We live in a society where everything is a commodity. The belief is that everything can be bought for a price. Cars, homes, land, beauty, salvation, friendships, education, spirituality, happiness, and even love. In fact, we judge others by how well they are able to acquire the things they want. The truth is, what you want is not for sale. The sooner you learn that, the happier you will be.
We want love. We settle for sex. Perhaps the most honest purchase of sex is through prostitution. Both parties understand that it’s a transaction and agree to the price. However, it is sometimes bought for the price of our company, nights out, or even exchanged for marriage. We might give the other person financial security, the appearance of respectability, or slavish devotion. None of that is love because when it goes, the “love” goes. Grasping for love never ends. The fear of emptiness always looms.
So much of what we do is about acquiring security. If we buy a good education or a get good job, we think this can keep us safe from poverty. If we marry the right person (buy love), this can keep us safe from loneliness. If we work out and take care of our bodies (buy health), we feel this will keep us safe from disease and old age. If we go to church and pray (buy salvation), we feel we can keep our souls safe from contamination. If we stay busy enough, we won’t feel how empty we are inside. None of those things provides security. They only give us the illusion of security by providing us with a distraction.
Lots of people come to counseling wanting me to give them advice, or worse, to tell them what to do. This is an attempt to buy wisdom. It’s a “get out of jail free” card. It’s the same as buying self-help books, sitting at the feet of a guru, or going to motivational seminars. Hearing ideas can illuminate areas of darkness, but they won’t stay lit for you until you generate your own light. This comes from creating the experience for yourself. Vicarious wisdom isn’t wisdom at all. It’s just nice words. Experience gives the words juice.
Self – Worth/Self – Esteem
Advertising only works because we believe that we are not good enough and some product or service out there will hide our flaws well enough for us to pretend that we’re okay. Or perhaps, it will make us even feel okay. We imagine that the appreciative glances at our shiny new car are about us, when inside we really know that we’d not get those same glances without the car. Whether it’s a face lift, luxury vacation, entourage, big house, awards, diploma, titles, or our children’s achievements that make us feel important, they are things designed to give the impression of self-worth. Pictures of apples can be lovely, but you can’t eat one.
These things can’t be bought because they are priceless. This doesn’t mean that they are without value. It means that they are sacred.
When we rank everything in terms of monetary value and personal desirability, there are winners and losers. Most often we end up on the losing end of our own judgments. When we view everything in terms of possessions, we begin to treat people like property. A person who is owned or controlled cannot love because he lacks the freedom to choose. Love only exists where there is freedom.
When all is property, we focus on acquiring more, bigger, and better possessions. Or we spend so much time maintaining it that there is no time to enjoy it. There is no time to savor what we have, where we are, or even tap into the beautiful aliveness of the Now.
No wonder we are so empty inside. We’re not here. The things we give our attention to cannot give us anything back.
Stop trying to buy your way through life. What you want is not for sale. All of the things I talk about above are available to anyone free of charge. If you want love, be love. Sit quietly. Touch your heart with your hand, and breathe until you are able to feel what’s there. You may encounter some uncomfortable things first. Sit through it. It won’t take long. When that dissipates, you will find that the love you always wanted has always been inside of you.
Perhaps it’s just a seed. If so, cultivate it. Oaks grow from tiny acorns.
Love is all around you too. It’s in trees, the birds, the sky. Everything is love. I doubt you’ll be able to see it unless and until you can first see the love within yourself. When you realize that you have this endless supply of love that doesn’t depend on anyone else’s approval or love, you won’t want or need the “love” that has to be bought or manipulated to receive. You will never again compromise your own integrity to receive it. You will find it easy to love those who are not particularly lovable.
This will give you the security to accept that no matter what life throws at you, it will be okay. How? Because love creates connection. When you have connection in your heart, there is hope, faith, and a knowing that all is well. This knowledge will help you to base your self-worth on what really matters. You’ll know that you are worthy simply because you are. See? It’s all related.
Knowing you are safe, worthy, and loved can help you grow in wisdom. Being always has a way of doing that. It teaches what cannot be learned in books. It is the ultimate experience. You don’t have to climb the Himalayas or see God to become worthy or enlightened. It happens in moments of mindfulness. It may not be particularly sexy or exciting, but the real thing rarely comes in bells and whistles.
Keep sacred the things that are not for sale. When you lose them, you lose yourself. Trying to buy and sell them makes them commonplace. Don’t mistake the byproduct for the prize.
Life is hard enough as it is. Feel the love. Make time to allow the connection between you and all creatures to happen. Live the sacred and you will never worry about the things that are not for sale because you will always have them inside of you.