Katja Laurien

Inspiring your spiritual journey

Why Love Sometimes Needs to Hurt

4. July 2021 • Katja Laurien

In my last post I shared common misconceptions about love and how our ego can turn the most romantic ideas into dreadfully painful situations. I finished the post by letting you know that these ego-tendencies are in fact normal and necessary to our evolution which I will discuss in this post.

If you’ve read more of my post you’ll know that I’m not necessarily opposed to our ego - to the contrary. I believe that our egos are our number one tool to help evolve our souls, we just need to learn how to deal with it. A car is also a very helpful mode of transportation, but it won’t get you very far (and can be extremely dangerous!) without sufficient knowledge of how to handle it and especially without practice. Mere rational knowledge about your ego is not going to help you deal with it, you need to allow yourself to get carried away by your ego a couple of times before you can get a “feeling” for it.

Okay back to the relationships. You might have concluded from my previous post that the best thing you could do in a relationship is to simply give each other loads of space and to maintain your independence and self worth. Unfortunately, these are not things we can simply decide to do. When I first experienced this kind of ease and comfort in love, I knew I had gone a long way with my ego first. I don’t think any of us will magically experience this kind of centeredness in a relationship without having done inner work before, especially in the initial phase while all those hormones are rushing through our bodies.

Whenever we try to control our feelings, we automatically suppress them. So, when we catch ourselves thinking we should be calm and centered, instead of simply feeling calm and centered, we’re still following our ego which eventually will lead us through a vicious cycle. Depending on the degree of our fear of losing control, we might succeed a couple of times to suppress our feelings to a degree we might believe it is “true”, but sooner or later we end up in a situation where our hormones end up taking control over our bodies again, we lose control, we obsess about our partner, we watch our self worth going in the gutter…

What went wrong? All those years we tried so hard to not project this false sense of love onto our partner, but now we’re defeated…Especially for people on the spiritual path this is very difficult to accept. They are very well aware of the workings of the ego and therefore try to resist falling into those destructive patterns of dependence and idolization. But as long as they reply to their ego with shame and resentment, they won’t be able to allow themselves to really open their hearts.

We need to realise that the moment we lose control is exactly the moment our soul has been waiting for. Coming back to the metaphor of the car: The car needs to move so we can learn how to drive. Our ego needs to be turned on as well (better known as triggered) so we can start the learning process. It’s really time to let go of the idea that “good” people don’t have active egos. We all have active egos and in fact allowing our ego to surface, is a sign that we are becoming more conscious.

Instinctively, we all know that the reactions of our ego come from a very deep place in our subconsciousness. These reactions are oftentimes very intense, more so after having suppressed them for an extended period of time. So, in fact we’re being very courageous to allow our ego reactions to surface. With the help of these reactions, we can start witnessing ourselves just as we are: a human being with ego reactions.

The trick lies in the part of the witness. Since we know that we are not our ego, it’s safe to witness our ego and to let it show us the parts within ourselves that need healing. This is where we learn how to navigate our ego, so it doesn’t make us run aimlessly in circles. By really connecting with ourselves in times of emotional turmoil and despair, without the need to change anything, we can get to the truth of ourselves - and therefore to the truth of real love.

Once we have witnessed our own wounds, discovered the sources of our pain and insecurity, truly experienced our vulnerability and humanness, will we be able to unconditionally accept others for their humanness and at the same time be able to see their perfection. We will also be able to witness our partners without reactivity when they are trapped in their egos, like we have witnessed ourselves. By demystifying and recognizing our own shadow, we are much more open to see our partner’s dark side and not be hurt by them.

Unfortunately, this is not something anyone could learn with their rational minds. None of us was born as an enlightened master, so we shouldn’t expect ourselves to have embodied this wisdom without going through the hard school of life. The lessons are harsh and painful and along the way, we will continue forgetting what we’ve learned, taking two steps forwards and one step backwards. But the more willing we are to take on the lessons, to embrace them and acknowledge our ego as a valuable instructor, the more we will learn and the closer we will get to the truth.

