Note: I discuss this blog post and a host of other topics with the lovely and inspiring Sophia Wise One on her Vagina Talks Podcast: Episode 52: All Death is Ego Death. Available by clicking the link or on iTunes. Connect with Sophia on instagram or her website, sophiawiseone.com
An Unholy Triumvirate: Thought, Fear and Belief
I have recently come off of the emotional rollercoaster that was my life. When I wasn’t riding along with my emotions, I learned I could use them as portals into self. I have recommitted to my meditation practice and long bouts of solitude and as a result, I have been experiencing far fewer emotions. Interestingly enough however, the journey of self-discovery has miraculously continued.
My insecure thoughts, emotions and behaviors used to run on a loop like a stuck record in an echo chamber. It used to be impossible for me to detect where one ended and the other began: Experience, thought, emotion and/or behavior, thought; thought, emotion, thought, behavior, thought…on and fucking on they went, feeding off of and into themselves like a gluttonous snake eating its tail.
I have recently discovered however, that the simple act of acknowledging my insecurities as they present themselves as thoughts has been enough to halt the emotional cavalcade that used to accompany them. I learned that I could stop the cycle of self-inflicted misery by accepting my insecure thoughts and letting them go without judgement.
I no longer seek to judge my insecurities or attempt to redirect my thoughts to happy thoughts. I don’t hand them over to others for safe-keeping or do any of the things I used to do including, killing them with kindness, compassion and love. I simply acknowledge them, remind myself that I don’t have to do a damn thing about them and let them float on through.
It appears that in the absence of the heat generated by my thoughts about my insecurities, their associated emotions and behaviors don’t receive enough energy to mature, propagate and turn into emotional wildfires. The simple act of non-judgmental observation of my thoughts seems to serve as a prophylactic against associated responses and leaves a space where emotions used to be.
Awareness immediately blossoms in the space where emotion once lived. It is a knowing that defies description (but ya’ know I’m going to try to describe it anyway). The awareness is a deep and immediate understanding of the root or inception of my insecurity. The awareness does not come in the form of a thought or as the result of logic-based analysis or from a deep, prolonged healing process; it simply appears and just is or perhaps it simply dissipates and just is not.
I had so much space left in my person when I took the needle off of the “experience-thought-emotion-thought-behavior-thought” record that I decided to take it a step further. I felt so open, empowered and confident/cocky that I decided to attempt to separate my insecurities or fear-based thoughts from my other thoughts and observe all of them without judgment as well to see what else I could intuit about myself.
Here’s where the shit got interesting: I discovered that ALL of my thoughts were borne of insecurity! Every single, solitary one of them, including the “happy ones,” is the by-product of or response to a fear of some sort. In my world thoughts now equal insecurities in the most literal sense of the word: “unsafe or lacking security.”
My brain is the control center responsible for my continued existence/survival and uses fear-based instincts to keep me alive. My brain manufactures thoughts in order to spur me into action; I must think before I say or do something even though it may happen so quickly that I don’t even notice the thought process.
One example is the fight or flight process and the autonomic nervous system – my brain responds to the thought or perception of fear by telling my body to increase adrenaline and cortisol in order to prepare me to do something to keep me safe. (I’m using the first person here because I don’t want to arrogantly speak about anyone else’s brain – mine could be uniquely fucked up).
My brain imprisoned me and held me hostage in survival mode because I was not aware of its power and of its limitations. I came to understand that if I wished to evolve instead of merely existing or surviving, then I would need to take the power away from my brain beginning with its ‘voice.’
Personal Truth Train to Nowhere
I have learned that simply acknowledging my thoughts dissipates them and ceases their associated emotional/behavioral responses which allow me to be fully present and free to experience the experience without all the background noise. The experience itself is what I call ‘Truth’ with an uppercase ‘T’ or Universal Truth.
I have come to understand that thoughts, emotions and behaviors are not my experiences but they form my perception of my experiences with my beliefs serving as their cornerstone or foundation. I call my perception ‘truth’ with a lowercase ‘t’ or personal truth.
My personal truth is a set of insecurities and conditioned responses which only exist within the plane of my survival brain. Far from being based in the reality of the present moment, my personal truth relies upon the belief structures I specifically created and/or subscribed to, some as far back as early childhood, in order to validate, nourish and safely house my perception. (Feel free to read that bit again.)
