Episode 32: Love is Always an Option
You are listening to LOVE AT HOME with LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles, episode 32: Love is always an option
Happy Love Day my friends! It’s Valentine’s day today and I originally had planned to talk about toxic people but my husband said I couldn’t talk about toxic people on love day. So I’m postponing that juicy topic for another week and in honor of Valentine’s day we’re talking about LOVE.
I’m not talking just about love in the romantic sense but love in general for our fellowmen and for ourselves. I shared last week that Dallin H. Oaks said, “Love is the most powerful force” and I truly believe it is. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations.”
Since this podcast is all about learning to create LOVE AT HOME then we need to talk about this healing balm that repairs our rifts, bridges the gap, and carries more power than anything else. I want to first state, declare, exclaim, that LOVE IS ALWAYS AN OPTION. It is always available to us. There is never a moment where love is not obtainable or blocked from us. Never. Love is always there, ready to be grabbed, created, felt, and shared whenever you want it. Always.
I know some of you are shaking your heads and coming up with times in your life where you want to argue and disagree but stay with me here. This is really important to hear. Love is always an option.
Let’s talk for a minute about what LOVE is and what it’s not. I think we get this right here skewed and messed up sometimes so let’s clear this up first.
Love is a feeling.
Love is a verb.
Love starts with a thought.
I want to go back and do a quick refresher of the model. If you want more in-depth about the model go back and listen to ep. 10 but for now let’s walk through it really quick.
In life we have CIRCUMSTANCES -things beyond our control. People for instance, are a circumstance, what they say, do, think, feel. Anything that we can’t control.
These circumstances trigger THOUGHTS within us. We CHOOSE what we want to believe. Thoughts may come and go but you get to use your agency to decide what stays, what you put emphasis on, what you believe.
It’s these thoughts that generate a FEELING within you aka YOU CREATE HOW YOU FEEL. You are in charge of how you’re feeling NOT other people, not your circumstances. You get to decide if you feel love or not.
How you feel motivates you into an action, even if your action is inaction. Even if you action is to stew and ruminate about your thoughts, these are still actions.
Then your actions give you your results.
Okay, that’s the model in a nutshell.
Love is a THOUGHT.
Love is a FEELING.
Love is an Action.
Love can be the result.
When I think, “I love them”
I feel loving. When I feel loving I’m going to want to go out and love others – maybe that’s through service, making kind gestures, reaching out, whatever love looks like for you. As a result you create LOVE.
Lynn G. Robbins once said,
“Too many believe that love is a condition, a feeling that involves 100 percent of the heart, something that happens to you. They disassociate love from the mind and, therefore, from agency.”
Love is a choice
I love this because love has to start in your mind. You have to have a thought that generates the feeling of love. You have to use your agency to choose it. Love is NOT based on another person and what they do or what they don’t do. Love is NOT a list of rules that someone else has to follow. Love is NOT something you HAVE to do. Love can be an action as a result of feeling loving but it, like confidence doesn’t come from your actions or others actions. Love is choice.
Love is YOUR choice. It involves 100% your agency. You have to choose it.
I want to introduce a concept of unconditional love. I know we’ve all heard it before but what is it? In your mind right now answer this, what is unconditional love? How would you define that?
Love without condition. Love that is not conditional upon anything else. Loving just for the sake of loving. Simply put, unconditional love is LOVE without condition.
It’s loving without expecting the other person to do anything. It’s loving without NEEDING them to be a certain way, to show up a certain way, to do a certain thing, to be there for you, to talk to you, to listen to you, to follow you, to agree with you, right? There are no conditions when we talk about unconditional love.
Please don’t misinterpret already, it’s okay to want all of those things. But you don’t NEED any of those things to feel and access love because love is always an option.
The Savior was and is our greatest example of unconditional love.
He WANTED us to come unto Him. He invited and invites us again and again with open arm and an open invitation to follow Him, to come to Him. But how many people rejected his invitations? How many people abused, hurt, harmed, mocked, sneered, and continually challenged who He was? And still, He loved.
There are countless scriptural accounts where he loved without condition. Even as the soldiers came to collect him and Peter was furious and lashed out at one of them with his sword, the savior reached out and healed him. Even on the cross in agony, “forgive them, they know not what they do”
Always He chose to love. He loved without condition. He loved always.
Too many of us love conditionally. We think deep down that others need to do or say things so we’ll continue to love them and this isn’t true. You can choose that. But know that it’s a choice to withhold love.
Have you ever found yourself withholding love because of something someone else did? “No, I’m not going to talk to them! They…” or “why should I do this for them when they can’t be bothered to do this thing for me?” Or “I’ll never be in the same room as that person ever again because they…”
Please know that you can still choose not to talk to someone, not to serve them, not to be in the same room as someone and still love them. But there’s a huge difference in choosing those actions out of condition and choosing those actions out of love.
