Probably one of the most used word in our language. Love can be sensed, and despite what I always believed myself, love is not an emotion. Love is an action, a manifestation of an emotion and unfortunately, it is not a given it will be expressed. This month, also known as the month of love, the Skilled Helper Collaborative share their individual perspectives about love…
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative
The Skilled Helpers Collaborative is an initiative aiming to bring meaningful content to you. Various skilled helpers from different backgrounds sharing their perspectives regarding a specific topic.
The world could use more love spread around, it is often said. Are you aware that each and every one of us has the power to choose love? Love for an object, a topic, a book, a piece of art, an activity… Love for your surroundings, including for nature and for the world we live upon. A choice to give love to another Beautiful Soul, or to yourself.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful decision; to give and receive love unconditionally, without judgement, and to experience love together?
Read the articles below and if it resonates, let us know by leaving a comment.
Don’t hesitate to Connect with one of the Skilled Helpers, in case you could use guidance.
by Claire Rajan
My exploration of love in this article flows directly from last month’s article on change. In short, it is how we may engage in a personal investigation of what love means to us individually. Our exploration can stop at face value or can be explored to represent and reflect something deeper. The choice is ours.
To lay some groundwork I would like to quote a popular set of verses from the Bible that address love. I use this description as a way to explain what I believe to be a more wholesome view of love. The verse goes like this:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love is a concept/idea that we humans find deeply satisfying and individually seek to find.
I would now like to consider two different approaches that we use when working with ideas and concepts in general and in this case around love.
The first approach is that when a new idea is presented, we have a tendency to look at the idea at face value, define its characteristics, and hold on to it if we like it. In this approach, we might erroneously begin to believe we know and understand it as well. We also explore ways to express the idea. We do this by talking about it, expressing it through externalized actions, being creative, and becoming promoters of the idea.
Another approach is in exploring an idea by first investigating it for what it is, and then investigating our current relationship with the many ways the idea can be expressed – an approach that I personally prefer.
These two approaches can be quite easily explained by first exploring “love as an idea or a concept”.
I have personally been guilty of looking at love from the first perspective. I have found myself being fascinated by the idea of being in love, expressing love through words and actions, and finding “meaningful” and creative ways to express love. I have also come to realize the limitedness in working with love in this way. The approach required little or no effort in knowing a deeper and more satisfying view of what love really could be. Within this approach, I made little progress and any expression or experience of being a loving person became highly questionable and unsatisfying. While this form of love seems to serve an individual in the short term, it also seems to fail in the long run.
There will always be something new to explore as a way be being more loving missing out the ordinary day to day opportunities as well as one important piece i.e., in becoming a loving embodied presence. In holding presence there will be no need to talk about it or express it. It simply IS and gets expressed naturally and spontaneously through everyday thoughts, words and actions.
In the biblical verse, we hear of some specific ways through which love expresses. The different do(s) and behaviors of love are expressed as: patient, kind, no envy, no boasting, no pride, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, no record of wrongs, protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. These are quite a handful of adjectives and verbs that describe love in process.
In an effort to understand our own embodied quality of love, we have to begin honestly questioning our relationship with patience, kindness, anger among the other things mentioned. Such a close examination is not easy and can make us very uncomfortable. In reality, as humans we are all impatient, unkind, rude, envious, anger easily etc. We might not even be consciously aware that we are behaving in these ways. Moreover, such behaviors might be contextual and expressed only under certain situations and in subtle ways. It is easier to spot these behaviors in others than in ourselves.
The honest and sad truth is we are not always naturally expressing the qualities of being loving people all the time. Our embodied presence simply expresses what is held in our being at any given moment. For the most part we don’t think about everything we say or do and act out fairly unconsciously.
The good news is that we don’t have to resign to this sad truth. We can look at ourselves closely and tune into our impatience, unkindness etc. We can decide to acknowledge our habitual patterns and learn about our own weakness. We might realize how often we fail and that it is “okay”. This process that we can undertake to apply ourselves to what we currently embody without coloring ourselves as “already loving” helps us to become open to change into truly living beings of love. It puts us on a path of loving progress.
This process by which we learn about ourselves from a more mindful and contemplative place is in and of itself an act of self-love. We allow ourselves the opportunity to change using tough, firm and yet compassionate love. It is as if we are using the force and process of love to build ourselves in love.
