3 Myths and 6 Truths about Self-Love

Cultivating Self-Love is one of the foundations of self-esteem. The most important person to have a loving and caring relationship with is with you. Self-love is the basis of your happiness, as well as your physical and emotional health. Self-Love is vital toward developing and sustaining healthy relationships with others, or the ability to move on from an unhealthy relationship. If you struggle with loving yourself, you will likely struggle with loving relationships with others. Spiritual truth says: what you to do yourself you do to others.

There are both myths and truths about self-love.  

 3 common Myths about Self-Love:

1. I need to please others: In childhood I experienced and learned that in order to get love, acceptance and approval, “I needed to please others” and I still believe this today. In pleasing others, we tend to forget the self. Over time, this depletes you especially, emotionally, leading  to resentment, unhappiness and overall life dissatisfaction.  

 2. Self-Love is being selfish: Childhood taught me that to love the self, was being selfish, arrogant or egoistical. I became programmed to feel guilt or shame if I took  care of and loved myself, if I said, “No” ‒ set boundaries for myself. We learned to love and value others unconditionally, yet, “conditions” apply to loving ourselves. 

3. Life is 90% what happens to me and 10% what I do with it. This myth caused me to develop an unhealthy and unloving relationship with myself around a difficult circumstance. I become the victim (blaming/hating myself) or the villain (blaming/hating others) because of the circumstance.

Life circumstances can cause us to become sad, fearful, angry, bitter, and resentful. There is a part of us that ultimately needs to blame someone or something for our feelings and emotions. In the end, I either blame you or I blame myself. This blame is judgment, and judgment is simply the withholding of love. Within my difficult situation, I do not love you or I do not love myself. Either way, my wounded self is not being loving. It’s protecting/defending itself or condemning the self. This is fear, not love.

The truth is: life is 10% what happens to me and 90% what I do with it. This means I take responsibility for my thoughts, beliefs, choices and behaviors regarding the experience. This is a more loving, accepting and empowering way to move through life experiences.

6 Truths of Self-Love:

1. You instinctively know your true worth. Question: How easily do you give up your value and sense of worth when things go wrong? People, who love themselves, instinctively believe and know they are worthy and of value.

Within the struggles and hardships of life, they have accepted and learned that life offers a series of problems in the form of lessons, and their life experiences are the lessons. Within these experiences, working with and through their circumstances, they have developed a more positive, self-empowering and life enhancing relationship to their unfortunate circumstances.

They are not defined by the unfortunate experience, rather they see it as an opportunity to deeply love them self, have compassion for themselves and others within and because of the experience.

They choose out of love and a desire for higher learning and growth, not to diminish their self-worth and love of self. They realize the circumstance was a test of their faith and to not lose our self-love, within the difficult experience. They accept it’s not always possible to like yourself or the experience, but you should never give up loving yourself, because of the experience.

The truth is, loving the self is one of the most positive and healthy ways to live and cope with life. To love your self is to value yourself and know your worth. Self-love and worth, naturally spills over to loving and accepting others.

2. Return to the Source of Love: In my humanness I tend to forget I am love, innocence and goodness, due to difficult and painful experiences. I experience, rejection, abandonment, or betrayal, which leads me to feel embarrassment/shame or injustice i.e. the world is not fair. My perception and belief of separation takes shape in my reality.

There is however, another truth and reality beyond what I have made true. There is a source and power within me and all around me that is pure and unconditional love and acceptance. This love is the source and basis of all that exist.

To return to this source is to remember and return to love. It is to remember and return to that which I am‒Love. This ends the perception and belief in separation and returns me back to inclusion.   

Love, innocence and worthiness represent inclusion. Fear, shame and unworthiness imply exclusion. To have self-love is to include myself again.

3. Self-Love creates and builds resilience. Resilience embodies the qualities of flexibility, hardiness and determination. I love and care about myself enough, that I choose to see my circumstances through. So I am open and accepting to my circumstances. Moving away from avoidance, resistance, shame or blame.

To be flexible and adapting, offers me the motivation and determination to change what I can. The greater my self-love, the greater my resilience and willingness to change what I can. The greater my resilience the deeper my self-love.

4. Loving the self without the conditions. The unconditional love and acceptance you offer others, is to be offered and expressed to yourself first and foremost, without conditions or “yah buts.” The airplane ride proves this statement. When traveling by plane, with a small child, the flight attendant says: “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before your child.” Why? Because, in order to keep your child safe and secure, you need to have yourself safe and secure first.

A fundamental way to feel safe and secure is through self-love. Don’t wait for others to affirm you, affirm yourself freely and daily. True happiness comes from the unconditional love and acceptance with all parts of us.

5. All of our experiences are meant to bring us back to love. A difficult spiritual concept to comprehend is the notion that our experiences and the way we move through them, shows us how much we love or don’t love ourselves.

If I don’t love myself, because someone wasn’t very loving or kind to me, I have given away my power and my sense of love to that unloving person and/or experience.

It’s really not the rejection or betrayal by the other person that hurts me. What creates my hurt is the perception, belief and behaviors I take on because of the experience, the story I tell myself and others around the experience.

