It Isn’t Love

Chrome steel letters on a rusty steel plate by böhringer friedrich

Recently, I had to tell an acquaintance to back off from giving me unsolicited advice. He kept pushing silent meditation retreats on me, saying that they could radically change my life, as they did his. Really? Just what do I need to change radically? More importantly, why does my life need a radical change? He also preached to me about eliminating meat from my diet, that it is a matter of life or death at my age. He never asked about my meditation and spiritual practice, nor did he know that I am vegan. He kept giving me the benefit of his unsolicited wisdom without really knowing me, my life or on what I might actually need support. He did all that in the name of wanting to share love in the world.

Is that really love? I don’t think so. Instead, for my well-intended friend, his ego was in charge, cleverly disguising its handy work as acts of love. Feeding on the dark side of his take-charge masculine energy, his perhaps unconscious sense of superiority tells him he has wisdom to impart on others. He believes it is loving to tell people how to improve themselves and their lives, without being invited to do so, even those he barely knows. What his ego has him believing as acts of love are ultimately meant to feed his own need to feel safe, by getting others to live the way he believes is correct and evolved.

Keeping ourselves safe

As human beings, we fundamentally need to feel safe, and are wired to do whatever it takes for us to achieve or restore that feeling. Fear signals to us the need to do something to restore our sense of safety. Unfortunately, that fear often gets unknowingly projected onto others and what they do (or don’t do). As a result, when they don’t behave the way we think or feel they should, we feel threatened. Out of our own fear, including the fear of losing people we care about, we want them to do things our way. This fear-based need to control others, to keep ourselves safe, is one of the biggest root causes of discord in interpersonal relationships, i.e., family, marriage, work, friendship, etc.

For many years, I myself was prone to getting truly bent out of shape when people wouldn’t behave according to what I believed was right or necessary, not realizing that my own sense of safety was threatened. Eventually, I learned to recognize my ego’s heavy hand and to see that, when I honored others and just let them be, the world around me still stood. What crumbled instead were my own illusions of safety by expecting others to behave according to my self-righteousness.

What is for us to recognize is that our most fundamental motivation as vulnerable human beings is always our own safety, not others’, even if the latter is involved. And, however well-intended, this motivation comes from the fear-based part of us which is our ego. Even if we would like to believe it is love, it isn’t. It is unequivocally ego.

Letting others make what we judge to be mistakes

I bet you have encountered people like my well-meaning friend, haven’t you? On the flip side, you yourself may have watched loved ones doing things that are unhealthy, and part of you wanted to take over and save them from heading down the path of self-destruction? Yet, unless they themselves are ready to act or not act in a certain manner, they would do whatever they are ready to choose every step of the way. This is even though you may be objectively 100% correct about the negative ramifications of their behavior. This is no matter how much you wish they would simply accept the benefit of your experience to do as you urge or plead with them to do—all for their own good, to save them from making avoidable mistakes.

As difficult as it may be for you to stomach, it is their path to navigate. As tough as it is to watch those you love make what you judge to be mistakes, have faith in the role of their choices. These experiences are all part of the purpose for which they come into this life. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel the human urge to show someone a better way. It just means that, when you feel that urge, recognize the true underlying motivation. While ego may want you to believe it is an act of love, it isn’t.

Loving others = Honoring others

The pure love within each of us does not judge, is not self-righteous, and always honors someone just as s/he is, just where s/he is in life. Love only sees perfection, wholeness and right order. It never feels the need to fix or change others, to help them improve or reach their potential without their asking. To share love and wisdom, our only job is to be and live these qualities ourselves. People we are meant to touch and serve in this life will see our commitment to our own consciousness and be inspired to do the same themselves. If they ask for our help, we help. Otherwise, we don’t need to do anything for their benefit other than to truly see them, hear them, and honor them.

There is no greater love to express to others than to honor the truth of who they are, just as they are, just where they are on their path.

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Read more about honoring yourself and others in the Honor Chapter of my book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life.

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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4 comments
Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

No, we're still friends, and appreciating why we trigger each other's ego reactions. We are in each other's lives because we bear gifts for each other - even if our respective egos don't like it! :-) Thank you again, Carl, for sharing your wise perspective. It's a treat for my readers here. Many Blessings, Alice

Carl
Carl

Cool, Alice and thanks for sharing that. I see so many who lose their friendship over these kind of scenarios and it makes me wonder if "love" was really ever at work in the relationship or if it was always ego. Thanks, again my dear friend. You are the wise one. Carl

Carl
Carl

"Forgive them for they know not what they do." "Instead, for my well-intended friend, his ego was in charge, cleverly disguising its handy work as acts of love. Feeding on the dark side of his take-charge masculine energy, his perhaps unconscious sense of superiority tells him he has wisdom to impart on others. He believes it is loving to tell people how to improve themselves and their lives, without being invited to do so, even those he barely knows. What his ego has him believing as acts of love are ultimately meant to feed his own need to feel safe, by getting others to live the way he believes is correct and evolved." This sounds like ego, as well. His or yours? Both? I wonder. "There is no greater love to express to others than to honor the truth of who they are, just as they are, just where they are on their path." These words reflect the "Alice" I adore. I wonder; have you "honored" your friend on his path? Do you wonder why his travels have crossed yours? Ego's greatest device is to divide; to create the illusion of "choice" so our mind get's caught up in the "choosing" instead of the "knowing." This act (of choosing) alone is what steers us away from the "honor" we could have for others who "know not what they do." You're friend needs you more than ever but so, too, do you need him. No matter where you stand, Dear Alice, you are a gift! Smile, my love. I am. I know "Alice" gets this. Appreciate you more than you will ever know, Carl

Alice Chan, Ph.D.
Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Thank you for your very wise words, Carl. Yes, my friend and I had conversations about the involvement of ego on both of our parts and why we crossed paths. Our situation is a good case to discuss ego vs. Love. Many Blessings, Alice

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