Romantic Delusions
Nowhere do we have more illusionary ideas of what love means than in the area of romance.

We’re trained by a world of cultural imagery to believe there is someone, one special someone, who will complete us and make us whole. Yet what will make us whole is a deeper love for everyone. Exclusive love is not the prize it purports to be, and in truth, romantic love works far, far better when it is grounded in a larger, more inclusive love. Romance is one from that loves takes--certainly a manificent one--and yet it is content, not form, that determines love’s meaning. If we’re attached to that particular form of love, then we are on a slippery slope toward the fires of hell. And what are those fires? They are the anxiety we feel when that person doesn’t call or acts in a way we interpret as unloving or doesn’t want us anymore.

One of the biggest mistakes we make in relationships is when we get a fixed notion of what love should look like. If he loves me, he will do this. If she wants to be my friend, she will do tha. But what if the feelings we want the other person to have simply don’t express themselves the way we think they should? Are we going to forgo a love because it doesn’t come in the package we expected it to arrive in? Relationships aren’t black and white, and people aren’t good or bad. We’re complicated. We’re trying our best. The more we live, the more we realize that the failure of others to love us the way we wish they would is as unintentional as our own such failures.

The ego argues that the right intimate relationship would take away all the pain of separation, yet that is delusional. Intimacy isn’t a special category so much as a deeper layer of existence. When we first hold a baby in our arms, that is an intimate moment. When we sit with someone when they die, that is an intimate moment. When we share deeply from our core about our genuine feelings, that is an intimate moment. Our obsession with romantic love as the primary container for intimacy has often kept us from finding it. It is two hearts—not two bodies—that make a holy connection. When the body comes along, that’s fantastic. But anyone with any experience knows that sex itself doesn’t guarantee deep connection. And at times, it can obstruct it.

A Course in Miracles teaches the difference between special love and holy love.

Special Love

Special love means we are attached to another person being a certain way. We think we know what we need from a person and put our focus on trying to make it happen. Not realizing we are looking to a human relationship to fill a space that only God can fill, we are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to make the other person, or ourselves, fit into the picture our ego thinks is perfect. The problem with this is that control and manipulation, however subtle, are not love. Love is repelled by any effort to hold onto it too tightly.

Holy Love

God’s response to the ego’s special relationship is the creation of the holy relationship, in which we allow a relationship to be what it wants to be and reveal its meaning to us, rather than trying to determine its meaning first. Holy love allows another person to simply be who he or she is. It helps us detach from the need to control another person's behavior. Yet all of that is much easier than said than done.

The ego is always on the lookout for ways to undermine our relationships because genuine relationship means death to the ego.

Do You Focus on Guilt or Innocence?

Imagine your life as a long-running movie. Now see it made by two different directors. The first movie, in the hand of one director, is a movie about fear, anger, scarcity, and anxiety. The other, in the hands of a different director, is a movie about love, peace, abundance, and happiness.

One director is your ego; the other is the Holy Spirit. And the star of the movie is you. Which director you take your cues from depends on one thing: the thoughts you hold in your mind.

To take directions from your ego, all you have to do is focus on guilt. The ego’s cornerstone thought is that the child of God is guilty.

To take your direction from the Holy Spirit, focus instead on innocence. Love’s cornerstone thought is that the child of God is innocent.

Whichever focus we choose—on someone’s innocence or on their guilt—determines the drama that unfolds in our lives and the part that we play in it. It is our willingness to see the innocence in a person that allows us to see it. The ego mind is so invested in the human drama, “He did this, she said that”, that it often takes a higher power to counterbalance the ego’s insistence.

It helps to remember that the ego’s true target is you: your ego wants you to see guilt in others mainly so you might stay convinced of all the guilt in yourself.

