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Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

A SHORT HISTORY OF LOVE

          As I get older, I have drastically changed my understanding of love. As I grew up, I was a big fan of Arthurian legends, chivalry, romantic love and happily ever after. As I got older (after two divorces) I started to understand that love has nothing to do with soul mates, life partners or mated couples. Love has nothing to do with how you relate to an individual; it is how you relate to yourself and the world. If you don’t love yourself, and you don’t love the world you live in, I guarantee that you will not find love in a relationship. Love is not a mutual exchange or based on what people can do for you. So many people feel attracted to someone and think “I am in love!” People go into relationships because they think that the object of their affection will reciprocate and then life will be perfect.

          I hear so many times that people are looking for that “soul mate” that will complete their lives. Unfortunately that is a fantasy that been perpetuated by novels and Hollywood and we eagerly believed this fantasy because it made life look so easy. The belief that someone could make us happy is a self-defeating lie, because happiness only comes from within our own psyche, our own belief systems (BS). I was trained by my parents to believe that happiness can only be found in a loving relationship (like theirs). The red flags should have gone up the flag pole, first because their relationship was not loving but an exercise of hanging on, and second because happiness will never be found in a relationship.

          The first thing we have to understand is love is a one-way street. Love is the desire that others be happy. It doesn’t require anything from anyone in order to exist. It is unconditional, in the sense that you don’t care what the other person is doing, you just wish the best for them. You don’t need anything from them and you don’t want anything from the person you love. The truth is we need to love all beings, not just a small circle of people who you feel obligated to or attracted to. The hardest task of all of the masters, prophets and gurus demand is to love those who seek to harm us. Turn the other cheek, in other words.

          We get bogged down in the sticky messes and dramas of relationships when we believe that we need something from the object of our “love”. The truth is that we do not love when we need. We do not love when we feel abandoned or rejected. We do not love when we get angry. We do not love when we lust. We do not love when we demand. We do not love when we are jealous. We do not love when we run away. My point is that there are a host of other emotions which occur in a relationship that have nothing to do with love, but are often confused with being “in love”. When we step back and analyze our feelings and desires, we can quickly see that love is a much higher emotion than lust, greed and possessiveness. Unfortunately, our culture has developed a model of love that is everything but love. The common message is that if someone loves another, then they will make each other happy. This is not love, it is co-dependency.

          If we carry traumas and issues from our parents we often time seek to mate with someone that will replace our parents and make our life enjoyable. We project our fantasy parent onto the object of our desire and believe that we have found our soul mate. This may last days, months or years but at some point the veneer we have surrounded our “loved” one with will wear off and we have to deal with someone we really don’t know even though we may have lived with them for quite a while. Then the lesson really begins. Do we have enough love for and in us to see that person as they truly are and then make a decision that is best for all concerned? Or do we go into fear and selfishness and become angry and resentful? We have the ability to love anyone and live with anyone (unless abuse or violence is concerned, then run). The question is can we separate the satisfaction of our needs and desires from the person we claim we love? This is one of the fundamental tests that we have to face on the path to enlightenment.

          Sometimes loving someone means not enabling unhealthy behavior. If someone is emotionally or physically abusing you, love requires that you leave or do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. This is the meaning of self-love. It is only then that the object of your love will be forced to look at their behavior and learn their lessons. If they love you, they will want you to be safe. If their needs and issues are more important than you, then you must let them go. The issue is do you love yourself?

          Fear and love cannot coexist at the same time. If we focus on love, fear will disappear. The mantra for love is “Let me be of service”. When we are focused on letting others find their happiness, we will be love. That is the only way it will happen.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

A NEW RELATIONSHIP

           I hear from a lot of people that our reality is changing. I know that the poles are shifting (even NASA confirms this), weather is really getting weird, politics and world economies are changing. The most profound shift I hear about is how relationships are changing and becoming less codependent and more divinely inspired. Predictions are that the old way of relating to someone has to change, and will change. This is attributed to the fact that our consciousness is shifting out of the physical, three dimensional reality to a more spiritual, five dimensional reality. To be honest, I am not quite sure what this means, but I can tell you that one of the most incredible relationships I have ever experienced is far different than any relationship I have ever experienced.