Simple and yet focused questions can help us uncover underlying motivations and patterns that drive our impatience, pride, rudeness, self-serving behaviors, lack of perseverance and so on. They can reveal habitual and unconscious behaviors.
This type of inner work can easily become a long-term undertaking. The more we examine the more we begin to realize how unloving we are. Without falling into self- critical judgment, shame and condemnation every step of the way, we can open ourselves to self-correction. With every release from what keeps us unloving we can settle into the space of being a harmonious loving presence – allowing love to readily, naturally, spontaneously, easily, and gracefully flow into our everyday actions without extra effort.
— Skilled Helpers Collaborative —
Pain as the joyful teacher of love
by Mathias Sager
Love seems to be a lifestyle rarely seen in common times because true love is not about cuddly blankets and merely living and letting live neighbors in the same comfort-optimized civilized society. Instead, one needs to accept and welcome pain to be able to truly love. Love understood this way is the bravery, strength, and independence we develop through seeking painful work to show others anywhere and of any walk of life how brave, strong, and independent they are themselves.
I love FOR you.
To love is to be, do, and become that,
which is in the service of everyone.
… everyone is loved.
If my bravery can make you rise again,
Then I show you the ‘who’ you thought you couldn’t be.
… everyone does need love.
If my strength can heal your hurting wounds,
Then I make you believe the ‘what’ you believed you couldn’t do.
… everyone becomes love.
If my independence can lead your forgotten way,
Then I become the ‘where’ you feared you couldn’t come.
I love for you, everyone.
– M. Sager (2019)
Awareness as the precondition for love
Love often is mentioned as the essential ingredient in life. Despite being considered the greatest energy in the world, it’s one of the least understood powers too. Who and what one is not aware of, one cannot love; and which is not loved, one is not adequately aware of. So, before anything can be accepted, it has to be made aware.
To love is to give
Real love does not seek to get; its reward is to give. How can I give others the gift of allowing them to be their authentic self, to see their worthiness and individual strength if I don’t practice these for myself?!
To find love in nature
There are different types of love, and there is romance. “Romance is tempestuous. Love is calm.” as Mason Cooley’s aphorism goes. Love can also be described as the holy quality of pure life; pure life meaning that life is faced as it is, as it is naturally meant to be. I think it’s no coincidence that many people report finding love (and a kind of all-loving God, their soul, etc.) in nature.
If through staying indoors, keeping a distance to nature (not directly experiencing it like walking barefoot, swimming naked, and the like), and if overly cautious lifestyles don’t connect to nature anymore, connection to love might be disturbed too. Also, if nature is pushed back, destroyed, changed through pollution and climate warming, love might change as well.
Only if we see this source of love in our own as part of nature will we find it in others too. Noticing others’ loving energy causes strong emotions of affection and attraction to them.
I hope we all have experienced how it feels to be unconditionally and entirely accepted. However, it’s rare. Often, to be loved seems to be something that we have to earn through fulfilling the (selfish) expectations of others. Again, I believe love doesn’t follow the economics of productivity. We do not love; we don’t need to do anything to others to be worthy of it. We are love; we are love as we are part of nature. Love in a spiritual sense is nothing else than respecting all life’s nature that is in ourselves and anybody else.
Transactional love often is used to make love exclusive, and as an economic principle, rarer and, therefore, seemingly more valuable. However, real love, I don’t understand as a resource underlying economic principles. Instead, love is of lower quality if there is a shortage of awareness about everybody’s access to the same universally available source of love.
Love as the purpose of life
Couldn’t love be considered the purpose of life? It’s service to all humanity that all spiritual wisdom and religions in principle find to be the real purpose of life. However, even world religions often missed the full scope of what is meant by “others.” If others are only the ones within one’s own religious community, service to others is not extending to and respecting the full scope of human connection. And again, such a limited view contradicts all-connected nature with its universally animating life force.
We intuitively know that life is the same for all, that we all dislike pain, and that nobody wants to be threatened and fought. So, why can we be so ruthless anyway? It’s the result of panic caused by fear. Head down and running, anybody getting in the way is pushed away.
