I’ve spent a lot of my life treating quotes like this as though they were ‘just’ cliches, written by people who were lucky enough to find the perfect person or win the genetic happiness lottery. Three forced long-term romantic failures later, it hit home how i had turned myself into a victim, chaotically bouncing from one relationship to the next, without time to genuinely reflect on my gifts and needs. I’ve learned no matter how much you try to change someone else, or yourself, there are certain truths at the core of every one of us that nevertheless exist, no matter how long we try to repress them. It is up to us to seek out, accept and cultivate them.
Although certain truths may never change, our habits certainly can with enough practiced intent. Once i accepted primary responsibility for past romantic failures, i finally accepted all my undeniable flaws, needs, and strengths. I told myself clearly what i wanted, didn’t want, and what couldn’t be compromised. I took time to myself. No longer would I pretend that a good time, good sex, and good conversation was all i needed to start laying the framework of a lifetime with someone else. Instead of jogging in place, searching for a running partner, i started running alone, establishing my own pace, having faith i’d find allies along the way. As so many of us already know, establishing this mentality and behavior is extremely attractive. More importantly though, even if it feels uncomfortable at first - as most new habits do - doing your own thing (which can be done in a relationship as well) quickly makes you realize you’d rather run on the open road alone, than run yourself down on a worn-out hamster wheel, built for two.
Now that i’ve been lucky enough to outlive the Great Romantic Ignorance of my 20s, and found someone who genuinely fits with my quirks and passions for the last 4 years, i use Tyson’s quote as a reminder that:
my relationship with myself has no end and is never fixed. i’ll always need to work on it, and keep a vigilant eye on my contribution to my reality, if i want to continue cultivating the life and love i want.
In my experience, it’s impossible to force love to work with someone when it’s just not there, for whatever reason. But, the first step to finding genuine love to cherish with someone else, is to learn to love yourself and make yourself happy. Learn what your strengths are and cultivate them. Draw healthy boundaries for yourself and goals that don’t depend on finding “the one.” Plans tend to change, but when your priority is to develop a sense of purpose beyond finding the perfect relationship, you’re more likely to know yourself well enough to find someone who connects with you on many levels. When we focus inward and work toward meaningful goals, what we are truly seeking outside ourselves becomes much more clear.
Doing this involves learning, which helps us open ourselves to love and happiness. History, science, politics, literature, personal reflection etc. have the ability to cultivate in us the humility and compassion required to love ourselves and others more genuinely. Within all these bodies of knowledge are lessons of patience, objectivity, and cause and effect. It amazes me how many times i see people, myself included, using repulsive words and actions out of fear or anger to try and receive more love. Many of us have the tendency to operate on assumption, even though we learn again and again that assumptions can distract from the truth - distract from love and kindness. But i have never regretted the times that i’ve managed to step back from my assumptions and speak and act in kindness, regardless of my feelings. In each situation i see that kindness begets kindness. This doesn’t equate to always giving in - it means regularly striving to carry yourself in a way that allows you the greatest odds for a beneficial outcome. Learning helps you to see more clearly every day that receiving love begins with giving love. Our thoughts, words and behaviors have so much power over our reality.
No matter the context, if you want to be happier and attract more love, start with being bravely honest with yourself. Be assured with the knowledge that we are all making mistakes in one form or another. The only true failures come from willing ignorance.
The next time you wonder why you can’t find the right person or why you can’t stop fighting with the one you’re with, ask yourself if you’ve been giving yourself or the other person enough care, attention, and honesty. Have you tried seeing the situation from all points of view? Is the true source of your unhappiness something that you’ve been trying to repress? Have you been blaming others for your own feelings and consequences? Have you been trying to force something to work for too long out of fear of the unknown? Is there room for more kindness in the situation?
Regardless of your answers, remember that sometimes the way to Tyson’s second philosophy…lessening the suffering of others…is to lessen your own suffering by releasing the love and light within you.