My personal truth is dynamic because it is derived from my cumulative beliefs at a particular point in time. Competing and/or contradictory beliefs have led me to get stuck in rumination loops in my head as well as to have ongoing arguments with myself. It is clear to me now that defining myself as my personal truth or attaching myself to my perspective created far more chaos and harm than whatever the experience itself may have been.
Universal Truth is readily available for each of us to access because it lies within all of us however our personal truth taints the experience of experience with belief-based perspective. We can only access Universal Truth when we break down the walls of belief however we cannot break down that which we cannot see. Understanding the drivers or insecurities which underlie our personal truth is the key to breaking down the walls of our belief structures.
I analogize the components of my perspective/personal truth – my thoughts, emotions and behaviors – to cars on a locomotive. Basically, my methodology for moving beyond my insecurities and my personal truth is to stop the train and tell everyone to get the fuck off. Just kidding, it’s actually more like turning on a light in a dark room and watching roaches scatter.
I came to the realization that all of my thoughts were fear-based by exposing them to the light and watching them fade away. I am only able to do this because I am in the process of letting go of most of my belief-systems and most importantly all of the things I believed myself to be and/or aspired to be. I learned that my beliefs served as the rails upon which my entire locomotive ran.
If the Train Jumps off the Track…
I shall now promptly contradict myself by saying that I believe in the miracle of Life in all of its forms which are, in my humble opinion, the embodiment and proof of the existence of Love/Universal Truth/God. I believe I don’t even know what the fuck any of that is and I believe I could not tell you with words even if I did. Universal Truth can only be experienced so how can it be explained or understood with words?
If I must be pigeon-holed into a philosophical or spiritual belief-system (Westerners love labels and defining shit), I would say I am simultaneously agnostic and multi-theistic: I believe that none of the teachings of the religions to which I have been exposed including the “churches” of science, psychology, academia, astrology, self-help, etc. are entirely true. However, I believe that all of them have allusions to some elements of Universal Truth contained within them and I believe that we are all gods because we are all love.
I have chosen this path in order to keep my heart and mind open to the real Truth of things including of myself. I have found that subscribing to any set of beliefs – regardless of how progressive, open or positive they may be – confined me within the walls of that belief system and restricted my perspective. I literally had a “one-track mind.”
Assignation and acceptance of any label – good, bad, indifferent – requires a subtle yet distracting series of mental gymnastics that I feel pulls me further away from seeing and living the whole truth. As long as I have a solid set of beliefs then I will constantly have thoughts relative to those beliefs and seek to fit the thoughts, emotions and/or actions of myself and of others into the structure of the belief system. And I will remain stuck on the personal-truth train to nowhere for all eternity.
For example, when I believed in the notion of sin, I judged myself and others as sinful or righteous. I was never more judgmental than when I subscribed to Christian beliefs – I hated the fact that others were out there doing whatever they wanted to do and I was working hard to “do the right thing.” Yes, I know this is a total bastardization of Christian tenets but that’s what happens when one believes in something because one should and/or from a place of expected return – in this case, everlasting life in heaven.
When I believed in my medical and mental health diagnoses, I sought to retrofit various parts of me into the diagnoses and/or use them to explain and excuse things about myself to myself and to others. Either way, these diagnoses limited my perspective and diminished the fullness of my experience; not to mention kept me out of the present moment.
Even when I disregarded the conventional diagnoses/prognoses and chose to seek alternative treatments, my starting point was always the illness/disorder so my perspective had been tainted which denied me the ability to see the Truth of it or gain a truly holistic understanding of the experience.
System Malfunction: Glitching
Beliefs are illusionary walls and boundaries created by my insecurities to make them feel secure in an uncertain world. My fear creates an insecurity and then my insecurity subscribes to a set of beliefs that allows it to exist safely. My actions are then dictated by whichever path will validate those beliefs and/or cause the least amount of pain to my insecurities.
As long as things remain status quo then when my insecurity produces a thought it will fit neatly within my current belief structure and I will have the usual associated emotional or behavioral response. This predictability leads me to believe that “I know myself” and that I am my personal truth because I can predict my own thoughts/behaviors.
As long as the walls of my beliefs hold strong, then the insecure thoughts can comfortably bounce around in there unnoticed and unchallenged all day, every day for years. The trouble begins when the walls of belief start to break down. The minute I do something new or something unusual happens outside of my comfort zone then the walls of my old beliefs start to shake and tiny cracks appear.
