A Return To Love

Aug 10, 2019 by Renee Linnell
I just started reading this article in NY Magazine  about a cult and am deeply disturbed. In fact, I cannot finish reading it. And what cries out for attention from me is this: we must find a way to stop teaching our children that everything about them is wrong. We must find a way to start encouraging them to listen to their Inner Guidance. We must find a way to teach self-love. And we must all start believing we are here to live lives of joy.

Children come into this world as perfect balls of love. Period. They are not damaged, they are not sinful; they are perfect. They are pure love. This is how a baby can shift the entire consciousness of a Manhattan subway car just by being carried into it. The sad tired angry faces light up with joy. The vibration shift is visible and tangible. People walk off that subway car feeling better than when they walked on. Hearts a little lighter, minds a little brighter, bodies less tired. A baby simply being a baby does this. We all did this at one point in our lives, simply by being ourselves.

But, we are taught we are not okay. We are bombarded by messaging that tells us we need to buy another product to be happy, or hide our sexuality to fit in, or cut into our face and body to be beautiful, or work a job we hate in order to make money. We are told we are not the right size, shape, or color. We have the wrong accent. We like the wrong foods. We speak the wrong language. We wear the wrong clothes.

We try so hard to blend in, to hide what makes us different, that we forget who we are. And then we become unbalanced and unsure. We become susceptible to predators. We become desperate to find someone, anyone, that accepts us, that truly sees us; we become desperate to fine someone, anyone, that tells us there is a way to live a life of joy. And when we find this person or this group it is intoxicating. We feel like for the first time in a very long time we can breathe again. Simply because we finally just get to simply be who we naturally are.

All toxic relationships start with romance. If you go on a first date and the person hits you or says something emotionally abusive or insists you order what s/he wants you to order, you get up and leave. But predators do not do this, they don’t lead with abuse, they lead with romance. They build you up. They make you feel seen and heard and loved. They draw you in. And because you feel so much love (your own love) coursing through your heart, you want to spend more and more time with this person.
Slowly, you have less and less time to spend with friends and family or doing activities you love. Slowly, without realizing it, you allow your support structure to fall away; starry eyed and excited about this new person that is consuming your time. And, once the support structure is gone, the predator introduces self-doubt and right on its heels the abuse starts, slowly at first. Planting dark seeds in fertile ground. Our minds are so malleable.

We are born to love. We love being loving. We thrive when we love. So, when we encounter anything that opens our heart wide, we want more and more and more of it. The fascinating thing, the thing we are not taught is this: it is our love flowing. It does not matter what the object of attention is. We choose to flow the love. This is the feeling we become addicted to. And, we have control over it. We can choose to flow this love anywhere and to anyone. And we need to learn to flow it to ourselves first. To give ourselves everything we are wanting to come from someone else: the validation, the sense of worth, the feeling of being attractive, the knowing that we do have powerful Inner Guidance and we can trust our feelings, trust our gut. 

We get warned when we encounter someone dangerous, our intuition warns us, our Emotional Guidance System makes us feel “yucky”, but if we are filled with self-doubt, we don’t trust it. We think, if I tried a little harder, I could make this work. Or, maybe I'm overreacting; you reason away the red flags. And if we have been raised in an abusive household, we learn to love abusers. We learn a faulty love pattern. We get taught that love is continually forgiving someone for being terrible to us; or, worse yet, we get taught that it is our fault we are being abused, that we somehow did something to deserve it. As children, we will die if we get abandoned, so we simply forgive and love, forgive and love, forgive and love, no matter how bad the parent is to us. We then do the same as adults.

So, how do we make it stop? We learn to love ourselves. We learn to trust our intuition. We learn to make ourselves more important than the perceived feelings of another. The self-love starts in very small ways. It starts with questions: “Do I really want to go have coffee with this person or will I leave the interaction feeling drained?” We give ourselves permission to say “no.” We ask: “Do I want to wear this outfit or am I putting it on because someone told me I have to dress this way?” We give ourselves permission to acknowledge that we feel uncomfortable in what we put on and we change. We ask ourselves, “Do I want to spend my weekend doing something ‘productive’ or do I want to snuggle under a blanket and read a book?” And we choose the book. We cook ourselves nourishing foods. We treat ourselves to bubble baths or long hot showers. In other words, we treat ourselves the way we would want others to treat us. We buy ourselves the flowers; we get dressed up and take ourselves out to eat, we light the candles, and we put on the romantic music. We also treat ourselves the way we would treat our own three-year-old child self. We wouldn’t make our three-year-old self wait 45 minutes to pee in order to beat traffic; we would pull over for her. We wouldn’t make our three-year-old self eat yet another frozen burrito for dinner, we would cook him a nice nourishing meal.
Don Miguel Luiz says in his book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom that we will allow others to abuse us as much as we abuse ourselves. If they abuse us less than we abuse ourselves or just as much, we will tolerate it. If they abuse us more, we will separate from them. So, the question is: how much do we abuse ourselves? And why? Who taught us to hate ourselves so much? How did we all get this brainwashed? How did we go from knowing just our presence makes an entire room light up to thinking we are worthless, or worse yet, deserve to be abused? 

People hear my story and often say, “I could never be sucked into a cult. I could never be brainwashed.” And I have to point out: we are all brainwashed. Any time we believe we are not good enough, we have been brainwashed. Any time we believe we are unworthy or ugly or stupid, we have been brainwashed. Anytime we believe we have to spend one second with someone that treats us badly, we have been brainwashed. We have all got to find a way to develop the strength of mind to ignore this messaging, to understand we deserve more, and then to make the changes in our lives that will bring us more joy.
What the world needs is more love. What the world needs is more light. What the world needs is more joy. By loving ourselves and being true to ourselves, by being kind to ourselves and by celebrating what makes us different, we begin to shine with light, with joy. And then we add our light to the sum of light and we shift the consciousness of this planet from fear to love. Simply by being our weird, quirky, unique selves. The same exact way we did when we were babies. It’s time.

Photo Credit: In Her Image Photography