Gardenia bud - Gardenia jasminoides, also called Cape jasmine

Gardenia - Gardenia jasminoides, delicate petals, strong perfume

Gardenia jasminoides, aged to gold, fragrance turns buttery

Emotional Patterns and Repeating Behaviors

The Nature of Love

For those seeking healing there is an innate knowing that we have not been shown the true nature of love. When our emotional conflicts and longings keep repeating as patterns of self destruction and turmoil in relationships, our hearts cry out for love and acceptance. Until there is an understanding of the compulsive drive to recreate past hurts in order to fix them, we cannot love in the mature, sacred manner we instinctively know is true. Unconditional, mature love awakens us to the quality of energy necessary for healing ourselves and others.

Most of us have never been taught how to fully love or how to make love in a sacred manner. Often our loving is based on past experiences which tend to be more out of needs, comparisons, expectations and a haze of learned behaviors, feeling responses imprinted from earliest childhood and decisions re-enacted throughout our lives. For some people, the origin of patterns goes beyond childhood experiences. Sometimes we must journey to the realms beyond this lifetime to track the source of suffering. For others there are medical reasons that effect their emotional health. I wish to explore here the nature of love in current, ordinary life conditions.

How We Buy Love

We all wish to receive love and we all have a strong inner desire, sometimes not so subtle, to try to force others to love us. We do this by trying to prove ourselves, attempting to make a good impression on others, by creating dependency or by using power and wealth to dominate. "You will love me if I..." or visa versa.” If only I could find the perfect lover…” We carry with us sets of emotional and sexual responses that fit with our perceived ideas about ourselves and how others should treat us “if they really loved us.”

For the most part, we move towards those who agree with us, appreciate us and make us feel good. It is easy to over emphasize their good points and overlook their shortcomings when we are falling in love. Any faults we may see in them initially seem insignificant in comparison to the way we 'love' them. In contrast, when someone upsets, criticizes, or hurts us, it is easy to become resentful and move away. Judgments and blame overtake our view of them. This is most pronounced with our sexual partners and lovers where the depth of intimacy causes these patterns to surface strongly.

These subjective emotional reactions may or may not in fact be accurate. It matters not even if they are, for either way, we are not fully accepting of the whole person in front of us. We are still separating 'good' from 'bad', falling into a polarized position. Emotional reactions appear unconscious. We don't know why we like or dislike someone, except for how they make us feel. It is in observing our reactions to others that we can begin to discover where we distort our love, and awaken to exploring what is true, sacred love in balance with conditional human love.

The Longing for Emotional Fulfillment

We all long to be loved, "warts and all", to be seen and met fully. The degree of this longing reflects how able we are to give emotionally mature love. The more anguished we feel, the less love there is for us to give and receive. When we become more mature, seeing clearly and loving the whole person, then we can respect them for who they really are and in that process we become free. It doesn't mean you want to live with them, but it does mean you and they are free of the anguish that immature loving causes.

We all want to be understood when we fall into our stuff, our dramas, when we feel so stuck and helpless. Yet these patterns are the very things that invariably hurt other people, particularly the ones closest to us. We want to be loved in spite of how much we inadvertently upset or disappoint others. Yet we are usually not willing to do the same when someone hurts us. It is hard to appreciate just how powerful the identification with the victim can be. Not only is this way of relating unrealistic, it is unbalanced and causes the cycle of immature love to be propagated.


When we focus on getting loved externally, demands come into the picture. Unconsciously we want to be loved in just the way we want, just when we want it, by just the specific person we want. This is the self-orientated, one sided, exclusive, immature love that the hurt child in us demands. It is not good or bad, it simply is the expression of unmet needs in a manner that is unknown to us and others.

Demands have a vibration or tone which frequently triggers the same demanding vibration in the one it is aimed at. And guess what? Power struggles result. As the unmet needs of an unloving past surface, relationships get tricky!! It is useless to accuse the other of projecting these demands on us because projection is an unconscious process. They can’t know what they are doing; it is buried in the unknown part of the heart and mind. Telling them will rob them of the chance of ever discovering it for themselves, thereby escalating the conflict and ensuring they will not own the painful, hidden truth of what is actually happening.

The Source of Demands

When we were very little, we needed the exclusive attention of our mother and/or father for our survival. When this primal need is not adequately met in those early moments, months and years, we unknowingly and compulsively try to re-create the original circumstances of the unresolved hurts in our adult relationships in order to fix them. It can feel as though our very existence is somehow being threatened by disturbing situations. Our yearnings and conflicts assume tragic, even suicidal proportions in the child part of our psyche. The devastation of failure to overcome these struggles is to be avoided at all costs. It is just too painful to feel again.

So in order to deal with this overwhelm, the focus remains on the person we want love from in our current life. It is difficult to see and believe that the one we actually need in the inner chambers of our wounded hearts is not our partner or friend or who ever it is that stands before us. Unwittingly, we want it exclusively from our parents who are not present now to give it to us. This desire is so compulsive, we find ourselves falling into the same old self negating behaviors, the same old relationship patterns, over and over again.

