“Love is the synergy and synchronicity of complementary opposites”
With February being the month of love I thought it appropriate to discuss this subject which Hollywood and social media has distorted to such an extent that it has become unrecognizable and quite frankly unattainable, banished to the realm of fantasy. We’ve created this picture in our mind, more like we’ve had this picture created for us, of what love means and it’s completely one sided.
The way I see it there are two major flaws in this Hollywood, whitewashed image of love. First, reality doesn’t operate in a one-sided fashion. We all have light and dark, good and bad, likes and dislikes and second, these are all subjective. My fantasies are not your fantasies; my fears are not your fears.
So, what does this mean? Is love a lie? Absolutely not. Love is all around us. Everywhere you look you will see it. It’s in your everyday life. Not just in your relationships with people, things and animals either. It’s in your circumstances, the things that happen to you, both “good” and “bad”. Love is the very thing that holds your universe and your life together. This sounds great and wonderful but I’d be surprised if, at this point your “fake news” alarm bells aren’t going off because I believe in order to recognize it in the world around us and respond in kind we first need a major shift and realignment in our understanding of what love really is. I’d encourage you to take this seriously because if you get it right it may be the most powerful thing you ever do.
I think we can all agree that life is not one sided. There is always support and challenge going on and they work together to make you who you are, your authentic self (the synergy) but what many of us fail to see is that they happen at the same time (the synchronicity) or else there could be no balance. You see your brain has evolved to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Seek prey and avoid predators. This happens largely in the primitive part of your brain, the amygdala.
Think of a teenage boy with hormones squirting into his brain like a firehose when he sees a girl he might like. He will generally function from a place of infatuation where he is conscious of all the up sides and unconscious of all the downsides. He will pursue that girl passionately at whatever cost, doing things he wouldn’t usually do, perhaps even embarrassing himself to get her attention. Then after spending some time with her he realizes he can’t see his friends as much or maybe she gets upset when he spends too much time playing PlayStation and forgets to call. Over time he begins to resent her because his fantasy has been shattered and the dynamic shifts. Now he becomes conscious of all the downsides and unconscious of all the upsides and because he is a teenager with a hormone soaked brain he goes into avoidance. This is not love. I think we can agree on that.
So, what separates your brain from the brain of an antelope’s? It is the ability to be objective. This happens in your much more recently evolved forebrain. The area where logic and reason happens. This is where objectivity comes from, enabling you to make informed, rational decisions.
As seen in the above example, love requires a vision, some “why” to make the inevitable support and challenge worth it. In as much as a husband who challenges his wife’s every thought and desire, cheats on her and abuses her is likely to leave her wanting out, a wife who subordinates herself to her husband and simply goes along with everything he does and bows down to his every whim is no partner and will likely leave him bored and seeking after a fantasy. Neither is a recipe for a happy marriage. Both are the result of either resentment (avoiding that which we fear) or infatuation (chasing after that which we seek). Neither is love. Both will result in two empty, unfulfilled people. But if we look closely at these two marriages we will find that neither is truly one sided, neither all support nor all challenge and if the partners are both willing and able to transcend their amygdala and be objective and see the upsides as well as the downsides and how each is helping them achieve a certain goal, objective or value that is unique and authentic to them, they can embrace the marriage and each other with love.
The same example can be applied to parenting, work relationships, friendships, even your circumstances.
We all want the support of being admired for our beach ready body but it takes challenging your body in the gym and in the kitchen to make that happen.
We all want the support of financial freedom but it takes the challenge of hard work, discipline and learning to steward your finances wisely to achieve it and indeed to keep it. Think of all the athletes and lotto winners who have gone bankrupt over the years. Think also of all the CEO’s sacrificing their families on the altar of ever increasing wealth.
We all want to be healthy but achieving and maintaining good health means saying no to that extra slice of cake or quitting smoking.
It may be different for everyone but that relationship, thing or circumstance we perceive will give us the greatest advantage in life, that inspires and drives us from within, will always come with terms and conditions; some sacrifice that must be made or some challenge to overcome, equal in measure to the support of gaining or maintaining it. Now this fact may seem unromantic and cold but to acknowledge it will show you that it is anything but. It is the key to a life free from anxiety, chasing after one sided fantasies or running from people and experiences you resent. A life where you can be content with whatever phase of the journey you may find yourself in while being inspired from within to work towards goals that are true and authentic to you. The extent to which we embrace both the upsides and the downsides, the support and challenge that happen simultaneously and in equal measure, is the extent to which we are likely to succeed.
That is love.
Yours in Health,
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