The key: within an unloving or uncaring act of someone toward you, keep loving and expressing kindness to yourself along the way. Some examples to help with this:

  • Connect with loving/supportive people
  • Write in a Journal
  • Take a warm bath/receive regular bodywork
  • Forgive the unloving words or act, sooner rather than later
  • Take walks/exercise
  • Mediation and prayer
  • Talk with a therapist or coach to sort out truth from your distortions and false beliefs.
  • Practice what I call the 4R’s (see below)

The 4 R’s:  Recognize, Reconcile, Release and Reframe

Recognize: Much of the owning process is about recognizing, becoming aware and identifying or naming where the hurt takes you in perception, feelings/emotions and belief about yourself within the situation. As I see how and where the situation or person triggered my perception, feelings and self-belief, this gives me the opportunity to:

Reconcile: within me where the situation is taking me in my belief about myself. How this belief builds me up‒makes me my best friend or condemns me‒makes me my worst enemy. When I can reconcile within myself, where the situation is taking, me than I can release the inner torment.

Release: To release is to say, believe, and act with confidence and determination to letting go of what no longer serves me. I release my unhealthy mind set and choose now to construct a more self empowering and loving mind set along with actions that reinforce the new way of being.

I choose to let go of the old, in order to create and live the new. I choose to focus on what I will gain and benefit as I embrace self-love, and release self-judgment and sabotaging thinking and behaviors.

Reframe: is the openness and willingness to view the upset in a different way. The mind is limited in perception and belief. We know what we know and we feel, and do what we know. To entertain a different possibility from my current point of view is to open the door to a different knowing. This helps create a more constructive and healthier story and reality‒way of thinking and acting.

To reframe my perception and belief, helps reduce the emotional charge I’ve had around the painful experience. This is an act of self-love within the fact that someone outside of me wasn’t very loving to me. This is a way we return to love and self-empowerment.

6. Can I look in the mirror and see love, my innocence and goodness? Or do I see what I deem as flaws, the bad hair day, the wrinkles, etc? I see my created distorted reflection, not the true reflection in my mirror. The one looking at you from inside the mirror only sees you as love, innocence and beauty. 

Can you accept and honor this truth of who you are? If you can, how would this make you feel in this moment? How would this start your day? What would this do to your state/frame of mind, and your attitude about yourself in life? When you reject the one in the mirror you are excluding her/him. To embrace and freely love the one in the mirror is to include her/him into your life. 

In my book, Just Be Love, I wrote a poem entitled: My Mirror, which illustrates the importance of staying true to the divine reflection of you from your mirror. 

My Mirror

My mirror recognizes and reflects the truth
that I struggle to notice and affirm.
My mirror only sees and knows me as love,
love I struggle to accept and embrace.
My mirror supports and nurtures,
what I choose to judge and reject.
My mirror only ask that I Just Be Love,
with the one who truly sees and knows me.

I look deeply in my mirror.
I see my innocence, perfection and radiance,
I would before hide and condemn.

As I let go of what I thought I was.
I see more clearly who I am.
What a gift I give to myself this day.

Thank you mirror, thank you,
I finally recognize and have found the one,
I’ve been looking for all along.

To come back to loving your self is to cultivate and value the self. You are expressing to yourself, you matter. Thus you find and connect with the one you have been looking for. You come back to the truth of who you are.

 

Are you struggling with loving yourself? Are you pleasing others as a way to receive love, acceptance and approval? Only to find you are more physically, emotionally and socially depleted?  David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

The 5 C’s of Cultivating a Loving and Thriving Relationship

In order to have a loving and thriving relationship, a couple needs to have a good energy flow and synergy. These 5 C’s: Chemistry, Common goals, Commitment, Communication, and Consensus are vital in cultivating a loving and thriving relationship.

As a therapist and life transition coach, I’ve worked with many couples struggling with relationship issues. Most often the issues revolve around: ineffective communication, mistrust, lack of common goals, and the need to be right, which interferes with consensus. 

Each of these C’s is important and each will enhance the other C’s. The 5 C’s seek to enhance  connection, cooperation and effective problem-solving. They each offer opportunities to improve the level of respect, trust; and boost the feeling of being valued, understood and supported in the relationship.

The following offers more details on how the 5 C’s help to cultivate and maintain a loving and thriving relationship.

1. Chemistry: Is the natural and mutual flow with and between each other. It’s not just about physical or sexual attraction. A big part of chemistry is the desire to know more about other the person. In this desire to know more, you are truthful with each other; being open, curious, accepting, and respectful, even playful as you interact together.  

You acknowledge the connection and spark, and allow it to unfold with honesty, openness and willingness. You are mindful to the possibilities the relationship offers, while being patient and attentive to the process of coming together, not being focused on an expectation or certain outcome. Focus on an expectation and/or outcome disrupts the natural flow, energy and synergy between the two of you.

2. Common goals: Goals give our life meaning and increased value. Developing shared direction and goals, offers your relationship deeper meaning and connection. Competing goals and directions create tension and conflict, this is conditional love. Unconditional love and conscious relationships allow for individual goals and needs. Yet, there is equal importance to the value and connection of shared desires and goals. You must be aware of not letting individual goals diminish common goals. The key is the importance of finding the balance with your individual and the relationship goals.   

3. Commitment: A commitment is simply an agreement or pledge to do something in the present or future. A relationship commitment is the agreement to love, be open, willing, accepting, and be faithful in and to the relationship partner. The true intent of Commitment is to create increased satisfaction, understanding, flexibility connection and choice. It’s the conscious choice to put your energy toward the relationship, not just the “self.”

