Life doesn't always go as planned. When the outcome isn't what you expected, you may experience a sense of grief, anger, fear, or loss. Over the next two weeks, Silent Unity will present a question each day to help transform these thoughts into a more positive outlook. As we begin our journey, please join us in affirming: Today I choose a fresh perspective. I see possibility instead of limitation. I see hope instead of despair. I choose thoughts that build a better world.
How Can I Love More?
By Carolyne Mathlin
When we ask, “How can I love more?” what is typically underneath that question is a desire to understand more. Love is our ever-present reality. Love doesn’t change. Understanding is a bridge to living love. The more we understand, the more we are able to feel and express the love that is already present.
I loved my dearly departed mother with all my heart. We had a very close, connected relationship. Toward the end of her life she stopped doing as much. She needed more help getting places, to the point that she didn’t like going anywhere alone. She became dependent on me for company and help. I started to make up stories in my mind about her being lazy, not trying hard enough, purposefully burdening me so I would stay close to her.
Then one day she had a doctor’s appointment. As it turned out, she had stage 4 breast cancer that had spread into her bones. With that diagnosis, all of a sudden my heart broke open with immense love for my mother. All the stories I had made up in my head about what she was doing to me melted away in the understanding that her body was actually sick. As my understanding increased, my capacity for the love that was already present between us increased.
Every day we are met with opportunities to understand more. We each have a worldview. Those views are influenced by our country of origin, gender, life story, religion, education, economic status, Enneagram number, ethnicity, and the list goes on. We tend to gravitate toward the people who we share similar worldviews with. It’s easier to understand those who are like us and therefore easier to love them.
Then there are those relationships and situations where we bump up against other viewpoints, informed by a different set of influences than our own. Just like my experience with my mother, we can make up many stories based on limited, external information. Our call is to go deeper. The more we understand, the more we can feel the love that connects us all.
There are many ways to inquire as a way to develop understanding and ultimately love. When you are seeking to build understanding, the important starting point is to be pure in your intention. Start with the awareness that this is a soul in human form that has a story, with hopes and dreams, challenges and struggles. When you start with that, you start from a place of connection with them that is beyond personal beliefs.
Then, be curious. Ask questions in a welcoming, open tone; welcoming because you want to be invited into their world; open because there is room in your awareness for what they have to share.
My go-to question is: “Will you please tell me more?” I learned it from a workshop I took with Dr. Gary Simmons many years ago. The more curious we are, the more we can stay open to viewpoints outside our own worldview, ultimately building understanding and an ability to love more.
We live in a world where we can become isolated, limiting our connection with anyone different from ourselves. The more we see each other in the various expressions of humanity, including all the different reasons people believe what they do, the more we will love. The more we feel understood, the less we need to defend and attack the other. I love the teaching from A Course In Miracles “in my defenselessness my safety lies.” Learning more about someone else and why they believe what they do doesn’t take away your power or your voice. It simply informs you more. Understanding another doesn’t mean agreeing; it means you care enough about someone’s intrinsic value to see from their perspective. It’s not about understanding with an agenda to change them. It’s about the intention to love them wholeheartedly.
As you venture out into the world or even sit down to a family meal and find yourself struggling to love someone, stop. Take a few cleansing breaths. Connect with them and then seek to understand. Prepare to be open to, even surprised by, the possibility of loving more right then and there.