“He doesn’t love me!”” She doesn’t even have the capacity to love!” “ My mom never even liked me”. “My father loved no one.”
These are a sample of statements I’ve heard from clients over the years. They are indisputable facts for their experience. They are the foundation for all they believe about what love is and is not. Hmmm. To borrow from the current administration of the United States Presidency, when it comes to love, might there actually be alternative facts?
What we know from psychology is that we have unique individual views of our world. That our experiences determine our perception, and our perception determines our beliefs. What would be different if we recognized that our truth isn’t everyone else’s? Would we have deeper, more sincere relationships? Would we seek to understand or at least accept others in a more powerful and peaceful way?
A recent selection for my book club was The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. This author beautifully articulates the alternative facts of love. Here is an excerpt from pages 243-244:
“Why does it have to be so difﬁcult?”
“Because we only see what we already know. We project our own capacities – for good as well as evil – onto the other person. Then we acknowledge as love primarily those things that correspond to our own image thereof. We wish to be loved as we ourselves would love. Any other way makes us uncomfortable. We respond with doubt and suspicion. We misinterpret the signs. We do not understand the language. We accuse. We assert that the other person does not love us. But perhaps he (she) merely loves us in some idiosyncratic way that we fail to recognize.”
Some questions for you to ponder:
Who has loved you fully, seemingly unconditionally?
Who has not?
What would be different in how you view your experience with the other person if you were to consider alternative facts about love?
What would be the beneﬁt to you to recognize someone else loved at their capacity, and it simply was unequal to yours?
If you’ve experienced insight or freedom from adopting an alternative attitude or belief about love, I invite you to share.