Sacrifice Is Our Definition of Love

October 15, 2008

Have you ever noticed that we define love by the sacrifice involved?  Think about someone who says “After all I did for you!” in an angry manner.  Today we will explore how false self frequently defines love as sacrifice.


I did so much for you

Today’s post comes from an idea that was discussed at a meeting I attended last week.  As I thought about the idea I realized that it ties in very well with many of the aspects of false self and relationships that we looked at recently.


How many times have we heard a parent declare to a child how great a sacrifice they have made for the child?  Let’s take a look at what is going on here.  First, the parent is attempting to make the child feel guilty.  This comes from their false self.  The parent wants the child to be hurt because the parent is feeling hurt by the child.  Remember, only false self can be hurt.


The false self of the parent in our example wants to make the child obligated to the parent.  We have learned that true self sees everyone as equal.  The false self of the parent wants the child to be docile and subservient so it shames the child’s false self into being grateful to the parent.  The unfortunate thing here is that the child is still learning to train their false self and this situation has not encouraged the child to train the false self properly.


After the parent has dominated the child through the intimidation described above this type of interaction is described as love.  The child is taught that if they love their parents they must make sacrifices for them.


The damage is done

This is very damaging on several levels.  First, the child learns that love is not an equal relationship.  The parent has taught the child that in a love relationship one person must be dominant and the other must accept that dominance through sacrifice.  This idea is at the base of our earlier discussion of functional and non-functional families. 


Sometimes the child decides to become the dominant one in the relationship.  They learn to think that if someone loves them that person will do what they want.  At its base, this is encouraging the child to think that people exist to do what the child wants them to.


Other times the child learns that if they want people to like them then they must sacrifice for those people.  This can lead to very self destructive behavior as the child tries harder and harder to get people to like them.


Eventually what seems to happen is that the people who want to dominate the relationship find someone who wants to sacrifice in the relationship.  This is clearly false self behavior from both people.  As we have said before, false self always wants to put itself above or below other people.  In the relationship described here both people are behaving in this manner.  It is no wonder that we have so many problems with our relationships.


A range of healthiness

Most relationships are not totally dominated by one person while the other offers up their sacrifice.  Usually what happens is that one individual is dominant in a few areas of the relationship.  They balance this by sacrificing in other areas.


As the relationship evolves, the two individuals develop a somewhat balanced relationship.  The problem here is that the underlying dominant/sacrificial aspects have not been resolved.  They are only balanced.  Any stress on the relationship can cause this balance to collapse and threaten the relationship.  This type of relationship is relatively common and would be called moderately unhealthy.


A very unhealthy relationship would be one in which one person is extremely dominant and the other is totally sacrificial.  Although this might appear to be balanced what is really happening is very self destructive.


This self destruction is especially true for the person who is sacrificial.  They keep trying harder and harder by sacrificing more and more.  Eventually they become very self destructive and can give no more.  The dominant person does not realize that the other person can no longer give and the relationship ends.


A realistic picture?

Have I painted a realistic picture here?  Ask yourself what your idea of love is.  If it starts with doing for someone else then that idea of love involves sacrifice. 


How many of us have been upset when someone did not return the love we thought we were giving them?  Once again this is sacrifice.  We sacrifice ourselves and mistake it for love.  Then we are hurt when that sacrifice is not acknowledged and returned in a way we think is appropriate.


Unconditional love

Love is freely given because we choose to give it.  If we expect something in return then it is not love.  We love because it is what we want to do.  Love is unconditional.  When we expect something back then it is no longer unconditional.


Unconditional love is very hard for most of us.  We are so enmeshed in our false self ideas that we mistake many different things for unconditional love.  Here is one way that might help show the difference between the two.


Unconditional love feels good.  Many times we do not even recognize that we feel good.  Unconditional love is so natural that we just do it and do not recognize that we have done so.


Conditional love is always tinged with fear and uncertainty.  Many times we ask ourselves “if I love this person what will I get back?”  This is a sure sign of conditional love.


There is another aspect to unconditional love called acceptance.  Unfortunately we have run out of space for today.  That will have to be the subject of a future posting.


Until tomorrow –


Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.



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