This is why we need to fall victim to all of the myths about love first before we can truly love. Love is something we can learn and in learning we naturally fail at first. We don’t expect a young child to read and write flawlessly from the very first school day, so we should be forgiving of our own flawed way of loving. We need to fall into those traps of false love, so we can experience with our entire body and soul what love is and what it isn’t. You can tell a child that it will burn its fingers on a hot stove, but until it hasn’t burned its fingers it probably won’t grasp the truth of it.

Love is the courage to commit to someone despite the fact that it might be painful. If we knew we could control our emotions and then would step into a relationship it wouldn’t be courageous anymore. By running the risk of being stuck in painful dependency, neediness and anxiety and nevertheless accepting to commit and open your heart - that’s the first step in love. But most of us will need the power of the illusion (“This time everything is going to be alright because I have found the One!”) before they can open their hearts and start their journey to the truth. As long as we start a relationship with an illusion, we will need to truly believe the illusion, live through the illusion and shatter the illusion before we can transcend it. It’s the ego that helps us to hold on to the illusion, pain is what we experience while we experience the illusion and eventually it’s our consciousness that helps us shatter the illusion.

I want to share with you a passage from the book “Awakening Shakti” by Sally Kempton. In this passage Sally tells about the passionate romantic love between the Hindu gods Radha and Krishna. Their love is a classic example of a twin flame relationship - too emotional to be sustained for too long. Therefore, Radha and Krishna need to be seperated at a certain point. Obviously both their hearts are broken, but that’s exactly the moment which reveals the power of their love:

Radha never forgets. For the rest of her life, she spends her days meditating on Krishna. But in her obsession and grief at being seperated from her beloved, something amazing happens. She begins to see Krishna everywhere. The whole world becomes her beloved. Every leaf in the forest, the cows, the household butter churn - everything becomes for her the form of Krishna. In the Indian devotional tradition, her state is called “the bliss of the pain of separation” and it is considered one of the highest of all spiritual experiences. When Radha weeps for Krishna, her tears wash away all veils from the heart and everything becomes the form of her beloved.

- Sally Kempton

Obviously, Radha is a goddess and she knows how to meditate on her beloved without fixating on him, but instead projects her love for him on everything else. We humans can better not meditate on a specific person, but rather on the feelings we derive from that person. Eventually, what we want from a person is not necessarily the person itself (underneath we are all the same, so it really doesn’t matter who we choose as a partner), but we can always gratefully accept the feeling a person has made us experience. Once we meditate on this feeling and not on the person, we will realize that the feeling is inside of ourselves and once we realize that we are the carrier of these magic feelings, we will suddenly realize that we can have these feelings for literally every aspect of life and not only our beloved. And this is true freedom.

But we will have to struggle our way to this freedom. No mud, no lotus. Simple as that. We need to be willing to allow ourselves to be carried away by the stream of our emotions, so they can lead us to our next destination. When we manage to stay conscious and aware in the midst of our pain, we will start to see through the illusion. We will realize that our pain wasn’t rooted in our dependency and neediness - these feelings were only helping us to reach this realization - no, the true pain was rooted in the illusion that love and bliss are to be found in one specific person and not within ourselves. We were hiding ourselves from the truth and that is what hurt most. And the truth is that we can choose where to project our love on- regardless whether it’s romantic or not - as long as we choose to open our hearts for it and that love develops best when it is allowed to unfold naturally, without our need to steer it into a specific direction.

Once we open our heart to the fact that we are afraid of being hurt and we allow ourselves to be hurt - the pain will magically disappear. This is the only way we can break the vicious cycle of constant heartache and failed relationships. We need to stop putting all our effort into saving ourselves from being hurt and put ourselves out there. We can only win this battle by entering the battlefield… But like a real samurai our recipe to success will be a great deal of awareness. Don’t rush into the battlefield blindfolded, but step into it gracefully, with an open heart and an aware consciousness.

So in a way these myths we hold about love are set-ups which will eventually bring us to experience pain. Everyone will experience a different kind of pain and the pain will lead everyone to a different dungeon within themselves. But eventually the pain will lead us all to the same place: true love. All we need to do is to consciously allow the fire of pain to burn away our egoic love in order to let our true love shine through.