“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
Many people are still looking for their ‘other half’, venturing out on more and more dates, casting the net wider until they find someone to complete them. And when it doesn’t work out just as they planned, they jump back onto their smartphones, ‘unfriend’ the offending partner and swipe themselves another one.
And yet many of us also know that, deep down, another human being is never going to be able to make us whole and that the fairy tale of meeting our Prince/ss Charming is just that – a fairy tale. We understand that true love comes from within and when we love ourselves – fully – only then can we truly love another.
This is great, in theory, because for many of us, self-love stuff is still very much an intellectual concept that we strive to reach in the same way that some people strive to meet someone new when their last relationship hits a wall. Striving for self-love is not the essence of self-love. Discovering the barriers to love may well be what we need.
Barriers to love
Rumi is rumoured to have said that our task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within ourselves that we have built against it. It’s likely that he knew a thing or two about life and love. Self-love can be tricky – sure, we get it, intellectually. We know it’s necessary to “love ourselves” but aside from eating healthier, daily exercise and spending more time doing the things we love, it can be hard to get over that ultimate hurdle.
So what is it that gets in the way? What are these barriers that Rumi speaks of and why are they there at all?
We all have them. They’re made up of the internal voices that tell us that we “don’t deserve to be loved and happy”. Or that there’s something intrinsically ‘wrong’ with us. That we are somehow ‘broken’ and if anyone actually found out the truth about us they would surely leave us.
These barriers to love are constantly running in the background; a low hum that unconsciously speaks to everything we do, every action (and inaction) we take. Unlike the self-loving ‘apps’ that we consciously choose (weekly yoga sessions, salad and connecting with friends), these barriers form a part of our internal ‘operating system’ and are generally in shadow for us.
What you realize is, we don’t need to go out and love ourselves, we already do, we simply need to take down the barriers blocking that.
We Are Not Born With These Barriers
Not one of us came into this world with pre-erected barriers to love; it’s learned behaviour. We learned them from the adults around us at the time. We might have learned that ‘love’ was scary and shouty, or that if you love someone it should be dramatic. We might have learned that ‘love’ was silent, sulky and certainly not communicated through affection.
What was happening around you as a child has likely informed your decisions about the type of partner you choose as an adult. Repeating patterns are not always pleasant, but they’re certainly familiar.
In addition to how we saw the world and what we learned about love when we were children, we were also extremely vulnerable. Something as subtle as having overly critical or emotionally unavailable parents can have a big impact on who and how you are as an adult. Through little eyes, the world can look like a dangerous place and it’s likely that you employed protection strategies that may have stopped you from getting hurt, emotionally or physically.
Creating a tough outer shell or a sentinel-like vigilance may have been necessary when you were 3 feet tall, but how is that working for you now? How are the protective behavioural patterns you employed as a child serving you in your life as an adult?
In my own life, I have sometimes struggled to connect fully; to really let my partner in. My experience as a child taught me that loving relationships were not easy and they wouldn’t last. So as an adult, it felt safer to never let anyone come too close, in case the same thing happened again.
All the self-loving actions in the world couldn’t compete with my unconscious internal message that love was unsafe and ultimately destined to end.
Whilst it may sound quite depressing; on the contrary, I have found it to be massively empowering. As I now know this about myself, I can make a decision when I feel myself withdrawing, I can choose to come closer and to see this as a pattern that was created many years ago in order to protect me – it’s not who I am. Because of this, I am now so much closer to my current partner.
Discovering your personal barriers to love
It’s taken me many years to discover my own barriers to love and I’m still uncovering more and more layers of the onion each day. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to discovering what’s getting in the way of you and the love you deserve, but there are proven tools and techniques that can help. My most recent ‘ah-ha’ moment came whilst taking part in an online workshop known as the Groundwork.
Collective Evolution readers get 25% off the standard price and you will get to learn more about some of the tools and techniques I used at www.dothegroundwork.com (use the coupon code: collective to get your 25% discount).
When you discover your unique barriers to love, know that you created them a long time ago with your own best interests and safety at heart. Dissolve them with the love they were created with; acknowledging and thanking the little one, that still lives inside you, for being there and for doing the best they could when things got tough.