When other people truly care about our happiness unconditionally we feel loved. It all starts with telling the truth about ourselves.
What can you do now?
How can you find a Real Love group?
Anyone who's interested in being truthful about themselves, and who wants to learn to unconditionally love other people. Anyone who wants to find or increase the happiness in their lives.
As few as two people can constitute a group. However, it tends to be more productive when 6-18 attend. When there are too few, it's less likely in any given moment that you'll find someone who is capable of loving you — after all, virtually no one feels loving all the time. When more people attend a group, that increases the likelihood that you'll find acceptance and love. On the other hand, when there are too many people, individuals often don't get the opportunity to participate as actively.
There is no "boss" in a group. This isn't therapy, with a leader who is always responsible for guiding the discussion. However, it is useful to have one or two people in the group who help coordinate the meetings: find a meeting place (a home, place of business, or church), learn what time and day of the week would be best for the members, and so on.
Guidelines for Real Love groups have been written by a number of people and groups. Sometimes they’re confusing, sometimes too long, sometimes just wrong, sometimes well done. Following are some guidelines that I believe will be useful as you attempt to find and share Real Love in groups. They do NOT have to be read at the beginning of every group, but occasionally you might choose to do so.
Real Love: Unconditionally caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. There is only one kind of love: Real Love. Everything else is counterfeit. Anything we use for a substitute for Real Love is Imitation Love. Through no fault of our own, few of us have either received or given much Real Love, and without it we have a terrible void—and feel unbearable pain—in our lives.
Imitation Love: In the absence of Real Love, we attempt to fill our emptiness with various combinations of Imitation Love: Praise, Power, Pleasure and Safety. We EARN these substitutes for the Real thing, but no matter how much we get, we remain empty, alone, and afraid. Imitation Love DECEIVES us, because it gives us only temporary relief from pain, without fixing the cause. We become addicted to it, and it keeps us from looking for the Real Love that will heal our wounds and eliminate our anger, confusion, and pain.
Getting & Protecting Behaviors: We use Getting Behaviors—Lying, Attacking, Acting like a Victim, and Clinging in an effort to get the temporary effects of Imitation Love. We use Protecting Behaviors—Lying, Attacking, Acting like a Victim, and Running to protect ourselves from the loss of Imitation Love. All of these behaviors seem to make us feel better for a moment, but overall they make our pain worse.
Lying: We’re lying (Getting) anytime we manipulate people to like us. We’re lying (Protecting) anytime we do anything to avoid disapproval.
Examples of lying:
*Exaggerating our accomplishments or bragging
*Not taking responsibility for our actions
*Saying what people want to hear
*Hiding our mistakes
*Looking for praise
*Pretending to be what we’re not
*Accentuating our appearance for sexual attraction
*Doing what people want when we don’t really want to
Attacking: We're attacking people when we manipulate them with fear. This gives us a rush of power, so we’ll feel less helpless and afraid.
Examples of attacking:
*ANGER (by far most common)
*Intimidation—physical, guilt, authority
*Insisting on being right
*Sighing with disgust
*Acting hurt (thereby blaming someone for hurting you)
Acting like a victim: Victims endlessly say, "Look what you did to me," "Look what you should have done for me," and "It’s not my fault." We use victimhood to get attention and to avoid responsibility (disapproval) for our choices.
*Making people feel guilty for hurting us or not doing enough for us
*Acting like we have no choice
*Denying responsibility for our choices
Clinging: Any time we try to manipulate people for more attention or Imitation Love.
*Complaining we don’t have enough attention
*“Do you really have to leave now?”
*“Don’t we have time for just one more?”
*“I hardly ever hear from you.”
*Excessive gratitude or flattery
*Lots of talking
Running: We run when we avoid pain.
*Physically leaving difficult situations or relationships
*Burying ourselves in work or hobbies
*Alcohol or drugs
*Changing subject when difficult
Every time we use Getting & Protecting Behaviors we are thinking only of ourselves, and the message the other person hears is “I don’t love you.” All productive communication stops right then. With these Behaviors we are also saying, “I need to be loved.” When we see these Behaviors as symptoms of drowning, we can be more accepting of others and ourselves.
Telling the Truth: Truth ➝ Seen ➝ Accepted ➝ Loved. When we tell the truth about our pain, fears, and reactive Behaviors, we create an opportunity for someone to unconditionally love and accept us. Until we are seen this honestly, we cannot feel loved. When we speak in a Real Love group, we give permission for wise men and women to love us and to help us become even more truthful.
Law of Choice: People have the right to choose what they say and do. We cannot control the choices of another person—even when we believe our way is better—nor can they control ours. A relationship is the natural result of the independent choices we make. If we are unhappy with a relationship, we have three options: (1) Live with it and like it, (2) Live with it and hate it, or (3) Leave it. Controlling the other person violates their right to the Law of Choice, is not a loving option AND does not work.
Law of Expectation: We never have the right to expect that another person will do anything for us, will love us, or will make us happy. Expectations lead to disappointment, anger and unhappiness in relationships, and even when a very specific promise is made, proceed with caution.
Event ➝ Judgment ➝ Feeling ➝ Reaction: When an event happens (someone says something unkind, for example), we typically believe that our feelings—anger, for example—are caused by the event. But our feelings actually follow our judgments of events. When we can change our judgments of events—with loving and teaching—we change our feelings and behaviors. With loving and teaching, we change everything.
Real Love Group: A place where we can tell the truth about ourselves, be unconditionally loved, and practice loving and teaching others. The Speaker—one at a time!—tells the truth about himself and then gives the opportunity for a wise man to see, accept, and love him. Wise Man: Anyone capable of giving unconditional love and wise teaching. People inexperienced with Real Love are encouraged NOT to attempt such teaching. Wise men might ask questions to help the Speaker better tell the truth about how they use Getting and Protecting Behaviors to get Imitation Love. Wise men never speak with even a trace of irritation or expectation that the Speaker will change, or be grateful, or even be receptive. Wise men are not fixing people or solving problems. They are imperfect, and at sometimes they will be capable of loving, but not at other times.
Perspective: People do the best that they can. When we see their Behaviors as responses to pain, when we see them as empty and drowning—a change in judgment—it’s easier to accept people and not to take their behaviors personally. Every time we’re upset with someone, we’re saying, “There is no love in the world except for the tiny piece that you’re withholding from me right now.” This is simply not true. The truth is that there is an infinite supply of Real Love—a change in judgment—so if you are feeling unloved, you can speak up and get loved by someone who has it to offer.
Confidentiality: Please keep everything to yourself that you see and hear in a Group.
Real Love Group Host: A person who has agreed to provide a place for the Group. A Real Love host is not the teacher of the group, nor should he or she be expected to be the wise person at all times. The host will sometimes be a wise person but sometimes will not, just like every other member of the group.
Wise people may benefit from asking the following questions of a Speaker who is describing an event:
What did he/she (the other person) do?
What did you do?
Why did he/she do that? Why did you behave that way?
What would you have done differently, knowing what you know now?
What are you going to do now?