Raise the Bar on Love

Every February, in honor of Valentine’s day, I explore loving relationships. Many of us have faced challenges in relationships, and we struggle with how to create truly rewarding connections. We search for our soulmate, wrestle with friendships, and dread going home to see our relatives. At some point it dawns on us that “this cannot be the way I was born to live.” Then we get serious about creating relationships that work. If we are sincere, that will happen.

At the end of a visit to a town where I used to live, I was on my way to return a rental car. I stopped at a gas station to fill up, but could not find the lever to open the gas cap. So I decided to just return the car half-full. Along the way I discovered the lever and stopped at a gas station near the rental car return. While filling up, I saw a friend of mine at the next pump. He is a sincere, ecologically-minded guy who has been running for county council for years, and was up for election once again. We shared a hug and schmoozed for a few minutes. I told him, “I can’t vote for you now that I’ve moved, but if I could I would surely get behind you.” A big smile lit up his face and he answered, “That’s worth a lot of votes right there.”

As I drove away, I marveled at the synchronicity of meeting my friend. If I had found the gas cap lever at the first station, I would have missed that encounter. I like to think that the universe had set up that meeting. A deeper wisdom was behind the apparent error, leading to a moment of rewarding connection. Life is always guiding to be with the people we belong with, if we are open to follow internal guidance and external signs.

We must not settle for less-than-rewarding relationships. Any form of enmity, conflict, or abuse is not life’s intention for us. Yet we put up with pain because we believe we cannot do better. But we can and we will. Before we can do better, we must change our minds about what we deserve. You can always tell what you believe you deserve by what you are getting. When you are in pain in a relationship, the universe is sending you a wake-up call to realize that you have been accepting too much suffering. Then you must do whatever it takes to extricate yourself from sorrow and create a relationship that works. Sometimes that can be done right where you stand, and sometimes you must leave. Either way, you must find your way to higher ground. Our tolerance for upset is too high. We must raise the bar on love.

A Course in Miracles tells us that it is the destiny of all relationships to bring us joy. Sometimes the people who are hardest to love are the ones that offer us the greatest reward once we master the lesson the relationship is bringing us. The only purpose of relationship is to deepen our capacity to give and receive love. Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t like that man. Let me get to know him.” Everyone we don’t like is pointing us to shine light on a judgment we are holding. When we examine that judgment, we realize it is not valid, and we recognize the unnecessary pain that holding the grievance is causing. Then we can let it go and be free. The relationship has served us well. The Course further tells us, “The holiest spot on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.”

All healthy relationships are founded in self-love. If you don’t love yourself, it is going to be difficult to love others or receive their love. We project our fears and self-judgments onto the world “out there,” which exists more in our mind than as an external entity. We make up stories about other people based on the stories we make up about ourselves. If you can’t find someone outside to love you, you haven’t found someone inside to love you. Loving people around you reflect your love for yourself. Unloving people represent your self-judgment. Don’t attempt to change what you see in the mirror by rearranging the images. Rearrange the source of the images—your mind—and the images will rearrange themselves.

A while back I had a little Honda Civic to sell. I parked the car at a gas station with a sign, “$1100.” The car sat for a long time without an inquiry. Then one night I attended a healing service by a Christian minister who took up many collections during the evening. His solicitation was quite bold. During one basket-passing he announced, “God told me there are five people in this audience who can donate $1,000, and He wants you to give it.” Although I later learned that the preacher was a charlatan, I was impressed by his confidence to ask for money. That night I went to sleep with the realization, “I deserve to get $1100 for that car.” The next morning I was awakened early by a phone call. “I’ll give you $1100 for your car,” a voice said. Within an hour the car was sold. It was not waiting for any market conditions for me to sell it. It was waiting for my recognition of my deservingness to sell it.

So it is with all of our relationships. They are just waiting for us to receive the love we deserve. Let this Valentine’s month be the month we let love in.


Lisabette 8th February 2017 12:27 pm

Wow. This has proved so true for me, and it's good to read a confirmation of my experience. I've stayed in a less than ideal relationship for many years, but whenever I've come to a point where I am unwilling and unable to tolerate a certain type of treatment, there is a shift. I just had a breakthrough like that yesterday. I told this person that I am not a receptical for their unpleasant emotions. And I gave the other person in this triangle (my son) a real consequence, instead of always giving second chances -- from the standpoint of making sure he is in discomfort from his choices instead of me. I never thought about it from the perspective of me feeling deserving (even the word "deserving" holds a sense of being a primadona). I always felt in the past that tolerance was "good" and intolerance was "bad." I think the important factor to remember is it's loving to be tolerant of someone else's differences but not loving to be tolerant of their unkindness towards me. It felt so good yesterday to have the stress last for a few hours instead of days, or becoming completely undone.

Toni 8th February 2017 6:01 pm

I've noticed the higher I raise the bar on love the less people there are to synchronize with...and even less when the bar is raised on passion... Everyone in my physical reality reflects love... there's just more quality and less quantity...gives me more time to love myself I gather.


Nitebloom 14th February 2017 9:00 am

ahh...yes the ancient self worth predicament......amplified by the media and social norms.....these days.....hmm...maybe it was even stronger back in the ancient times...at a point where I am exploring truly loving myself.....and embracing all that I am .... "love" will find its way.....


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Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen is a heart act to follow. One of the most popular inspirational writers and speakers in America, his books, tapes, syndicated column, and transformational seminars have touched the lives of millions of people who have found the courage to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. He is the author ofauthor of many popular inspirational books.

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