Dr. Ray Angelini
Business Coach and Author
Dr. Ray Angelini is a Career Coach in Saratoga Springs, New York. Dr. Angelini has been working with people in transition or in life choice dilemmas for over 20 years and brings a realistic perspective that everyone can benefit from. He is frequently seen on Capital News 9 Station out of Albany speaking on life balance issues and has a daily newspaper column in the The Saratogian.
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With Valentines Day just behind us, I thought that this would be the perfect time to discuss the topic of love. If you were to survey most people and ask them what their definition of “love” is, most would probably include in their definition references to physical love as manifested through sexual attraction and/or emotional love, which has more to do with “feeling” or “falling” in love.
As I am sure most of you are aware, physical attraction is fickle and often fades, and emotional love can transform into other feelings that are often the antithesis of love.
So, if physical and emotional love don’t cut it, what are we left with?
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, one of the earliest proponents of the Enneagram, coined the term “conscious love,” to refer to the kind of love that arises from the commitment to the highest good of those involved.
M. Scott Peck, in his groundbreaking book, “The Road Less Traveled,” defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing ones own or another’s spiritual growth.” I believe that most relationships fail because, rather than being focused on spiritual growth, they are based on the short-term, personal needs and agendas of those involved.
Conscious love, as opposed to physical or emotional love, requires that we give of ourselves unconditionally with no thought of our own gain. Peck refers to love as an act of “self-evolution,” whereby we evolve by investing in others evolution.
Conscious love is radically different from physical or emotional love because it requires us to act lovingly, even if we don’t feel loving. Conscious love is different from “falling in love” because falling in love usually involves the collapse of our personal boundaries, whereas conscious love requires extension of those same boundaries. Conscious love requires effort and discipline, whereas falling in love is usually experienced as effortless.
The biggest obstacle to conscious love is our ego. This is the part of our psyche that believes it is separate from everyone and everything else. Our egos are literally addicted to this notion of separation and will do anything in their power to reinforce this belief. The ego’s main weapons are judgment and guilt, which serve to further separate and isolate us from one another. The ego’s other favorite tool is projection, which involves our disowning those aspects of ourselves that we find offensive and unsavory and instead magnifying these qualities in others.
In addition to commitment to each other’s spiritual growth, conscious love requires us to take personal responsibility for our projections and own them. It also requires us to see any conflict in relationships as an opportunity to heal our perceptions and look at the people involved in a different way. Thus, forgiveness is also a key ingredient in this regard, as we are often called upon to forgive our own as well as others projections.
So, as you can see, conscious love involves a dramatic shift from the conventional notions our culture holds dear regarding love. Conscious love is certainly not for the faint of heart, however, it is in the final analysis, the only love that is truly worthwhile, enduring, and personally fulfilling.
Dr. Raymond Angelini is a licensed psychologist, and a business and personal coach. Mail your questions to Raymond F.Angelini, Ph.D, P.O. Box 4816, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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