When guided by fear (fear is the opposite of love), forces cause counter-forces, and resistance becomes the default response to all challenges—a truly vicious circle. The good news is that it does not have to be that way. We contain astonishing intelligence and strength in ourselves, which is revealed to us through going through the pain of accepting challenges, welcoming discomfort, and living a more natural life.
Pain as the joyful teacher of love
The ability to welcome pain and the ability to love are closely related. Often, people who experienced a lot of pain are the most compassionate in the sense that they understand others’ suffering too.
Interestingly and fortunately, pain always comes with joy too. Suffering, on the other hand, not. Suffering is the result of the wish to avoid pain. Avoiding pain results in the suffering of regret; not being able to take pain means suffering the loss of self-control, independence, and freedom.
It’s the same as wanting to solve inner struggles with external things. The work/pain needs to be done within, while suffering comes from attributing one’s destiny to the conditions of the outer, uncontrollable world. So, patiently wait, and you’ll joyfully arrive; take the childbirth pain, and you’ll experience the joy of birth (the same with any creative process); die during a lifetime, and you’ve set you free for true personal growth. That’s the joy of love.
I am my love
by Rika Cossey
I love myself. There, I said it. I’m not ashamed because it’s the truth. I love myself, my opinions, my interpretation of the world. I love it because it’s the only truth I know to be actually true.
Yes, beginning an article about love in this way is rather odd, especially coming from someone who coaches people to love and trust themselves in this chaotic world.
I coach and help clients to trust their instincts because I know there already is an instinct, there is a truth inside every one of us.
Our internal truths
We are born with a set of truths of our own. We seek attention to meet our needs from the moment we enter the world. We really only care about our truth. It takes years of socialising for children to understand that other people have needs and desires as well. And that focus on our own truths never leaves us, even in the direst circumstances.
Realising that unconsciously you will always choose your needs before anyone else’s is not an act of selfishness or ignorance, it’s one of self-preservation and insight. It tells you that you matter to yourself. And that, actually, you love yourself.
Let me take a moment to explain this further. In psychology, we often speak about the ego. The ego is that ‘thing’ that is inside every one of us and defines us. It sometimes comes with a negative connotation in words such as egoistic or even egomaniac. And while these can be extreme forms, we are all egoistic all of the time.
The most prominent moment when the ego comes up is when we defend it. Defence mechanisms are an extremely insightful way of understanding a person. From denying a situation to projecting our feelings onto others, we are defending our own state of mind. Anna Freud undertook some interesting analysis with children who had been abused by their parents. Even in states where anyone would understand the child to hate their parents, these children were defending their truth that their parents loved them by assuming that their behaviour must be the cause of the abuse, not the lack of care from the parent.
Freud’s examples show something important: we each hold needs and beliefs that we will defend against anything. That belief can be anything, from being the most knowledgable person that ever lived to the fact that we are loved by our parents. We each have these beliefs and they create our ego. And that ego is something we defend – around five times each day.
Defending our ego is something we do automatically and mostly without realising. In some cases, these defences are counterproductive to ourselves but in most cases, we view them as instincts. It’s our natural reaction to something attacking our belief which we must uphold against all odds.
When I tell my clients to trust their beliefs, I don’t say this lightly. We each have that internal compass deep inside our psyche and we know what’s true for us and how to take care of ourselves. Just sometimes, we lose sight of that and we defend against something out of reflex rather than conviction.
And that is the moment when we need to turn to self-love and self-care to find ourselves again. The truth is there but it might be hidden under layers of defence mechanisms, societal beliefs and rational thoughts.
I like this little exercise to get a sense of where I need to go on any particular issue. I ask myself “What does my head tell me?” (this will give me a very logical answer to my question), “What does my heart tell me?” (this often gives me a limitation or restrained to my head solution) and then “What does my gut tell me?” (which gives me the answer I really feel). I often combine these questions by touching the various parts – my head, my chest, and my tummy. And my gut will tell me where I need to continue looking. It’s my gut-feeling, after all.
And because we each have the answers ingrained and we know every truth that is true for us, we will always take care of ourselves and our world. And that’s a good thing and something to nourish.
You can call it self-awareness, egoistic behaviour, or simply instinct. You have a truth that guides you on your path of life. Uncovering this truth might be hard sometimes but I would argue it’s not always necessary. As long as you are confident to trust it.
I love myself because I know that I can make decisions that are right for me. I learn constantly from my past, accept changes in my life, and I ask myself how I feel about my truths.
