There is no form of bravery in this universe greater than the bravery it takes to love. It seems that the older you get, the more resistance you come into relationships with. Like armor, it prevents injury from entering the heart. It also prevents love from escaping the heart. Sometimes we are lucky and the love shatters through that armor, like floodgates that cannot resist the force of the element they are trying to contain. Other times, we must consciously choose to strip ourselves naked in the face of love.
I’ve always hated the expression: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. It may seem like a logical conclusion to come to, that if we are hurt more than once, we have become fools by repeating the same mistake again. But is it really foolish to fall in love again if falling in love has led to us being hurt before? If so, people are all fools in love.
Humans are born about three months premature. If we were born completely developed (the way that most other mammals are) we would not be able to fit through our mother’s birth canal. Because we are born immature, we have absolutely no way of meeting our own needs in the first few months of life, and so our survival is entirely dependent on our caregivers. More than that, our survival is entirely dependent on our caregivers loving us. The first thing we learn in our lives is that if our caregivers do not love us, our needs won’t be met and we will eventually die. Because of this, it becomes very important that we do anything we can to get love because our brain (the organ that is in charge of ensuring our survival) equates love to survival.
The sympathetic nervous system is in charge of our survival response. The part of our brain called the hypothalamus (which is a very primitive part of the brain) triggers our sympathetic nervous system to react when it perceives danger. We call this reaction the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response is an intelligent design as far as evolution is concerned because it enables us to jump out of the way of an oncoming car in a split second; as opposed to using our more evolved rational processes to asses whether something is in fact a danger to us. If we were to use the part of our brain that is in charge of rational processes to assess whether something was a danger before reacting, we would end up getting hit by an oncoming car for example because it would take longer to assess the situation than it would take for the oncoming car to actually hit us.
The hypothalamus accomplishes this survival technique by “hijacking” the rest of the brain. It releases signals that override the parts of our brain that are in charge of reasoning (such as the cortex). The parts of our brain that are in charge of reasoning are the parts that we associate with intelligence. But those parts of our brain are not the parts that are in charge of our behaviors or actions when our survival is threatened. Only the most primitive parts of our brain are in charge of our behaviors and actions when our survival is threatened. So what does this mean for humans and love?
Because humans harbor a deep-seated association between connection and survival, when we feel as if we need connection from someone, suddenly our survival mechanisms are triggered. The part of our brain that begins to rule relative to the object of our love is our primitive brain. When our primitive brain is in charge of our behaviors and actions, we can no longer remain rational relative to whatever we want connection from. Our evolution has primed us to act for survival before we act for logic. And when we feel threatened with the possibility of loosing love, our bodies react as if our survival is being threatened. In other words, when it seems as if we could loose love, we biochemically react in a similar way to how we would act if we were being held under water. We cannot understand that the matter at hand is not a matter of life and death. This is the real reason that it feels so risky to stop seeking approval. This is the real reason that it seems so risky to end the relationships that no longer serve our highest good. And this is the real reason that even the smartest people act like fools when it comes to love. But is it foolish to love?
On an energetic level, love is the state of utmost alignment with source itself. If illness and accident and injury and pain are all byproducts of being out of alignment, then our very lives depend on remaining in alignment. Because this is the case, the famous phrase “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” does not apply to love. In fact, it would mean that we are fools not to love again and again regardless of how many times we have been hurt before.
It is tempting when people will not take down their armor (and love you in the way you want them to love you) to restrict the flow of your love and play a defensive tit for tat game of “I’m only offering you the same degree of love that you will offer to me”. But this is a shield that carries the mark of a coward. The braver person does not base their love on how much they are getting back. The braver person does not need the validation of the other’s reciprocation in order to love. The person who is able to open themselves and their hearts to the world, even to total strangers, is the person who is bravest. Some may call that person a fool, but shift your perspective and it becomes clear that the fool is the person who cuts themselves off from the world and from loving. They cannot see that they are killing themselves in the atmosphere of their own constriction.
It is never weakness to love. It is only ever strength to love. If you could let yourself love regardless of what was or wasn’t reciprocated, your love would act as a beacon, leading people back to the truth of themselves. It could rehabilitate people back to a state where they too are allowing love to flow freely to and from them.