All of us at some time in our lives have looked for love. We often feel like love in our world is in short supply or difficult to find. Could it be, like the song, that most of us spend most of our lives “looking for love in all the wrong places?”
Our culture has diluted and confused even the word “love.” If we look at dictionary.com, there are fourteen definitions offered for the word. The love I am talking about in this article is not the love of pizza, or the oft-used euphemism “making love.” Love is used here as “to find value in” or “to feel or manifest generous concern for” another person. All of us look for love that is comprehensive, that is, accepts and values all of the aspects of us, not just the “good” or “desirable” parts. We also seek a love that is consistent, a love that is reliably there when we need it or look for it. And the love we seek we want pure, not flavored or adulterated with someone else’s agenda. Similar to consistent, we also want love to be lasting, or eternal, transcending time. And finally, most of us want love that is ubiquitous, transcending space. So to be loved is to be valued. Let’s examine some of the places we look for this feeling of value.
Some of our family we do not consciously choose the individuals: parents, siblings, children, extended family. Let’s look for love there.
- Parents? For most of us, our first experience of love is from our parents or primary caregivers who care for our needs when we are most dependent: birth to adolescence. In my work as a psychotherapist, I often work with clients who have not had love that is comprehensive, consistent and pure. Even those among us who have had great parents would most likely agree they have not met all the criteria all the time.
- Siblings? I have never met someone who would assert that they felt value from their sibling comprehensively, consistently, purely, eternally and ubiquitously. Think “sibling rivalry.” Adult siblings may come the closest to all the qualities we seek, creating relationships of comprehensive, consistent, pure, eternal and ubiquitous sharing of value or generous concern.
- Children? Only one question is needed to eliminate this source from our search: Have you always felt or manifested love toward your parents without exception? Most of us bond with our parents, individuate, and then grow to love them with their shortcomings over our lifetime.
- Extended Family? I believe my favorite aunt loved me unconditionally. She is one of the exemplars I use to know that a greater love is possible between humans. I hope you have or had someone in your life like her.
- Chosen Family? Some of the persons we call family are chosen by us to be in the circle: friends, partner or spouse, in-laws, and pets. Are they able to love us unconditionally?• Friends? Friendship is the practice of love. We learn to hold and maintain value for another through our commitment to friendship. We must override our fear of being hurt when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to create a deep friendship. We must expose ourselves to another and take the risk that they will not see, understand and acknowledge our value. Deep friendships can bring us close to what we are looking for when we look for love.
- Partner or Spouse? If you and your partner or spouse are also good friends, see the previous paragraph. If not, then two people in relationship for mutual satisfaction of needs will almost never be conflict free. Many people have learned to use their manifestation of love as a bargaining chip in leveraging the situation to get their needs met.
- In-laws? In spite of the bad press in-laws receive, some of these relationships created through marriage can bring us close to the qualities of love we seek, creating deep and abiding friendships.
- Pets? If you have never had a pet, you might not understand why this category is included. Pets, while dependent on their guardians (not owners), provide for many of us a sense of unconditional love.
- Where else to look for the love we seek? So if our search for love comes up short when we look to given family and chosen family, let’s check out a couple of more places. How about in the mirror? I do not believe I have ever met anyone who can say that they never questioned their own value. One particularly perilous time is adolescence. Can anyone reading this say that they have always looked in the mirror and found love? I can’t.
So we come down to one more place to look: our Creator. Whoever or whatever brought us into being. However you conceptualize or understand this creative force that brought you into being—this source of light, life and love—we are valued by our Creator. Like a leaf is valued by a tree, arising forth from the essence of the life force in the tree. Being valued—being loved—comes from our Source: comprehensively, consistently, purely, eternally and ubiquitously. When we feel unloved, it is because we have not connected to our heart, our portal to the infinite Source of our being. When we are connected to our heart we experience being valued. Being valued, we feel valued. Feeling valued, we can radiate value to all around us.
Thomas Capshew, Ph.D. works in the field of human potential. He supports the growth and expansion of individual and collective human consciousness. Some of his primary tools include psychotherapy, meditation, energy work, hypnosis and spiritual direction. This article is an excerpt from his upcoming second book, Consciousness Rising. For a free meditation download and more information, please visit https://thomascapshew.com/free-choose-love-meditation/