Recently someone asked me the question “is it better to love or to loved?” . I don’t think I ever really gave this much thought before. Then it got me thinking about what would I feel more regret about when I reflect on my life sometime in the future? And I came to the conclusion that for me it is far more meaningful to give real deep love than it is to receive it. I would feel a real sense of emptiness if I never experienced what it is to feel deeply for someone else. At the same time I came to the conclusion that this does not have to be one “special” person or even someone you make a commitment to be with for the rest of your life.
How to Measure Love
I guess measuring love is a little bit difficult but for me the words that come to mind are, needing, wanting, expectations, warmth, attachment, connection and pain.
To really know what it is to feel a deep sense of love for someone you must be able to continue loving them even if they do not meet your expectations. The more the expectations, the more volatile the relationship becomes. So if say you would rather be loved than to love, then there it is already an expectation in place. There is nothing wrong with wanting a special person to share your life with, what causes the problems are the preconceived notions that you take into this relationship.
For me I guess the only love I can see that can be selfless and unshakable is that of a mother towards her child.
A Mother’s Love
I am fortunate enough to be a mother, three times over. To me being a mother is the deepest relationship I have in my life. It is giving without needing or wanting anything in return. There are no expectations, it is the only real selfless love. I’m not saying it is always the case, of course there are plenty of women who’s role as a mother is not loving.
I’m also privileged to be a grandmother, another level of mothering love but without the daily responsibilities that can add a little stress to the mother child relationship. Being a grandmother is a true gift.
Of course not everyone has the chance to experience being a parent or grandparent, not everyone wants to. It’s a personal choice and often not even a choice. I am only using my own experience here.
I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble about this notion of “romantic love” with the one and only but I have to say that this is probably the least fulfilling loving relationship. I’ll take a step back here and try to elaborate without me coming across as a non believer. Of course finding romantic love in life, that special person you can connect with, get close to and share “special” moments with is absolutely fundamental in life.
To go through life never experiencing this type of connection is sad. What is sadder however is watching people lose themselves in these romantic love relationships. Watching people searching with a sense of desperation for that “special one” And then watching people tear each other apart in dysfunctional relationships that long lost their magic and romance. This sense of clinging and attachment is clearly at the heart of so much pain in our lives, yet it is so much easier for some to just let it become their life than it is to let it go and move on.
And the proof for me that romantic love is less fulfilling than other types of love is that it all rests on what we get from it and the other person fulfilling our expectations. This is what makes it so difficult to maintain, we change, our needs change and our expectations change. How can one person be the giver of all that?
Is Romantic Love Dead?
It may sound like I’m saying there’s not such thing as romantic love. Actually I am saying the opposite. I’m saying it does exist but like most things in life it doesn’t last forever.
We have to be willing to see that love comes and goes. You find it in the most unexpected places, it can last days, weeks, months and years but it will change and it will end. Let’s not confuse real deep romantic, intimate love with long lasting relationships, they are rarely based on the love that perhaps was there at the beginning. These long lasting relationships are about evolving as a couple. Something for another discussion.
The Two Most Powerful Love’s
In order to live a life based on love, to give without an expectation of receiving anything in return is to realise that self love and love for humanity are the two most purest forms of love, yet we struggle with them the most.
Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first
Going back to the original question “is it better to love or to be loved?” and looking at it in the way I’ve been discussing here, it is clear that finding a way to share your love is far more rewarding,than searching for someone to give you what you need.
In order to give pure love without expectations you must first love yourself
And this is where the problem lies. We struggle to give ourselves the love we expect from others. Instead we search for that special person to give us what we think we do not deserve to give ourselves.
And finally we must find love for humanity. We must feel compassion for the human race, for the other living beings that share this planet with us and we must find peace for this planet we live on. We can not restrict our love to one special person and neglect this amazing universe we live in. It is a fruitless pursuit this search for one person to share our love with when there is a whole world that needs our complete devotion.
Join the Freedom in Later Life Facebook group and let’s make this world a loving place to live.www.facebook.com/groups/freedominlaterlife/
Christmas is just around the corner, ready to spring on us with all it that it brings with it. Of course it’s a special time for many of us. We have time to spend with our friends and family. Nothing more rewarding than spending quality time with loved one’s.
Christmas can also be a stressful time. There’s the run up to Christmas, the presents, the shopping, the crowded shops and all the preparation for the special day. For some it can cause money worries, how to afford to buy the presents, to host the dinner and all the extra expense.
All of this can make us irritable and emotional. Throw in a difficult person and tensions can get high. We all have one or two of these people in our lives. In normal situations we deal with them in a healthy way, sometimes we may just choose to ignore their behaviour but when we are feeling stressed, it’s not always possible to be as calm.
