Friday, July 5, 2013

Love is an Action, Not a Feeling

Many times it is tempting to think of love as a feeling that inspires us to act in loving ways. However, the problem that comes with this is that we then feel that when we aren't feeling loving we can't, won't or don't have to, act in loving ways. Obviously, this is problematic because there will be times that you don't feel loving. There will be times in your life that you will feel that you have a right to be angry, that other people don't deserve your love and that you are doing everything and the other person isn't doing enough for you. When you feel that you have a right to be upset, you are saying that you are a victim. When you say that there are people who don't deserve your love, you are, in fact placing saying that you aren't deserving of love. We are all human, with failings and imperfections and there have been many times that if you could have observed yourself from the outside, you may have said that you were "undeserving" if you use this logic. When you say that the other person isn't doing enough for you and that you are doing most of the loving, what you are really saying is that your love comes with conditions and the other has to do things to specific things to earn it.
All of these ways of thinking are blocks to love. Instead, it would serve you well to think of love as an action, not a feeling. Believing that love is a feeling puts the power to give us a loving feeling in the actions of another. This is always changing and completely out of our control. We feel that we can get love from another person, that they can say or do something that can give love to us or take it away. This simply isn't true, you are the source of love. There are so many reasons this doesn't serve us, but one way this takes our power away is that when we believe that another person can give love or take it away, when they give it, they are "good" and we act in loving ways toward them. When they take it away they are "bad" and we don't act in loving ways toward them. In short, we change the way that we behave toward them based on our feelings. We react, rather than respond. When we feel good, this is great, but when we feel bad, this is really not good at all. The only kind of relationship that we can expect will be created out of this moody behavior, is a moody one that changes constantly based on the way that you feel, which is never stable. 
Feelings are transient, they shift and change constantly. You can't guarantee that you will feel the same way you feel now in thirty seconds from now, never mind in a year from now. When someone says that they will love someone forever, when they take that vow in marriage for example, they are talking about loving action. Taking loving action is actually taking action,actually doing something loving for another person. When we expect to have loving feelings for someone, we expect the other person to do something to make us feel loved. This is fine when they are doing the things that make us feel loved, but when they stop, we become unloving. This is conditional love and real love is unconditional.
 However, the same is true if you have to do something or be a certain way, in order to receive love. That love is also conditional. 
Instead, if love can be thought of as a behavior or kind acts that we do without expecting anything at all in returm, the reward will become the feeling that you get from giving. This is so wonderful for so many different reasons. The first thing that will happen is you will stop expecting anything from others. This by itself creates miracles in relationships. It frees you up to love the other person for who they truly are, not as you want them to be. You can be present with them. You will also feel free to be yourself because you will understand that you are good enough as you are. You don't need to do anything or be a certain way. Acting in loving ways with every person you meet all the time, regardless of how they behave is love and is the way to increase love in your life. From these loving acts you will feel love. You will feel more and more love with each loving act, as long as these acts truly are done in love (wanting the best for someone, acting in ways that are focused on making the other feel good). You'll know that you are acting in love because you won't be thinking of what you will get from it or how you will benefit. You won't be doing anything to make another feel a certain way about you or to try to convince them of something. You will only be doing what you do to make them feel good, or to bring them more well being. There won't be any thought of the self in there. Therein lies the challenge. If you can do this, your reward will be the love you have in your everyday life.
"Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action."
Mother Theresa

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