Commitment is the willingness to give of the self, without losing the self in the commitment. We choose to surrender to love. In this concept, surrender is not about losing or giving in/up, as our ego would see it. This type of surrender is to gain or benefit much more than we would lose or need to give up. Its intent is to compliment the self in relationship, to enhance the self through the relationship.   

Commitment can be difficult for some, because it can take you out of your comfort zone. The following list can be reasons why a person can be fearful, avoiding and struggling with commitment.

  • You perceive and believe the personal “self” will be threatened or intimidated because of the commitment.
  • If one perceives and believes that making a commitment is risky, and believes the sacrifice will result in losing more than will be gained.
  • A perception and belief of loss of personal and/or professional freedom.
  • If you need certainty, a commitment can seem like stepping into the unknown, creating uncertainty and a feeling of loss of control.
  • Feeling of vulnerability, that my partner will discover my flaws and weakness, and not see me as good enough.
  • A damaging experience from a past relationship. Where either you or your partner was traumatized, taken advantage of, rejected, betrayed or humiliated.

4. Communication: There are times in relationship when one intentionally or not, said or did something and it impacted the other in a negative/hurtful way. We can get triggered by this and go emotionally unconscious, so we get reactive, defensive, or passive (shutdown). In this, communication will get confusing, distorted and misunderstood.

 A big part of effective communication is to stay aware, to respond, not react, and to seek to understand the other. We often want to be heard more than to listen. The biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. If we focus more on our reply; we’re not focused and listening to the other person, so we won’t really understand them. We are more focused on them needing to understand us.

The most important part of communication is listening and seeking to understand, to ask questions for clarification and increased understanding. When you feel listened to and understood, you feel validated and valued. True?

Good communication enhances understanding, trust, and connection. It also leads to more effective problem-solving when conflict arises. Be as clear as you can in your expression of needs and intensions. Speak in terms of “I” not so much “You.” Another cause of poor communication is assuming or mind reading. This only leads to misunderstanding, confusion, mistrust and conflict. Good communication strikes a healthy balance with the goal/our intention and the relationship.

If you or your partner is too focused on the goal, you will likely be more aggressive and demanding in the communication process. If you are too concerned with the relationship i.e. don’t want to hurt their feelings or cause conflict, you will likely be more passive and/or passive aggressive in your expression and actions of your needs.

Neither the aggressive or passive communication style is healthy or productive. The aggressive communication approach is you win-partner loses, and the passive approach is you lose-partner wins. Thus relationship cooperation and consensus becomes an ongoing challenge.

5. Consensus: Is about cooperation-seeking the win-win, and is the result of a conscious and unconditional relationship. Consensus keeps in mind and balance the importance of both the goal/end in mind, and the relationship. It allows for mutual opinions and ways of being. There is dialogue, negotiation and compromise. Consensus is about power with. 

Consensus is a struggle to achieve if the need for power-over and need to be right is dominant. Self and shared responsibility and accountability are keys to creating consensus. Consensus requires effective and respectful communication skills, flexibility, and openness to understand the others point of view; while expressing your own view. It requires the ability and willingness to find the common ground. Honoring your individual differences and working with your similarities, builds consensus.

In closing, it’s important to pay on-going attention and focus to these 5 C’s. Relationships like life, change, and situations happen that can impact any of these C’s in unproductive ways. So being aware of how life situations can impact these C’s is vital and an act of love, caring and concern for the relationship, and the two of you in it.

 

Are you struggling with any of these 5 C’s in your relationship? Please contact David Schroeder if you would like assistance with your relationship issues and how to work through them. David offers life transition and relationship counseling and coaching session’s in-person, by phone or Skype. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and your relationship during difficult times.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: http://transitionpathways.com or through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

To Improve Your Relationship: Understand this Gender Difference

There are several differences between men and women, some are obvious, some are subtle. Realizing, accepting and working with this particular gender difference can make a positive difference in the way you relate to each other.

Conflict and frustration in relationships often occurs simply because, we don’t understand why our partner thinks and acts a certain way. When it comes to thoughts, feelings and emotions there will typically be a difference in the way  men or women go about relating with you.

This gender difference impacts our ways of communicating, problem-solving and over-all interactions with each other. It stems from the way we perceive and relate to our thoughts, feelings and emotions; and the need we have with our partner in relation to our thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Men and women have thoughts, feelings and emotions; and these are important and not to be denied or discounted. Having acknowledged this, due to biological factors and social conditioning, one gender is typically more connected and concerned with thoughts, while the other gender is more connected and concerned with feelings and emotions.  Here’s the basic difference:

In general, the feminine aspect, typically (women) is more likely concerned with having their Feelings and Emotions respected.  The masculine aspect, (men) is likely more interested in having their Thoughts respected.

It should be noted, that some women may have more of the masculine aspect; and have a stronger desire for their thoughts to be respect. Some men might have more of the feminine aspect; and have a stronger need for their feelings and emotions to be respected. 

Women in general, come from their right brain, the intuitive and emotional side. They also come more from their heart center. So they are more concerned and value their relationships. Because of this, women in life and in their relationships will more naturally relate to and from their feelings and emotions.

On the other hand, most men are in their logic and thinking state, come from their left brain. So they relate to thoughts, in logic oriented ways of being in life and in their relationships. As a way of connecting, men relate more to their occupation and status (position).

For example: In social settings, women will typically, talk more about family and friends, social concerns (relationships/heart). Men generally, will converse more about their occupation, sports, objects i.e. cars, boats, women, money (logic/head).   