            In the past, relationships were based primarily on whether the participants could  satisfy basic needs and desires of their partner. There was the chemistry factor, which is an antiquated way of saying that more needs were satisfied than not. There is also the Cinderella factor; that is the person you fell in love with may be a magical fantasy you create in your mind and project on the other person. When the clock strikes midnight and the magic wears off, you are left with someone that you may not even recognize. There are pheromones, organic compounds and brain chemistry involved in the old way of relationships that may change at any moment. Being a divorce attorney for many years proved that attraction can change almost over night and people jump in and out of bed with a frightening frequency.

            From a socioeconomic perspective, we created a fantasy life reflected in fairy tales of love at first sight and committed long term relationships as the ideal relationship. I grew up being told that humans were one of the few species that was monogamous and love was forever. My experience in adulthood was far different; I discovered that pain decides whether a relationship is forever — more than love. Statistically more marriages fail than last a lifetime. My observation is that many relationships that did last a lifetime probably shouldn’t have. In other words, the ideal committed permanent relationship may have died a cultural death, and we pick and choose who we live with based on many factors other than love. Obviously when one partner chooses not to fulfill the needs, desires and fantasies of their partner, the relationship loses its attraction. So what is the future for relationships and what are they going to look like?

            The first thing I have realized about the failure of my past relationships is a lack of maturity. Many others and I looked for people who will be more of an incestuous parent than an equal partner. Psychologists predict that most people marry a version of the parent we had the most issues with, hoping that we will have a parent who will do what we want. I have found this doesn’t work very well. This is especially true with potential partners who don’t want the responsibility of being my mother. So the answer is I had to grow up and stop looking for someone else to make me happy. I had to learn how to make myself happy and share that with someone. When I acted like a child needing something (sex, compliments, validation), the relationship failed. When I act like an adult that offers happiness, commitment and stability, relationships changed.

            When my sons were growing up, I noticed an amazing thing. The people in their peer group did not split off into couples and begin dating. They stayed together more as a pack and relationships were based on the group dynamic than a one on one dynamic. Eventually my oldest son bumped into one of these members in a more meaningful way and they now are married. They still have a large group of friends who they interact with, and they did not polarize into a separate unit like my parents did.

            Based on this trajectory, I can foresee relationships that are more like intense friendships than codependent polarized units that are separate from everyone else. The real relationship will have to be within our higher selves and us. When we connect with our spiritual core, the energy that created us, we enter a state of bliss that does not depend on how someone else is behaving. That is irrelevant. It also takes the responsibility off of our backs to make someone else happy. People take responsibility for their own happiness. The difference between this way of relating and the old ways of relating are huge. When we are strong and compassionate for our partner we can let them be who they are. We do not put any pressure on them to be someone else. We do not fantasize about who they could be to make us happy, because we are already happy. When we are in this state of being, there is no need to leave to find someone that will make us happy because our partner has ceased making us happy. It allows us to be free. There is a lot of fear wrapped around letting someone be who they are because we are afraid they will not like us and leave. If we truly loved ourselves, that thought would not manifest.

            I am still working on that relationship with myself. However, I am happy to report that my other relationships are doing well and I am constantly amazed how better it gets as my relationship with myself improves. I can see where we are going and I believe that it will look far different than anyone can imagine. Hopefully divorce lawyers will have to find something else to do.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

ESCAPING FROM REALITY

             We live our lives of quiet desperation and wish that things were different. We feel stuck in this world, having no control over our lives and our circumstances. We work hard and then harder to get ahead and seem to lose ground. We search for love and it eludes us; our soul mate never shows up no matter how many workshops or energy sessions we attend. We look at our neighbors and despair that we are losing the rat race. We seek counseling and the secrets to happiness. It doesn’t matter what we do or what we have, there is always that sense of anxiety and longing for something else. We are afraid that we will not get what we want, and when we manifest it we are afraid that we will lose it. Buddha called this “samsara”, or the “dream”. Samsara is the world, as humans with an unsettled and agitated mind perceive it. I call it a false reality invented by our unrealized ignorance.

            There is a story about Sai Baba, a revered holy man in India who recently left this reality. A man suffering from insomnia came to him and asked Baba to help him sleep. Baba referred the man to a yogi master who taught him how to breathe and yoga. The man returned to Baba to thank him as he was finally able to sleep. Baba told him, “if you want to sleep, follow the yogi. If you want to wake up, follow me.” There are some basic principals that we can follow to “wake up”. These may or may not make you happy, but at least you will have the tools to be so.

