Occasionally I repost an older blog post to introduce it to new visitors:
Q: I have had relationship difficulties for many years, primarily finding I dont attract the type of girl I'd like. I tried the Abraham Hicks stuff on focusing on what I want, not what I dont want. But I still find it puts me back in "wanting", and I feel terrible because it reminds me of what I dont have. So things have started to get desperate - hence my emailing you.
You mention in your articles Love Is for Giving and Loving Through the Senses about loving what is here now. However, I have found I have become addicted to doing things I like, and totally avoidant to things I dont like. I tried letting go of desire, but that hasnt worked - because I still want the thing I am after. I am finding it really hard to love "what is" when I dont like it - ie. lack of relationship. I'm getting stuck and am spinning in my head! And I have not been able to let go of "wanting it" - so the pain worsens. I am confused and wondering if you could shed some light. I appreciate you know nothing of my situation, and this could be a long shot!
A: Your confusion is natural and not uncommon. And yet it is possible to love something you do not like. However, there are definitely some things that can make that easier to do:
- First, remember that loving something you do not like does not in any way take away your ability to choose something different. If you do not like your job, then you can look for another one. If you want a satisfying relationship, then you can take actions to both find someone and also learn how to be healthier and happier in your relationships. Loving what is does not mean you become a doormat to unpleasant people or experiences, or that you cannot move towards what you want in life. Loving what is just means that you do not need to suffer or experience a lack of love when you are not getting what you want. It is just a part of life that sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don't. So why not be filled with love even when you are not getting what you want? Again, you do not need to give up trying to get what you want, just also love what is.
- Secondly, it can help to simplify your definition of love to its most fundamental components. We can equate love with a feeling of attraction, affection or appreciation, and yet the core of love is simply awareness and space. The simplest way to love something or someone is to give them lots of attention, curiosity, and simple awareness. Just touch them with your awareness. And also give them lots of space or acceptance. Giving space is just a matter of consciously recognizing that they are the way they are right now, and letting them be that way. You do not have to like it or feel good about it, just be present to things as they are. This is the essence of love, and it is the most satisfying way to be with the things you like and the things you don't like. You can give love in this way simply because it feels good to give spacious attention and acceptance to things, not because you want or need anything from them. You may still want something to be different, or not like something, but in the meantime, why not allow yourself to be filled with a sense of fullness and love? Why wait for things to change to start giving this open attention to your experiences? It does not cost you anything and you will never run out of awareness, so why not experiment with just giving it away freely? You may find you enjoy being curious and accepting for its own sake, even when you are not getting what you want.
- Last but not least, the most helpful key to loving what is is to include yourself in the equation, and especially to include your dislikes and disatisfactions in this spacious awareness. If you do not like something, then the easiest way to love what is, is to give attention and acceptance to the feeling of not liking it. That is part of what is, so why leave that out? And if in the moment you do not like the feeling of not liking something, then start with giving space to not liking the feeling of not liking something! When we start with loving our own feelings just the way they are, this can start the flow of loving acceptance, and make it easier sometimes to then go ahead and just give space to the original thing that triggered our feelings. But even if in the moment, you cannot give space to something you do not like, then at least you are also experiencing some love and acceptance in the moment by loving how you do not like it.
Including yourself and your genuine feelings is the key to loving what is. By including more and more of what is already happening, it becomes easy to also experience and express more love. In contrast if you have to first get rid of your dislike for something so that you can then force yourself to love it, that just creates more internal conflict. That is no fun and makes it seem like a chore to love what is. But if you start by loving how much you don't like something, then there is no conflict, there is just some love beginning to happen. Again, sometimes this can even lead to the place where you also love the original experience as it is easier to love something else once you have got some momentum going.
One more thing about loving how much you do not like something is that most of the time you actually are already loving how much you dislike or even hate something. When you are busy disliking something, you are usually already paying attention to how you feel and what you think, and you are not trying to change the fact that you do not like it, so you are already accepting it. So the reason why this approach of including all of your likes and dislikes, feelings, reactions, preferences, etc. can make it so much easier to love what is, is because your awareness is already flowing to these things. And before you think about it too much, there is even a defacto acceptance of your feelings. Awareness and acceptance are actually natural qualities of your Being that are always already here. It turns out this pure simplicity of love is not really something you do, but is who and what you really are.
The real gift of practicing giving love to people and things and also to your own feelings and reactions is when you notice that this acceptance and awakeness is always already here. Loving is more natural and automatic to your Being than breathing. In every moment you are loving (giving awareness and space) to some thing or else to some other thing. You can't really stop being aware. But by consciously "doing" it and giving this attention and curiosity to whatever happens to be here, you can start to notice this constant flow of spacious attention that is at the core of your existence. When we really start to sense how true love and acceptance are always already here, then it may even seem like the problem is that our Being is too damn accepting and aware! Our Being accepts and is aware of everything including of course all of the ways we suffer and struggle. Yet ultimately, it is in the conscious recognition of this deeply unconditional love that is always here that the dilemma of our desires and suffering is finally resolved. If in a moment you truly sense the depth and completeness of this loving awareness of Being, then suddenly there is room here for everything and every feeling and everybody, including you.
For a long time, we think the way out of our suffering is to more effectively manage what happens. Then when we discover spiritual teachings, we decide instead to more effectively manage our desires. And when none of that ultimately works, the only option left is to notice the place in our Being that already enjoys everything that happens including all of our desires. At first it can seem like an overwhelming defeat, but once you have lost all of your defenses, all that is left is this genuine spacious aware love. What a blessing---to be defeated completely by overwhelming love!
I hope this helps.