It’s not about who is right or wrong, with this way of being and relating. It is the way the genders are wired and conditioned to be in the world, and relate to each other.

It’s not about needing the other person to think, feel and be how I am. This is control and creates a love relationship that is conditional.

It’s about seeking to understand the other person as best I can, learning to accept this difference. Being willing to learn how best to relate and interact with this difference. This is unconditional love. 

A part of you, wants your partner or friend to be like you are. However, life is about contrast, in order to know one, we need to experience its opposite. That’s why we have male and female, light and dark, sorrow and joy.  Neither is really right or wrong it just is “the nature of things.”

It’s about accepting and honoring our differences, and working with them.

Gentlemen, out of love seek to understand, step out of your comfort zone. Take time and effort to connect more with your partner’s feelings and her deeper emotions, even if it doesn’t seem natural or logical to you. Connect your heart to her heart.

Ladies, out of love, get into your man’s world, honor his thoughts and work at seeing his logic as best you can, even if it doesn’t make sense or seem natural to you.       Don’t wait for your partner to make the first move. Authentic love, asks us to take the initiative, to seek to understand the other. If you both work at seeking to understand the other, you find the common ground within the differences.

Unconditional Love seeks the common ground, to accept, honor, and learn to interact within the differences, and enhance the similarities.  

What are your thoughts or feelings on these gender differences?  Feel free to comment below.

 

Are you struggling with understanding and working gender differences? David Schroeder, can help you reclaim the love and goodness you are. If you would like assistance with reclaiming this love and goodness David is here to assist you with his life transition coaching and counseling sessions. He offers in-person, by phone or Skype sessions. Visit his website at transitionpathways.com.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, a healthy and assertive way to help yourself and love yourself again.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. David’s book, Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com or JustBeLove  Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

The Healing Power of Laughter

Over the years, working with people with emotional struggles and resistance to life changes; I’ve come to appreciate, two of the biggest barriers to happiness are: fear of foolishness & taking oneself too seriously.

Life is a serious adventure, yet the key is to take one self lightly within it. 

When you were growing up, did you ever find something funny and you started to giggle or laugh. Than a parent, grandparent, or a teacher said… Don’t laugh, that’s not funny? Yet, deep down inside you, your funny bone was tickled.

Many people learned growing up, that in order to be mature, you have to be serious. That if you are having fun, you are not being good and you are not doing your job.  We get conditioned to shut down our imagination and our childlike self.

Childlike vs. Childish:

We learned to shut down the part of us that is unconditional, accepting, spontaneous, playful and curious. Creative, patient, flexible, fearless, adventurous and joyful. The result, we become more fearful, doubtful, more controlling and rigid in mind and body.

We give up the childlike innocence and wonder, and as a result, we develop more childish behaviors being: conditional, inpatient, and controlling, demanding, whinny, selfish and unhappy. Or maybe we’ve become timid, doubtful, fearful, and anxious to take risk and step out of our comfort zone.

We learned being vulnerable is risky and painful. You will be judged as wrong and not enough. So you take both life and yourself too seriously, creating increase stress, wear and tear on your body, mind and spirit. 

Life is already full of stress, with our fast paced society, being full of expectations, judgment, the need for instant gratification, the overloaded of information, and obsession/addiction to technology and social media.

Research says that 90% of office visits to primary care doctors today are for stress related problems. Some researcher’s concluded that due our fast pace and information society, that we experience more stress (fight or flight response in different ways) in one year, than our ancestors did in an entire lifetime.

Many people hold their stress in by avoiding, resisting or being critical of self and/or others. This creates toxins in the body and creates distortions in thinking, belief and behaviors, which leads to dis-ease in body and/or mind.

There are only two times during the day that I’m under stress… day and night. Yes, the stress and pressures of life are increasing and getting more intense. The key is too not lose ourselves in it, and not take ourselves too seriously within it.  

The most frequently asked question on earth is. “Where’s the bathroom?” The   most disappointing question we ask when we pass on to the afterlife is … “Why did I take life and myself so seriously?”

Do you know why angles can fly?  They take themselves lightly.

The word humor means to be fluid, to flow.

A child laughs around 300 times a day; many adults laugh only a handful of times a day.

How laughter helps the Mind – Body:

If you laugh 100 times a day, that’s equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine. Laughter is a wonderful physical and aerobic workout.

When you frown you use 62 muscles just in your face alone. When you smile and laugh you’re only using  24 facial muscles. Point is, it takes more energy and effort to be unhappy than happy. 

Laughter releases a brain chemical called endorphin’s, which is our natural feel good chemical. 

We have cells in our body called T-Cells, that is connected to our immune system. One of the ways this cell is ignited is by laughter, so laughter and joy helps boost our immune system.

In terms of relaxing and re-framing thoughts, a 10 minute laugh is equal to 30 minutes of meditation.

Laughter is a form of mindfulness, it brings you to the present moment. Life and love are experienced in the present.

We need at least 12 laughs and 5 hugs daily to stay healthy.

Both laughter and crying are innate healing tools, and forms of healthy emotional expression and release through the physical body. We laugh so hard we start to cry, and we cry so hard we begin to laugh. One emotion naturally leads to the other.

Think of laughter as your internal Tranquilizer with no side effects.

In our humanness, we have embarrassing moments; we do foolish things, make mistakes and wrong decisions. The key is to do them with enthusiasm. I believe in the positive power of insanity, it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. There are no mistakes… only opportunities for learning and growth.