Having a new or different experience means not yet having a belief structure in place so I am literally “open-minded” and therefore much more present during the experience. The same old insecurities and thoughts may bubble up but they do so momentarily free of a belief structure so instead of simply bouncing off the walls, one or two of them escape into the light of day where I can easily see them and I can learn a thing or two about my personal truth.
If I do not make a conscious effort to objectively observe these thoughts then my brain will commence performing mental gymnastics in the form of rumination, internal arguments or looping and the like as my old belief structures attempt to mold themselves in order to recapture and contain the thoughts that are now freely flying around outside of them.
The rumination, internal arguments and looping or what I sometimes call “glitching” is what we perceive as discomfort or misery. The system is malfunctioning, old walls are breaking down, thoughts are all over the place and setting off emotional responses in a haphazard way and everything feels out of control because it is – the house is crumbling and the bats in the belfry are flying around freely!
“I think therefore I am”
Rene Descartes is credited with that famous quote on the proof of one’s existence. To use a double-negative: I do not disagree with Monsieur Descartes. However, existence is not enough for me – I am here to evolve.
The root fear of non-existence or what most people refer to as “death” is probably the most common fear amongst human beings. This fear dictates our actions and leads people to subscribe to all kinds of beliefs including the aforementioned Rene Descartes quote “I think therefore I am.” The fact that this quote and the discourse from which it is derived have lived on for almost 400 years is a perfect example of a widely-adopted secular belief railroad track that keeps many of us stuck on the personal-truth train to nowhere including yours truly.
Many of us fully believe that the process of thinking is THE thing that both validates our existence and separates us from other living beings. This concept satisfies our insecurity of non-existence/death by providing us with the security of its walls – we now have a methodology to prove our existence which conveniently allows us to also deny or reject our own death.
Adoption of this belief means that we define our “living selves” as our thinking selves and so begins the chain-reaction process whereby we use our thoughts to fit our experiences into the confines of our thinking self’s walls. The widespread adoption of Rene Descartes’ philosophy is painfully obvious in today’s communication and fame-obsessed society.
The Boundaries of Belief
In order to speak or communicate, we must first think so communication is an expression of our thoughts/thinking process. Essentially, if our insecurities believe that thinking proves our existence to ourselves then communication of those thoughts is how we prove our existence to others.
I have personally lived the misery of this belief structure; feeling unheard or misunderstood used to frustrate me to no end and sink me down to the depths. I have also, at times, felt like I was on the brink of spontaneous combustion if I didn’t get things off my chest or express certain thoughts that had been bottled up inside of me. I now see it a bit differently.
My thoughts are merely insecurities or reactionary responses to internal stimuli. The “I” that I created and defined as my personal truth/perceiving-self exists only within my well-curated belief structure and therefore requires the validation of both thought and communication of that thought. The “I” who is a sentient, experiential being does not have fear and insecurity so it does not require validation of any sort. Communication and its predecessor, thought, are not required in the absence of fear/insecurity.
A belief system shared by millions or billions of people does not prove its validity as much as it proves the prevalence or commonality of a particular fear/insecurity. We erroneously believe that the more popular the belief then the more accurate or valid it is however the only thing widespread theoretical adoption proves to me is that the particular belief provides an appropriate amount of security to placate the shared fear.
Perhaps social media is so successful because it provides a platform which helps to assuage the fear that many human beings have of non-existence. This may also be why so many people seek to be famous. Perhaps we do not seek fame for money or extravagant lifestyles – many wealthy people have achieved both without the fame; perhaps it is because adulation and praise or its contemporary qualifiers “likes and followers” validate our fear of non-existence.
The desire to be liked by many seems as if it is a natural progression of the belief: “I think, therefore I am.” If I communicate my thoughts to you then you also know that I exist so now my insecurity is doubly-validated; hence the more people I communicate with means the greater my existence or the more “alive” I am.
Perhaps humans are driven to be social creatures partly by our survival instinct which tells us there is safety in numbers but perhaps it is also in part due to our shared fear of non-existence and the need to have that particular insecurity externally validated. Perhaps break-ups and the passing of loved ones hurt so much not simply because we miss the other person’s company but because we lose their validation; we “die” or cease to exist to the other person. Perhaps the reason that some people seek attention is because attention, good or bad, validates their existence.
