LOVE: The ego's biggest threat
Note: because of the topic of LOVE, I’m opening this essay up to all subscribers.
The ego-mind’s primary purpose is to keep us alive. Like all living creatures, it fears injury and death. It also fears abandonment or being consumed. As such, it is constantly scanning for threats. But it’s not that smart. It is mammalian or reptilian in its responses. So when it doesn’t find any physical threats, it processes emotions as threats. When it confronts a big feeling it can’t process, it responds just like it is a physical threat: it hijacks the body’s inherent survival responses. To a large extent, this is what anxiety is; as are somatic responses like stomach issues, racing heart, limb numbness and headaches. (Note: these also can be physiological functions and shouldn’t be ignored.)
The biggest emotion a human can experience is love. For the sake of this essay, I don’t mean it as a casual phrase or a sentiment. I mean love as a cosmic, divine force that transcends both survival and logic. I mean love as a verb. I mean the idea that love is the main force behind all consciousness. For those more monotheistically inclined, I mean the whole “God is love” thing. For those reasons, I will be capitalizing it for emphasis in this essay. LOVE can be manifested in many forms: conscious partnerships, familial, soul friendships. It is the highest form of ectasis, catharsis and communitas.
LOVE changes everything.
To put it more bluntly, LOVE fucks up everything.
LOVE is a force of nature. It is destructive, unstoppable, uncontrollable and powerful beyond words. And just like nature, LOVE kills pretense. This is why the mind processes LOVE as fear. It fears what it can’t control. LOVE is truth and reality - two things the mind most fears.
LOVE wrecks our systems. This could be the big, overarching system. Think of Jesus’ heretical, truth-telling challenging of the church-and-state system. Or the overturning of DOMA in the US. This happens at a micro/personal level as well. LOVE forces us to re-assess everything we do, what we give our attention to, what we think is important.
LOVE transforms our identities. LOVE can turn people who originally identified as victims into brave heroes. It can turn the hermit into a movement leader. It can turn the nomad into a nation-builder. Considering that the ego-mind associates our identity with reality, it is terrified of the death of this identity. I wrote more about this here.
LOVE shines a light on our shadow selves. LOVE brings to the surface every hurt, wound and trauma. The ego-mind has these “safely” tucked behind narratives, stories and compartments. LOVE gently - and sometimes not so gently - brings them into the light so they can be healed, reconciled, integrated.
LOVE changes our plans. It bends our assumed story arc into entirely new directions. It awakens missions and callings. It induces unselfishness and healthy sacrifice. It radically reallocates our resources, hierarchies, priorities.
Here’s the good news …
LOVE is not actually a threat.
LOVE promotes autonomy. It doesn’t diminish. It makes us more alive. But we still need to re-train our minds to process LOVE in healthy ways. For me, this has been four practices:
Contrast vs comparison. Contrast is a before-and-after, a from-to. Contrast comes from the soul. Comparison is an ego-mind feature. Contrast creates gratitude and perspective. Comparison creates guilt, shame, jealousy.
Expansion vs contraction. Expansion is enlarging the borders of your heart. Contraction is a flight/fight/freeze response. I’ve missed out on a lot of life by contracting during big feelings. Not just LOVE, but also other big feelings like hate, sorrow, desire. Gratefully, my heart feels 100x bigger than it did a few years ago.
Adventure vs risk. LOVE is the grandest of adventures; whether it’s exploring the deepest parts of your own being or in a conscious partnership or in a family/tribe. As the old adage goes, the bold move is almost always the right move. LOVE requires a strategy, but it doesn’t require caution or timidity.
Curiosity vs certitude. LOVE is a creative force. It is mystery; the Great Unknown. It awakens observation skills and prompts us to bring curiosity to every aspect of life. Certitude is the safety and stability that the ego-mind craves. We all want to feel safe and secure, but the real issue is when we diminish or modify ourselves in order to receive that. And that’s not LOVE.
Here is a final warning … when you find your Core Self, you will find LOVE. And it will wreck your life ;)
What big feelings does your mind process as a threat?
Which systems has LOVE required you to dismantle and rebuild?
How has LOVE changed your story arc?