I teach my clients that love looks very different at times. Love can look like hugs, and time, and gifts, and all kinds of things and love can also look like setting boundaries, it can look like consequences, it can look like giving space and creating space. Love can look like quitting a job. Love can look like walking away. Love can look like a lot of things and the only way to tell if it’s love is by your thinking about it.
Love feels the best.
Love motivates us to choose the best actions. Love is showing up as my best self. When I feel loving I make loving choices.
Let me give you an example, I spoke to a woman once who hated her calling. She didn’t like the people she was with. She wanted to go and tell the bishop she was done, she couldn’t do it anymore. She felt like she stuck and was just miserable.
I asked her if she could stay until she learned to love it and love them. She was quite astonished that I’d ask that after hearing all the examples and situations that happened to her. To her, they were in major violation of her manual and her expectation of how others should act and she was done. She wanted to withhold love from them as a punishment to them. “I’m not going to talk to them because they…”
I asked her how she felt and she felt mad. She felt offended. She felt resentment. These are all terrible feelings to take action from. How differently do you respond when you’re angry versus when you’re feeling loving?
In both cases you can still walk away but which one feels better? Which one is going to have you showing up better? Which one is going to give you the results you WANT and not the ones you felt forced into?
Think about this. I know there have been times in my life that I’ve wanted to just be done either with someone or something. I want to be done because I don’t like how I’m feeling. I want a quick and easy escape because I don’t like how I’m feeling. This is dangerous, my friends because thinking like this, I’m giving my power, my emotional power over to other people. THEY CAN’T MAKE ME FEEL ANYTHING. Whatever I’m feeling it’s because of my thoughts, not their actions.
Why on earth would I choose to feel those things deliberately when LOVE is an option?
You can still choose to be done. I want to make that really clear. You can choose to be done at anytime just make sure you’re doing it from a place of LOVE and not out of fear or scarcity or anger. Acting from those feelings always gives you a negative outcome. You might feel regret, feel unresolved, you might leave in a fashion that wasn’t your best. You want to make sure that you can get to a place of LOVE first and then still like your reasons for leaving or being done.
Learn to love it before you leave it. The circumstances don’t have to change for you to love it. Those people can still be them in whatever way they’re showing up. You can still disagree and dislike their behavior BUT you’re not using THEM as your reason to leave. THEY aren’t causing you to feel or take action. You are choosing how you want to feel and what your actions are. You exercise your agency to choose your best path and the best way is through love.
A lot of people believe that happiness is elsewhere. They’re not happy where they’re at so they want to leave their job, their calling, their assignment, their family, that friendship, etc. But that idea that happiness is out there and not where you’re at just simply isn’t true. The circumstances don’t have to change for you to feel how you want to feel now. If you want to feel loving – love is an option. It’s available to you now. It’s available in that calling. It’s available in that friendship, that job, your family. It’s available because it’s not contingent upon the circumstance. Love comes from your thoughts.
The next time you find yourself wanting to leave or change the circumstance I invite you to use that as an opportunity to practice getting to love. Can you get to love first? You can still leave it. You can still quit. You can still move on but first practice giving yourself love. From that place you make the best decisions. It’s from this place that you’re not acting in haste or as a means to escape. You are in full control and making a sound decision out of love, for you, for them. It’s a much healthier space to make those decisions from. Get to love first then decide.
Love it before you leave it.
People can be grumpy. They can sneer and sulk and mutter under their breath. They can say ugly things, do ugly things and love is still an option. This doesn’t mean you stay. You can choose to walk away out of love for YOU and out of love for THEM. But the difference is in your thoughts about them. You can think, “They should’t do that!” And feel angry and walk away or you can think, “I love them and I love me and I’m going to walk away.” Notice the difference in feelings.
The first one there’s a lot of things attached to that feeling. There’s going to be aftermath in your mind, in your actions, in what you create for yourself – maybe that’s years of resentment and stewing over their actions OR in the other it’s just love. You walk away feeling love. You think of them from a place of love. There’s no lingering, unresolved feelings, issues, unwanted actions. It’s all just love.
There isn’t anything anyone can do to block or inhibit that feeling for you. You get to love someone however you want to about them at any moment, at anytime regardless of how they show up, regardless of what they do, say, or think. Love is still there. Love is still an option. Love is still available to you.
People argue and say, “They hurt me deeply”, or “They disappointment me deeply” but this simply isn’t true. They can’t. They don’t have access to your feelings. You hurt you by the thoughts you choose to believe and I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other, I’m just offering to you that LOVE feels amazing. Love is always there ready when you are. You get to feel love for them regardless of how they treat you. This doesn’t mean stay or roll over and take it. It just means that you feel love because you are the ONLY one that feels what you create and why wouldn’t you want to feel love since love feels the best?