Questioning Everything, Accepting Nothing
The list of things I used to believe in and about myself but no longer do is extensive. I now disbelieve in myself as a “good or bad (insert relational role here)” as I wrote about in Rogue Mama. I also disbelieve in the devil/evil forces the same way I disbelieve in the ego.
I like books like The Holy Bible and the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), etc. because they are very interesting. There are bits within those books and books like them that resonate with me however they were written, transcribed, translated, edited and interpreted by human beings – many human beings in fact.
Humans are fallible. Our fallibility increases with every belief-based insecure thought we have and continues to grow exponentially each time we attempt to express those thoughts in our speech or in writing. Imagine hundreds and/or thousands of fallible humans working on books in multiple languages over a number of years or centuries and you will begin to understand where I’m coming from on this. The aforementioned books and their counterparts are games of “whisper down the alley” to the nth degree and only grow more so with each fallible human’s interpretation of them.
As someone who has been living for 48 years, speaking for 44 of them and writing prolifically for the last four of them; I have come to recognize that words are often insufficient when attempting to express the depths and heights of the human experience – well, English words are anyway. (The irony of stating that words are inadequate for expression, especially as they pertain to the esoteric and spiritual, and yet continuing to use writing as my medium to express both is not lost on me).
Some of the older languages may be better for capturing complex ideas but I don’t know Sanskrit, Pali or Sumerian. Perhaps ancient civilizations used symbols because they found them to be a more effective means of communicating? Perhaps art, music and dance exist because of the limitations of words? And as for “The Word of God;” if I were an omnipotent god would I really try to get my point across with inadequate words or would I use any of the multitude of other options I have at my disposal? Please forgive me, I have completely and totally digressed here…
As long as I continue to believe anything about anything, then my brain will continually seek to either prove it or negate it with the most powerful tool it has: thought. Beliefs provide a convenient and appropriately linear foundation of tracks upon which my limited brain can run its personal truth/perspective locomotive. Each new belief provides a new set of tracks and although new tracks may allow me to move in different directions, as long as I keep laying tracks I am never going to get off the train and discover that I can fly.
Consider the animals.
Surviving vs Evolving
Incessant thoughts and mental chatter cause us severe mental and physical ailments and keep us disconnected from ourselves and from each other. Many Buddhists refer to the mental chatter as the “monkey mind;” meaning that our thoughts jump around like monkeys swinging from tree to tree. I believe that monkeys probably think far less than humans do and get to simply experience the joy of swinging.
We have been conditioned, by both the churches of science and religion, to believe that humans are superior to all other animals. The church of religion claims that “God created man in his own image” and the church of science sites our intellect and ability to use tools as grounds for our superior status.
One of S.N. Goenke talks recently reminded me that it was man who created God in his own image because men wrote the books. Additionally, anyone who has spent even five minutes in non-judgmental observation of any animal, including the tiniest ant, knows that the notion of human superiority is absolute bullshit. How many of us have pets who have trained us?
According to the church of science, the single-celled amoeba does not “think;” it just is. Many scientists believe that all life as we know it – plants, animals and humans – is derived from a single-celled or unicellular organism. Single-celled organisms are considered biologically immortal; when they are mature enough they simply divide and redistribute their genetic material. Did ya’ hear me? I said IMMORTAL and CREATED ALL LIFE! It’s a theory…
If we are indeed descendants of an amoeba then it did not “think” about it; it simply created us. The state of just being is the goal of meditators, gurus and Zen-masters the world over which would make the amoeba the most Zen of all living beings.
If a non-thinking amoeba can create all life on the planet from just one cell, what could we evolve to be if we stopped thinking and stopped reacting to our thoughts? Well, for starters we could re-establish the connection to our true essence thereby improving our connection with all other life including with fellow human beings.
A SENSE-ational Experience
I have come to recognize that when I am communicating then I am thinking and when I am thinking then I am not experiencing or being. Yep, that’s right – as I write these words I am not “being;” this post itself is the product of the thought/insecurity that I must get this shit off my chest before I explode/so you can all see how ‘woke’ and alive I am. For the record, I have definitely written stories where I was used as an instrument and the stories wrote themselves but this is not one of them.
