If it Hurts, it Isn’t Love

Find Out What is Really Causing the Pain

“If you could teach your children only one lesson about love, what would it be?” I was asked this question in a recent interview I gave on the radio. It’s a great question. It really made me think. How would you answer it? There are many answers I could have given, but I was asked to give just one. What came to my mind was a mantra I learned from my great friend, psychologist Chuck Spezzano. I teach about this mantra in every Loveability program. The mantra is: If it hurts, it isn’t love.

I first came across Chuck Spezzano’s work in the summer of 1998. A friend of mine gave me a book that Chuck had self-published. It was called If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love. The title got my attention.

The book consists of 366 daily meditations on the psychology and spirituality of love. I was so inspired by what I read that I contacted Chuck and arranged for his book to be published by my publisher at the time. I wrote the foreword to the new edition and helped to promote the book through my work. I have read If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love many times, and it is one of my favorite books on love.

Like most people, I had experienced a mix of joy and pain in my relationships. The most pain I experienced was always with the people I loved the most. The metaphor that describes love as a beautiful flower with thorns seemed accurate enough to me. I believed that love is the greatest happiness and also that love hurts. I didn’t question the idea that love hurts until I read Chuck’s work and attended several of his excellent seminars, some of which he co-presented with his wife, Lency Spezzano, through their organization called Psychology of Vision.

Chuck’s work encouraged me to reexamine my ideas about the relationship between love and pain. What I learned is that when you look more closely at love and pain, you realize that love and pain are not the same thing. Love is always love. It is only ever love and nothing else. There are no additives or poisons in love. Therefore, the effect of love can only ever be love. This makes sense, doesn’t it? If love is only made of love, it is surely not possible for love to hurt you or cause you any harm. The question then remains, if it isn’t love that hurts us, what is it?

“Pain is just an unlearned lesson,” says Chuck Spezzano. “It’s your mind’s way of saying that you have made a mistake.” One theory, then, is it’s not love that hurts, it’s the mistakes we make in love that cause us hurt. For example, the pain of betrayal is caused not by love but by deceit; the pain of loss is caused not by love but by our attachment to a form; and the pain of conflict is caused not by love but by some unmet need, perhaps. What hurts is not love itself, but rather our unloving actions and reactions, the conditions we place on love, the fear that we are not loved, our resistance to being loved, and even our lack of faith in love.

You experience pain when you are thinking, feeling, or behaving in a way that is not loving. When you bring a loving awareness to this pain, you can see what is really hurting you. In the Loveability program I share a teaching aid with my students called the True Love Checklist, which identifies ten common mistakes about love that can cause hurt and pain in relationships. The True Love Checklist is designed to help you be aware of any mistakes you are making, recognize the real cause of pain, learn any unlearned lessons, and, most of all, choose a better way.

Excerpted from my book, Loveability.

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