The perception of guilt in anyone is our surefire ticket to hell. Every time we blame another, we are tightening the chains that keep our own self-hatred in place. With every human encounter, we either affirm for people their innocence or fortify their guilt. And whichever it is is how we ourselves will feel. We cannot escape our oneness, even if we do not acknowledge it. "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you," because they will. And even if they don’t, you will feel as though they did.

Because all minds are joined, whatever I choose to think about you I am in essence thinking about myself. To the extent to which I perceive your guilt, I am bound to perceive my own. It doesn’t feel that way at first, of course, because the ego would have us believe that as soon as we place the blame on someone else we’ll feel better. But that’s just a temporary delusion— something the ego specializes in. Once we get over the temporary high of having cast the blame away from us, it will come back to us a hundredfold. An attack thought is like a sword we think we’re dropping on someone else’s head, when in fact it’s dropping on our own. Only if I’m willing to be easier on others will I ever learn how to be easier on myself.

Forgiveness can be very hard when someone has acted horribly. But the truth, whether or not we care to admit it, is that someone did what we too might have done if we had been as freaked out by something as they were; if we had been as scared of something as they were; if we had been as limited in our understanding as they were. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable or that we shouldn’t have boundaries and standards. It doesn’t even mean we have to stay in contact with that person. But it does mean we can come to understand that humanity is not perfect. Just knowing that is a realization that opens the heart to more enlightened understanding. And that’s what we’re on the earth for, because in the presence of people with enlightened understanding, darkness ultimately turns into light.

Relationships Are Laboratories

Relationships are laboratories of the Holy Spirit, but they can also be playgrounds for the ego. They can be heaven, or they can be hell. They are infused with love or infused with fear. Most of the time, they are a little of both.

The ego speaks first and the ego speaks loudest, and it will always make a case for separation: the other person did this or that and therefore does not deserve our love. And in whatever moment we choose to listen to the ego—denying love to someone else—then to that extent we will be denied. Knowing that the mind works that way, we can call for help. We can pray for a power greater than our own to push back the storm of neurotic thinking.

To the ego, the purpose of a relationship is to serve our needs as we define them. I want to get this job; I want him or her to marry me; I want this person to see things the way I do. To the Holy Spirit, the purpose of a relationship is to serve a divine curriculum. It is there for a reason, but the reason might not be the one we ascribe to it. The ego and God have diametrically opposed intentions. The only way to make sure we’re not playing sick and destructive mind games in a situation, particularly in relationships where the ego has so much invested, is to invite the Holy Spirit to enter there and prevail. At the earliest moment you think to do it, place a relationship on the altar to God within your mind.

Dear God, I place my relationship with _____ in Your hands. May my presence be a blessing in his life. May my thoughts toward him be those of innocence and love. And may his thoughts toward me be those of innocence and love. May all else be cast out. May our relationship be lifted to divine right order, and take the form that best serves Your purposes. May all unfold, in this and all things, according to Your will. Amen.

Sometimes we try to take the paintbrush out of God’s hands, under the erroneous assumption we can paint a better picture than He can. The ego will try to get a relationship to fit into our idea of how it should be rather than allowing it to organically reveal itself. We have pictures and idealizations we try to foist on others, thinking, “It should feel like this,” or “They should act like that.” Yet at the deepest level, we are simply souls encountering other souls, and relationships should be places where we free each other, not imprison each other. When our consciousness is simply that of one child of God honoring another—regardless of how things look in the outer world—we exude a peace and acceptance that calls people to their highest.

When we’re calm, people around us will be calmer; when we’re kind, people around us will be kinder; when we’re peaceful, people around us will be more peaceful. Once we find the love within ourselves, calling it forth in our relationships comes much more easily. Yet even when relationships are good, the ego is always alert to ways it can drive two hearts apart. The ego directs us toward love but then sabotages it once it gets here. You think you’re so in love, but then you act needy and repel it. You think you’re feeling peaceful, but then love comes near and you get totally neurotic. You want to make a good impression, and then go and act like an idiot.

