Suppose Love Were A Choice Not Just An Emotion

by Annie Kaszina on May 5, 2007

Paige Parker, of www.DatingWithoutDrama.com, writes “Love is a CHOICE,
Not Always an Emotion."  It’s one of those throw away lines that bears
thinking about. If you believe that love is an emotion, then you invest it with all the
beliefs you have about the irresistible power of emotions.  If you choose to believe that love is a choice then, obviously, you are
the person making that choice.  You make that choice based on your
criteria.  And we all know that criteria can change.

At different times in our lives we make different choices based on different criteria.  That is how we come to revise our opinion about people, places, jobs, books, films, clothes, even our own behaviour. 

Sometimes, admittedly, our criteria change at the unconscious level – because people don’t always like to acknowledge that they no longer agree with their previous standpoint.  Sometimes our criteria change because the consequences of maintaining a position are just too bruising. 

Society doesn’t approve of people being changeable, inconsistent, flighty; unless we package it in terms of ‘reinventing ourselves’.  In that case, it’s great – although reinvention does seem to be the domain of celebrities rather than ordinary people. 

Why so, I wonder?

Still, if you could reinvent yourself how would you be different?  Notice that this is not about visiting old hurts and failures and experiencing regrets.  This is about accessing the visionary, creative part of yourself that may have taken refuge in sleep or apparent shut-down for a while.  This is the part that an abusive partner will do his damnedest to destroy, because it is the biggest threat to his power over you.

If he does his work well, and most times he will, he will have you believing that part of you is history, that it has been crushed to smithereens. 

One of the delightful discoveries women make after ditching an abusive partner is that his opinions are almost invariably completely and utterly wrongheaded.  They may be expressed with maximum conviction, but they are almost always self-serving, uninformed and just plain wrong.  It goes with the territory. 

Your visionary, creative, intuitive self may well have decided that hibernation was the best option in terms of guaranteeing your self-preservation.  If so, that may well have been the best choice available to you at the time.  (As we have already seen, criteria can change and so can choices.)

Still the intuitions keep surfacing, even when you don’t know where they came from, how you arrived at them or what value they have.  You can doubt them, but you can’t stifle them. 

Suppose, instead, you started to be grateful for them and trusted them.  Even if, at first, it feels too frightening to act on them, you can still express your gratitude for them.  You can also ask that part of yourself how you can reinvent yourself and how you will be different. 

I am well aware that for some people it may sound daft to enter into a dialogue with yourself, and ask yourself questions to which the habitual, emotionally battered you does not have good answers.  But that is only one part of you, the part that has been shaped by your negative experiences.  It is by no means the only part of you.  You too are endowed with the human spirit that has miraculous powers of healing and regeneration.

This week I’ve been reading “Permission to Succeed” by Noah St. John.  He writes:

“…here is a simple, commonly ignored fact about success that may just change your life forever:   

When you change the questions you ask yourself, you must get different answers.
    When you get different answers, you get a different life.

The notion of success applies as much to relationships as it does to any other area of your life.

So, here are my questions to you:

·    If love is a choice, who do you choose to love?
·    What are the criteria on which you base your decision to give those people your love?
·    What will you do as regards the people who fail to match your criteria?
·    How do you want to be loved?

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