From helping several thousand single and divorced people attract conscious, healthy relationships into their lives, we have developed an unshakeable confidence in the power of love to create miracles of lasting relationship.
If there is one big thing we've learned from working with thousands of people on their relationships, it's this: The barrier to a lasting, loving relationship with another person is an unloved part of ourselves. An aspect of yourself that you have never loved and accepted keeps you from receiving and giving genuine love with others.
Here's the practical reason that insight is so important:
If you don't love yourself, you'll always be looking for someone else to do it for you. However, this relentless seeking never works, because people who don't love themselves attract other people who don't love themselves. Then they try to get the other person to love them unconditionally when they're not even doing it for themselves.
The good news, though, is this: If you love yourself deeply and unconditionally for everything you are and everything you aren't, you attract people who love and accept themselves. On the other hand, if you feel fundamentally unlovable deep down inside, you'll attract a lover who feels the same way.
If we don't love some part of ourselves, we run around in desperation trying to get someone else to love us. Our hope is that if they give us enough love our unlovable part will go away. It never does. Only a moment of loving ourselves unconditionally will do that particular job.
Many of us spend our lives running away from that unlovable part of ourselves. When we finally confront it, we will usually discover it's a fear. It's usually a particular fear, and there are only a small number of them.
One of them is fear of abandonment. You can probably see why that fear could play havoc in your relationships. It certainly did in our early relationships, before we became aware that this fear was driving a lot of our troublesome behavior. When you're afraid of being left alone, you'll either keep people distant so it won't hurt so bad if they leave you, or you'll cling to them dependently so they can't leave without dragging you with them.
Another big fear is the dread of being smothered by the other person. When you're in the grip of this fear, you're worried that your individuality and freedom will be lost if you surrender to full union with the other person. So, you stay at arm's length, just as a person who's afraid of drowning might stand a yard or so away from the water's edge.
We came into our own relationship with both these fears, and it took quite a bit of working with them to help us get free of them so we could give and receive love freely.
The good thing to know about fear is that it's simply a pulsating quiver of racy-queasy sensations in your stomach area. Fear, said the legendary psychiatrist Fritz Perls, is merely excitement without the breath. Breathe into the fear and watch what happens: The butterflies will flutter out of hiding and fly away.
When you love that fear directly, you can actually feel the fear disappear. In the space where the fear used to be, you now feel a big open space into which a wonderful new relationship can enter. That's what happened for us, and that's what we've seen happen to a lot of people when they mustered the courage to love themselves and all their fears.
Next time you're feeling fear in a close relationship, just remember this: When love comes up against fear, love wins every time.