Increasing Your Ability to Tolerate Love
Increasing Your Ability to Tolerate LoveImagine that you have
a vessel inside you that is designed to hold love. All the love that comes to you must fit into
that container. If you receive more love
than this vessel will hold all the excess love will drop away and be lost to
you. How large is your vessel?If your vessel is
quart sized then what happens if life wants to shower you with a gallon of
love? Is your vessel large enough to
sustain your need for love? Who decided
how large your vessel could be?
This exercise offers us information that is directly related
to our ability to receive and tolerate love, especially romantic love. Many who do this exercise realize that the
love-vessel inside of them is rather small.
When romantic love showers down upon them unannounced, they accept what
they can. However, if the power and
intensity of it is greater than the vessel within them then they begin to deflect
everything that seems more than they can handle. Romantic love is notoriously immense. It permeates our being with intense passion
that is unlike anything we have ever experienced. In many cases it overwhelms our
interior love-vessel to the point overflow or even breaking. If we hold too tightly to the attitudes and
beliefs that form and limit our ability to tolerate love, we will not be able
to increase the size of our vessel and we will begin to shrink from the flow of
Much of today’s self-help psychology emphasizes the
importance of self-esteem and the difficulties that can arise due to the lack
of it. Low self-esteem is blamed for
many mental and emotional ailments, including a difficulty in tolerating
affection and love. We might say that
low self-esteem is a major factor in deciding the size of our interior
love-vessel. Self-esteem generates our
sense of what we believe we deserve. If
then, we encounter a person who loves us more than we think we deserve, we
could easily find ways to deflect or even reject some or all of that loving
care and attention. Given the special
intensity of romantic love, this could result in an enormous internal conflict
between the limited size of our love-vessel and the enormity of the passion of
The miracle of romantic love, however, is its ability to
re-shape and expand our interior love-vessel…if we consciously allow it. Currently, there are only three ways to
substantially increase our ability to tolerate love; psychotherapy, which can
take years and great financial expense; a transformational spiritual
experience, which can occur gradually over years or in a lightning strike of
divine intervention, which is not in our control; or finally by surrendering to
the power of romantic love when it graces us with its joy. Both psychotherapy and spirituality are
viable paths to self-love and it is true that loving God can include many of
the experiences of romantic love, depending on the spiritual tradition. But this work is about romantic love and it
appears we would do well to pay attention to its life and self-transforming
It would be safe to assume that romantic love overwhelms
everyone’s love-vessel. It is greater
than any love we have experienced and our inner being is most often not
prepared to fully accept and integrate it.
Our task, then, is not to take what we can handle and let the rest fall
away into the abyss of our self-hate.
Our task is to muster all our strength and consciousness and open our
heart until we think we are going to shatter internally and then open even
more. The best and most effective
response to romantic love is surrender.
To surrender, in this instance, is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is the opposite of weakness. It is actually an act of love responding to
love with the only appropriate means we have.
Heart must surrender to heart with a full sense of gratefulness. As we respond to love with love our inner
vessel grows and expands until it can accept and hold the entirety of the
miraculous gift is has been offered.
Surrendering to love is the best antidote to low self-esteem
and all forms of self-hate. Surrender
allows us to bypass the inner argument between our limited self-image and the
glorious wonder that romantic love offers us.
Rational defenses will not suffice.
We cannot argue our way into believing that we deserve this immense
blessing that has been bestowed upon us without our effort or request. We know, in our hearts, that we did nothing
to earn it. Yet here it is, and it is
our task to honor it by letting go of all resistance. Then love can enter every dark corner of our
being and heal what we believed was unredeemable. At this point the inner love-vessel shatters
completely and love fills all that we are.
We are, once and for all, the vessel itself.