In order to truly experience an experience we must be fully present which cannot happen as long as thinking is occurring. Our full presence is the best gift we can give to anyone especially to ourselves but more often than not instead of just being, we spend our time thinking about the experience we are having and/or preparing to speak.
Words are unnecessary when we are fully present because we are sentient beings. Being fully present is a multi-sensory experience and we feel or experience EVERYTHING including things that defy description like when we feel another’s energy or connect with goosebumps or tears.
Any educator will tell you that the more senses we use to experience something the better we learn it and the better we are able to remember it. When we experience something we fully integrate it into our being; the experience becomes a part of us on a level that is much deeper than just our brains and thoughts.
I have heard many people say over the past few years that their memories are not great because they are so “in the moment.” Most educators and monks would disagree with that reasoning because they understand that when we are actually present we absorb information on more than a superficial level; we absorb it on an experiential level.
When we experience situations and people with our full focus, that experience becomes a part of us for a very long time and possibly forever. This is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to be mindful of the company we keep.
Being fully present actually makes our ability to recall stronger. This could be the reason that people can often tell you exactly what they were doing when they received tragic news such as a loved one’s accident/passing or when JFK got shot or when they heard about the 9-11 attacks; and in my case, what I was doing when I heard that Michael Jackson and Prince had died.
Tragic news jars us into the present moment and we experience everything around us because for an instant – the noise of our brains goes silent. Shock quiets our brains. There are no thoughts, emotions, actions or beliefs and for a split second or possibly less, we simply are and we absorb everything about the moment with all of our senses.
The church of science or medicine probably provides a physiological reason for this and as someone who has gone into anaphylactic shock once, I can attest that I vividly recall all the noise around me and within me ceasing but as I faded out I could feel everyone and everything around me. I can provide vivid details of the moment before I “died.” (I’m being melodramatic; I didn’t die but I would have if the DJ who also happened to be an acupuncturist hadn’t saved my life. Yes, I am a living, literal version of the song “Last night a DJ Saved my Life” but again I digress…)
The good news is that we don’t need a tragedy to shock us into the present. “Love at first sight” is also a common phenomenon wherein people can accurately and vividly recall the details of the moment they first met the “love of their lives;” people often report feeling an “instant or ancient connection” when they met their “soul mate.” Perhaps it has less to do with the other person and more to do with our full presence in that moment.
When we stop thinking and start being then we can experience this type of love/connection with every living thing we encounter. Imagine a world where everyone you meet is “the love of your life?” It is entirely possible and not in the conditioned, artificial definition of love that we see in movies but in the all-knowing, unconditionally accepting, omnipresent love that is the essence of who we all are.
We have the power to overcome our misery, pain and emotions and cut through all the bullshit of our perspective and reconnect to all around us on the deepest level possible. We can get off the personal-truth choo-choo anytime we choose by not fueling it with thought and getting rid of the railroad tracks of beliefs.
Learning to Fly
Fostering mindful awareness can turn us into experiential sponges (the sponge is probably right up there next to the amoeba on the evolutionary chain…). The discomfort zone is fertile ground for ripping up tracks of belief.
Having new experiences is one of the easiest ways to see our personal truths and to gain an understanding of our underlying belief systems. One of the reasons that I travel is specifically to shake up my belief structures and let the bats out; I learn new things about myself and my beliefs each and every time I land in a new place not to mention all along the journey.
However, we don’t need to get on an airplane or go far away to have new experiences; we can gain self-awareness simply by taking a different route home or changing up our daily routine. We can also do something that we do every day but do it differently – get out of bed on the other side; drive slower or walk backwards on a treadmill.
Sometimes just the act of waking up in the morning is enough of a “new” experience for me to glitch. I can see my thoughts ricocheting around and attempting to settle on a mood/emotion as my brain tries to recalibrate from a sleeping state to an awakened state. (It must be a lot of work trying to fit those crazy dreams into linear belief structures! Perhaps that’s why dreams can feel so liberating and can be so difficult to describe. Maybe it’s because our sleeping brain experiences the day’s events free of the train tracks of our belief systems…)
I find the early morning to be a very rich time to observe my thoughts because I can clearly see them trying to reach back into the previous day or pull the current day forward. I simply observe them with curiosity and sometimes laugh out loud at their antics. I also meditate so that I can abandon as many of them as I can before taking on the new day.