1. Being busy does not equal being successful.

It’s surprising how easy it is to lose sight of the important things in life. Busy schedules and weekly routines have a tendency to make us numb and unconscious. We forget where we put our keys, we need personal assistants to remind us what day it is. We become walking zombies.

Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy — running from meeting to meeting and firing off emails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level? Success doesn’t come from movement and activity. It comes from focus — from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. Use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output, not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

Speed is not the same as efficiency. Slow down. Breathe. Focus on what you are wanting to achieve. Achievement is not success. Success is being happy.

2. There is no success and no failure.

The biggest achievements often come when you’re feeling the most frustrated and the most stuck. It’s this frustration that forces you to think differently, to look outside the box and see the solution that you’ve been missing. Life takes patience and the ability to maintain a good attitude even while suffering for what you believe in. In the long run, there is no success or failure. There are only lessons about what is important and what makes you happy. The fact that someone has more money or possessions or a trophy spouse has no relevance to a happy person.

3. Fear is not real, never regret.

Many of us believe that death is the worst thing that can happen, followed closely by ridicule and poverty. We often dwell on our memories, incarcerating ourselves in the prison of the past. We regret what we have done and are afraid to do anything new because we are convinced by our memories that we are losers and will always fail. We do understand that we are never doomed, we are never failures. We are always works in progress and we all have the potential to change the world. The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive.

4. Love and self-worth must come from within.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny.  When we look at others, we disempower ourselves to them. When you feel good about something that you’ve done, don’t allow anyone’s opinions or accomplishments to take that away from you. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain — you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

Stop looking for someone to make you happy. That is not their job. Your job is to be authentic, strong, caring, kind and considerate. When you have those qualities, you will be happy. So many people postpone their happiness because they are waiting for someone to do that for them. The truth is even if you find your soulmate, you will not be happy because they can’t make you happy. Most of us fantasize that someone will show up that do everything for us and be everything for us. Unfortunately, that is a fantasy because the universe does not revolve around us. When we love ourselves and have self-worth, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. We are a bright light shining for everyone.

The other problem with looking for a soulmate is we limit our compassion and caring to that one person. We have a bigger role to play, we have to be kind and compassionate to all people. We have to love everyone equally, not just one person. Realize that our roles are much bigger than we know and our lives will expand to include what we want.

5. Your friends are your mirror to yourself.

Look at who you spend your time with. Are they friendly, supportive, kind, caring, inspiring and nurturing? If not, you need to look at your behavior and actions because they are probably reflecting who you are. Do you spend all of your time gossiping? Do you spend all of your time regreting and talking about the past? Do you endlessly and constantly criticise yourself and others? These are the bars of the jail cell you have built yourself in this world. Consider being what you want in your life. Be friendly, supportive, kind, caring, inspiring and nurturing. If your friends are reflecting what you want to change, change your friends. When we surround ourselves with people who are filled with negativity, that is what we have to deal with on a daily basis.

6. No one gets out of here alive.

Yes, we die, often before we are ready. Yet when someone dies unexpectedly it causes us to take stock of our own life — what’s really important, how we spend our time, and how we treat other people.

Remind yourself every morning when you wake up that each day is a gift, and you have to make the most of it. The moment you start acting like life is a blessing is the moment it will start acting like one. Despite the debate on what and where God is, the truth is we create the kind of day we live from the first waking breath. A great day begins with a great thought. Choose wisely.

7. Stop judging.

Life goes a lot smoother once you let go of negative emotions. When we judge something or someone to be bad, we are judging ourselves. Grudges and resentment let negative events from your past ruin today’s happiness. Hate and anger destroy your joy in life. In order to free yourself from negative thoughts and emotions, stop judging. Recognize that everyone is doing the best they can and everything that happens in life is a lesson. If someone cheats you or cheats on you, free yourself and thank them. If you leave a relationship or a job, it is the universe’s way of expanding your life and your awareness.  You now understand the pain of that experience and you are much wiser. If you are the cause of the event, take responsibility and accept the consequences of your actions.

