My friend Donald says, “I choose to love others because it makes me feel better.”
There’s a certain game we all play, the game of pleasing others. It’s probably starts out just as a strategy we adopt as children, thinking that if we love everyone then everyone will willingly give that love back to us. This is probably also the thought at the base of seeking fame: we long to be loved by everyone.
But nobody warned us about the vampires.
We don’t find out that ours is a game until we meet someone who won’t play the game the way we want them to. Our time-honored strategy falls to the ground, and we find ourselves exposed and naked. Our crime?
We were “giving to get.” We were adopting a kind of mentality that says, “you owe me” for all the love and support I gave you. I told you I was giving it to you freely, but underneath there was a catch: “If you don’t appreciate me, or give back as much as I’m giving, then I’ll stop loving you.” This subtle form of blackmail creates a lot of tension. We can’t force the other person to love us. And besides, who can love someone else with a gun to his head?
This is called Co-Dependency, and is largely invisible until the vampires show up. They’re happy to take your love and not give any back, and then we see where our strategy had a loophole. Life isn’t always fair.
So after we get burned, a major portion of us simply decide to stop loving completely.
Others, the braver, luckier ones, take the higher, steeper path. They say, “OK, I will still love you, but I don’t need you to love me. In fact, you are free to treat me any way you like.”
That’s when we’re shown the magic behind the curtain. We weren’t hurt by how others treated us. What hurt us the most was trying to stop loving them.
It was the act of stopping the unlimited natural flow of love from our hearts which hurt so badly. So now we become just like a river. We let the love flow, we enjoy the feeling… and don’t pay any attention to what comes back.
As a great saint says, “The channel is blessed by what runs through it.”