We all have embarrassing moments, and when you share your embarrassing moment with others, many can often relate to having a similar embarrassing experience as well. You are really not alone in that embarrassment; it just seemed that way at the time.

The loneliness factor is becoming a major illness throughout the world. We can communicate and connect with people easier and faster than ever; yet, because some people can be so judgmental, critical and demanding, we avoid interactions.

Many of us become more isolated to protect or insulate ourselves from the judgment. Others can become verbally or physically aggressive, as a way to protect and defend themselves. Either extreme on this continuum leads to the perception of being judged misunderstood, so we become lonely and unhappy.

Laughter is a great way to connect with people. For humor and laughter, helps break down barriers and builds rapport. Laughter is contagious; when we start laughing people around us often start laughing with us. 

It’s not about using humor and laughter at the expense of someone. The true and divine intent of humor and laughter is to relax us, connect us and help us relate to each other. It’s a way to honor the similarities of each other, and accept our differences.

Humor and laughter helps us put life situations into perspective, to view difficult circumstances in a different light and way. When you change your thoughts and perspective, you change your world. 

Dr. Bruce Lipton said: “The moment you change your perception, is the moment you change the chemistry in your body.”

People often ask me. Does the divine creator have a sense of humor? I say, “oh yes, it loves to laugh and play, the divine has a wondrous playground that the earth is a part of, it’s called the universe.”

In scripture Jesus said: if you want to enter the kingdom be as a child.

What’s love and laughter got to do with healing?

Laughter and being childlike are expressions of love to the self and others. They promote constructive problem-solving and positive ways toward reconciliation and healing. Being childlike, takes you out of the resentment or victim role; moving you toward a healthier and joyful way of living and being.

 

Feel free to leave a comment below.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential. My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

 

A Valentine’s Day Message

So another Valentine’s Day is upon us. Like Christmas, many scramble to find the perfect gift for their beloved, to show their love and how much they care. Love is a beautiful thing. The expression of unconditional love and acceptance is a gift beyond measure. As I express in my book Just Be Love, I define divine love as the unconditional love and acceptance of the spirit of all that exist. In the spirit of us, the soul essence of us is expressing itself in human form. The divine loves and accepts this spirit/soul in whatever form or formless state it may express itself. The ultimate of love, I’ve come to appreciate is freedom. The divine’s love is freedom, that’s why as human’s we have this gift called, free will. Whatever name you give the divine, call it God, Buddha Allah, Kristina, Jesus, Mohammad, etc. the name is not the point. The point and the message is clear, no matter the religion, culture, gender, belief or language of each of us. This power greater than ourselves freely loves to love. Divine love is always present and present in all ways.  

Whether you are in relationship with another person or not this Valentines’s Day, it need not matter. However, societies and ourselves in it, can make it matter, to the point of much unhappiness, even despair. This is a great error, similar to the error of attachment to our self-created story, as if it were life itself. What does matter is the relationship you have with yourself, and with the universal source of love and goodness. This love is always present, even when we don’t feel its presence and/or we deny its existence. This love is not defined by human struggle nor by our beliefs about life.  For the energy of divine love is existence. Without it, nothing else would exist, including you and I. 

So Just Be Love this Valentine’s Day. Give yourself permission and the opportunity to freely love to love. I ask: Can you be your own valentine today and to all you meet this day and everyday? For love is all we are, and what we truly seek to return to.

Thoughts on Human Love

It’s been said, Love is just a word until someone gives it meaning. Many of us have different meanings to love, because of our different experiences with love. For some love is to be guarded against, maybe even avoided due to painful experiences around love. Feeling betrayed, rejected or abandoned. Many learn to please others in hopes of love and acceptance, only to deplete themselves by giving so much, yet forgetting themselves. Some people act out a “crime of passion” toward a love gone wrong. Hurting the one they love or themselves, because love was denied. Others have even become ill, even died from a sad/broken heart, due to lost of a loved one. For others love means joy, passion, and sense of connection, so they’re eager to connect not just with people, but to the fullness of life.

Love can build up our sense of self, creating an emotional and physical high on life, or can put us down into a deep dark hole of loneliness and despair. Our brain is wired for love; we yearn for love, acceptance and approval.  Human love is a drive and can be seen as a quest. To love someone, for someone to love me, and see me “as enough.”

Love is one of the most powerful emotions. Yet, I believe love is more than an emotion. Its a state of consciousness. The higher our level of consciousness is with love, the greater our willingness and ability to offer love, support, nurturing and forgive an unloving act.

Questions to consider: What does love mean to you?  What meanings have you constructed about love? Do you have a belief and meaning about love that is including, accepting, supportive and offers freedom?  Or is your belief and meaning about love, excluding, judgmental, and a barrier to love and be loved?  

 Feel free to leave a comment.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Being Love in Everyday Life

Many people ask: How do I Be Love? A part of us makes the concept and practice of love more complicated than it intends and needs to be.  Love can be found and can be expressed in simple yet, powerful and meaningful ways. Smiling at a passerby, listening to a friend who’s stressed, offering a hug and saying thank you, petting a cat or dog; these are powerful expressions of love and caring.  In my book, Just Be Love I offer several chapters of where love can be found, yet it’s often not recognized or appreciated. Consider how nature and the universe displays infinite love, when we take a walk in the woods, sit by a stream, honor the rising sun, reflect with the setting sun, or stand, looking up at the night sky in awe at the parade of stars, or watch a gentle snow fall or rain. These are simple ways of Being, experiencing and living Love. They are expressions of love through the divine, and these examples are ways that ground us to the present moment. Life and love are found and experienced in the moment.

