Why do we hurt the ones we love? This is a question that I am sure has come up in many of our minds. Either we have been hurt, or we have caused hurt to another, and quite likely, both, whether we care to acknowledge it or not.
Let’s talk about hurt first: causing hurt is an act of violence, often an act of revenge. But revenge for what? Why do we seek to inflict violence? It’s because there is something fragile in us that needs protecting, or something that we may have lost to the other - our hearts, our self respect, our years.
Do you ever wonder how we, who are so rational, functional and logical are capable of being hurt? That’s because there is an inner child in us and it is this child-like quality in us that is capable of opening up to new experiences, to love, to vulnerability. On the one hand, we need to open up in order to share intimacies, in order to let the other see beyond our thick outer shells that we reserve for the rest of the world, but this same vulnerability leaves us open to attack, to hurt. See the conflict?
How, then, do we resolve this dilemma? How about we look next at how we define love? For some of us, love means being cared for, being supported, being given a commitment of safety, security, and companionship. For some others, love is a heady experience: like diving off a cliff and free falling into a river below, trusting that the river is deep and wide enough to envelop us, to carry us along, on this thrilling ride of life.
And when life, love, our partners, or their behaviour don’t meet all of our needs and expectations, we get outraged, we get hurt, we want to inflict pain, we start to hate. But the same partner, the same behaviour could be a source of great pleasure for another… as we often see, to our bitter experience, with our exes or a former boss or colleague we couldn’t stand to be around. Then it must be that we contact the person in a particular way. As writer and philosopher, Elbert Hubbard said “We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.”
Perhaps it’s time for us to redefine what love means, so that that it doesn’t end in bitterness and hatred. Could love mean just saying, ‘I see you. I accept you, just as you are.’ But that would also have to mean, ‘I am whole. I am self-reliant, and I look to you for shared friendship, connection, meaning, and not dependence or expectation.’
Here are some ways to break out of this vicious love-hate relationship cycle:
1.This will sound like a cliché, but it begins with us – let’s spend some time understanding ourselves, our desires, what brings us meaning, what we are sensitive to, how we soothe ourselves. Self reliance doesn’t have to be lonely or an unreachable goal.
2. The next step is to start consciously building a village around us. Being aware at all times that anything external to us is not in our control, and impermanent. Friends, family, lovers, may come and go. Clinging to anything or anyone just makes us fearful, dependent, blinkered and hyper focused.
3. Of this village, one member could be our lover/friend/life partner. This is where we need to choose carefully…If what you want is stability, partnership, support, then why are you looking for ‘tall, dark and handsome’ (which by the way is absolutely mystifying – our brain quickly neutralises to these externalities, and how does ‘tall’ serve us for anything except to reach a high shelf in a cupboard, pray? 😁)
If it’s excitement you’re looking for, ask yourself if it’s your partner’s job to provide it for you, and if that’s even possible for years and years to come. You may as well buy a home entertainment system or a virtual reality headset. If you want to buy into media stories of ‘falling in love’ please check the water below or at least strap on some bungee chords before you dive off that cliff!
With a little bit of our wisdom brain functioning, love can be a tremendous source of joy. It is powerful, a great unifier, and could bring out our most abundant selves. Don’t be afraid to love. For love we are! Happy Valentine’s Day!