In today’s relationships love is often used to describe how someone feels about another person and as a description of what one is looking for. The world is made up all of kinds of relationships and although there are general meanings when it comes to love; there are also radically different ones.
To say that love means one thing would be an oversight. Just through looking at the different relationships that one has had and that others are having will often show this. So although one can live in a society where there are general ideas about what love is and how love should be, there will also be a personal meaning of what love is.
This meaning may well be personal thing, but it can also correlate with certain views that have come about through the media and society. There will be some people who know what love means to them and others who have no idea. And yet when these people come across the type of person who does it for them; they will soon know.
However this process rarely goes on consciously. One is unlikely to think this person does this or has that and therefore I’m in love. The whole thing typically goes on out of one’s conscious awareness.
If what one unconsciously associates as love is functional and empowering then there is a better chance of one ending up in a healthy relationship. The problem here is that if what one unconsciously associates as being love is disempowering and dysfunctional, this can lead to all kinds of problems.
Because even though one may have an idea about what love is like to them, unless this matches their ego minds associations it is highly unlikely to become a reality. And this will then create conflict and emotional experiences that include; pain, anger, hopelessness and frustration amongst other things.
Ones view of love may be based on someone that is respectful, supportive, kind or affectionate for example. And yet this may be the complete opposite of what ones ego mind has come to associate as what love is.
The ego mind forms associations around everything and once these are formed; it is what the mind will come to conclude as being reality and the truth. These associations are formed through familiarity and this then becomes what is safe.
And when it comes to what the ego mind can associate as what is familiar and therefore safe, there are endless possibilities. While healthy, functional and supportive behaviour can be what the ego mind associates as being safe, so can unhealthy, dysfunctional and unsupportive behaviour for instance.
This is why relationships can be dysfunctional and create so much pain and suffering. Consciously one may feel repelled by the relationships that they are in or to the people that they attract. However, to the ego mind, it is simply due to the associations that it has around these people being familiar and therefore safe.
So as this is a process that generally goes on automatically and is not a conscious occurrence, it can mean that what one is attracted to may well be unknown. There is likely to be an inner need or desire to be with the person and one that cannot be logically explained.
Let’s take a look at some of the more dysfunctional examples of what can be associated as being love. The other person could be: abusive, critical, controlling, cold, violent, overwhelming, distant and aloof for example.
And when it comes to examples that could be classed as neutral, these can include; people that give one attention; do things for them, such as buy them gifts or cook them meals and simply listen to them.
The positive examples of what the ego mind can associate as being safe and to equate love, can be when another person is: supportive, caring, kind, honest and affectionate.
On the surface it can seem very strange as to why the ego mind would associate violence or abuse to mean love. It is clear that there is nothing loving about these two or any of the others that I mentioned above.
And one of the biggest reasons that the mind will associates these unhealthy behaviour to mean love is due to what happened in ones early childhood. This doesn’t even have to be something that was extremely abusive; all it needs to be is an environment that included these behaviours.
Through a traumatic event or by these behaviours being the norm, one became acclimatised to them. This was perhaps the only option there was in this environment.
During ones younger years, one is likely to learn what love is through their caregivers. How they responded to ones needs and wants as a child will then go a long way to defining what ones ego mind associates as love. And how one was treated as a child and how ones caregivers treated each other will also have an effect.
Now, for some people this time will be more dysfunctional or abusive than it is for others. However, as we all respond differently to things, it means that it is as much about how one interprets what happens to them as it is about what actually happens
And these are experiences that are likely to be experienced numerous times and through their familiarity, the ego mind will associate them as what is safe.
At such a young age, one didn’t have the ability to question whether this behaviour was functional or healthy. All one could do was become comfortable with the behaviour and accept it as love.
The associations that the ego mind has formed are not set in stone and can be changed. As this happens one can begin to merge what they truly want, with what is going on at a deeper level.
Therapy, reading, coaching or speaking to a supportive friend can all be useful. This is something that one can only decide for themselves.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.