Love is Unconditional Giving. The act of giving, of our time, our talents, possessions, a listening ear, or a helpful hand; are ways of expressing and being love. To freely give without consideration of a loss is love without measure. St. Francis of Assisi said: “The greatest measure of love is love without measure.” Being in thoughts and expression of appreciation and gratitude is one of the highest forms of love and giving, and is a pathway to our own inner happiness and peace.

Love is Unconditional Receiving. Many of us can give freely, and it’s a way we feel loved, accepted and worthy. However, we might struggle, even avoid, receiving openly and freely; due to our inner wounded belief of feeling undeserving and unworthy. The struggle to freely receive without offering something in return is often the result of being made to feel guilt or shame, from past experiences. To freely and openly Receive, is to Give.

Being Love Calls us to Our Imagination, which is the soul/spirit of us, to dare to dream and live the childlike qualities and wonders within us. We are called to embrace and be love, for love is who we are. Love is the innocence of our being. There is sacred wisdom and strength in just Being.

Love is Being Our True Self. To be our true and authentic self, is to let go of outside opinions and judgment, of whom and how we should be. Judgment is the withholding of love, and the way of the ego, critical self.  Love is meant to be including and offer freedom. However, an aspect of love is about setting healthy boundaries with others as a way to prevent being taken advantage of and, is an act of care, concern and value toward the self.  It’s healthy to love myself enough to know when a relationship/friendship is hurting me, more than serving me. So out of love it’s important to set myself and the other person free from what’s no longer healthy and constructive. When I do what’s best for me out of love, I do what’s best for others. Accepting the other person, might not understand your decision and actions at the time.

When We Can Be Accepting, offering compassion and forgiveness to others and ourselves, we are being in the thoughts, energy and actions of unconditional love. Love should be one of our highest guiding principles in life. Love is not a condition to be obtained; it’s a certainty to surrender to. Love calls us to let go of our human ego’s will and surrender to the higher and wiser will of the infinite.

Being Love Means, I seek to keep growing and expanding in my openness and willingness to freely love to love. It’s important to keep learning and challenging myself, in order to be the best version of me. Being love invites the self to look for the good in others, the world and myself, and to view my experiences, especially the difficult ones, from the higher perspective.

Can You Just Be Love? After all love is all you really are.  Questions to consider: What are some ways you can Just Be Love?  What would cause you to be more fearful and resistance of loving and accepting someone for who they are?  What could you do for yourself to release this resistance?   What would be the benefits of this for you and your relationship with others?

Feel free to leave a comment.

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

Forgiveness: Moving Beyond the Injustice

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools we have for reconciling and moving beyond from the hurts and wounds of life. It’s also a profound act of love and acceptance, especially self-love. For when we forgive another person or ourselves for a wrong doing, we set ourselves free and we benefit the most from the forgiveness. Despite the healing and liberating power of forgiveness; for many of us, the act of forgiveness is one of the most resisted and thus difficult acts we can offer to others or ourselves.

I’ve come to appreciate the only reason we have forgiveness, is because we make something matter. When we make something matter, we create an intense emotional charge within us. So an unjust “cause” done to us creates a strong “effect”, often having lasting emotional, physical, social and spiritual “effects” on us. The act of forgiveness helps to lower the emotional charge and intensity within us and helps liberate us from the painful experience.

Forgiveness is not about excusing the offense or saying/believing it didn’t happen. Forgiveness is not really about the offender, it’s about the one who is affected by the cause, the one holding on to the anger, resentment, grief. Being trapped in resentment, anger, depression, grief; waiting for the offender to take responsibility and ownership of the hurt toward us, is giving away our own power, inner peace and freedom. The more we can take charge of our own healing without an expectation that the offender needs to say something to us, or do something for us, the more empowered and liberated we can be. The quote by Lewis Smedes speaks volumes about the importance of forgiveness: “To forgive is to set the prisoner free and to discover that that prisoner was you.”

Forgiveness is an act of love, and love is freedom. To forgive is to be free and a way to love. Forgiveness means to go beyond our wounded ego self, in order to free the self. The willingness to go beyond the wounded self is to rise as love, to let go of what no longer serves us, so in time we can be restored to wholeness. 

Perhaps you’re not willing and/or ready to forgive someone. That’s okay and where you are currently at. Forgiveness is not something to be forced upon or to do out of guilt, if you are not ready. One should be open, willing and accepting in order to truly forgive. Human nature is such that, we are all at different stages of willingness and readiness. If this be the case, at least consider the importance of reconciling within yourself how hanging on to negative perceptions, create toxic emotions of anger and resentment leading to paralyzing beliefs and resulting self-defeating behaviors. How all this can affect many areas of your life in ways that are not helpful to you.   

I offer you the possibility and opportunity of considering a process I call “inner reconciliation.” Inner reconciliation is a way of reorienting our perceptions and beliefs about the experience and ourselves within the fact that our life has been disrupted either mildly or severely by a wrongful act toward us. Our ego defenses and beliefs often says: “They wronged us/hurt us and so let’s stay mad, bitter resentful, etc, that way we have a sense of power and control; since we didn’t have power and control during the offending experience.” Our anger, resentment and such, become a lens through which we see ourselves and the wrong doing. Its destructive thinking, beliefs and behaviors we create as a way to keep feeding our hurt and pain, in order to keep it alive and justify it. This is only hurting ourselves now, within the fact that we were hurt by someone in the past. This is unfortunately how victim energy and behaviors begin to take root, and if not tamed and reconciled can become our way of life.

