Updated: Jan 10, 2021
A couple weeks ago I was on Instagram and read something very disturbing… one of my best friends had just made a post about her bond and appreciation of another friend of ours. She named this friend as “the one” she goes to in her darkest of hours.
I immediately noticed discomfort arise in my body in the forms of sadness, jealousy and a twinge of fear. My corresponding thoughts were: “she doesn’t love me as much as our other friend. She has a deeper bond with another person. I might not be as important to her as she is to me…” and so on.
As this was happening, another part of my brain was majorly judging myself for having these feelings as a grown adult. “Really Oni?! How old are you now? Haven’t we gotten over this?”
But the thoughts and feelings were there, so in honoring the truth of my experience, I dove into inquiry and began wondering how I might use the situation to expand my capacity for love, rather than contract into fear, doubt and jealousy.
In the name of self compassion, I acknowledged that my thoughts and feelings had sprung from my childhood programing around love. I know from training and experience that our automated adult brains view every situation involving love, or lack there of it, through our childhood experiences of love.
In noting that, I recalled that my childhood experiences of love taught me that love is a scarce resource that is hard to come by, and when it does come around, it is often entwined with other less desirable emotions (such as doubt about deserving it, fear of losing it, and jealousy when it goes to someone else).
What this helped me to see was that my brain, and my body, were viewing this situation as evidence to reinforce my childhood programming that love is scarce and painful. Some part of me was automatically assuming that if my friend was offering her love to someone else, that meant she was taking it away from me.
I could now see that when I read that Instagram post, I was viewing it through my old "love is scarce program," and thus I experienced the old familiar feelings of doubt, fear and jealousy.
Once I understood what was happening for me, I was able to ask myself a new set of questions that helped me orient my attention towards a new way of experiencing the situation.
I wondered: “How might I see this if I were looking through a lens that says that love is plentiful? Through a program that experiences love as an infinite resource? Through a belief that says that love can exist on it's own, without being tied to other painful emotions?"
In that inquiry, I was reminded that when I consciously practice expanding my love by offering it more freely to more people *including myself,* I never seem to run out! In fact, I have found that somehow the more love I give *to myself* and others, the more love I feel in my body, and often times the more love I receive back from others, which in turn brings more love.
As I remembered this, my awareness was able to touch into a deep knowing that there is an infinite wellspring of love inside and all around me, and all I have to do to feel it is remember that it is there, and turn my awareness towards it.
I want to be transparent here that it isn’t always easy for me to place my attention on love, including focusing on what I love about other people. That has been a long and deep practice for me which I commit to because I recognize that I feel better when I do it.
While this might be considered a selfish practice, I know all the way down to my bones that noticing what I love about others is a reflection of noticing what I love about myself, and all of it expands my capacity for love.
As I explored this deep inner truth, I also became aware of my capacity to love different people in different ways. I took a moment to ponder all of the connections I have, and the magic of how each person I interact with brings out a unique quality of experience.
Through this inquiry, I was able to view this situation as an opportunity to shift my awareness towards recognizing that the amount of love this soul sister shares with our other friend, does not decrease the amount of love that we share.
I was able to take a moment to delight in the beauty of variation, and honor that it is normal, and even helpful, for my best friend to have other loving relationships that expand her capacity for love.
Once again, curiosity supported me in shifting my perspective out of an old, constricting lens into something more expansive. Something that allowed me to shift my emotional state from jealousy to love, from fear to gratitude that my beloved soul sister has another warm and cozy place to go in her darkest hours.
Thank you, Sophia Argabright, for ever mirroring my expansive capacities for love.