“I don’t care if he likes me back, I just like liking him,” my 9 year old niece announced about a boy she’s in love with.
She may be the most evolved person I know. I’m not kidding.
How often do we stop and think about the very experience we’re having—or want? My niece loves loving; she’s embracing it for the way it makes her feel, without needing or attaching or requiring anything in return. What if we all focused on how we felt, instead of what we thought we needed or wanted? What if we all operated from this place?
I’m not advocating a life of giving without receiving (receiving being one of my primary lessons in life). I’m referring to something deeper, to what drives us, catalyzes us.
Of course, when my niece declared her sentiment, I thought of relationships and our intentions behind them. Because the truth is, more often than not, when we’re craving relationships, we’re craving them from the outside in.
But that thinking is often about acquisition and validation. And sometimes, I think, the purest intentions are just affirmations, a way of anchoring in the truth of who we are.
What do I mean by that?
I mean starting from the inside out. What is the feeling we want? Likely, it has something to do with wholeness, completeness, joy, belonging, and love.
My niece is tickled by the feeling this boy inspires in her. It isn’t about this boy at all. It’s about what he triggers in her, which is her caring nature, her sweetness. That’s what’s driving her.
If we could all be so self-aware.
In my teens I was outspoken, driven by my curiosity and propelled forward by my sharp-tongued critiques. By my 20s, when my libido actually kicked in (I was a very late bloomer), this intensity began to fade as I sought external validation. I was determined, at all costs, to conquer the men I’d desired.
What a waste. I mean, I learned a lot—of course. But mostly, I gave myself away. I became concerned with others’ thoughts of me, with fitting an impossible mold. I tried on different styles, abandoning more and more of myself with each idealized version I was contorting myself into.
I certainly was not thinking about how they made me feel. And I certainly was not unconcerned with their romantic pursuits of other women, whether real or imagined.
But what would have happened, I often think, if I had focused on the feeling I was after? If I had made that my intention. And if I had been wise enough and brave enough to ask the universe for kindness and support. If I had asked to be shown something new?
Where we set our intentions from tells us everything about our current state. Are we focusing on the feeling or on the outcome? Because, in the end, it’s the internal experience we’re after.
If my niece understands that at 9, surely I can at 35.
Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.