Like grief, forgiveness is a process and takes time, willingness and commitment toward moving beyond what has hurt us and seemed unfair. When we can change our perception and belief about the experience, we begin to change our world and the way we interact in it. The process of forgiveness, like moving through any change we experience in our life, is an inside job. The job and empowerment of moving through what I call the 4 R’s: Recognize: who and how I am being with my current perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, feelings/emotions and behaviors. We can’t change or move beyond something unless we acknowledge it and tell the true to ourselves about ourselves. Reconcile: The willingness to resolve the inner pain and torment. Release: To let go of what no longer serves and benefits us. This offers space for healthier and more empowering possibilities to enter into your reality. Reframe: Is to now choose to see the painful experience, yourself and the offender, in a different and more constructive way. To see the glass more full than empty. This creates the willingness and courage to construct a more positive and affirming belief about yourself, within the unfortunate experience.  

In my own life, I’ve had many opportunities to practice forgiveness in what seemed at first, an unjust cause. I offer two experiences. One, was my wife of twelve years wanting a divorce, at the time it didn’t seem fair and not my choice. I was hurt, angry and frustrated. In time, I came to a place accepting her choice and let go of making her responsible for my feelings and behaviors within the stress and change. She made her choice out of self-love and what was best for her. I also had a choice of how I would move through it and who I wanted to be within a difficult situation. The choice of hanging on to anger, sadness and resentment and such, would only take me down a self-destructive and unfulfilling path. Through accepting the things I could not change, forgiving her and myself, and empowering myself to change what I could, which was only myself, this allowed me to change my situation from the inside out and move on in my life, and be a better version of myself and a father. Years later my ex-wife and I are friends and get along well on behalf of our sons and grand children. 

Several years ago, while driving my car I was hit head on, by a driver who was attempting to pass the car in front of him. The driver of this car was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way and his insurance company settled with me. Several months after the settlement, this man decided to sue me for mental harm. It was amazing that it ended up in a jury trial. I was in disbelief and just dumbfounded how I could be setting in a courtroom on trial for something I didn’t cause. Fear, anger, and uncertainty filled my days waiting for the court appearance and the verdict. I was found not guilty. A part of me with its voice inside me, understandably wanted to turn around and sue this guy, and many people suggested this. But another voice inside said, let it go, just let him be, he’s an old unhappy man, no need to put more fuel in the fire. I had compassion for this man and his struggle with needing revenge and justice, while not acknowledging and accepting he was in the wrong. He taught me, you never win a war – with war. So I forgave the error. In his need to get back at me, he was unaware of what his anger and resentment was doing to himself. I was at peace and moving on with life.

This man was after all, another teacher and opportunity for me through this difficult life experience. Through his actions, he was offering me the opportunity of learning and practicing the gift of moving beyond the injustice and my wounded self, toward acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

You see, when you realize we have choices within difficult, painful and unjust experiences to see the offender as the threat and the enemy or the teacher and the opportunity. Depending on how you view it and think about it, is how you will experience it. What we think about we bring about.  When we can accept and understand that our experiences are really our teachers and opportunities to practice acts such as: acceptance, compassion and forgiveness, we take the high road with love, creating the willingness and commitment to move beyond the hurt, and learn the lesson for soul growth and self-mastery. Is this an easy task to get too? No. Is forgiveness a liberating and life changing act to engage in, that offers higher meaning? Yes, for sure. Life isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful.

Questions to consider: Why might you struggle with forgiveness?  What would be the benefits of forgiveness for you?  How does acceptance and willingness aid the forgiveness process?  Feel free to leave a comment, share your answers to above questions, and/or share your experience with forgiveness.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. My practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites: transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

What is Eros and Agape Love?

The Ancient Greeks had two main words to describe love, Eros and Agape.
Eros Love, is the most common way human’s love. Eros love is physical, passionate, sensual; a desire, a longing for another, but in an egotistic and objectified way. In Eros love, we struggle with freely loving just to love. With Eros love, I make the other my love object; and responsible for my happiness. Eros love is conditional, and is the love of need and feels it lacks. One has a desire to be loved, but with expectations to the one they say they “love.”  This type of love, loves to get something a payback, they form relationships based on “you owe me.” This love is always comparing and seeking what it appears to be more satisfying outside of itself. So we are rarely satisfied in relationship with another, because I may struggle with insecurities and self-love, I make people and things outside of me, responsible my happiness and contentment. 

Agape Love is spiritual divine-centered love. With Agape love, one has the awareness that it was created in the image of God, and this knowing dissolves any concept of separation into oneness. Agape love has no needs and makes no demands; its intent is offering understanding, and unconditional love, acceptance and good will. This love is the truest form of intimacy, a love without measure.  With Agape love the perception and belief of a threat or an enemy dissolves. For you see others as a reflection of yourself, so you see love as the teacher and opportunity to higher awareness and soul growth. The search for love ends, when I have the awareness that I am love,       I remember who I am. This is the desired freedom we seek. It’s the journey of the soul in human form.  Agape love is not about falling in love, this is Eros love. Agape love, is rising as love, to ascend in the energy and awareness of love, because love is who we are.

