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 can’t be the way I was born to live.” Then we get serious about creating relationships that work. If we’re 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 couldn’t find the lever to open the gas cap, so I decided to 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’s 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 the people we belong with if we’re open to follow internal guidance and external signs.
We must not settle for less than rewarding relationships. Any form of enmity, conflict, or abuse is not life’s intention for us. We put up with pain because we believe we can’t do better, yet 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’re getting. When you’re in pain in a relationship, the universe is sending you a wake-up call to realize that you’ve been accepting too much suffering. 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 the 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. Everyone we don’t like is pointing us to shine light on a judgment we’re holding. When we examine that judgment, we realize it isn’t 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. Helen Schucman, Ph.D., author of the Course said, “The holiest of all the spots 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’s 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 reflects 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 Honda Civic to sell. I parked the car at a gas station with a sign, “$1,100.” 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 $1,100 for that car. The next morning I was awakened early by a phone call. “I’ll give you $1,100 for your car,” a voice said. Within an hour the car was sold. Market conditions did not need to change for me to sell the car. I only needed to recognize that I deserved 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 of the bestselling A Course in Miracles Made Easy: Mastering the Journey from Fear to Love. Become a certified professional life coach through Alan’s upcoming transformational Life Coach Training. For more information about this program, his books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit alancohen.com. http://www.hayhouse.com/authorbio/alan-cohen