In an era of capitalism, there is one thing that is desired more than money. Yet, when people find it, they fight it, run from it or freeze in a panic. What could be desired so deeply and feared at the same time? If you guessed love, you are correct.
The very thing we claim to want most is the very thing we fear most. This dichotomy has perplexed psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists for generations. And perhaps the solution iscloser than we believe.
The idea of fighting, taking flight or freezing is not limited to love. Believe it or not, people behave the same way towards career success.
While each of us claims to desire profoundly, deep love and tremendous success, there are undermining behaviors which accompany those experiences that are rarely discussed, even with ourselves. Through movies, books and fairy tales, we are reminded that love can be lost. We are also assured that lost love is extremely painful and disruptive. This presupposition shapes our behavior in a way that is inimical to our desires.
At the same time, there is the fear that love takes over our lives and turns us into someone different. Perhaps our perspective is not that love takes over our lives. It is the object of our affection that we believe dominates us, takes over our lives and completely consumes our identities, forcing us to become someone we have never been.
To avoid that domination, we fight them, run from them or just freeze. In our mind, our behavior is completely justified because the other person is a perceive threat to the existence of our identity. Ironically, the same process occurs when it comes time to be tremendously successful in our careers.
This is unfortunate because every person we meet alters our lives. Furthermore, the person we develop into is shaped not only by our family and friends. There are politicians, movie stars and fictional characters we emulate. We never meet most of the people who influence us. And we never feel dominated by their influence. Except, when it comes to the love of our lives, we fear they will reshape our personality and lifestyle.
The idea of being changed by what we come in contact with is part of nature, even at the atomic level. When an atom touches another atom, scientists have found that the atoms take a part of the other with them. As a result, they are both changed forever. Since we are made up of atoms, why wouldn’t it be a natural process for us to change when we encounter new people. We take a part of the person we meet with us. If it is a natural process, why do we fear it?
The challenge is that we have already been indoctrinated with fear of love and career success. And we continue to pass that mindset on to future generations.
At the simplest level, we can each take a step back and rationally see that there is nothing wrong with being influenced by another person. It is part of nature. From another perspective, it is clear that other people do not change us physically. It is our mental model that is transformed. Our mental models are made up of various conversations that we inherit from society or a network of conversations. Those conversations shape our thoughts and actions. Instead of seeing the love of our lives as a threat to our personal identity, see them as someone who will expand the network of conversations that we already have. See them as making our lives bigger than it has ever been. To embrace the influence from the love of our lives is to embrace a better and bigger self.
What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.