“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi

This quote challenged me today so, of course, I had to share it. I truly believe love is everywhere and, like the quote says, it is us who create the barriers that prevent it from flourishing. It’s so easy to put up barriers to love and to the people who we base our love on. It’s almost too easy especially as you inevitably are hurt, let down, etc. This quote points that out perfectly and simply. I think too many of us seek a certain type of love rather than questioning why we have barriers up based on fear, mistrust, personal biases, pain, false expectations, etc. It’s a neat exercise to think about your own barriers within yourself that stand against love being in your life.

Someone I love many years ago said to me “I’ll never hurt you”. We were young and it was idealistic and it was something I wanted to believe. I don’t believe in that kind of love anymore and not for cynical reasons. Love hurts because we hurt each other. It’s part of being human. We are very fallible and it’s okay. I will never make that promise to not hurt someone again. I will hurt you and you will hurt me and the love we have for each other will be greater than that. If loving someone is predicated on you never hurting them, that love won’t last and will prove to be unrealistic. I don’t want that kind of love and I mean that in the best way.

Part of what we even define or classify as love depends on these barriers we’ve created. Every word has a connotation and denotation. Looking at why you have the connotation you do have is an endlessly fascinating thing to do. Next time you’re with friends, ask them to describe what good pizza is like to them – it’s always fun to hear how different everyone’s interpretation is.

I’ve written about this before but a defining moment in my life was watching a teammate of mine get pinned by a car at a car wash only later to lose her leg. During the months after the accident, I struggled with being afraid of everything from cars to sirens to screaming. I had created mental barriers for myself around what I could and couldn’t handle. I created limitations for myself out of anxiety and fear. For example, I couldn’t drive down the road near the accident. These are obvious barriers that I created for myself that I slowly had to work to breakdown in order to return to normalcy. It was obvious to everyone that these were important things to move past.

Going through heartbreak recently has made me feel similarly. The frightening thing is that I barely noticed the barriers rising soon after it happened. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I started to sense some solidifying in strange ways like not wanting to drink coffee (long story). Ultimately, these barriers are a self imposed limitation! This is a great realization in my book as it means I need to seek these out, as the quote says, and remove them. I’ve been working to do just that and can already tell I’ve become better for this entire experience. Not only am I clearing out barriers from recent love, but I’m also starting to go back to look at overall barriers I’ve had throughout my life. That’s where the real work begins.

These kinds of self imposed limitations are so important to address and to reconsider. They can be built up easily without much thought simply as reactions to your lived experience. Some self imposed limitations can be good of course. For example, I don’t like to drink too often because I am wary of alcoholism in my genes. Some self imposed limitations may have creeped up without you even realizing it though. Stop and consider the barriers you’ve created for yourself whether it’s in relation to love, to your career, to your goals, or to something else entirely. Also, thank those people who help challenge these barriers. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those people in my life who helped me see past my own barriers in life and in love.

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