time to be ourselves authentically, give ourselves completely, and receive ourselves gratefully.

It’s time to live from the heart. It’s time to love.

The Beliefs That Make Us Who We Are

Love.

I find it puzzling and ridiculously annoying that the English language uses only one word to describe about a million different things.

I can love my spouse. I can love my parents. I can love my children, my friends, my pets. I can love God. I can love traveling or writing or cycling or knitting. I can love peanut butter and Netflix.

Yet these are not all the same thing.

Love can be a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb. Love can be used in a healthy way and in a toxic way. Love can be spoken but not meant. Love can be epic or tiny.

This doesn’t make any sense. What is love, anyway?

I am a romantic of the highest caliber, so, to me, love is everything. I have sought after it my whole life, and now that I’ve found it, I am very opinionated about it. So too, I’ve found, is everyone else.

They say, When you know, you know. And I know. I know in my bones, in my gut, in my soul. I have found love. I am in love. I understand the words of the poets; I see a whole new world; I am a better person because I truly love someone who truly loves me.

But there are many people who want to argue that what I have is not love, because I share it with someone of my same sex.

I want to say to these people: If you actually have love and know what it is, how can you deny that I do too, even if it doesn’t look the same as yours? Of course, I can’t just claim that homophobic people don’t have real love in their lives.

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently, if you can call it a conversation that is. Mostly it was me yelling while she responded calmly with her opposing opinions. I asked her to explain why she believes love between two people of the same sex is wrong. Her response was, “Because it ends life.” She believes the whole point of life is to procreate; life wants only to reproduce more life. Homosexuality goes against nature, she says, which is why it is a sin.

At the end of our talk, I still wanted to tear someone’s hair out, but even so, I knew this person was a godsend. I needed to hear someone’s reasons for discriminating against people like me beyond “For the Bible tells me so.” I could argue against her reasoning point by point, but the real point is that we hold different beliefs.

I could never believe that homosexuality is a sin. I believe that love is not limited by anatomy. I believe real love always makes the world a better place. That is a belief that makes me who I am.

We all have beliefs that are tied inextricably to the people we are meant to be. Does that mean that the belief in the unnaturalness of some people’s identities are meant to be?Something deep inside me tells me no. I believe that jam should be spread on a scone before the clotted cream, but that’s not tied to my destiny. There’s a line between opinion and belief, though they too often get confused.

Beliefs go deeper than preference, deeper than what we’ve been taught. Our beliefs are written into make up, and often we don’t even know what they are until we look at them. Some of our beliefs are meant to be various, but some are meant to be shared among us all. And Love is at the heart of all belief. No pun intended.

We’ve reached the stage in our development as a species in which we need to examine the stories and beliefs that make us who we are. This need comes from within us; it is a collective urge for growth. It’s nothing new, of course. Mystics and sages have been doing this for centuries upon centuries, but now in the first world there is a mass movement toward self-examination and self-improvement.

Why? Because now we need more than survival. We need more than comfort. We need more than power. We need love.

So the question still lingers, What is love? Given the plethora of ways we use the word, I think it’s clear that, collectively, we don’t yet know or understand it. When we do, I believe the world will look very different.

Love is a huge part of what we are as humans and who we are meant to be. As we search for love, we are really searching for ourselves. That’s where it begins. With you. With me. With each of us.

Have a look see. In your heart of hearts, what do you believe in? What do you love?