Sometimes really good advice can get shortened and then repeated so frequently that it becomes a cliché and commonly loses its deeper meaning. The oft repeated counsel for us to simply “be love” is in danger of that fate.
There have been many times that I have been in a group discussion where the subject was how to react to a difficult situation either in one’s personal life or in our interactions with the larger world and someone would say that we simply needed to “be love”. Everyone would stop and nod their heads in agreement – yes, it’s so obvious, we all just need to be love. In the midst of this new age moment, I’ve never seen anyone call out that the Emperor has no clothes and ask “what exactly does that mean?” or “how do you do that?”
To be clear, I do believe we all need to bring more love into our daily lives. Yet I have to admit that frequently that’s easier said than done. Imagine that you are in the midst of a heated argument with your significant other – or someone just mistreated you at work – or some stranger is in your face yelling at you – and then someone says that you just need to “be love”. Would that be helpful? With that statement diffuse your emotions? Most of us would say no.
Yet, these situations and others just like them are exactly the moments when we need to introduce more love into the equation. There is a way, I believe, that we can do this.
Love and Boundaries
But first, I want to address an issue which frequently comes up – how can we be loving when the other person is being abusive? I want to be crystal clear here: to “be love” involves a shift in our individual consciousness which can lead to a change in our outer behavior but this in no way calls for us to condone negativity, rudeness or violence. We can be more loving and still have healthy boundaries with others who are acting inappropriately.
Recently I was getting a public talk where one of my key messages was this – we all are being called to recognize how everyone and everything is interconnected and that when we embody that truth we cannot help but be more loving towards others and expand our service to the world. Afterwards, a woman came up to me out of the crowd and commented that she really loved my point regarding oneness but had a question. She then shared that she had recently grown the strength to leave an abusive relationship. She wondered how she could experience her connectedness to her ex-husband which might lead to her be more loving towards him when she still did not feel safe to be around him.
It’s a good question. However, what I stressed to her (and my point here) was that we can sense our connectedness to others and open our hearts to them without necessarily being physically around them. We almost always should remove ourselves immediately from abusive or dangerous situations. We can feel in our minds and hearts that we are connected to the essence or soul of this other individual and feel love towards what we know to be the real truth of their being. We do not have to be in their physical presence to have this awareness. In fact, when others have forgotten their truth and are acting out of their ego and endangering or mistreating others, it’s best for us not to be around them. And, feeling love for who they really are never means that they should not be held accountable for their misguided actions.
Four Steps to Be Love
So how can we introduce more love into the heat of the moment? I want to encourage you to use a four step process that comes from the work of Dr. Thomas Hora. I wrote recently about how Hora, the founder of a spiritually based form of psychiatry called “Existential Metapsychiatry”, calls us all to become a beneficial presence in the world. The key to becoming a beneficial presence according to Hora, was to remember what he called PAGL (pronounced “pay-gull”). PAGL stands for peace, assurance, gratitude and love.
I believe that PAGL also offers us guidance on how to “become love” in those difficult moments. Yes, these steps to becoming love are the same steps to becoming a beneficial presence…but they are worth repeating! And ultimately, someone who becomes love is truly a beneficial presence!
Step One: Peace
Let’s be honest, if you have gotten emotional over something someone has said or done, it’s hard to jump to immediately “feeling love for the essence of their being”. The first thing you need to do is to discharge the emotion you are feeling. The way to do that is to become more peaceful. How can you do that?
If necessary, remove yourself (if possible) from the emotional situation. At a minimum, pause before responding to others. You want to build a gap of time between the emotionally charged stimulus and any response you might make. In that gap of time, take a deep breath. In fact, take several breaths and try to bring a sense of peace to your being. Imagine the energy of the moment flowing away from you. Silently repeat the word “peace” or “PAGL” to yourself until you feel yourself starting to become peaceful.
By the way, I would strongly encourage you to practice this when you are not in the midst of a personal interaction with another. For example, next time you feel emotionally charged over something you witness in our media, practice moving through the PAGL process described here. The more you practice when you are alone the more prepared you will be when you find yourself dealing with an emotional immediacy with another person.
Step Two: Assurance
After you have calmed down and are a little more peaceful, you can then move in your awareness towards a sense of assurance that things will ultimately be okay. This too will pass. Life has a way of ultimately working out.
When we are in the middle of a challenge, it’s hard to see how it will end positively. Even after it appears to be “over”, it may still be hard to see any good coming out of the experience. Frequently it takes a long time and a very clear shift in perspective to see that things worked out for the best.
What we need to call upon as we employ this step of “assurance” is to tap into our wellspring of life experiences that we know eventually gave us goodness and gifts even when we didn’t believe they would. The more we can feel into a knowingness that life turns out all right, the more we can feel assurance that this situation will also.
Step Three: Gratitude
Sensing that our life always gives us gifts and guides us towards our highest outcome – both as an individual and for all humanity – opens our hearts to a sense of gratitude for all of our interactions with others, for all of our life experiences. As this sense of thankfulness envelops us, we can even feel it for the so-called challenge before us. We are continuing to learn, we are continuing to grow, we are continuing to evolve towards our highest possibilities – and we feel thankful that this person or situation has moved us along that path.
Step Four: Love
Finally, as we embody a sense of peacefulness, an assurance that things work out and gratitude for all of our life experiences, it opens our hearts to love. As we look outward at what started as the appearance of a negative situation, person or persons, we recognize that our perspective shifted. Our consciousness towards our experience has changed. We realize that we have become love.
So the next time you find yourself challenged by the world “out there” – yes, take appropriate steps for safety and the maintenance of healthy boundaries in the physical world – but then move within that space of the nonphysical world – your consciousness – to realizing peace, assurance, gratitude and love.
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pss. And, here’s a link to my latest free audio presentation Waking Up and Showing Up!