Signs Eros Love:
If you are with someone, who appears judgmental, controlling, demanding; presenting conditions to loving i.e. I’ll do this if you do that.” This is the withholding of love to get my own needs met, with little concern for the other person. If you need someone, to the point of losing yourself because you need them, you are being conditional or maybe in your neediness and dependency you can more easily be controlled and taken advantage of in relationship.  With others, if you need to be right more often than not, you are offering Eros love.  If you believe being with someone will make you happy, your love is Eros, because in time, you will make the other person responsible for your happiness, causing you to be more unhappy and unfulfilled. If you bounce from relationship to relationship, have had affairs; use food, alcohol, or porn, etc. to cope with and find satisfaction within a relationship; you are consumed in the unsatisfying love called Eros. 

Signs of Agape Love: 
Pure love, divine love is freedom. Agape love, offers a sense of freedom to the other person. You have a good awareness of self and a confidence, which allows you to be strong, yet flexible in the relationship; without losing yourself or pushing the other away. Your love is more unconditional and you value accepting people with where they are at; without judging or needing to change them.  One can easily compromise without a sense of feeling slighted or that you’ve gained the upper hand. Agape love is not a power over the other person; you embrace a relationship that is more inclusive and work toward having power-with the other person. You view your relationships as learning and growing experiences, especially during difficult/challenging times with this person. You often say to yourself within relationship experiences: “What is this person teaching me?”  “What am I to learn from this experience?”

Agape love is heart-centered. This type of love, offers awareness, acceptance and compassion to acknowledge that sometimes for the highest and greatest good, a relationship is no longer healthy and constructive. So out of love I set myself and you free, in forgiving and appreciative ways. Love is freedom and freedom is love.

The way to Agape Love: Is to first and foremost understand, accept and have the awareness that you are love. Reconciling our wounded past gets us on the pathway to this higher understanding and acceptance of the love that we are. This allows us to be more accepting and offer loving kindness to others.

Free your ego of selfish needs and wants. This minimizes the degree of conditions and expectations of how love should be. Divine love is the unconditional love and acceptance of the spirit of all that is. Pure and Agape love is free of conditions and expectations. This is the way to rise as love, happiness and freedom.

Which type of love do you think you express most often, Eros or Agape?  What makes this so? Which type of love would offer you more happiness and peaceful relations with others? Why?   Your answers are appreciated to these questions. Leave a comment about this blog.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love is available through my websites:transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com

 

Is your Heart Open or Closed To Love?

In my book, Just Be Love, I write about the importance of the heart as the seat of love in the human body and its experiences. The heart is one of the most important sensory organs in the human body. In the fetus, the heart starts beating before the brain is totally formed. The heart has its own neurons, as many, if not more than the brain. The heart may well be the true brain of the human body, since it is sending as much information to the brain in our head as this brain is sending to the heart. The human heart’s electromagnetic field is five thousand times more powerful than that of the mind. 

The heart holds the energy and expression of love. Imagine there is a doorway to love within the human body, and this door is through the heart. For many people, due to difficult and painful life experiences, love can seem to have gone wrong or broken apart. The heart can become guarded, even closed to protect the wounded self. When the heart is emotionally closed so is the door, and we can become fearful and cautious. So we’re not free and happy within the chambers in our heart. Then the mind follows the path of the heart, through fear, avoidance, resistance and non-acceptance of “what is.”  A closed heart contributes to a person becoming resentful, bitter, isolated and depressed. It’s like a dark prison, which we ordered ourselves to be confined to. Our inner judge; for various reasons saw fit to impose this self inflicted sentence, as a way to make sense of something that perhaps makes no sense or seems so unfair to us. We experience such inner torment and pain, which this prison seems to offer safety and security, as only a distorted illusion can do. Research has shown, we can become sick even die, from a closed, sad and lonely heart.

When the heart is open, we are free and vibrant, love flows within and through us, as a free flowing energy exchange called, giving and receiving.  An open heart is an including heart. Love is inclusion, fear is exclusion. An open heart is one that has found acceptance in “what is.” Acceptance is often the pivotal step toward freedom from the grips of grief, resentment, depression, anxiety, addiction, you name it. To put it simply an open heart is a free and loving heart, and is a way to expand the mind in possibilities. An open heart values the importance of expressing gratitude and appreciation. It allows for compassion, reconciliation or forgiveness to be. An open heart is the key to unlock us from the self-imposed prison we may be confined to.   

I offer 3 tips to open your heart to love and goodness. These can help alter your life in heartfelt and liberating ways.

  1. Be in Appreciation, Gratitude and Care, Toward Yourself and Others: This creates heart coherence i.e. balance, peace and harmony within the heart center; which will transfer to a calmer, more positive impulses, responses and behaviors from our brain.
  2. Do Your Inner Work, to Reconcile, the wound and/or grief of your past. Your heart does not create coherence i.e. openness, balance, peace and harmony, if it’s closed, bitter or sad. 
  3. Be Love: Allow yourself to accept you are love. In this gift of acceptance, give yourself permission to do acts of loving kindness to yourself and others, without conditions or expectations.

 

David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey. His practice, Transition Pathways helps people find healthy pathways to love, greater awareness and higher potential.  My book Just Be Love, is available through my websites:transitionpathways.com  or  justbelove1.com Also available through online bookstores: amazon.com , barnesandnoble.com