The Soul of Therapy
Am I Loved?
Asking a Different Question Guides You Back to Your True Self
Are you loved? Are you Love? “It’s so natural to think that to feel good about ourselves we need to keep replenishing our sense of being loved by others.”
When we come into this world, before we can communicate with words, we know the language of human connection. We know if we are held tenderly. We know if someone mirrors our gaze, our giggling, all the sounds we make that signal distress or delight. We know if someone is reliably there for us in our physical needs and our need for comfort. Over time, we piece together a sense of whether we matter to others. Eventually, we phrase the question this way: “Am I loved?”
Am i Loved?
Just as the longing for secure connection is not limited to children, the “Am I loved?” question persists throughout life for most people. We feel it when a friend doesn’t respond to a text or email. Or when a partner shows little interest in spending time or being physically close. Or when people forget our birthdays.
In a spiritual sense, “Am I loved?” is a question that begins when we are a small physical self but persists as the question of the small spiritual self. I like to write the question with a small i, like this: “Am i loved?” The large-I or true self asks a different question, one we can arrive at by removing the final ‘d’ like this: “Am I Love?” Notice the capital ‘I’ and capital ‘L.’ I don’t know how to define capital-L Love. I just think of it as a source of Love that is bigger than me and can flow through me.
When we live for even a short while centered in the large Self the questions “Am i loved?” and “Am I Love?” are supplanted by: “I am Love.” We lose our sense of separateness from the source of Love. We experience ourselves as the filament of a light flowing with the power of a Love bigger than ourselves. Eventually, however, we find ourselves way off-center again and the “Am i loved?” question starts getting replayed in our minds again.
It’s so natural to think that to feel good about ourselves we need to keep replenishing our sense of being loved by others. But there is no perfection in human love, and so there will always be moments in which people we think love and “get” us miss the mark. At those moments the “Am i loved?” question rises up again and leads us to doubt ourselves or lash out at others.
Am I Love?
The guiding question of the true Self—“Am I Love?”—turns out to be more sustainable than the “Am i loved?” preoccupation of the small self. The small self wonders where the light of love went when relationships show their inevitable imperfection. The large Self knows that focusing on being a light of Love is the most reliable energy source.
This, of course, does not mean we should stay in relationships in which we experience ourselves to be a source of Love but do not receive Love from the other person. Rather, our healthiest relationships will be when both people are trying to live as often as possible from their large, true Selves.
There are two kinds of relationships in this context. The difference between each, “relationship” and “relatIonshIp,” is that the former has two i’s and the latter has two I’s. When we meet another I-to-I instead of i-to-i we experience the soulful potential of human love.