Your Brave Shortcut To Love
This path is steeper, but it's got passion--and it's your own.
Posted July 16, 2011
No matter what you've been told, no matter what you've feared to be true, the search for love is essentially neither a race against time nor a hunt for a needle in the haystack. It's a journey toward intimacy, and we shape that journey by the roads we choose. In this post, I want to suggest a shortcut for the brave of heart.
Buried in all the nagging "shoulds" of self-improvement lie what I call "guiding insights"; insights that carry a real ring of truth for you about what's next in your search for love. Embrace yours, and you'll feel the excitement and the challenge of your own authentic journey.
These insights (which I explore in greater detail in my book Deeper Dating) often arise in your most undefended moments. Their call carries a sense of urgency and truth that you feel deep inside. You know they matter. They may make your heart ache (that ache is usually a sign of their veracity). They may feel comforting, or they may scare the hell out of you. They may be undefined, inchoate, forming even while you're feeling your way into them. But if they don't chime for you, then they're not core insights--no matter how practical they are.
Don't worry about finding your core lessons. They'll find you. If you're on the lookout, and if you're willing to say yes to the challenges they hold, they will come more and more frequently.
About a decade ago, I saw Almodovar's brilliant movie, All About My Mother. After the movie, I felt an odd sensation inside. I walked to a quiet part of the theatre lobby and closed my eyes. What was I feeling? After a minute, it became clear. I wanted to be a dad. I was a single gay man, and I wasn't sure my finances could handle it, but I felt it in my gut--I was being called to fatherhood. About one year later, I brought my son home, and we became a family. It's been the greatest gift of my life.
Core insights can be smaller in scale; a bittersweet realization that there's been too much distance between you and a loved one. Deciding to ask your friend to introduce you to someone whose presence moves you. Taking the plunge to get a pet.
It's not that most of us don't get core insights: it's that we chronically ignore them. Countless magazines rely on the fact that we minimize our own inner authority and crave the comfort of expert advice!
Why do we fool ourselves like this?
Because following our own insights means carving a path that's uniquely ours. Somehow, we sense that this will bring us straight to the wild and risky truths of our life--and we'd prefer to avoid that jungle if at all possible. Most of us prefer comfort to risk, even if that comfort turns into loneliness. The issue isn't that we lack wisdom, it's that our wisdom asks more of us than we'd rather give.
I worried that the demands of being a single dad would keep me from finding love. In fact, the opposite happened. I met my wonderful partner, also a dad, through an event for our children. If you follow your own core insights, love will move closer--and you'll feel it happening.
In world of to-do lists that never stop growing, the feeling of knowing what matters is a treasure. Dive into the five minute process below to learn more about your own core insights. And please share your experiences and comments.
Exercise: A Five-Minute Introduction to Your Guiding Insights
Take a paper and pencil. On the top of the paper, write: WHERE IS LOVE CALLING ME?
Now take a few minutes to write--straight from your feelings. Where in your life is love calling you? Maybe it's the longing to play an instrument you gave up years ago. Or the desire to spend more time in nature, or with friends. What you write may surprise you, and that's good. After you write something, let a moment pass and silently ask yourself the question again. Once again, write whatever hits you, even if it's only one word, or lines from a song. Try not to second guess. You're learning a new language.
Take a moment to look at what you wrote. Notice any tendency you have to diminish it, ignore it or flee from it. Instead, try to simply allow its effects to ripple through you. The simple act of appreciating these messages allows them to seep into our circuitry, somehow changing us.
If this exercise confronted you with something too hard to act upon, please don't turn it into an oppressive "should." Instead, simply cherish the worth of your insight, feel your fear--and don't do anything more. Just feeling the humanity in both sides of yourself is an act of empowerment. The aching friction it creates will generate the very heat you need to take the next step.
Get to know the flavor, the feel of your own deeper streams of insight. Then, instead of simply seeking love, you'll be building it in your life. And that's how real, healthy love comes to us.
© 2011 Ken Page, LCSW. All Rights Reserved
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