Rejecting Current Time Love

Even if we are being loved now, we cannot receive it, because in the depths of our pain, the child consciousness does not want love from anyone but mum and/or dad. Here is the true tragedy, not our suffering, but that we unconsciously refuse any love now, even spiritual love. Like a dog that has been kicked, we recoil from any outstretched hand. The essence of what we need to heal within our core is rejected and palliatives are used to mask the pain. Smoking, food, drugs, sex, shopping, sports, TV and other addictions make us feel better, but the splinter inside the most vulnerable aspect of the psyche go on festering, waiting for the next trigger to erupt the same old pattern yet again.

How Do We Learn to Love Freely?

We must be willing to investigate and give up these old learned compulsive patterns and expectations. Initially, we feel what love is not - the subjective, self-centered re-creation of our childhood anxieties and fears. We dive into the murky depths of our current life struggles to discover and feel whatever snags in the past still grip us with regret, pain, confusion and compulsive behaviors. Exploration of the incongruence between what we feel we need and what we are actually receiving is important.

The psyche knows where it needs to go to untangle these scars. It is in the emotional release, when we are feeling our stuck places that the emotional misconceptions can be addressed. It is not an intellectual understanding or willful process. The fires of appropriate emotional expression burn through childish rages, to reveal underlying despair that we will never will get the love we wanted. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, the tears we cry when we are held with love soften the heart, melting and creating a balm for our suffering as the path opens to unconditional, true spiritual love within the essence of the soul.

Guided Healing

As the origins of demands and longings are deeply buried in the subconscious, it can be difficult to trace and become aware of just how destructive and compulsive these feelings and images can be, especially for those who have done a lot of personal and spiritual development work. These hidden conflicts will repeatedly pull you back into the same old hurts in relationships, opposing the expansion of your spiritual practices and the wonder of your growing soul.

We need the presence of someone we can trust to hold us and love us as we do this because most emotional and spiritual wounds occurred when we were alone, with no one present to help us make sense of what happened to us. In that space, the immature mind jumped to conclusions which were distorted and limited by pain, creating emotional confusion and beliefs that can be challenging to sort out. There are also deeply entrenched misconceptions, which the hurt child in us staunchly defends in order to continue the search for perfect love to correct the past.

Just as a baby harmonizes its brain circuitry to the moods of its mother and father, so too, the frequency of love held by the person assisting you with your healing process will imprint new healthy pathways in your body’s emotional center. Instead of your feelings constantly getting stuck or running down the eroded gullies of an emotionally painful past, the loving resonance of your guide creates fresh streams of pure consciousness. This mature love is absorbed like rain after a drought creating new connections within the synapses of your brain, pathways which are instinctually recognized as being naturally true.

Changing Our Story

The desire to heal and grow must be supported by a strong desire to learn another way of being, behaving and thinking. There are sets of decisions we made about ourselves and life as a result of those agonizing moments that need to be re-examined so that new life affirming decisions can be made.

Healing is enhanced with the loving witness of our stories and, there comes a time when we need to let go of our stories and embrace new choices. This happens when we finally feel deeply heard by another and develop the skill of listening to ourselves. The appreciation of our selves and the humanity revealed in others, the commonality of our roots and the sacredness of love awaken the original integrity of body, mind, heart and soul.

Changing the Past

There are spiritual practices that aim to alter the past but unless we do our emotional homework, unmasking the compulsive agendas of the hurt child within, they can be detrimental. At best, there can be a temporary feeling of healing and at worst, such practices can unleash strong spiritual energies which then run through the emotional patterns of a child, leading to spiritual arrogance, victimization and powerful emotional and sexual manipulation of others.

I never rule out the possibility of miraculous healings and wondrous awakenings. But for most, it takes patience, courage, mature love and gentle discipline to be this honest with ourselves, to do the practices and processes that expand consciousness regularly and to pay attention to the mature ways of loving. There is no goal of perfection, just the liberating expansion of our emotional capacities to be able to choose. To be able to choose on a feeling level to live without the fear, the terror of being rejected, to be free of concerns about whether people like or dislike you, not being constantly upset by other people, trusting your authentic self is enough - these are options for the emotionally mature lover.

Natural Growth

Illogical though it seems, it is quite challenging on a feeling level to get what we have always longed for. We get so used to not having what we need in the deepest recesses of the heart that when we do get it, it feels strange, uncertain. Or like a child crossing the desert, we desperately want to drink in all the new quality of love, surprised to discover we can only assimilate so much at a time. Until the capacity for pleasure expands, there are limits on how much new found joy can be integrated at any one time.

Feeling Free Now

It is such a relief to no longer spend so much energy bound up in hopeless struggles to fix the past. Appreciating the dynamics of the young hurt child places as they play out in your body, feelings, your thoughts and spirit allows for a depth of security that supports you in becoming more authentic and grounded in this present reality. It creates space for the innocent, shining, magical child to re-emerge, to sprinkle wonder and playfulness through out your life.

Being able to love unconditionally does not preclude “stuff” from happening in life. What it does do is allow you to feel and appropriately express more deeply whatever emotions are there in this moment, then move on to feeling your response to the next moment and another emotion whilst living in acceptance of others. Feelings are naturally fluid. It is when they get stuck that we suffer unduly.

The balance between mature, unconditional, sacred love and temperamental, immature, human love becomes a passionate dance of awareness and consciousness. Our wholeness, happiness and health reflect our dynamic mastery of this, life's greatest mystery.


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