Our feelings are how we find each other

SHE: But I’m so afraid that what I say is going to hurt him!

ALAN: You’re allowed. Okay? And the reason you’re allowed is because you don’t MEAN to hurt him, you’re not trying to hurt him. This is really, really important for all of you to hear. When you hold things back or you’re untrue to yourself because you’re afraid of hurting someone, there’s an incredible step you can take. In your heart, without saying anything – not making yourself a guru, just quietly in your own heart and consciousness – you give this person permission to feel whatever they feel when you are true to yourself. You TRUST that it is good for them to feel whatever they’re feeling!

I’m like this with you all the time. I give you my truth, and there are times when my truth may make you cry, or make you angry. I accept because I am not out to hurt you; on the contrary, when I give my truth, the harder it may be to hear, the more important that I give it lovingly. If I give you my truth it is because my soul tells me that I need to say this. I give myself permission to say it, and you have my permission to feel whatever you feel. I’m inviting you to open and be friendly with whatever I am touching in you. If you get angry, by the way, it is usually because you are NOT in friendship with what is being touched in you. So you want to fight and argue – your anger is a defence against what you don’t like in yourself. This is why, whenever you get angry, it is good to breathe into and tune in with where the anger is coming from, instead of just acting out your anger. There is lots more to say about being angry, but I’ll keep it for later.

So if I say something to you and you feel like you want to cry, my sincere hope is that you will allow yourself your tears. Or laughter, or anger! But not walk away! I want you to learn how to keep being here anyway. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give each other here: be real and allow everybody else here to experience whatever they experience in encountering your realness. This is what makes The Art of Being different from what’s happening out there in the world. People are afraid to affect each other. It is as though everybody is wearing a ‘Do not disturb!’ sign. Then we are all isolated from each other, afraid to touch each other’s feelings. Our feelings are how we find each other!

T.S. Eliot in one of his poems has a very timid man ask: Do I dare disturb the universe? Yes, and each other. It’s all about your intention. If you have bad intentions, it just means that you need to make friends with the fears and wounds that drive them. If your intention is to open your heart, awaken into being and learn how to BE IN LOVE, that’s all the intention you really need. Then if your man is upset by your truth, let him be upset. And you can say to him, I’m sorry you’re upset, I love you anyway. You can even say goodbye with love if you have to.

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Jealousy! What to do?

A lot of love relationships hit the wall because of jealousy. It helps to understand what this dark force really is. It is not an inevitable by-product of love. It is rooted in fear, not in love. It comes from being antagonistic towards feelings that you are unwilling to accept in yourself. The feelings – like loneliness, heartbreak, grief, anger, helplessness, despair and fear itself – nearly always originate in a childhood where you were not taught to accept your feelings. Usually the antagonism is directed outwards against others. Ironically, it is your intimate partner who usually bears the brunt. Sometimes people direct the antagonism against themselves, turning themselves into victims. Either way, your attitude is essentially hostile and unloving.

There is only one way to handle your jealousy with integrity, and it is not easy. But then, what people do with their jealousy is not easy either – so much nastiness, and about as merciless as war! It is one of the insanities of being human. Like infants, we refuse to take responsibility for the destructive feelings that come up in us. We would rather lash out than say hello to our pain, rage, tears and despair. It is understandable, but only the same way that a two year-old’s temper tantrum is understandable.

And there is very little in our culture that helps. The media all milk the jealousy soap-operas for the dramas they get out of them, and a lot of pop songs praise possessiveness as though it is the holy grail of love, when it is really only the fear of being lonely. So it is quite normal for people to create hell in their relationships when what they really need to do is make friends with the demons in their own inner hell.

Life is a very insistent teacher. Until you surrender to what you have to learn, you go on having unhappy relationships. You walk out of your marriage furious because your partner had an affair. You slam the door and get a divorce, and tell yourself never again.  Two years later you’re slamming the door and getting a divorce again, and so it goes on until you’re willing to turn around and say hello to the pain, fear, panic, terror, loneliness, abandonment, the feeling of love having gone forever and never coming back, and all the other horror stories you may go through in your jealousy.

The only healthy, and for that matter healing, way to deal with your jealousy is to do nothing and feel everything!  Do nothing against your partner, put nothing on your partner, and do nothing against yourself either – no victim trip, no turning yourself into an ambulance case. You have to sit alone in the transforming fire of your hell and make friends with all your darkness. And that, believe it or not, is as simple as breathing! Yes, you cry, you fry, you feel at times like you’re gonna die, but still, IT IS ALL ONLY YOU! You breathe into whatever you are experiencing, and as you breathe out, you surrender to it. You agree to experience it all, for one awesomely simple reason: BECAUSE IT IS SO. You agree to make friends with your inner weather, whatever the weather! Yes, I know it seems impossible! It isn’t.  Really! Once you have been through its fire and honestly embraced all your demons, you become happier than you have ever been in your life. Now you love yourself and you don’t need to find anyone to save you from all that you used to be so afraid of in yourself. And the most beautiful thing is that now you can really love somebody, not just want and need them!

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About Love and the Shadow

Alan talking to participants in Love and the Shadow workshop in Munich, March 30, 2012


You came here with your partner. Do you realize how rare this is?  Do you realize what you’re giving yourselves in your relationship, and how extraordinary this is? There are countless couples out there who spent this weekend doing all sorts of interesting things, and who maybe didn’t have a moment of being really present with each other. The world has become so used to people being more absent than present that it has become normal for people to live their relationships as a kind of shared absence – being comfortably absent together. TV is important, shopping is important, alcohol is important. All kinds of things cansave couples from facing the fact that they actually don’t meet each other. People can be quite lonely in their relationships!

Of course there are lots of people who are having a beautiful time with each other. Still, you only have to be here in this circle for a short while to realize what incredible treasures and untouched mysteries there are to be discovered in really being with your beloved.  It is a privilege to sit here with you all now and to sense the depth of your communion with your partners. It happened because you chose to look after the love – yes, and the shadows! – of your relationships.  They teach us to care in all kinds of ways. When you bring your partner to tears, for example – not that you meant to, but you were careless, a bit hurtful – their tears teach you to care. In all kinds of ways you are teaching each other. Sometimes they’re really tough ways. Your partner says, “I’ve had enough, I’m leaving”, and you realize how much you care, that you can’t go on living in your old I don’t care habit. Most of the ways that we learn to care for each other are sweeter, like coming to Love and the Shadow! I thank you all for being here.

And remember too: your relationship is not only a beautiful gift of giving and receiving love. It is also an invitation to each of you to wake up and feel the richness of your inner life. That has been such an important element of this experience. So please, just take a moment and meet your beloved’s eyes and feel the invitation to be present! The invitation is always here, now.

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