The Barriers We Build Against Love

“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 (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.

Finding Inner Strength to be Vulnerable in Relationships

Tantric Intimacy holds the potential to connect us completely. We drop our guards and allow our whole self to flow into another person as we totally receive them as well. This creates a seemingly magical circuit of loving energy that can take us to infinite, wondrous places.

This is very simple to say and completely natural for us to do.

Yet, we struggle. How can we be safe to do this? How can I be open when I don’t know if I can trust this other person completely? What if I get hurt? What if I give myself completely, and my heart gets broken?

These fears keep our walls up, and so the magic of this kind of open, free-flowing connection eludes us, no matter how much tantra we study.

Your Inner Connection Makes You Whole

“Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of the stars.”

– Serbian proverb

The foundation of tantra is always our personal spiritual connection. However you define God/Spirit/Consciousness/Zen, it is our deep and trusting connection to this mystery that brings us great inner strength (and humility).

As the proverb above says, we are both made of earth AND the stars. What does that mean to you? What does it mean to be made of the stars? The beauty of tantra is that it embraces both aspects of being human and blends them together to create the whole beings that we are meant to be.

For some of us, we get lost in the day-to-day movements of life — jobs, relationships, kids, politics, fears, hopes, etc. All of these things exist in the physical three-dimensional world in which we live. They are very real. They hold incredible opportunities for joy, growth, pain, and a myriad of other incredible experiences.

But we are more than that.

Somehow, we are also mystery, infinity, everything, everyone, nothingness, all-powerful, and all-knowing. This reality isn’t really possible to understand with our brain because our brain belongs to the physical world. And our language best describes things that happen in this world. Everything that happens in the “spirit” world cannot be described adequately in our language. We have words like “AWEsome,” “INCREDible,” “AMAZing.” All of these words simply mean that we cannot describe how we feel. These are all spiritually-inspired experiences.

The magic of tantra is the ability to blend these two worlds — to live within our physical bodies in our specific spot on the space-time continuum and also to know that infinite energy and possibilities flow through us in every second.

This is when we truly become tantric.

This Connection Gives Us Inner Strength

“The only thing that is constant is change.”

– Heraclitus

When we feel this deep connection within us, we become strong regardless of our circumstances. The world around us (including those people we choose to love) is always changing. This is the human condition. We are naturally in a constant state of change, growth, and flux.

Tantric Intimacy teaches that kindness and respect are the foundation of all loving connection. But although we may be diligent in how we treat others, those we love may struggle with this based on their upbringings and past experiences. So how do we still open ourselves without risking being hurt?

We cultivate this deep, inner spiritual connection.

You can do this through any path that works for you. It could be through the works of the mystics of all faiths. (Mystics always seek a direct experience of God.) It could be through meditation and mindfulness. It could be through running or horse-back riding. Whatever it is that connects you with that deep, still place where you can feel the stillness and hear your own personal guidance.

When we cultivate this deep connection, we find something called “Divine Courage.” This courage comes from within and helps us have the faith to take steps in our life that are new, exciting, and possibly a little scary. But the beautiful thing is that the courage came from within. This means that if it doesn’t work out the way we planned, we will also have that strength on the other side of the experience. That strength will give us the meditative mind to observe what happened with understanding and compassion. The experience won’t break us (even if it hurts). We will feel the growth and expansiveness of what happened instead of focusing on the pain.

This Divine Courage is what takes us to incredible places on each step on our tantric journey.

Merging Becomes Effortless

“A healthy ego is no more afraid of sacred union than a raindrop is of merging with the ocean.”

– Jalaja Bonheim

When we have this deep connection within, we are able to walk in the world quite fearless. We know that we are not alone. We are strong, yet we are completely humble.

So, when we find someone that we love, whether it is a friend, child, or lover, it is easy to be open with them. It is easy to share who we truly are. We don’t need to put up façades or pretend that we are something that we are not. We let them see right into our souls. Because of course, we know that we are all made of the same stuff. Our soul is the same as theirs.

Of course, we also have discernment. Because we are already whole ourselves, we don’t feel the need to merge with EVERYONE. In fact, it isn’t really recommended. There are a lot of people who don’t actually want to merge in that way. They just want to be near you, but to stay separate emotionally. That is awesome. We too, will feel that way sometimes.

But there will also be occasions where someone appears in our life and true, beautiful connection is possible and desired. And then we can sit in personal strength, drop our guards, and let them in. We can experience the beautiful flow that is possible between humans.

True tantric connection.