“Love That’s Given Freely, it doesn’t die. It only changes” – Glen Hansard
If I’m being completely honest I was a little frightened going in for the obligatory handshake line that concludes each soccer game every Tuesday night. I would have to come fact to face and shake the hand of my soccer nemesis from two weeks ago.
Look, I’m not the best with conflict. I have tried to avoid it at almost every stage of my life and when I do find myself, conflicting? I’m a blustering mess. My blood boils, my heart rate rises and I try to stay calm, but it never really turns out that way.
This time though, it felt a little different somewhow.
I had been practicing the Active Love tool repeatedly over the two weeks since the last time we played this team. Each time imagining coming into contact not just with this one person but the whole team. I saw the light coming out of me and I did my best to connect with the other person in my imagination and heart. To see them as a person, that is not any different from me.
If you think about it, both of us were passionate about our team winning, both of us believed we were right and both of us lost our cool.
This tool helped me to not just believe we were more similar than I would like to admit, but to feel it too.
So, how did the game go? It’s all very well talking about these tools and feeling a sense of connection to someone you have let get into your head but anyone who has played sport knows, that can all go out the window the minute you are attempting to stick a round ball into the back of the net.
Firstly, the one thing that is important about all these tools is that sometimes you need to use the heck out of them. It’s not enough to try it one time and hope that is enough. No, you have to constantly use the tool, even when you’re not in the situation that requires the tool. Because eventually you will, and you need to know how to use it.
After a while, the tools take less time and instead of having to ask everyone else if you can stop playing for a few minutes while you close your eyes and imagine an imaginary white light protruding from your core into someone else (which is probably a great way to create more space for yourself), you are able to summon the tools almost immediately.
Thankfully I had put the work in and was able to recreate the Active Love tool while I was playing. And it worked. I felt free during the game to play uninhibited. During our previous game, I had got so stuck in my head that everything else stopped working. I couldn’t play. I over thought each pass or decision instead of just allowing myself to play from a state of Flow.
This week? I almost didn’t even notice the opponent who had got into my head. I will admit, I attempted to stay out of her way for the first few minutes just to be on the safe side but to my surprise she seemed to be more relaxed as well.
This got me thinking to the power that each of us has and the energy we exhibit. We like to think people make their own choices but ultimately the energy we display towards someone is very likely the same type of energy we will receive back. When we’re hesitant, they’re going to be hesitant too. When we’re open, they’re more likely to be open. This is why kids looks to their parents to know how to respond in different situations. If they see fear in their Mom, they’re going to feel fear too.
This felt different though. She seemed calmer too. Maybe she had been doing her own work but all I know for sure was that I was able to play without the need to be better to get revenge or to even try and be the bigger person. When we see Love as a limited energy then of course we hold back and of course that will be felt by the other person. But by being able to project this energy to someone else and know that it didn’t leave me depleted, it allowed me a freedom that was new and exciting.
One fear I had was that if I started down this road I would lose some competitive edge where I would somehow let players past me (easier than normal) or wouldn’t try so hard to win. But again, this never happened. I wanted to win as much as I ever had but instead of this desire coming from the need to beat that person or “I’ll show them who’s boss!” it came from a place of just pure flow. I wanted to succeed for me (and ok, my team I guess), not for how it would affect anyone else.
And I knew that the more I allowed this to flow out of me, the more it would come back to me also.
That to me is true freedom. That is true Love.
Love is a Verb (Thanks DC Talk)
Now, just a quick side note. When we hear the word Love most of us typically imagine feelings of Romanticism or the Love that a Parent has for their child. But Love is much more than that. It is an energy. It is an approach to the World. Love for someone doesn’t mean that you are necessarily interested in them romantically. These are expressions of Love sure, but I’m starting to see Love as the thing that allows the world to function. Some call it God, some call it, well just Love, some call it other things. Whatever, you call it, it’s the source of all that is good and worthwhile. It can be painful and difficult and sure, sometimes we really want to protect ourselves and not Love. And yes, sometimes we can express this Love without holding back and never receive anything back, less so getting hurt.
But what if we started to see Love as a limitless energy that we all have access to. That is, something that the more we give, the more we receive back. In fact, what if it is so paradoxically contradictory that unless you give it out unconditionally and without limits, you can’t ever experience it truly for yourself.
That is a thought. That is something that is a challenge. But maybe if we all just started using Active Love, we might start to feel this also.