When is an Act of Love Not an Act of Love


When is an act of love not an act of love? Its when that act is attached to personal gain.

I love my friend Harry. In this moment, I want to stop him from doing something very foolish and could be life-threatening. Yet, what I’m experiencing isn’t founded on love. It’s found on a need to gain control and to experience self-righteousness regarding my assumption that Harry doesn’t know better than to choose what he’s about to choose, and that I know better than him. I question my motives in this moment and find myself wanting. The question is: What am I wanting?

Telling Harry to do it different would alleviate my frustration, which arises from, literally, being powerless and helpless in the face of his decisions. My choosing to choose to intervene is founded on a need to correct the experience within me. And, if that is so, how is this an expression of love? I’m discovering that what I am wanting is to gain an absence of discomfort “ a restless, irritable discontent. This has nothing to do with love.

In this moment, I’m exploring the contents of this restless, irritable, discontent, and what I uncover is anger, grief and powerlessness. Though I could assume love, care and concern are part of this equation “ I’m not feeling it, because truthfully, it is not here, in this moment. My calling Harry to act with more wisdom is really an opportunity to potentially control someone I can’t control, and allows me to avoid the experience of restless, irritable discontent, as well as powerlessness and helplessness.

The likelihood of Harry taking my advice, which he hasn’t asked for, is minimal. I will only be playing into a game I created, which I’ve attempted to win, yet in all my years, I’ve never, ever won. The game is that I share my wisdom, it gets rejected, I remain righteous and then get to say "I told you so," when things go bad. If I make my "move," Harry won’t take my advice, nor experience it as an act of love. I can maintain my sense of control and righteousness and all is right with the world. My game is like a drug of choice to avoid going to the source of my restless, irritable discontent, and nothing more.

All twelve-step programs are created to assist all of us who attempt to soothe that restless, irritable discontent with any number of salves “ Alcohol, drugs, sex, love, food, worry, anger, self-abuse, TV, retail therapy, video games “ yes, all of these are attempts to alleviate or change what is. The truth of this lies in the practice of not doing, or letting go of the need and desire to control want is not controllable.

The serenity prayer begins with "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." I will tell you, if you do no other practice than to mindfully be present to ways you don’t accept what you cannot change , well, this is intense work!

This work of cultivating awareness to how you think what you think, then choosing to think differently, only in service to what you say you want, does bring serenity. It also brings about an awareness of how love expresses itself through you. All you have to do is decide what it is you are truly wanting, then notice how your current circumstance is a direct reflection of all the ways you aren’t allowing your heart’s desire to be realized.

By noticing and cultivating awareness, you will undoubtedly come up again your restless, irritable discontent. Now what do you do? What you do is to empower yourself to powerfully surrender your will to your higher power “ God, as you know him/it to be. This practice will inevitable bring you into a space of serenity, and allows you to plug in to a heartfelt sensation that becomes recognizable as love.

It’s a phenomenal practice to let go and let God (or, any higher power). However, without this practice we ongoingly live in a mish-mash of survival strategies that have us ignore, avoid and distract ourselves from our true, inherent wisdom, from which peace, serenity and love comes forth.

Who is being loved when you let go of control? It can feel like a cutting edge between love and control. Its takes discernment to realize when my enforcing control is an act of kindness and when its just me exerting righteousness.

This journey often feels as though there is an absence of love, or that you are acting in an unloving way. This is grown up processing. Loving, as an act of doing nothing, can feel irrational and counter intuitive. Utilizing the mature wisdom that is within you when you are thinking like a grown up, is what’s required.

If I save Harry, he will not gain wisdom through the natural consequences of his own choice-making. And, I was shocked to hear in my head my response to the thought that he might die. I heard myself say "if he dies, I won’t be able to tell him I told you so!" It’s amazing the absurdity of our thinking mind. Obviously, anI told you so has nothing to do with love.

I’m pretty sure that there are many people who, like me, see themselves as loving, yet operate from a position of knowing what’s best for others, judging and assessing other’s actions, and finding that those judgments really are not sourced from love but from egoic desires to be right and in control.
I see my need to save Harry as a desire to resist feeling powerless over aspects of life that I cannot change or control.

To realize that I can’t control Harry’s behavior or save him from himself has me feel tremendous sadness, anger and powerlessness. I don’t like feeling this way, and like most of us, I will continue to try to not feel these feeling through ridiculous acts of control. The most loving act, though, is to feel my feelings, regardless of how uncomfortable it is to do so. This is an act of loving kindness and self-compassion. Through this practice, you, me, we are able to source love and allow it to flow in ways that my little mind cannot fathom, but my BIG MIND knows to be true!

It is not shameful or humiliating to admit being in your current circumstances that have you be powerless and helpless. This is just part of experiencing humanness. I’d be honored to support and empower you to walk this path with intention and clarity of purpose. Please contact me when you are ready! 360-376-4323.

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