What is love? What does it mean? Ever known love was there but unable to feel it? You might have spent your childhood feeling unwanted, unloved or believing you had to perform in order to deserve love.
Some begin the awakening process as a conscious or unconscious search for a source of love that can never be taken away.
How we Learn to Relate
How comfortable are you reaching out for reassurance, support or guidance? How do you address conflict and how do you repair relationships after conflict? These are cornerstones of what makes a healthy relationship. We Emerge from our Families with a Blueprint of how to Give and Receive Love.
This starts when we are in utero (inside our mothers). The first connection we make in this life and depending on how welcoming a space it is for us will be one of the determining factors in our ability to give and receive in our relationships.
As we are developing our attachment with our parents or caregivers we are building a matrix for how to engage with others and develop meaningful bonds. This matrix is permeable and flexible and will change as we grow but there is an underlying pattern that develops. This strengthens or damages our ability to be conscious of our feelings and know how to calm and soothe ourselves.
If you grew up in a frightening or chaotic environment you often grow into an adult who has a difficulty understanding your own emotions and the feelings of other people. It’s a barrier to building and maintaining healthy relationships.
Causes of insecure attachment: separation from primary caregiver due to illness, death, divorce or adoption; neglect; abuse.
We are unique and so are our attachment bonds. Parents and caregivers do not have to be perfect or always in tune but it helps if they’re emotionally available.
~ Secure attachment
Parents aligned with child and in tune with child’s emotions and child feels safe. As an adult you create meaningful relationships and bonds. Empathetic and able to set appropriate boundaries.
~ Avoidant attachment
Parents unavailable or rejecting. As an adult you avoid closeness or emotional connection and can be distant, critical and rigid.
~ Ambivalent attachment
Parents inconsistent and sometimes intrusive communication. As an adult you may be anxious and insecure. You can be charming, unpredictable and erratic, blaming and controlling.
~ Disorganized attachment
Parents ignored or didn’t see child’s needs. Parents behavior was frightening and traumatizing. As an adult you may be a little chaotic, insensitive, explosive, abusive and untrusting of others even while craving security. Disorganized attachment can include some or all of the above.
We may feel a sense of lack: a belief of not having enough love to give. That belief can foster the delusion of being unlovable, unloved or cut off from love. Or, that there might not be enough to go around for us.
Feeling unloved ourselves, we pass on our sense of lack so that even when we reach out to love… make connections, what comes through instead is fear, neediness or desperation.
Even healthy relationships have problems. Sooner or later the honeymoon period ends. People make mistakes.
What happens next? Do we turn and run? Do we avoid issues and pretend nothing happened? Either is unlikely to help develop a healthy and safe connection. If we always agree on everything there is the reality of moving into a fantasy where there is no room to grow and evolve a healthy relationship. Authentic connections have difficulties we need to face issues and repair when necessary
Mistakes happen. Misunderstandings occur. If we acknowledge it and look to work it out it’s an opportunity to build trust and intimacy. Do you value the connection? Each time you work through issues you deepen the connection you share and better equipped to deal with future issues. As in attachment bonding styles you don’t have to be perfect, only need to be willing, available, and sensitive.
Mindfulness is being aware and focusing on the present moment, calmly accepting our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. It improves our ability to go into our inner life and be aware, allowing us to be more present.
Now and then we all get stuck in patterns of negative thinking or destructive behaviour, detrimental to ourselves and those around us. Developing a mindfulness practice can deepen your connection to who you are and will improve the strength of your connections and relationships.
~ Recognition Practice
This practice acknowledges that divine awareness in another is the same as the divine awareness that lies within us.
I was working on a project with a difficult and demanding individual. One day this individual was being unreasonable and intractable I was aware of an uneasiness just being in the energy of this person. Looking deeply into the individual’s eyes, reminded myself that the awareness, the presence that was looking out of those eyes was the same awareness that was looking out through mine. Whatever differences we were on the same level of pure awareness.
This recognition allowed my feelings of alienation and dissension to dissolve. This allowed me to work more easily with this person. I use this strategy when I feel the absence of connection or love. It helps clear away feelings of alienation, jealousy and hostility that may block my mind and form barriers to feeling connection, allowing unity.
Close your eyes and imagine you’re in the center of a vast flow of love. Imagine that love is flowing toward you like water or passing into you like an easy gentle breeze. Whether you feel this love or not, keep imagining that it is flowing toward you and into you.
You can also imagine that just outside the window of your room sits a compassionate and loving being, someone wise and incredibly compassionate and forgiving. This person is watching you through the window; and protects you and surrounds you with sweetness and love.
Allow yourself to receive the love that is moving toward you from this being. If any thoughts come up to distract you (e.g. I don’t deserve this, or It’s not real) let them go saying ‘thinking’ and then breathing the thought out as you would in meditation. Your only task is to receive.
As you open your eyes, look around with the thought that the love you have been contemplating is still flowing toward you from whatever you see and even from the air itself.
Love is the seed of everything. It is present in everything. In every moment we feel appreciation, tenderness, compassion, affection. Any drop of love always leads us straight back to love.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Karen works with people and businesses interested in psychological and spiritual growth and in transforming their lives and organizations.
Karen Johnson, SEP Cht | 416.732.2661