Your Capacity for Love, Compassion and Forgiveness

“We are most alive when we’re in love.” – John Updike

Week Twenty Three

It is your choice whether to come from a place of love when interacting with others. There is a natural state of trust that we are born with. Often, however, our early experiences reduce our sense of trust and teach us to compete so that even with the best of intentions, other emotions can interfere.

1) What gets in the way of choosing love? e.g. anger, judgment, anxiety. How is it that you choose these instead of love?

2) How can you help yourself choose love instead? e.g. gratitude, practice, forgiveness, patience.

3) How to you choose to create space for love in your life this week? What was your last random act of kindness? You may have helped out or simply shared joy or comfort.

4) What would be your ideal experience in terms of joy, love, and compassion in your relationships?

5) Call to mind the three longest social interactions you’ve had in the last 24 hours. Reflect on these three interactions all together. How much did you feel “in tune” with the people in these interactions? How much did you feel close to the people in these interactions?

Identify a person with whom you do not feel loving right now and complete these affirmations with them in mind:
I. With attention on the person, repeat to yourself
“Just like me, this person is seeking happiness.”
II. With attention on the person, repeat to yourself
“Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering.”
III. With attention on the person, repeat to yourself
“Just like me, this person has known sadness, anger, fear, and despair”
IV. With attention on the person, repeat to yourself
“Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill his/her needs.”
V. With attention on the person, repeat to yourself
“Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

This exercise gives you more objectivity and allows you to see the similarity between the challenges you face and the ones other people are also up against. When you create space, you can watch the attitudes you hold towards others without becoming engulfed in them. Oftentimes, the judgments we make separating ourselves from others reduce our ability to express ourselves with love.

As you consider these questions, you will discover when other emotions disrupt your experience of love. With deep contemplation of these experiences you will benefit by discovering how to release negative emotions as they occur and how to instead choose feelings of love. You are not described by your emotional experience, although often you identify so strongly with it that it is hard to separate. Emotions are like waves in your environment and you can choose whether to let them flow past you or climb on your surf board and ride them.