MANILA, Philippines - Love, in a morally decrepit world, has become essentially loveless.
Soap operas, for one, peddle in their formula plot the indispensable lovers' quarrel, where jealousy and anger are portrayed to be normal emotions between partners, implicitly hinting that to suffer is part of love, or that pain is actually pleasurable.
But British lifecoach and author Mike George writes in his newest book The 7 Myths about Love...Actually! (O-Books, 2010) how emotional confusions have resulted due to our acquired beliefs about love. One such common confusion is that pain is confused with pleasure.
With George's characteristic hit-and-run wit and humor that we encounter in his earlier books, like Don't Get Mad, Get Wise! (2003) and The 7 Aha's of Highly Enlightened Souls (2006), George pokes fun at the emotional dilemmas of our times, while grounded in alternate attitudes that may be adopted to lead us back to a clear sense of self-value and purpose in life. George continues to run The Relax Center, a free online site where he offers steps for people to get into the habit of getting in touch with their self value. He is also a development consultant for various companies and communities in the UK and overseas.
“Most of us have been taught to believe that emotions, such as anger, fear and sadness, are healthy and normal, and that our anger is justified,” says George.
“These emotions are obviously uncomfortable. It's only after they have passed that there may be the feeling of relief, which is then associated with happiness. But it's not real happiness, just relief from self-created stress. Stress (the emotions of fear, anger and sadness) is simply a message saying there is something you need to change. It is saying something is out of balance, out of harmony, within you. Not within others or the world, but within you.”
In a world that has trained us to be in constant stress, which arises from being largely dependent on what others think and say in order to feed our own self-validation, we often miss out the truth that one is actually the creator of one's emotions, and therefore the master of one's life. The normal reaction is to pass on to others the blame for our present disposition. She did this, he said that, and so I am this, has become the most common mantra of people who are stuck in the habit of blame and dependency.
George calls this wrong programming an “emotional dependency.” This pervasive myth makes us into constant slaves of our own self-created beliefs and emotions, not the masters of our own destiny, which is what we are truly meant to be. Change is called for if one aims to be free from this tiring emotional game, and emerge with a healthy sense of self-mastery in life.
“So the first thing that needs to be changed is the belief that someone else is making you emote anger or fear, that someone else is causing you emotional stress. No they aren't. This is good news, as it means you can do something about what many people believe is outside their control,” says George, offering us the empowering solution of self-responsibility, which when applied and lived out can result to a deep sense of peace and freedom from the shackles of having to constantly look at others for approval and validation.
Related to this are two other false beliefs, George cites, that must be changed to help us truly understand and experience love. “The second thing to be changed is the belief that the world and people out there can be controlled. It can't. They can't. The third thing that needs to be changed is the belief that others are responsible for our happiness, for our feelings. No they're not. It's an inside job!”
Based on this clear understanding that one is truly in charge of one's life, George then defines pleasure, which is quite far from what we have conceived it to be. “Pleasure is knowing who you are and accepting life as it is because you no longer need to pretend to be someone that you are not, you no longer attempt to control anyone else, or attempt to acquire something, in order to get what you already have!”
One famous cultural expression that reveals our wrong sense of pleasure is the catchphrase, “I was so moved!” George mentions how we often use it to describe how we are overcome by a certain emotion, whether after watching a feel-good film, attending a funeral, or the sight of something we find beautiful. He debunks this as another myth that signifies our attachment to outside emotional indulgences, instead of coming from a secure sense of own inner knowing. He calls this a weakness of the self.
“They are saying that 'you' are not moving you, you are allowing something or someone outside yourself, putting them/it on the screen of your mind, attaching yourself to them/it and losing yourself in them/it. So it's not an empowering experience, a sign that you are still dependent.” People losing their minds over other people, situations, possessions and other external 'stuff' are sure signs of this unsound habit. No wonder why depression, which is a kind of mourning for the loss of one's real sense of self-identity, has become a pervasive cultural epidemic in recent times.
He offers an alternative response to this. For far from acting cold and distant, or isolating oneself from the rest of the outside world, he claims how once we realize that we are essentially spiritual beings, we can appreciate the world more with our highest soul-qualities, coming from a disposition of dignity, without losing ourselves in the color, form, sound and storyline of the incessantly changing drama of life.
“Still watch, still see, still appreciate something of beauty, but instead of being moved by it, which means you are taking from it, give to it, move towards it, and give to it, give your appreciation. Extend the energy of you, which is love, as you appreciate what you see. This is love in action.”
It is this essential realization that love itself is at the very core of our being, that we are love itself, that can potentially make us experience our innate self-worth, which cannot be found by buying into the telegenic but temporary come-ons of the world out there.
“You will feel the power of love, the power of you, moving you. And you will know that you are once again the master of your life because you are love.”
Finally, George asks the ultimate question meant to help us discern who is really in charge of the love in our lives: “Are you the moved or the mover?”
With the wisdom of a Zen monk sans the preachiness of the religious, George's upbeat, modern voice speaks to the heart, about the heart: Love as clear-cut and myth-free. Any takers? - Rappler.com
(First published in The Point, Center for Spiritual Learning Newsletter, May 2011.)
(The Brahma Kumaris Makati Center will hold a free talk on "The 7 Myths about Love... Actually!" based on and inspired by Mike George's book on February 14, 6:30-8:30pm. 7484 Bagtikan St. San Antonio Village, Makati. Telephone number 890-7960.)