It is programmed into our beings to seek out others, and intially, before we are hurt, shamed, or conditioned by life, to delight in ourselves and in one another. No one explains better, I feel, than author Don Miguel Ruiz the dichotomy between fear and love that causes our lives to be full of pain and drama. His series beginning with The Four Agreements is followed by The Mastery of Love, an equally compelling and concise volume which focuses on love, relationships, and what damages our selves and others most: fear.
In a nutshell, it is impossible to love someone else if we do not fully love ourselves. This means that all of the love we will ever experience comes from within our own hearts. No one has anything to offer us other than who they are. We cannot possess, change or impose our images of perfection on others without alienating that person and destroying the possibility of love. No one else can be responsible for us or for our happiness. Don Miguel explains in very simple terms how, from birth, our initial loving selves that are open and pure are contaminated by fear. Unintentionally, we repeat what we most likely learned as children ourselves: we lash out at the most vulnerable creatures of all when we feel frightened, lost, judged, ashamed…and we transfer that negative energy to our children. Once our small child has lost his trust in us as a parent, things are just never the same again. I am sure we all wish we could take back those moments when we lost control and said or did things that were harmful or unloving to our children. Of course, if each of us had been raised in a constantly loving environment, we would never feel tempted to act in a non-loving manner in the first place. In any case, given that we are imperfect beings in a complex world where much fear does exist, we try to do the best we can and learn from our mistakes. As Don Miguel points out in The Mastery of Love, when we realize that we are on what he calls “the track of fear”, we can bring ourself back to awareness and reset ourselves onto “the track of love”.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to engage in meaningful relationships with self and others. I feel that it takes a considerable amount of time alone to develop a quality relationship with oneself first. This means cultivating talents, and building a full and abundant life for oneself. Bringing a full life to the table of relationship as well as a sense of satisfaction in one’s own potential for personal fulfillment may just help us to stop expecting others to make us happy. The responsibility for our own happiness is ours alone, and we cannot be responsible for anyone else’s joy or accomplishments. This awareness is very freeing, I think. I feel very happy to have discovered the works of Don Miguel Ruiz several years ago. Best of all, I keep re-reading them and with each read, I discover new insights as I grow and learn to love myself. After a season of soul searching and solitude, I hope I am strong enough to open my heart again to relationships with other people. My eyes and mind have at least partially healed, and this is a good start.