Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Is Love a Discipline? - Pt 3

So, is love a discipline or isn't it?

So far I've proposed that it isn't (Part 1, Part 2) . However there are aspects of our self worth that create the free flow of love that do require discipline.

Loving ourselves doesn't come from doing nothing, we have to work at it. But that work isn't striving and beating ourselves up. It's a gentle, honest and determined work. It's a work that requires us to be painfully honest with ourselves on one hand, and incredibly gentle on the other.

We must stop and look closely at how we feel about ourselves - question our actions and reactions - our habits - the things we say to ourselves - what we think when we look in the mirror and so on. We must look at what has hurt us, abused us, broken us, to create these reactions and self image. It can be really painful indeed, especially where abuse is involved.

Then we "let go" and simply accept those things as who we are with no judgement. Yep, as ridiculous as it sounds, after being honest and recognising our lack of love, we simply accept it and stop struggling. When we have suffered abuse and trauma, this can be very scary and "triggering", but that's ok. We are allowed to feel the emotions of these things, but with the intention of "letting go", in the sense that we become the observer, rather than the participant. This requires the discipline of non-judgement, a gentle and respectful process, and often needs the help of trusted friends or compassionate counsellors.

Only then can we begin the important task of "re-programming" our minds, requiring the next step in  discipline. We've spent years soaking up all the crap that creates a bad self image and allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by it all, so we have to reverse that process, and that takes some determination.

We all know that pretentious stuff about positive self talk, well guess what, it works! BUT, it only works when we have been honest and done all the ground work I've mentioned. The two sides go hand in hand - non-judgemental observation and acceptance of our past and the paradigm that has created, and the re-programming of our minds to the truth of our worth.

Positive self talk isn't some fluffy bullshit. It can be painful, and seem like you are going against everything your mind and even your body is telling you. But remember, you are actually reversing the brainwashing of a lifetime of pain and lies, so it WILL go against all you feel.

The basic idea is telling yourself all the time and in every way we can think of, that we are perfect, beautiful, awesome, loved, accepted, needed etc. We take the time to think of all the things we'd like to be and actually declare that we ARE those things. We look in the mirror and say (no matter how hard it is) "I love you!". Find people who love you exactly as you are, who feed your heart. Immerse yourself in positive books and media - anything that affirms your real value as a beautiful, loving creation.

This is discipline, and it can be bloody hard work! But the one thing it isn't, is trying to love others by doing "loving" things. It's not sacrificing our own desires for the needs of others. It's not putting god first, others second and ourselves last. It's not trying to be loving. But it IS disciplining ourselves to undo the lies that we have been told and have taken deep into our hearts.

You ARE love incarnate - live loved!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Is love a discipline? - Pt 2

I had some people ask for some practical application of my last post "Is love a discipline?"
(although I'm not sure if this will qualify, lol)

The idea that self love is the only source of true love for everyone else can be a tricky one to get our heads around, especially when we have no real experience of self love outside of the context of the christian paradigm/belief system.

Many have never even considered the issue and just plod through life trying to "do" love, hoping that it will get easier as the learn self sacrifice.... and there in lies the first part of the problem! Self sacrifice is not going to make us more loving, never has and never will. It does, however, create an attitude self neglect, repression, a minimisation of our own natural talents and beauty, and often a form of self abasement that amounts to being a doormat, and all too often, forms of metal illness.

Christians are told that the correct process to be pleasing to god is put god first, others second, and ourselves last. We must sacrifice ourselves as Jesus apparently did - to carry our cross in the worship of God and service to others.

The second part of the problem is we are taught to "channel" god, to the point where we are nothing more than a means of god pouring out his love to mankind. The theological reasons for this are complex and sound reasonable given the premise that we are broken and incapable of doing anything good without the indwelling of god's spirit.

All this creates the paradigm that our own ability to love is flawed from the ground up, and that only god has this ability.

With all that in mind, back to the original topic - how do we apply the idea that self love is actually the single most important thing all humans need to not only thrive as an individual, but also as a "species"?

Of course, it's a process. It's not going to happen overnight. Some people have a spiritual experience that helps shorten the process - some sort of cathartic event that reveals our beauty and "oneness". For most of us it requires us to do a bit of inner searching and be brave enough to accept who we are right at this moment, with no thought of needing to change, or not being good enough etc.

