Love, sweet love. Can’t buy it. It’s blind. It’s patient, it’s kind. It hurts. It’s a battlefield. It’s a two-way street. It’s a river. It don’t cost a thing. And it comes when you least expect it.
Or, as Charles Bukowski put it, “Love is a dog from hell.”
In this 3-Part Series, I’m digging into 3 Biggest Shadow Stories of our collective unconscious: the conditioned beliefs that hijack our relationships with money, love, and time.
Stories teach us what we are supposed to believe, how we are supposed to behave, and who we are supposed to be in a certain culture. These stories form our cultural myths. They’re reinforced in us through social media, advertising, and movies all the time — the problem is we don’t realize it.
In Part 1 (“Dirty Sexy Money”) I mentioned that the brain is like a computer, and these stories run like background programs we’re totally unaware of.
Here’s the good news: a story can be rewritten.
When you discover the narratives that you’ve been ingrained to believe, you can gain authorship of your own life.
For Part 2, I’d like to consider how the grandest emotion — love — has been portrayed again and again through film.
Because movies are our modern-day myths.
This is why I believe we’ve got so many terribly false notions of romance: Rom Com’s have warped the ways in which we perceive love.
The wonderful philosopher Alain de Botton explains that romantic movies only lead us up to the moment the couple gets together: the first kiss, usually in the rain, as the music swells!
And then? Credits roll.
All we’re interested in (or at least, all the film industry is interested in showing to us) is the very first spark. What we don’t often see: the evolution of a relationship, the difficult yet beautiful work of loving.
This mythology that glamorizes the set up and ignores the actual reality of relationships can wreak havoc in the collective unconscious. Characters being attracted to one another isn’t just relegated to romantic comedies, either: you can find sexual tension in nearly every movie genre, from action to sci-fi to drama.
This constant portrayal of attraction in movies also indoctrinates a powerful, dangerous message about love: that you must be with a partner to be complete.
Cue Tom Cruise saying, “You complete me.”
And of course, if we dissect this rhetoric, we realize that the message is clear: you as an individual are incomplete. You’re only half an equation, and must find your “better half” to be whole. This “better half” is your soul mate, the twin flame destined for you — and once you experience this height of bliss, your life will never be the same again.
Cue the darker, deeper fear bubbling to the surface: the fear of being alone.
Yikes. See how damaging this can be for your sense of self worth?
I’ve bought this conditioned belief big time. I grew up on a steady diet of Disney movies in the 80s and 90s, so my childhood was filled with pretty, white, thin princesses who couldn’t fend for themselves and required a handsome, white prince to save them.
I mourn all the precious time, energy, and emotional output I spent seeking the validation of the male sex. Growing up, I felt best about myself when some guy liked me.
But what if the reverse were true?
What if you believed that you were complete, whole, and perfectly content on your own?
I know, I know — that’s what all the Instagram memes are telling us to remember every time we scroll.
Luckily, a trend I see more and more on social media is not a story of desperate soul-mate searching: it's for the search inward, to our own souls.
We've realized that until we heal the fractured components within our own hearts, we will keep drawing in the same patterns in our relationships. Lasting solutions come from the inside out.
One of the biggest ways you can cultivate this healing relationship within is self-care. Ashley Sweet, a researcher, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and community leader, has created this free Emergency Self-Care Kit.