john mcelhenney and kids 2018, new york city, central park

Love is an Inside Job: Healing Ourselves to Love Fully

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Healing is an inside job. – Salzberg

When emotions are long held and extremely complex, it sometimes takes years for them to enter fully into awareness. until then, they cannot be released and healed. Sometimes, we find that we must go further—by speaking the truth not only to ourselves but to others, as well. We may feel the need to take action, pursue justice, or seek to make amends of some kind. But even when opening to our emotions is just the first step, it is the foundation of real love and happiness.

Excerpt from “Real Love” – Sharon Salzberg

We want to love someone. We want to answer Bono’s song, “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for, ” with a wild yelp of “I FOUND IT.” And we seek, and we seek. We work the online dating sites and apps, and we seek some more, but we might be seeking someone to fix what’s broken inside of us. And guess what? That never goes well.

The Hole In My Heart

It’s the spaces BETWEEN relationships where to mine our own hearts for the pain and healing that needs to happen. If we’re committed to our own growth, we avoid the twitch to jump back into dating, seeking, and running for the next high of intoxicating “new love.”

It is even more critical that we don’t spend alone time in quiet meditation or depression. We’ve got some exploration and excavation to do. We’ve got some healing to do, that will better prepare us for the next adventure in the love quest of life.

Heal and Examine These Parts of Yourself

  • What caused the relationship to fail?
  • Did you move too fast, or did your speedy connection allow you to give all you had?
  • Were you entering the last relationship with a gaping wound of pain, or from empowered confidence?
  • How did your lover become your ex? Did you have warning signs? Could you have done more to avoid the breakup?
  • Were you able to have loving arguments, or did one or both of you explode in anger?
  • Were you both able to ask for what you needed? And then, was your partner able to honor some of your requests? Did you listen to their needs and follow through on your commitments?
  • What will you do differently?

The Speed of Love

We often blame ourselves for failed relationships. But guess what, it might not be you that broke the relationship. Yes, you had 50% of the navigation of that relationship, but there might have been an imbalance that contributed to the misalignment.

One of the things I hear often is, “Maybe we moved to fast.” I understand the issue, but might it also be true that you both moved at the pace you wanted? Sure, maybe it would’ve been a better idea to hold off on sex for a few more weeks (hours) but… Perhaps your enthusiasm and passion gave you a more accurate read on the heat of your potential with the partner. And then… What happened?

Fail Faster

I’m getting older every single day, and my prospects seem to get more challenging as each BIG LOVE falls apart. But is that true?

I love the idea of failing faster, which comes from the startup business. Here’s the concept. If you’ve got a business plan, jump into it, fund it, launch it and give it all you’ve got. If it fails, even after you’ve put in your 110% effort, then you can more easily let it go, let it fail, and then move on to the next business idea. Relationships can be seen the same way.

If you go for a relationship, go with gusto. Don’t rush past the red flags in the name of velocity, but don’t overthink every new development. If you can love at high speed. You can also fail at high speed. And as long as you are not abusing this concept, you can MOVE through the relationship failures quicker and get on to the next potential partner.

Letting go of a lover after a breakup is not easy. So I recommend a pause of consideration and self-reflection. Please stop before you move on to assess your own heart and the emptiness that might need filling before you are going to find a healthy partnership. If you’ve got issues that are still smoldering, it would be a good idea to get some coaching or counseling to get clear on what you want and what you don’t want.

Find Me Somebody to Love

It might be easier to find someone to love these days, but finding someone is not the issue. Finding someone who is healthy and centered. Someone who has also done some of the deep work to grow from past breakups and move back into life with renewed vigor and optimism. If you’re cynical or hurt as you jump back into the dating pool, you’re going to attract the same energy. And when you hook up with that compatible and wounded person, sparks are going to fly. And for a while, it might be wildly intoxicating. But as it unravels, it’s going to be messy as the underlying issues get pointed at the other person: you.

You Are Not to Blame

You are doing the best you can, I get that. But you’ve got to spend the time and energy to work on yourself and your wound. You’ve got to heal what’s broken or you will just be feeding it with every new attempt to fill it with the love/sex/energy/drama/beauty of a new partner. It’s intoxicating to find a new potential partner. But if you’re still nursing a wound, your red-flag radar is going to be compromised. You need to watch for red flags, and when they add up, you need to move on. Especially if the sex and emotional connections are hot and volatile.

Your only fault is wanting to love so big that you skip over the hard work of growing yourself into a better and stronger partner. If you’re a healthy and well-centered lover you’re going to recognize the same and attract the same as you move through the dance of dating again. If you’re wounded and bitter, you’re going to attract and spark with someone who’s stuck in the same negative and dark energy.

Let’s Heal Ourselves

Happiness is an inside job. We (I) can be happy alone. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t like sleeping in a kingsized bed alone. I want to hold someone’s hand as I experience both the good and bad things in life.

Love is better SHARED.

Love alone is great too, but it’s different. My goal is to find someone to share my joys and my struggles with. And to provide a solid sounding board for their life challenges as well.


Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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photo: john and kids in nyc, 2018

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