It takes time, and of course, doesn't exclude the need to "do" loving actions for others as we grow. But the whole point is that we need to turn the destructive discipline into a natural flow of genuine affection, compassion and empathy from our core.

For example, I used to occasionally lose the plot and get angry out of frustration. People would annoy me (often those closest to me, sadly) because they couldn't understand me or I couldn't successfully communicate what I was feeling or needing. As I let go of the religious aspects of love and began to nurture myself things began to change. I recognised that I couldn't change by trying, so I just accepted that I was suffering - with NO judgement. I allowed myself to recognise I was just like everyone else and that was absolutely ok. I could then love people even if they didn't "get" me. I saw their struggle to understand with empathy and accepted and loved them totally in that, just as I now accepted and loved myself.


I stuffed up? - not a problem. Fix up the mess and treat yourself like the loved children we really are.
For example, our toddler wets the bed, but we don't berate them and demand they repent and try harder. We love them and say "never mind", clean up and show them that they are loved and wonderful. Its proven beyond doubt that if you scold a child for bed-wetting, it makes toilet training much harder. The worse the shame and punishment, the harder the toilet training becomes. This is true of all childhood behaviours (yes, I know many of you are thinking we have to be strong with kids and use discipline etc, but that's a whole other topic).

This is how we need to treat ourselves in every area. We don't judge ourselves - we don't need to!! Just like a loving parent, we embrace all we are, knowing that love will bring self confidence and the innate ability to prosper as a human, and share that love to everyone else.

This is a huge subject, and something I've spent the last few years getting a handle on. I've hardly scratched the surface here, and yet the whole thing is so incredibly simple. The problem is our indoctrination by religious paradigms.

More to come....

Live loved!!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Is love a discipline?

One christian tenet that is commonly touted is the whole idea of love being a discipline - something we have to work on - to actively "deny ourselves" and exercise Godly love despite our feelings.

I always battled with this. I could never figure out why love had to be so hard, even though the excuse provided by traditional doctrine is that we are born "fallen" so everything we do that has value is going to be resisted by our "fallen" nature. It just didn't gel.

As I began my journey out of traditional christianity, I began to see people who genuinely felt "emotional" love towards everyone. It's the kind of love that isn't a discipline or a consciously focused exercise on applying scriptural doctrines, or trying to "channel" God in some way. For these people, they just felt simple and unconditional love for every person.

How could this be? So I read and observed, and discovered it isn't just super spiritual gurus who have obtained "enlightenment" of some sort, but was often simple, average people.

I've discovered the one common factor is self love!

I'm not talking about anything narcissistic in the slightest. I'm talking about a full acceptance of our own worth as neither better or less than any other human being. It's a complete acceptance and love of self as we are at this moment, no guilt, no shame, no regrets. It's a full embracing of our core being as an expression of love. It doesn't matter what religion or doctrines you may believe, apart from the basic fact that we are all beautiful and created in love.

This alone creates an inner peace that is far beyond any religion or spiritual discipline. If we have to strive to be loving, then we have missed the point entirely. And I can personally attest to it! Over the last 5 years I've grown to love myself "warts and all" in such a way that I feel equal to everyone else. Love to others becomes an expression of my love for myself. I don't have to "fake it till I make it". In fact, when I don't feel love for someone I'm getting to the point where I stop and look at what is being reflected in my own lack of self love.

Yes, it's something we grow into as we peel away the layers of self loathing in all its blatant and subtle forms. We have to abandon any belief that says we are broken and needy and require an external "saviour" because that shifts the focus and responsibility to that "thing" rather than embracing our true value on it's own merit.

If you don't experience natural, emotional based love that feels like empathy and affection for others, then the solution isn't "trying" harder, it's loving yourself more, and that only comes by unconditional acceptance of all that we are right now, and then allowing that internal love to gently strip away anything that isn't a product of love. No striving or effort to repent and renounce sins, no berating ourselves or struggling to be better - we are enough as we are, and all the we hate about ourselves is just a product of our "journey" so far, and we can change the direction of that journey by embracing self love.

Sounds too good to be true? Yep, we've been told a lot of lies for a long time. We ARE beautiful, all of us, right now. It's how we are "created". We truly are "one".

Live loved!