How You Keep Yourself from the Love You Seek
Though we now have more instantaneous and extensive communication (of a sort) with each other than ever before, we feel more fragmented and lack a sense of community and belonging. Even as our species has exponentially multiplied and overrun the planet, we suffer from an epidemic of loneliness. Then again, it's not all that surprising since, to paraphrase Carl Jung, loneliness is not a matter of how many people you surround yourself with, but rather, of how able you are to really communicate, deeply, about the things that matter most to your heart and soul.
Yearning for Connection
LET'S FACE IT: We all yearn to give and receive love. We want richer relationships, deeper friendships, more closeness and community in our lives. We may even notice, in some quiet moments, that we’re dogged by a nagging sense of separateness.
AND YET, when we look closely, we find that we are in pain because we have been shooting ourselves in the foot! We realize that we, ourselves, are sabotaging the connection we want — with our own defensive conditioning, our old self-protective patterns of fear, dependency, and blame. We find that we are hiding from each other, fighting with each other, erecting barriers to love.
SO... How are we to drop this old rusty armor?... So that we may, at last, see each other clearly… hold each other closely?
Typical Communication Blocks Connection
One of the biggest ways to drop our rusty armor is by changing the way we communicate. Rather than being conducive to connection, the way we communicate most of the time is unconsciously designed to prevent too much connection... to block alarming amounts of intimacy. Turns out we are secretly scared, and that much of how we normally and habitually communicate with each other is defensive… We unconsciously construct and practice it to protect ourselves.
Keeping ourselves protected
What are we defending and protecting ourselves from?
"From other people!" you reply, perhaps.
Yes, but what about connecting more deeply with said people do you imagine to be dangerous? What do you worry might happen if you started really revealing yourself to others?
"Rejection! Judgment! Shame! Banishment!"
All perfectly understandable, good and respectable fears, I'll admit.. and yet... They are what I would call "imaginary fears"... They are fears of things that don't actually exist... "No hold on, there!" you say, "Such things happen all the time!"
No. Actually, they don't. True, it is possible that someone might say, in response to your daring self-revelation, "You suck! Go away!"... But "judgment-rejection" is actually a story you make up about that happening, not something that, itself, actually happens... It is not an event, it's an interpretation of events.
Which is not to say that, in revealing yourself, you have nothing to be afraid of. Lurking in the shadows, out of plain view, waits what I call the "Uber-fear"!
This fear actually runs your life...
Although, or perhaps because, you are not usually consciously aware of this fear, it leads you around by the nose. Most of what you do-think-feel is in response to this Uber-fear... and it is the one that keeps us from really opening up to each other... the fear that keeps us terrified of real honesty and intimacy.
"What is it?!" you impatiently interject.
I thought you'd never ask.
The Uber-fear, which keeps us hiding from each other, fighting with each other, the fear that keeps us isolated and lonely, is...
THE FEAR OF FEELING... or more specifically...
the fear of feeling "too many" of the "wrong" kinds of sensations.
Right and Wrong Sensations
We're wired, by evolution, to associate some sensations with a threat to our survival, and to, consequently, avoid those sensations like the plague... Some of the sensations we associate with danger are hard-wired, they come with equipment, and a whole, whole lot of those associations are learned... learned through a lifetime of perception, (mis)interpretation and conditioning.
Eventually, most of what we perceive becomes associated with a potential threat to our survival, and LOTS of our corresponding sensations become the "wrong" kind... the "dangerous" kind... and, unconsciously...
“WRONG" SENSATIONS = DEATH
Conversely, the "right" kinds of sensations are associated with a benefit and support to my survival (and the survival of "me", through my genes, in perpetuity)... So the flip-side of the coin of the Uber-fear, is the Uber-craving, which also runs us, in tandem with the fear:
the craving to feel as many of the "right" kinds of sensations as possible!
So, if we actually want to drop our dukes, and the rusty old armor we described earlier... if we want to shed our shame, and finally come close and connect... we will need to cultivate a new Meta-skill to counteract and dissolve the Uber-fear... a new Uber-skill to relax and release the Uber-craving... namely:
the willingness to feel ALL kinds of sensations... (and let them go)…
Becoming a Connoisseur of Pain
Of course, learning how to creatively begin to move towards sensations that you would have previously automatically and unconsciously avoided takes some discrimination... Not all pain is created equal. You'll want to become what I call a "connoisseur of pain" -- one who can make subtle distinctions between different flavors of discomfort... one who can distinguish between the often uncomfortable stretch of evolutionary transformation, and the repetitive misery of continuing to bang your head against the wall.
In other words, no need to jump in front of a speeding bus just to practice surrendering to the sensations. But the discomfort of daring to drop your pretenses, revealing yourself instead of hiding out, and telling the truth about your own experience, is probably well worth tolerating. In time, you will learn to not just endure such unfamiliar sensations, but to actually metabolize them, receiving nourishment in the process... and as you continue to engage in this practice...
You will become a very powerful person...
a more wise and loving human.
The more you practice the meta-skill, the Uber-Yes, the super power of being willing to feel EVERYTHING, the more you disarm the Uber-fear... You call its bluff, and say "Is that all ya got?? Bring it on!" and nothing in its arsenal manages to faze you much anymore... The Uber-fear stops scaring you as much, because, more and more...
You've become willing (as needed) to feel all kinds of uncomfortable sensations, and.... that's as bad as it gets! That's all there is and there ain't no more!
You've got nothing left to lose
As you become less motivated by fear, and a new kind of intelligence and intuition starts coming online... Your decisions become less unconsciously driven by the old fear and craving and....
You become more able to consciously choose...
out of love and wisdom...
instead of fear...
And yes, because of all that, you become more able to stop shooting yourself in the foot! You drop your defenses, open your heart, and tell the truth... which often leads to love...
Because you have faced your fear and learned to love, you are often able, with your sharing, to create deep connection with others... AND... for the same reason, it doesn't matter as much... whether you do or whether you don't...
You find that loneliness is not, ultimately, a function of how others respond to you...
You find that you can feel "connected", you can feel Love, even when you are alone.
Taber Shadburne, MA, is is a cutting edge counselor, teacher of transformation, and the only Radical Honesty Master Trainer.