No one is a victim. No one can force anyone to make decisions and take actions that run contrary to their values and aspirations. You created your past, just like you are creating your future. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the steps and change what is necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams. Let go of your fear. It’s always better to be at the start of a path you want to be on than being at the end of one you don’t.

8. Forget the past.

It is our memories of the past which trap us in this false reality. No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future. Mark Twain said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” It’s impossible to be happy if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of this very moment. Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and, in doing so, it will create your future. Accept the uncertainty of the future. There is a reason that we don’t know everything at once. Our heads would explode. The universe created time expressly for that reason, so everything would not happen at once. 

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

POWER

            I have been manifesting some life lessons lately. Life lessons are experiences that we come to this planet to have and learn. The difference between life lessons and the ordinary daily lessons we experience is that life lessons often involve deeply rooted, often-subconscious beliefs that cause us to limit ourselves and suffer.  These are our “sacred cows,” the beliefs that are so deeply imbedded into our psyche that we don’t even know they are there. We manifest “life lessons” to bring our attention to the root cause of these experiences so that we can see what is limiting our consciousness and life experiences.

            One of the most frequent life lessons involves relationships. Relationships include any interaction, whether it is with a parent spouse, child, coworker, boss, or authority figure. If you are experiencing disharmony, lack, frustration, negative emotions of any kind, or feelings of abandonment or rejection, you can be sure it is a life lesson which you are creating to show you a belief that is no longer working for you.

            If someone is not behaving like you want and you are suffering as a result, the first step is to detach from the drama of the situation and ask yourself what you need to see about this experience. It is likely that this experience has happened before in your life and you need to see the pattern of it. If at anytime you have said to yourself  “not again”, you can be sure that there is a pattern you need to see about your behavior, not the behavior of other person. Anytime you blame suffering on another person, this is perhaps a life lesson on how you always project your issues on another person.

            One of the most common causes of suffering in relationship is the subconscious attempt of one person to make the other responsible for his/her happiness. We all know that only we are responsible for our happiness, but if you experience suffering because of the behavior of someone else, this is called “disempowerment” or making someone other than yourself responsible for your happiness. If someone’s behavior can cause you great joy or great suffering, you have likely disempowered yourself to that person.

            True power is created when we can stay grounded and centered no matter what someone else is doing. We lose our power or give our power away when we make ourselves miserable due to the behavior of someone else. Did someone say an unkind word that caused suffering? You gave your power away. Feelings hurt? You gave your power away. Are you anxious or worried about someone or something? You have given your power away. Are you experiencing feelings of lack or victimhood? You have given your power away.

            Thousands of self-help books claim to prescribe the formula for self-empowerment. You don’t need to read a book; you just have to accept the fact that you are giving your power away every time you don’t like something.  If you can recognize what you are doing, you can simply stop it. If you are not aware you are doing it, you can’t change anything. So if you are mired in the fear of lack or victimhood, you probably will have a hard time understanding that you created this situation so you can see how you are giving your power away. So accept the responsibility of your creation and stop resisting.

            There are a couple of simple (maybe not easy) ways to take your power back. The goal is to be happy with yourself no matter what is going on around you. The most powerful person in the world is the person who is happy. Do you feel alone and unloved? Be happy and see how people are magnetized to you. Do you feel like you are a loser? Be happy and see the abundance flow. Do you feel like you are a victim? Be happy and you will never be a victim again. 

            So the ultimate question is how to get off the drama train and be happy. The only thing that is required to be happy is to understand you are God’s representative here on Earth and you are experiencing your life to rejoin God. Now if you are an atheist, you can be happy if you understand that happiness flows from acceptance. There is nothing wrong with the planet, only our perception of it. What we experience in life is not as important as what we believe about what we experienced.  If we believe something is good, all will be good and we will experience a life filled with light. If we believe it is bad, we will experience a life filled with darkness and shadow. It is all the same life; the difference is how we perceive it.

            Just remember when we receive life lessons, we asked for this. All of us on the spiritual path asked for enlightenment, consciousness or just a better life. The joke is that life happens when we had something else planned. The reality is that when we asked for enlightenment we left kindergarten and immediately enrolled in the graduate level programs of consciousness. At that level we have to be responsible for everything we perceive, including our happiness. We have to quit giving our power away to people, places and things and start reclaiming our own happiness. This is the source of true power.