Falling in love is easy; our biological imperative to mate kicks in naturally opening our hearts and flooding our nervous system with the euphoric experience of idealized connection. In these early moments of love’s embrace, we receive love viscerally. Every exchange is charged with the energy of passionate recognition and the deep cellular relief of being embraced just as we are. And yet, often this early abundant receiving of love doesn’t stick. As the hormonal magic wears off and we are required to mature into the endurance sport of love over time, we lose the ability to feel the love that has accumulated inside of us. We allow small differences to evolve into heartbreak.
Real growing up begins with the recognition that the early explosion of loving connection is not ended or broken when the quality of relating takes more work, but rather there exists a harvest of our loving intention stored within us. Most of us have never learned how to consciously receive love and transmute that energy into a visceral experience. We mistakenly believe that when our instant attraction or doubtless loving feelings fade with someone, the love is gone. This misconception is based on an even deeper misunderstanding that we are only being loved as the kiss or hug happens. It is hard for us to call up the warmth and light that fills us in those tender exchanges, although it is a real currency that lives within us.
Learning how to deeply receive the tenderness of a hug or the warm words of support through a phone call or even a sweet text message lies in the positive capacity of savoring the exchange. Imagining the moment as a substance, like honey, that is filling you up and sticking to you from the inside out is a practice that not only extends the immediacy of the intimacy, but also gives you a space in which to return. Because we are not well practiced at receiving and savoring loving experience, allowing it to fill us up like honey in a vessel, we experience the love dissipating before our eyes.
More painful still is the fact that many loving acts coming towards us everyday are not received at all. We don’t understand the language the love is spoken in or we judge the validity or truth of it. We question the intention of those loving us or we refuse to believe we are worthy of love at all. I witness this every day, this unwillingness to be loved that permeates our culture like a virus. If we cannot believe we are worthy of love, even the most loving acts don’t have a chance to penetrate us and do their most powerful work, which is not in the exchange, but in the exquisite transformative act of holding love inside of us.
Love is actually a renewable resource that can be called upon during our most challenging times in our relationships to buoy us and help us find solid ground again. The idea that the love we have exchanged within our intimacies ever ends is the most poisonous cultural myth we perpetuate. When we work at receiving love, it is a transmission of goodness. It awakens the seed of goodness that lives in each of us and transforms us into our best selves. Love is a visceral experience that wakes us up to our own seed of loveliness, which is our birthright, the truest thing about us. Receiving the love coming towards us is a practice of gratitude and gives us a direct line to the abundance of goodness that surrounds us. This is the key to sustaining love in our lives: recognize, honor and cultivate the love that lives within you.