WHAT IS LOVE?

EMOTIONAL FITNESS THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Most sages suggest in their preaching of  love and kindness – to love or treat others as you want to be  treated. Not always wise.

Thomas Merton

Merton’s point is worthy reflecting on. The greatest gift of love is as Merton said, the ability to love not ourselves in the other person, but the reality of that person – good or bad.  That is, however, only half of love; the enduring half is the desire to want the other person’s  good to shine brighter and brighter.

The students of humanity, often thought of today as shrinks,  see much love as narcissism.  We love in another reflections of ourselves.  The shrinks call this putting our beliefs on another projection.

We project what we see or want for ourselves and call it love.   We also project what we don’t want to see in ourselves and call it hate.  In either case, we do not see the other as anything but a relfection of ourselves. Not the way to find peace on earth.

Think of a long ago love.   My first love was a wonderful love; I cherish the memories. I also know we loved each other for  all the wrong reasons.  For me the need was to be loved by someone I was attracted to.  For him, I think it was to be loved by a Miss Goody Two Shoes mixed with some lust.

Notice that both of us had  lust mixed in there. Love at first sight, which ours was, usually has a strong lust base.  As many failed marriages show, lust is not the best basis for marriage.

I have now been married for over 40 years.  Ours is not a marriage made in heaven. Few are.  Ours has been a lasting marriage for a many reasons.  Lust is there, but also lots of laughter, shared ideas about right and wrong, the glue of our children, common interests.  The most important ingredients however, have been both the acceptance of each other and  the wish to see the other be all he or she could be.

EMOTIONAL FITNESS THOUGHTS ABOUT HATE AND VIOLENCE

If love is a projection of our own needs, hate is the rejection of the parts of ourselves that we want to disown. Hate begins in one or another hurt or fear that turns to anger and then solidifies.

Think of a time  someone asked you, “Are you angry at me?”  If you were that is one thing, but often you were not. Then they are at some level angry at you.

If that is the case think about how you might have hurt them. As much as we try to think we do not hurt others, we do all the time.  Usually, the hurts stem from the bricks of kindness that pave the way to hell – good intentions.  This is particularly true of those in positions of power – beginning with parents, but including teachers, mentors, coaches, bosses.

My high school English teacher predicted I would flunk out of college if I didn’t learn to spell and punctuate properly.  His intentions were good, but his statement hurt.   Over and over as I counseled others, I hurt similar stories. People who cared, hurting without thought.  Then think of the kids who don’t make a team.  Or parents, who downplay a dream by urging a teen get a real job or a real education.

Good intentions that harm  extends to cultural beliefs.  One is the current American belief as  best expressed by Oprah, “If I made it, anyone can.”

Just not true.  She did not just want it and work hard to get it. She was smart, savvy, and the right person at the right time.  Those last things were luck.  Think if she had been born a slave before slavery ended.

Hate is anger frozen and generalized. My previous post about the Columbine murders was about hate generalized.

Here is another example of how failure to get where Oprah got creates hate. Think of Colin Ferguson a mass murderer. Colin killed six people on a Long Island Railroad train heading into New York.  Born to privilege,  bright and an honor student described in high school as well rounded, he was orphaned at the age of twenty. When his parents died, the life of  privilege ended.

Colin then came to America hoping to fulfill the American dream. He found only menial jobs, which hurt and angered him.  He blamed racism and undoubtedly that played a part.  However, he was also known for having an anger management problem that may have been part of his difficulty getting ahead.  He married, but in time his wife divorced him and the divorce seemed to have been an igniting force in his rampage.

But I see the fuel for his growing anger and rampage as the result of the hurt when he failed to find the American Dream and fulfill his ambitions.   His failure must have created great doubt and uncertainty in him.

Kagan, my human development guru, says uncertainty is a major motivator of human behavior.  If the uncertainty is about our competence or goodness, we often seek someone or something to blame. When that someone is ourselves, we grow depressed.  When that someone is another,  project  the blame  outward which turns  hurt to anger and then to hate.

Colin’s is an extreme example, but useful to think about. Think of the people you hate as a group. Maybe, you think you don’t hate; then  think of groups of people who anger you or just the people you try to avoid or don’t include as within your circle of care?

Also think of the uncertainty  created in you by any one of these groups by asking yourself these questions about the beliefs  you hold that are challenge by those outside of your circle. Here are some examples:

  1. Do you reject religion? Then religious people challenge and threaten  your belief.
  2. Do you think there is only one true religion? Then those who disagree challenge and threaten you?
  3. Do you think good is rewarded, but the bad guys seem to have more of life’s rewards than you do?
  4. Do you fight against an inner impulse you know is wrong?  Those who seem to give into the fight threaten you?
  5. Do you think sexual arousal belongs only in the marital bed between a man and a woman?  Finding yourself aroused outside of those restraints threatens you.

Enough for now, my next post will deal with how to use this knowledge to reduce hate in you and others.

Stay strong

Life is a struggle, full of hurt, full of love, but also full of hate.  Hopefully, the more we understand how we and others come to hate, the more we can walk the paths to peace.

Here is my thank you gift for those joining me for the first time.  Click here to be taken to an introduction to the Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises.  Practicing kindness is one.

Katherine

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Liking, commenting, sharing are acts of social media kindness and very easy to practice.  So be kind to me and all your media friends. I promise you will be repaid.

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Disclaimer one: Emotional Fitness Training is not therapy.

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, try reading it a few days later.  Often I catch the worse mistakes when I read the post after a few days.

4 Comments

  1. I like your promotional line… so true.
    About Colin, it was a tragic story waiting to explode… I do wish we lived in a world where skin color, age, beauty mattered less… but we don’t! Sadly, this is not Nirvana. Oy vey!

  2. What a wonderful post about love. I completely agree that a good sense of humour can often be the cause of an enduring marriage. It sure has helped us through tough times during our 35 years of marriage. I really liked the comment “the acceptance of each other and the wish to see the other be all he or she could be.” It says so much! Thanks.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.