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Looking for Love

In All the Wrong Places

The song “Looking for Love,” recorded by country singer Johnny Lee, made its debut in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy, which starred John Travolta. As another Valentine’s Day comes and goes, too many of us may be thinking that we’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, finding poor relationships and broken hearts. One thing that hasn’t changed in the 35 years since the release of the song is the prevalence in films and our culture of the idea that we receive love when we find someone to give it to us. Is there any reason to believe that things can improve for lonely hearts in today’s world of speed dating, online dating and hooking up?

Research by behaviorists, sociologists, neurologists and others offer hopeful news for many. The latest science supports the notion that love and other emotions aren’t things we need others to give us, but instead are feelings that we can trigger from inside ourselves.

Hypnosis is a common method for overcoming heartbreak and getting rid of barriers to healthy relationships. Some experts also recommend adding meditation to reconnect with a feeling of love or to rekindle it in a current relationship where affection and passion have gone stale. “We see many clients who have fallen into the trap of believing that they have to seek out and find some special person who has love for them,” explains Hypnotherapist Beverly Craddock, of Hawaii Hypnosis Center. “It’s almost as if they forget how to feel love independent of others. It often happens when a relationship fails, and the recently single person feels without love in the absence of that other person. It’s a false belief; the other person didn’t provide the love, he or she just helped the individual generate it.”

Dr. Marsha Lucas, a psychologist and the author of the book Rewire Your Brain for Love, says that the practice of mindfulness “produces real, measurable changes in the brain in key places so that deeper connections, better love and healthier relationships can really take hold.” She recommends that we spend 20 minutes a day really focused on that feeling of love, not the one on the silver screen, but the one inside our own minds. She contends that this kind of meditative work can help us not only feel our own love inside, but also attract new love or heal a current relationship that has lost its zing.

While modern science is discovering exactly how love is processed, it is just confirming what many philosophers have believed for a long time: love isn’t found by working on the search or the relationship, but rather by working on ourselves. After all, it is the 13th-century Turkish mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi who offered: “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.”

It seems Johnny Lee was right the whole time. We have been looking for love in all the wrong places. Looking inward doesn’t really make for compelling 90-minute Hollywood love stories, and that’s okay because most of us aren’t living those. We’re living a life that can be full of love when we just let ourselves feel it from the inside.

Randy Hampton is a writer, social scientist, hypnotist and blogger living in Honolulu.

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