Before I continue, let me just remind you that if you do react out of character be kind to yourself, don’t beat yourself up and just let it be.
Catch Our Emotions Before They Catch Us
I guess the most important thing we can do is to catch our emotions before they catch us. As a Mindfulness Practitioner this is where being totally aware of your own thoughts, feelings and emotions comes in. With all the fussing, noise and running around we can lose sight of what is going on in our own minds, then we let our emotions run the show.
If you feel that you are getting lost in your emotions perhaps you could find a space to practice the 3 step breathing space. Or simply take yourself away from the situation for a few minutes, breathe and take stock of your own mind.
In reality people only appear difficult to us because they don’t meet our expectations. We expect them to act in a certain way, to say things we would like them to say and when they don’t we are let down. But how realistic are these expectations?
Perhaps we should realign our expectations. It would be even better to try to completely remove any expectations we have of others. Sounds impossible? Maybe it is, but the less we expect from others the more chance we have of not being let down.
Being Aware of Our Ego
And here is the big one, our ego. We need to be right, recognised or listened to. Whatever it is that is eating at us is often what causes us to react in certain ways towards others.
That doesn’t mean that other people are not difficult or challenging. What it does mean is that we can only be in charge of our own reaction to others, we can not control their behaviour only our own.
We can let anger take over and create negative energy, causing the situation to be worse. Or we can try to show compassion towards the other person, try to see what is causing them to act in that way. This creates a much more positive energy for everyone.
This week was the first anniversary of my divorce, another one of those significant milestones. How different my life is now compared to a year ago, I feel like a different person. I feel like I walked away from a massive car accident unscathed but when I look back at the carnage I’m surprised to still be standing.
When things don’t turn out the way we planned, we start to think of them as mistakes. Because it somehow makes it easier to just regret the action in the first place.
Was my biggest mistake my marriage?
What most people would expect me to say is “of course it was a mistake!”, “of course it was a waste of 30 years of my life!”
But I have a different take on it because the one thing I know for sure is that my greatest lessons have come from perceived “mistakes”. Without these mistakes there are a lot of things I would not have experienced, learnt and done.
And more important I would not have my children who are the most important people in my life. How can that be a mistake?
Mistakes are a vital part of growing as a person.
When I first separated I attended a weekend Buddhist teaching on The Four Noble Truths in London, trying to prepare myself for my trip to Nepal.
At one point the monk started talking about compassion and how important it is to be a compassionate person. I remember thinking at the time “I don’t think I will ever be able to be compassionate towards him (my ex)”
The anger was too deep (so I thought), how would I ever be able to be compassionate to him?
I asked the monk, “how can I be compassionate to someone who deliberately hurt me?”
He just looked at me, in complete stillness and said “you use him as your teacher, you have an amazing opportunity to learn compassion” Not what I wanted to hear but I knew then as I do now, he was right.
And so I began to do just that. Step by step I started to show compassion towards my ex. Hard as it may sound and believe me at times it was impossible but as I started to practice compassion towards him, there was a sense of release for me.
Compassion towards those that hurt you is actually the best form of self compassion.
What is my biggest mistake then?
The biggest mistake is not making any
Well that is simple. The biggest mistake I ever made was trying to avoid mistakes. Playing it safe, protecting what I thought was mine, or going to be my story forever.
When you realise that everything changes, what was true to me when I was in my twenties was not true to me 10 years later and definitely not 30 years later.
The choices you make when you are young may not be right for you down the line. That’s not a mistake, it’s a fact of life.
What is the difference between Guilt and Remorse?
So here’s the thing, in life we end up hurting others, there’s no real escaping this. If we believe in Karma then we need to be aware of the following. Oh and if you don’t believe in Karma, surely you must believe in the fact that in life there is always a consequence to an action, same thing as Karma! (more…)
I was on the tube on my way home last night, when a rather scruffy gentleman in his 80’s sat opposite. We had a little friendly exchange about the football match that he obviously had been too. It got me thinking about how we make assumptions about older people and fail to see the person in front of us.
Recently I met a gentleman who is in his 70’s, just the type of older guy you walk past every day in the street and take no notice. But his story inspired me because he went on to tell me how he grew up in Hong Kong, went to school with Bruce Lee, traveled, his ups and his downs.
What struck me the most was how humble he was. There’s me, sort of star struck because growing up in the 70’s meant I was a massive Bruce Lee fan. The fact that my new friend could share his stories with such modesty, especially when he talked about training with Bruce Lee, was admirable. I know he won’t mind me sharing this picture of him in Hong Kong, at school with Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee at School
In the recent years, the more I open my mind to actually seeing the person behind the face, the more I see that we all have something to learn from older people. After all they have a story to share, their stories are real and they are important live lessons.
Here are 5 things you can learn from older people: