Of swimming, fear, and love


A student wrote today:


Oh my! Today I just wrote a little note to myself in reference to fear.

Today’s meditation vision: I saw myself and a skinny young man cringing in the corner of a swimming pool. I was in my college swimming class, when the swim professor threatened to give us Fs if we don’t dive into the deep end.

My heart skipped several beats before I gained the courage to jump off the diving board. I jumped nonetheless and received an A.

So, I thought how does this apply to my life? Then I realized that I should have no fear in pursuing my writing career. I should go ahead and send those stories out regardless of rejection, because if I don’t I will certainly fail as a writer and fear would have won.”


There are conflicting theories about what dreams represent. Somewhere between random flecks of thoughts tumbling in a sleeping brain to messages from the Ultimate Wisdom Beyond is probably the answer.  Personally, I think it is the mind sorting through memories and experiences seeking metaphorical connections and selecting thematic threads for long-term memory tapestries. But that’s just me.


The idea of “plunging into the deep end” as a swimming/life metaphor works perfectly.  We do have to “jump in” to life, trust our skills or companions (the lifeguard!) and learn how to survive in the water.  The longer you wait at the side watching, the greater your anxiety can become.  


On the other hand, you have to evaluate your skills sufficiently to calculate your risks.  You don’t jump in the deep end if there are not other swimmers and lifeguards, or if you’ve not successfully navigated the shallows.  People make mistakes BOTH by not risking enough…or risking too much.


Tuesday is “Love another person” day, so let’s relate this to that.   Love relationships can be both the greatest pleasure and greatest pains in life.    You HAVE to risk.  Just yesterday, a client was speaking of a relationship with an emotionally unstable partner.  The partner’s erratic behavior is painful, but the Client must deal with that pain because they are smart enough to know that you cannot open your heart to recieve the full bounty of a sexual/romantic connection and simultaneously bar the door to pain.


Doesn’t work.  What you CAN and MUST do is be genuinely confident in your ability to survive heartbreak.  To recover from financial damage a husband or wife can do, and to have the self-respect and resources to walk or run away from abuse.


In other words, your ability to have a good relationship with another person is dependent upon having a healthy relationship with yourself.


  1. Love yourself?  Check.  Then you won’t have a problem believing another person can love you, and won’t fall into the “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me” b.s.
  2. Protect yourself? Do you take care of your body with discipline and intelligence? Allow your emotions to stop you from that habits that would make you a healthy animal?   Build financial security?  Guys…if you don’t have this, and you don’t have a love relationship, look no further for the reason.   This single arena impacts your attraction to the opposite sex so powerfully that most want to be in denial about its truth.    Don’t debate me: PERFORM THE EXPERIMENT.  Resolve this in your own life, fight your way to security (say…own your own home) and tell me if your romantic fortunes don’t change. See what results you get, and then either refute my position, or support it.  
  3. Like yourself?  Would you be attracted to you?  When you look at yourself, hear the internal dialogue, see the actions…would you? Really?  Or are you hoping people will overlook your flaws?  Well, they will…to the degree you are willing to overlook theirs.  And they may not be the precise same flaws.  You have 3-4 major arenas: body, self-love, career skills, and financial security.  You might have a flaw in one, but your prospective partner will probably display theirs in another.  Do you really love yourself enough to accept yourself despite imperfections? Can you extend your own humanity to another person, and accept that they are operating at your level, but wounded in another limb?  If you can, you can find love. But if you aren’t attracted to the people attracted to you, you have healing to do.  If you cannot heal the external issue, you must deepen your spirituality to move beyond the external. But do NOT expect a partner to be more forgiving than you are willing to be.  That is a recipe for bitterness and disaster.


Trusting your ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of another person is CRITICAL to being able to find love.  To understand what you are dealing with with another human being, you have to be able to see beyond the “limerence” the sexual infatuation (I used to call this the “First 100 @#$$ Syndrome.)  One of the best ways to do this is to ask if you would be interested in being a friend with this person if you had the same plumbing (unless you’re gay, of course!)


I often hear comedians talking about how they hate their boyfriend/girlfriend’s friends.  Really? That seems to be far more common than hating the friends of your buddies.   Why is that, I wonder?  I suspect because some very different criteria are being applied: you’re blinded by the nookie.  Sorry, but sex just isn’t that special.  IF you love yourself and have developed your attractive factors so that you know you can attract what you desire, there is no desperation, and you’ll see that there are many,many potential partners.  From them, choose the ones you find most attractive, but also who you would enjoy as friends even if sex was not involved.


How do you develop the confidence to know you aren’t making a mistake? Frankly, by surviving  mistakes.   In certain ways, there is no other option.  But here are some ways to tell how deep the pool is…or once you get in the ocean, the rip tides and heaven forbid, the sharks.


  1. Meet their friends and family.   Listen between the words of what people say about your intended.  Get a sense of how they spoke of their past relationships.
  2. Meet their actual exes if possible.  If your intended gets bad-mouthed, either they deserve it, or they have poor judgement in partners.  
  3. Watch the way they treat other people. Friends, service individuals. The way they speak about exes, co-workers, business partners, bosses.  PAY ATTENTION. The way they treat other people is your best measure of how they will treat you. The way they talk about their exes is the way they’ll speak of you, one day real soon.
  4. Watch the way they are under stress.  When sick, or broke, or dealing with troublesome family.  Do NOT assume that their bad behavior will never be directed at you.  Huge, horrible mistake.  Yes, it will.
  5. Pay more attention to what they do than what they say.  “I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again” is only believable once or twice.   Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time, its enemy action.
  6. Ask yourself: “if I had a son or daughter I adored, would I advise them to be in relationship with this person?”  If not, why are YOU in relationship with them?
  7. Your partner is you, flipped   and scrambled a bit, but with the same amount of basic “stuff”, good and bad.   I chuckle at the “I don’t deserve my wife/husband” stuff.  “She’s too good for me…” Its a good joke, and a sweet thing to say…unless you’re serious. Because if you’re serious, the other half of that has to be that you don’t respect their judgement.  If you did, you’d respect their choice…in you. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t be able to see the good in yourself, and your partner’s love will actually undermine your respect for them.  Or, you will develop “Impostor Syndrome” and begin to sabotage that relationship…


Jeeze.  You can drill down on this forever.   But the point is that this second level (finding a partner) is only secondary in importance to finding yourself.   It is a major part of the chain of life in most higher species, and humans are no exception.  Every rabbit in the woods finds a mate.  If you don’t, or cannot, I suggest that you go back to step #1, love yourself more deeply, gird up your loins and take another shot.


Yeah, you have to get in the pool.  You have to swallow a little water.  Or you’ll always sit on the sidelines, watching the others have fun, and blaming the world for things you should have done for yourself.





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