Life: Doormat or Hardened Cynic?

As I meet more clients and the number of people I coach increases, the more I see and hear people living their lives struggling with the following two conflicting thoughts:

1. I want to have more love & joy in my life.

2. I don’t want to be taken advantage of or make myself vulnerable.

For these two conflicting thoughts, I ask the question “Why can’t you have both?”

What if you could love fully, and not have to worry about being taken advantage of and looking foolish?

Fortunately and unfortunately, life has a way of changing us and making us adapt to our surroundings.  This shows up in a number of ways, especially when we experience pain or heartbreak at the hands of another human.  Our response to this pain is by limiting the chances of feeling this way again.  Much like burning your hand on a hot stove, you learn from it and try your best not to feel that again.  The difference here is that obviously nothing good can come from burning your hand, but love on the other hand, can improve your quality of life and happiness like nothing else on earth.

Shutting down from loving others is the greatest tragedy that any human can experience, but we do this for a positive reason.  We do this in order to protect ourselves and prevent overwhelming pain.  Unfortunately, even though it works in the short term, in the long term it ends up creating an unfathomable amount of pain and regret.  Imagine getting divorced at 40 years of age, then living the next 40 years of your life in a loveless and cynical frame of mind.  Then as your last days and weeks of life approach, the full weight of your decision hits you and you realize that you’ll never get the opportunity again.

So, if in order to get the most out of life you must love fully, and we know that shutting out the world will only lead to the worst pain imaginable, then the big question becomes “how can you be vulnerable and open, while still maintaining a base level of protection and awareness of others’ intentions?”

The answer is tied into the question itself.  The whole point of this love thing is to put yourself out there completely, to show your true self, and to make yourself vulnerable in the hands of another.  Because you know that no matter what, pain is going to come.  It will be in the form of sickness, or death, or loss of control.  Your loved ones will leave you one way or another.  Be it through death or through breakups.  But the joy and happiness felt from a life full of love is exorbitantly higher than the short term pain of heartbreak & feeling foolish.  And the scariest yet, is that the pain of regret and of a life shut off from emotion, is unconscionably worse than all of these.

 

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