It has become a truism that to receive love we must give love. This reciprocal action keeps the flow of love alive. Without it love would stagnate. Learning to give runs contrary to some very deep conditioning that we all carry around inside, however.
We have all learned to hold on to a good thing. Letting go of anything precious is hard. Loving people have taught themselves that holding on is possessiveness. Anyone who has ever been trapped in a possessive relationship knows its smothering effect. It isn’t love when another person cannot give you the space to live your own life.
Love is experienced in relationship. Without someone to love you, the feelings of love–the warmth in a mother’s heart, the gladness of friendship, the excitement of intimacy–have no stimulus. That is why the commonest image for being unloved is being alone.
When you are alone, there seems to be no relationship. People who find themselves alone rarely feel any incentive to explore love. They await contact with another person or turn out to seek it. Thus we become dependent on other people to make us feel totally and permanently loved.
This expectation will, however, always be defeated, and although we blame those who failed to respond to us, who responded but then left, who stayed but then changed their minds, none of them is finally the cause of our problem.
The cause is our inability to develop an unshakable relationship with ourselves. The Self is the source of love. People who live their own love stories have learned this lesson above all.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).