The ego is always on the lookout for ways to undermine our relationships because genuine relationship means death to the ego. Where we unite with another, God is; and where God is, ego cannot be. To the ego, therefore, undermining our relationships is an act of self-preservation. The only way to ward off its destructiveness is to stand firm in your commitment to love—not just as a commitment to another person, who to the ego may or may not deserve it—but as a commitment to God and to yourself.

Loving thoughts can become a mental habit. Sometimes, when we’re impatient with each other, it helps to think of the person we’re dealing with as they must have been like as a child. For all of us are children in God’s eyes. When children are young we know they’re growing, and we take this into account in our dealings with them. We don’t expect a twelve-year-old to have the maturity she or he will have at eighteen. And as adults we’re still growing too, whether or not we can always see that in each other. We’re not finished once we reach a certain age; rather, we continue to grow and develop as long as we’re alive.

We learn, as children do. We stumble, as children do. And we sometimes fail, as children do. God sees all of us that way, no matter how old we are. He has infinite mercy upon us, and we could have mercy too. None of us arrives in any relationship already healed, already perfect.

In a holy relationship, it is understood we are all wounded but we are there to be healed together.

When the relationship is seen as a temple of healing, with mutual proactive beneficence our daily medicine, the ego will then have far less power to snatch away our joy.

Supporting Each Other’s Greatness

We live in a world where judgments are made quickly and easily. Lies are told about people and printed by an irresponsible press; anyone can say whatever they want on their Web site and appear credible. People tear down others’ reputations and assassinate people’s character like it’s a sport. I’ve had a lot of judgment thrown my way since my public career began. For whatever reason—my womanhood, my convictions, my basic brashness—some have seemed to feel it was their duty to rain on my parade. Yet I’ve learned that you don’t serve the world by taking on its judgments, hanging your head in shame, and saying, “Yeah, you must be right. I must be bad.” Take responsibility for your part in your own disasters, yes—but take on every projection of guilt from every unhealed person? No! For whatever reason people may need to project their own anger and guilt on you, you don’t have to accept it if it’s not yours.

In some environments we receive basic support: “Go, girl! Fly!” And in others we get, “Who the hell do you think you are, trying to fly? Get down here, or we will force you down!” When we recognize the vengeance of the ego—how much it detests the spirit of life and love—we more easily avoid personalizing its vicious attacks. And there’s learning in anything we go through. Both the challenge and the growth potential that comes from having had others judge you harshly is that it makes you have to decide for yourself what your self-esteem is based on: other people’s estimation or God’s.

The thinking of God is a hundred and eighty degrees away from the thinking of the world, and one of the many areas where we have things completely upside down is in the area of arrogance and humility. We never should apologize for seeking to actualize our greatness of God that lives in all of us. And those who refuse to support others in manifesting their dreams are only withholding support from themselves. Whatever I refuse to celebrate in your life, I will not be able to draw into mine. My thoughts about you are inseparable from my thoughts about myself. If I won’t give you permission to shine, I can’t give myself permission to shine either.

Today, living out our greatness takes on an urgency beyond fulfilling our individual dreams. Bringing forth our greatness is critical to the survival of the species; only if you get to live out your potential and I get to live out mine will the world be able to live out its own. Since limited thinking produces limited results, supporting others in believing in themselves helps to move the entire world forward. And becoming who we’re capable of being— regardless of other people’s opinions of us—is part of our responsibility both to ourselves and to God.

Unless we’re supporting the emergence of greatness in the people around us, we’re not doing our full part to help heal the world.

A supportive smile, an e-mail, the smallest gesture can make the difference in helping another person believe in himself or herself. From a material perspective, what we give away we lose. But from a spiritual perspective, only what we give away do we get to keep. When we’re more generous with our support for others, the universe itself shows more support for us.



From The Gift of Change by Marianne Williamson The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one's influence wide is to learn to go deep.



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