Conditioning our actions has value, particularly professionally. Being one who is easily misled, I had to learn to trust but verify, particularly once I had other employees whose trust, in turn, was at stake.
But how helpful are such conditions to love?
“The delusion of self-control kills many people’s joy,” says Carll Tucker’s Good Morning blog today. I’ll broaden my delusion to “control” in general.
In the late 90’s I asked my counselor, “can you summarize what you’ve learned about me from two years of therapy?”. Amy said, “Yes. Your primary personality characteristics are controller while at the same time you are die-hard people pleaser”.
“How does that affect my life”, I asked. She said, “you want people to do what you tell them to do…then thank you for it”.
Tim, “I’m screwed, right?”. Amy said, “eternally”.
Since then, I’ve been able to progressively put less conditions on my love and my joys. First, I accepted that I was born an anxious, type-A, ADHD, overachiever. Then I acquired methods to calm my storm including medication, meditation, exercise, prayer, music and reading.
While I still struggle a lot, I find myself more and more in the moment. As I write this, I’m noticing a cardinal resting on a branch outside my window. Last night with a friend, I asked questions and enjoyed listening and feeling his words all the way until he was finished.
At a meditation retreat years ago, our teacher said we all choose one of three levels of love:
· Resist Love. This might be expressed as: ”I’d love to love and be loved but I grew up in violence, was recently divorced, my children don’t talk to me, or I lost my job, or…”
· Choose Love. ”I love those who are loving to me”
· Be Love…This is the rarest form since to “be” love, one must let go of all conditions. No waiting, no hoping, no expecting (good or bad). Just being.
Our teacher had recently stood at the death bed of a friend she believed “was” love. This woman regained consciousness one time and looked at each of the friends and family and, pointing to each with an unsteady finger she softly said to each: “love”. After all were spoken to, she pointed at herself and said, “love”. Then drifted off back into sleep.
I’ll never “be” love as this woman or Mother Theresa or my other superheroes of love, but I can arrive in the moment and be love sometimes. Each time requires that I suspend my conditions and “love like I’ve never been hurt”.
Not easy, to be sure, but great things never are easy to accomplish.