My “Happy Thought” Mistake
I discovered that the antidote for fear and insecurity is not self-forgiveness, self-compassion or any of the other ‘woke’ bullshit I used to spew. Those concepts themselves are part of the problem because they are by-products of and reactionary responses to insecurities. In other words they are defensive, combative measures whose very existence give credence to and feed the fear and insecurities.
Judgment, insecurity’s ever-present sidekick, is present wherever forgiveness and compassion are necessary. If I forgive or have compassion for myself then I am taking the position that an act of wrong-doing has occurred; a process which requires me to first judge myself in order to excuse myself. The same goes for all the other self-healing and self-care buzzwords. Subscribing to the self-healing paradigm was entrapment; it was a set-up of the highest order designed to imprison me and here’s the best part: it was all of my own doing.
I freed myself by starving the monster that creates my insecurities and by tearing down the walls that imprisoned me. Once I realized that ALL of my thoughts were insecurities; I stopped thinking. Sounds simple enough, right? It wasn’t – I’ve been trying not to think for years.
For the past four years my method has been to redirect my mind to my breath whenever I found myself thinking. That improved my state of mind markedly but it was extremely challenging and ultimately I found myself back at square one a couple of months ago – ruminating and miserable.
S.N. Goenke reminded me that all of the suffering and all of the thoughts had a root and that I would not be free until I found the root. He was right. In non-judgmental observation of my thoughts, even the happy ones, I found their roots. More surprising was that I found that they all shared the same root; every single one of my thoughts was nothing more than a branch extending from one root – fear of non-existence.
I had met and danced with my fear several years prior in my first Vipassana. I saw her, gave her gratitude and put her ass to work writing because she has quite the imagination. At that time and for the four years up until a few months ago, I only saw my negative thoughts as problematic and fear-based. However, now I understand that ALL of my thoughts are fear-based even when my ancient survival brain tries to spin them into “happy thoughts” like kindness, compassion, forgiveness, etc.
Thinking happy thoughts was only ever going to work for a period of time and I was always going to come back to the same place because I was compounding the issue of thinking with more thoughts. Although my happy thoughts appeared to be discrete and happy on the surface, they were still ultimately just a response so they were still feeding and validating the fear and insecurity just below the surface.
Thinking happy thoughts seems innocent enough however it is habitual. The same thought process and belief structure that allows “good, positive, happy” things to exist is the very same one that allows “bad, negative, sad” things to exist. It all exists in the same plane of perspective and “good, positive, happy, bad, negative, sad” are all just words with no meaning which allow my belief structures to reinforce themselves by assigning value to my experiences.
More thoughts, regardless of whether they are “happy or sad,” are simply more thoughts and each additional thought moves me further away from the root or cause not to mention from my goal of peace; it was like trying to fight fire with gasoline. Contrarily, being fully present and connected is a multi-sensory experience that reverberates throughout my whole being including and especially in my heart.
A Vacuum of Nothingness
When my thoughts dissipated, I found that I had the ability to experience the fear that birthed the thoughts. I discovered that fear in the absence of thoughts was not a big deal at all because it was just as make-believe as the rest of it.
When I allowed myself to experience the fear without judgment of the fear then it too simply went away. When the fear went away it took the insecurities with it; when the insecurities went away, they took the thoughts with them. And when all of them were gone, there was nothing: A vacuum of nothingness.
The beauty of nothingness is that it does not require internal or external validation in any form including forgiveness, kindness, gratitude or compassion. In the absence of fear, nothingness is divine. Nothingness, it would seem, is the experience of pure LOVE.
I used to think that acts of kindness and generosity and sweet words were love. I now understand that those are just things we do to validate our own and each other’s insecurities; attempts to prove our existence or significance to one another. This is why it often feels like we cannot do enough for those we love and vice versa.
Love always exists and does not need to be fostered, developed or encouraged because we are already love. Love does not need to announce itself with words. It does not need to prove itself with symbols or actions nor does it ask for anything in return. Life is love is life is love.
In the absence of my personal truth/perspective, unbound from my beliefs, free of my insecurities’ thoughts and the fear that created both; I am able to experience the Truth of the love that I am and that exists all around me and in everyone I know and meet. I have recognized that love does not need validation of any sort; it just needs us to remove the fear so that it can be experienced.