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Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Monday, January 30, 2017

Raise the Bar on LOVE

“Sometimes  the  people  who  are  hardest  to  love  are  the  ones  that  offer  us  the  greatest  reward  once  we  master  the  lesson  the  relationship  is  bringing  us.”  
by Alan Cohen

Every  February,  in  honor  of  Valentine’s  day,  I  explore  loving  relationships.  Many  of  us  have  faced  challenges  in  relationships,  and  we  struggle  with  how  to  create  truly  rewarding  connections.  We  search  for  our  soulmate,  wrestle  with  friendships,  and  dread  going  home  to  see  our  relatives.  At  some  point  it  dawns  on  us  that  “this  cannot  be  the  way  I  was  born  to  live.”  Then  we  get  serious  about  creating  relationships  that  work.  If  we  are  sincere,  that  will  happen.  

At  the  end  of  a  visit  to  a  town  where  I  used  to  live,  I  was  on  my  way  to  return  a  rental  car.  I  stopped  at  a  gas  station  to  fill  up,  but  could  not  find  the  lever  to  open  the  gas  cap.  So  I  decided  to  just  return  the  car  half-full.  Along  the  way  I  discovered  the  lever  and  stopped  at  a  gas  station  near  the  rental  car  return.  While  filling  up,  I  saw  a  friend  of  mine  at  the  next  pump.  He  is  a  sincere,  ecologically-minded  guy  who  has  been  running  for  county  council  for  years,  and  was  up  for  election  once  again.  We  shared  a  hug  and  schmoozed  for  a  few  minutes.  I  told  him,  “I  can’t  vote  for  you  now  that  I’ve  moved,  but  if  I  could  I  would  surely  get  behind  you.”  A  big  smile  lit  up  his  face  and  he  answered,  “That’s  worth  a  lot  of  votes  right  there.”

As  I  drove  away,  I  marveled  at  the  synchronicity  of  meeting  my  friend.  If  I  had  found  the  gas  cap  lever  at  the  first  station,  I  would  have  missed  that  encounter.  I  like  to  think  that  the  universe  had  set  up  that  meeting.  A  deeper  wisdom  was  behind  the  apparent  error,  leading  to  a  moment  of  rewarding  connection.  Life  is  always  guiding  us to  be  with  the  people  we  belong  with,  if  we  are  open  to  follow  internal  guidance  and  external  signs.

Why Settle?

We  must  not  settle  for  less-than-rewarding  relationships.  Any  form  of  enmity,  conflict,  or  abuse  is  not  life’s  intention  for  us.  Yet  we  put  up  with  pain  because  we  believe  we  cannot  do  better.  But  we  can  and  we  will.  Before  we  can  do  better,  we  must  change  our  minds  about  what  we  deserve.  You  can  always  tell  what  you  believe  you  deserve  by  what  you  are  getting.  When  you  are  in  pain  in  a  relationship,  the  universe  is  sending  you  a  wake-up  call  to  realize  that  you  have  been  accepting  too  much  suffering.  Then  you  must  do  whatever  it  takes  to  extricate  yourself  from  sorrow  and  create  a  relationship  that  works.  Sometimes  that  can  be  done  right  where  you  stand,  and  sometimes  you  must  leave.  Either  way,  you  must  find  your  way  to  higher  ground.  Our  tolerance  for  upset  is  too  high.  We  must  raise  the  bar  on  love.

A  Course  in  Miracles  tells  us  that  it  is  the  destiny  of  all  relationships  to  bring  us  joy.  Sometimes  the  people  who  are  hardest  to  love  are  the  ones  that  offer  us  the  greatest  reward  once  we  master  the  lesson  the  relationship  is  bringing  us.  The  only  purpose  of  relationship  is  to  deepen  our  capacity  to  give  and  receive  love.  Abraham  Lincoln  said,  “I  don’t  like  that  man.  Let  me  get  to  know  him.”  Everyone  we  don’t  like  is  pointing  us  to  shine  light  on  a  judgment  we  are  holding.  When  we  examine  that  judgment,  we  realize  it  is  not  valid,  and  we  recognize  the  unnecessary  pain  that  holding  the  grievance  is  causing.  Then  we  can  let  it  go  and  be  free.  The  relationship  has  served  us  well.  The  Course  further  tells  us,  “The  holiest  spot  on  earth  is  where  an  ancient  hatred  has  become  a  present  love.”

All  healthy  relationships  are  founded  in  self-love.  If  you  don’t  love  yourself,  it  is  going  to  be  difficult  to  love  others  or  receive  their  love.  We  project  our  fears  and  self-judgments  onto  the  world  “out  there,”  which  exists  more  in  our  mind  than  as  an  external  entity.  We  make  up  stories  about  other  people  based  on  the  stories  we  make  up  about  ourselves.  If  you  can’t  find  someone  outside  to  love  you,  you  haven’t  found  someone  inside  to  love  you. 
 Loving  people  around  you  reflect  your  love  for  yourself.  Unloving  people  represent  your  self-judgment.  Don’t  attempt  to  change  what  you  see  in  the  mirror  by  rearranging  the  images.  Rearrange  the  source  of  the  images—your  mind—and  the  images  will  rearrange  themselves.  

A  while  back  I  had  a  little  Honda  Civic  to  sell.  I  parked  the  car  at  a  gas  station  with  a  sign,  “$1100.”  The  car  sat  for  a  long  time  without  an  inquiry.  Then  one  night  I  attended  a  healing  service  by  a  Christian  minister  who  took  up  many  collections  during  the  evening.  His  solicitation  was  quite  bold.  During  one  basket-passing  he  announced,  “God  told  me  there  are  five  people  in  this  audience  who  can  donate  $1,000,  and  He  wants  you  to  give  it.”  Although  I  later  learned  that  the  preacher  was  a  charlatan,  I  was  impressed  by  his  confidence  to  ask  for  money.  That  night  I  went  to  sleep  with  the  realization,  “I  deserve  to  get  $1100  for  that  car.”  The  next  morning  I  was  awakened  early  by  a  phone  call.  “I’ll  give  you  $1100  for  your  car,”  a  voice  said.  Within  an  hour  the  car  was  sold.  It  was  not  waiting  for  any  market  conditions  for  me  to  sell  it.  It  was  waiting  for  my  recognition  of  my  deservingness  to  sell  it.

So  it  is  with  all  of  our  relationships.  They  are  just  waiting  for  us  to  receive  the  love  we  deserve.  Let  this  Valentine’s  month  be  the  month  we  let  love  in.  

Alan  Cohen  is  the  author  the  bestselling  A  Course  in  Miracles  Made  Easy:  Mastering  the  Journey  from  Fear  to  Love. For  more  information  about   his  books  and  videos,  free  daily  inspirational  quotes,  online  courses,  and  weekly  radio  show,  visit  www.alancohen.com.