This week’s article is from my friend and colleague across the pond, Steve Nash. I’ve written answers to relationship questions from his selfhelpcollective.com site and now he’s graciously agreed to write a thought-provoking article for me here about…LOVE. Enjoy!
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By Steve M Nash
“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot
live without and know we cannot live within.”
– James Arthur Baldwin
I sent this James Arthur Baldwin quote to my Weekly Wonder email list recently. It seemed to resonate with Paula, and she created the image you see above (and added it to her Facebook page). She then asked me if I’d like to elaborate on a comment I left, “Kinda explains how most of us muck up relationships!” And here I am. Elaborating. And learning about my own life whilst I do so…
So. What do I think Mr. Baldwin means with his words, and how do I think we can all apply his wisdom in our relationships today to help our relationships become what we’ve always truly known they could be? Well…
- Masks are our defence mechanisms that keep us ‘safe’
- Real Love cannot be experienced ‘safely’
- Another name for Real Love is… Unconditional Love
1. Masks are our defence mechanisms that keep us ‘safe’…
The fact is – and there are probably hundreds of reasons why this fact is a fact for you and I both – most of us, most of the time, are acting from a place of fear, especially when it comes to relating to another. We got hurt in the past – sometimes recently, but often back when we were a child, back when we really didn’t have a clue what was going on in the world of fear-based actions – and so now we calculate what’s best to do, what’s most likely to succeed. We base our life actions from a source of fear.
And we act from this place of fear – from behind the mask – because we falsely believe that doing so will keep us ‘safe’, will keep us away from a painful situation that we falsely believe we can’t deal with.
Which leads us to this painful truth: people acting from a place of fear encourage others to act from their place of fear. Or, hurt people hurt people (often not deliberately). And on and on it goes.
And this leads us to, inevitably, the ultimate ‘If only…’ defensive ‘relationship management’ scenario that most of us have played a starring role in: ‘If only they’d… then all would be well with us’.
Question: Just how many times must you experience such a conditional view of love before you seriously wonder whether there is another way?…
2. Real Love cannot be experienced ‘safely’…
Obviously no single person is perfect, is without flaw. So the process of finding flaws in another is guaranteed to succeed, eventually – you just need to persist at it long enough! But what does that get you? It certainly doesn’t get you a relationship that works.
Ever looked at a relationship that works? Real close? They usually involve individuals that you, yourself, would struggle to be in relationship with – ever notice that? And this is because relationships that really work, I believe, involve Real Love; a love that isn’t about seeking shortcomings, isn’t about seeking certainties!
Instead, what Real Love does, if we let it, is expose this false way of being – a false way that we KNOW we are better, and bigger than – and replaces it with a limitless power to forgive, to understand and to love.
Real Love is about our love for ourselves, and the knowledge that whatever happens we will be okay, because… We Are Enough, as is.
So there is nothing safe about Real Love, because it requires that you give up the need to control what happens in your relationships; it requires that you do something you’ve pretty much forgotten to do since being a baby: it requires that you trust yourself!
When we love, and we love, and we love – whether it’s loving the same man or woman over a lifetime, or (as in my case) a different woman, every few years – we slowly start to see that this love we’re experiencing really has nothing to do with the person we’re loving, and everything to do with us…
3. Another name for Real Love is… Unconditional Love
We start to realise that the ONLY way to love anyone, including ourselves, is unconditionally – we simply do not need to know the outcome of such love, because it’s the act of loving (the journey, you might call it) rather than the outcome of that loving (the destination) that’s most important to us as human beings. It’s the act of love that’s so vital, so nourishing, so human, rather than what that love produces!
Fear lures us in with offers of ‘guarantees’; Real Love tells us, in no uncertain terms, no guarantees are necessary, or possible – ever!
Because whatever happens in this, or any other relationship: you are enough.
Yes, this is what I think James meant with these powerful words; this is why any relationship you have will dramatically ‘improve’ when you both understand and embody this ‘powerful’ understanding of your own human nature.
Love takes off masks means that love takes down our defences, our defences to life. Only then can we truly experience everything that life has to offer – both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. And, deep down, we know that we are most alive when we stop trying to stay safe, when we stop believing the lie that we are not enough!
What do you think, though, does any of this sound true to you? Is Real Love the kind of love you now want to experience? (Or do you still prefer to wait for Mr (or Ms) Right, instead?)
Truly, I can only ever speak for myself. After years of looking outwards to be in a great relationship, I now want to look inward instead. And writing this piece has helped shine a little more light on where I find myself today:
- My aim from now on is to assist Real Love wherever I can, to take off the masks that I know I cannot live within.
- My aim now is to be Who I Truly Am; to know that I am enough, to trust myself completely.
Everything else is just details…
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Steve M Nash is editor of guru-free self-help site, SelfHelpCollective.com. You too can join Steve’s free Weekly Wonder mailing list by subscribing here: www.SelfHelpCollective.com/newsletter.html
Steve is also a big fan of human potential (including his own) and that’s why he recently started (without knowing how it’s going to turn out) his latest venture called Inspire Greatness Now.
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As Steve said, let us know what YOU think about this thing called LOVE and what to do about it!
Live your joy!