Why would you deny yourself that feeling?
Unconditional love is also not as much for them, for others as it is for yourself. When you love others without condition it drops the expectations, the frustration that others did or didn’t do something, it releases all the tension. Think about all the drama going on in your life with others right now, whether that’s family, work, church, friends, etc – so in so is mad because someone didn’t do xyz…or during the holidays people were offended because family didn’t come to visit, they didn’t come on time, they didn’t do what was expected of them. There’s conditions. So when they do come whenever that is, you’re unhappy. You might complain, sulk, withhold your brilliant smile because you’ve put conditions on your love for them.
Love comes from your thoughts. They can still be the same and the only thing that needs to change for you to access love is your thinking about them. That’s it.
When you withhold love from others, who feels that? Not loving them isn’t hurting them. Who is hurting? You, right? Only you. You think you’re punishing them but you’re not. You’re just punishing you.
Loving unconditionally means dropping the conditions. This feels best when others do things that we don’t agree with, that we wouldn’t do, that we don’t prefer. If we can drop NEEDING them to show up a certain way while still WANTING that, then we can also invite that love in.
One of my favorite thoughts to think is, “and I love them anyway.”
When people do things I don’t agree with I just think, “and I love them anyway”
Try it. It feels so good. It feels way better than feeling judgement. It feels way better than holding conditions over them blocking only YOU from feeling loving. It doesn’t drop the WANTING them to do something but it does drop the NEEDING them to do something so you can feel loving. You just choose to feel love.
They showed up two hours late to family dinner – and I love them anyway.
When they’re cranky and giving you the cold shoulder – and I love them anyway.
When they show up contentious and want to blame you – think, they can be wrong about me and I love them anyway.
In fact, Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Even when you are not at fault – perhaps especially when you are not at fault – let love conquer pride.”
It feels so good to think, and I love them anyway. It’s kindness, charity, and pure love.
Here’s the thing…most people want to feel loving. When they come to me with their problem, with that family member who isn’t doing what they want them to I ask them how they really want to feel. They always say, “I want to feel love”. I ask them how they’re showing up towards them. To which the reply’s are something to the extent of, not talking to them because they’re offended and hurt, not calling, not inviting, giving them the cold shoulder. The opposite of love, right? With those feelings and actions it’s amazing why they’re not excited to cozy up to you. So I invite them to try on my favorite thought: and I love them anyway.
Notice how differently it feels to think that, to say that, to believe that. Practice it again and again. When my family does crazy things – and they do because all families do crazy things, right? I choose to think, “and I love them anyway”. When I think that, I FEEL love. When I feel love instead of giving them the cold shoulder I get up and hug them. I call them. I text them.
This thought can be hard to believe at first. Your brain will want to argue, it’ll want to bring up the conditions they’re failing to reach. It’ll try and “protect” you from not giving love because you might get hurt but listen, when you operate this way you’re automatically choosing hurt. You’re going straight to the negative already by withholding, by judging, by not choosing love.
Love doesn’t mean you condone or agree with their behavior. LOVE means that you get to feel the most powerful feeling for YOU. It means that you’re showing up as your best and truest self.
God is love.
As His children, as His literal offspring as stated in the Family, a Proclamation to the world – we are His and as such we are also love. When we are love we are closest to our truest, holiest self.
There was a talk I heard once from Elder Russell T. Osguthorpe where he said, “What if our only motive were love? What if everything we did, we did out of love?” There are all kinds of motives out there. And many of them are not pretty. We might be motivated by revenge or envy or greed. Selfish motives are abundant…Motives matter. They matter a lot. In the end, why we do things is probably more important than what we do… And one of the purest motives of all is love.”
When I am motivated by love my WHY and WHAT are in alignment. Instead of getting angry at a family member and walking away or storming away probably would be more accurate what if I were motivated by love? What would love do in this situation? What would love think? How would it feel to access love in this moment? Love might still choose to walk away, pretty sure it wouldn’t be storming away then but my WHY I’m choosing to do WHAT I’m doing are in alignment with my best self.
Imagine how differently your life would be if you only ever operated and were motivated by love. What would that look like for you? How differently do you think you’d feel? Love is always available to you. It’s there if you want it. Are you willing to drop the conditions, to drop the NEED for others to be a certain way for you to access love? For you to feel loving? For you to be motivated by love?
Love starts as a thought.
It’s a thought to decide not to believe that others have to do anything for you to feel loving. It’s owning that you create your own feelings. It’s taking responsibility that you are in charge of your own feelings. If you want to feel love, it’s available to you. Let’s align our WHY’s and our WHAT’s in our lives – the WHY we chose to do WHAT we do and make sure that you’re showing up as your best self.
“love is the most powerful force in the world” let’s learn to create and cultivate that more. Talk to you all next week!