I’ve often found it mysterious that a process as natural and universal as loving should be as challenging and even at times maddeningly difficult as it so frequently can be. In fact, it seems that more often than not, the art of learning to love well is one of the most demanding challenges that we ever take on in our lives. Many people, having made a number of painful or unsuccessful attempts to develop sustained, loving relationships, conclude that they’re just not up for what it takes or that perhaps they’re just not the type to settle down with one person, and they choose to let go of their dream rather than to risk the prospect of continued pain and disappointment. Why is it that loving relationships can be so difficult for us to develop? Is it true that there really are very few good candidates out there who are willing and able to relate honestly and openly to others? And is it really even possible for us to unlearn the protective patterns that served us in childhood but now cause us to feel frustrated and isolated?
These and many other complex questions inevitably arise once we make the decision to embark upon the path of relationship. And the further along we find ourselves, the more formidable are the concerns that we meet. Many people believe that the opposite should be true; that the deeper the connection with someone, the easier it should be, and if it’s not getting easier it’s because something is wrong; wrong with them, wrong with me, or wrong with us. Not necessarily. Deep relatedness brings out the worst as well as the best in all of us: our deepest fears and our greatest hopes, our selflessness as well as our possessiveness, our kindness and our insensitivity, our generosity and our self-centeredness. In working consciously with these emotions and tendencies, we find ourselves feeling more trusting and open with each other and we gradually begin to let down the defenses that shield us from emotional distress.
Conscious loving requires us to come out from behind the security of our manufactured image and expose ourselves to the threat of emotional pain that we desperately wish to avoid. What makes this so difficult is that it requires us to be fearless yet tender, committed yet open, engaged yet not attached, powerful yet yielding, and strong yet vulnerable. To fully love, we must cultivate the ability to hold the tension of the opposites because love is inclusive not exclusive, and it can be fierce in its demands. It invites us into the space beyond separation and into connection it brings us from duality into wholeness.
If loving another person is, as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke says, “the final test and that for which all other work is but preparation,” perhaps it is because we cannot be a qualified and capable lover until we have established a loving and accepting relationship with all parts of ourselves, including those aspects of our lives and personalities that we deem unlovable. Investing time and energy in a commitment to develop the capacity to become more fully loving will bring forth a greater return in terms of our quality of life than anything else we can do with our precious time and energy. And, by the way, it’s never too late to begin.
What is an Intensive? An intensive is an extended session with Charlie and/or Linda that is designed to assist individuals or couples in breaking through impasses and relationship challenges that require more in-depth and concentrated attention than can come from a series of counseling sessions or a weekend workshop. Depending on the situation, an intensive can be scheduled for between one to three days.
We generally conduct intensives in our home but it is also possible to schedule them in other settings. Over the years we have conducted hundreds of these extended sessions and the response has been consistently positive, with many people telling us that they experienced a permanent shift in their lives as a result of the concentrated time we spent together and the work that came out of the sessions. Intensives include a preliminary consultation prior to the actual meeting time as well as follow-up sessions afterwards. For more information on intensives, call 831-421-9822 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.