With that little nudge towards trusting myself and a good pinch of critical analysis of my past decisions, I have a recipe for true and lasting self-love.
Love is Too Short for You Not to Do What You Love
by Kally Tay
When it comes to career, the golden rule is to enjoy your work rather than just focusing only on your salary or rank. If you are not happy with what you are doing, you are more likely to end up getting depressed and discontented all your life. It may also cause you to keep changing jobs until you find the one you want when it’s already too late.
So, if you are not happy with your current career, here are some reasons why you should pursue the one you truly love:
- 1. It Will Be More Fulfilling
When you get a job, it should not just be for the sake of the income. You need to be able to enjoy and be happy about it. Otherwise, you will just be stressed and burnt out.
Moreover, your work should give you fulfilment on everything you do. It should motivate you to achieve your goals and empower you to do better at work. That way, you can also be more confident and prouder of yourself.
2. It Will Make You More Productive
In your career, you must always be productive if you want to excel and move up on the career ladder. It will entail motivation and inspiration to reach all your goals and objectives. To be productive at work, you must finish your tasks efficiently with high-quality results. By doing so, you will not only help the business achieve its targets, but it will also help you get the ideal work-life balance you aspire.
Also, being productive will enable you to find more opportunities to learn and improve on your current role. And if you are passionate and dedicated to do more for your company, you will appreciate how the business is helping you and the world.
3. It Will Help You Stay Healthy
Research has often pointed out that work-related stress can be very detrimental to one’s health. It can lead to health problems like weight gain, weak immune system. and heart problems. Work stress can also affect mental health immensely, causing anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders, if not treated and managed immediately.
Work-related stress is inevitable, but if you enjoy the work you do, it will more likely be a healthy kind of stress. It may even improve your quality of life because your work does not overlap in your personal life.
- 4. It Will Help You Inspire Your Peers
It is not uncommon to see people not pursuing the careers they want because of fear. There is always a high risk involved if you are already in a stable job, and you suddenly want to shift to a completely unknown territory. Some also get discouraged in changing careers because of the opinions of their loved ones.
However, if you take on the challenge and push yourself to do a job that you are passionate about, other people may take you as an inspiration to change careers and pursue their dream jobs. There will surely be some challenges and difficulties along the way, but if it is something you would love to do, you will embrace it wide open and do something you will be proud of.
- 5. It Helps Improve Your Relationships
Staying positive can spread easily to every aspect of our lives. It can nurture positive outlooks and good relationships with other people. However, when people experience too much stress due to work, they tend to have emotional meltdowns, causing damage to relationships and other adverse effects that can affect their lives. It could also discourage others from becoming close to them or even get intimidated to ask for their help.
But if you love doing your job, you will be less stressed and more motivated. You will also have a more positive attitude towards your work, and your colleagues will find you more amicable.
- 6. It Will Help You Succeed
If you are enjoying the job you have, you will not feel like you are working. It will feel like a pair of shoes that fits perfectly on your feet. You will constantly feel inspired, motivated, and exhilarated.
Every problem you will face will turn into challenges that you can overcome. You will be able to smile and push yourself to do your best to attain your goals, and there is also no need for anyone to watch you work to keep you going. These positive sentiments will transpire to all the things you do even outside work, giving you a good sense of control over your life which you may never have found in your old job.
- 7. It Will Make You Happy
Finally, if you love your job, you will be happier than ever before. If you are struggling and unhappy with the job that you are in, you are only burdening yourself for something that you could have let go. Having these emotions may also affect your overall well-being and even your entire life. So, do not let yourself get stuck in a job that will not give you happiness.
Find available opportunities if there is a job that you want to pursue. When you find it, make sure to organise everything before you move to this new career. It may be unstable at first, but all your efforts will be worth it in the end. This could also be the career that will help you build the foundations for your later years.
Life is too short, so best enjoy it every step of the way. If you are unhappy about something, change it and do something about it. These quotes are applicable in all aspects of our lives, especially in our career and relationships. Build that career you truly wish to pursue because once you find it, everything will just perfectly fit together.
When everything moves according to plan, you will see a great difference in your life. So, take a leap of faith and look for your passion. Changing careers may be scary at first, but it will surely make you fulfilled, content, and grateful.