Understanding Love & The Hierarchy of Emotions



“My love for you has no condition,” I said to her. “You do not have to do, or be, or say anything in order for me to love you. You do not have to try to be someone you’re not, you can simply be who you are, and know that I will and always will love you, no matter what.”


These probably weren’t the exact words I used, but the general idea is what matters. I said these words (or something very similar) to my wife recently. Anyone who follows my blog regular (which now number in the TWOs!) has been witness to the path that I’ve walked for the last several years. I’ve been very open about using myself as an example and have talked about my successes and my failures, and noted examples drawn from my many teachers along the way. It should also be obvious to anyone who reads my blog that I talk about love a lot.


Like, a lot.


And there should be an obvious reason for that. From a spiritual point of view, love is all there is, and everything is simply a manifestation of that love in varying degrees and forms. Ultimately there really is unity; there is only love or not so much love, just as there’s light and not so much light. There’s no such thing as darkness, for example, that’s just a name we give to the absence of light. You can’t add darkness to a room, you can simply take away light.


Likewise, while fear can be called the opposite of love, it’s really just the absence of it. The absence of love can make us feel weak, powerless, disconnected, and out of control.


TRUE love, divine love, is unlimited, eternal, and free. It has no condition, and has no requirement. What most of us experience isn’t really love, it’s what I call “conditionality.” It’s simply this:


“I love you IF you don’t break my trust.”

“I love you IF you don’t cheat on me.”

“I love you IF you spend enough time with me to make me feel valued.”

“I love you IF you never change.”


And if someone breaks one of our rules, we stop loving them.


And why shouldn’t we? That’s what we were taught, and all our examples during our formative years show this same cycle.


I’ve been with my wife for more than 11 years now, and she has been and continues to be my greatest teacher. It is through her that I have known myself better, and quite honestly she’s been a saint for putting up with the rapid and very odd changes I’ve gone through in the last couple of years. In the beginning of our relationship, the love I exhibited for her was conditional.


For the most part I have never been a very jealous person, but in our relationship there have been moments of jealousy, and moments of resentment, but standing where I am now I can see them for what they were.


As it stands now, I can say that there is nothing she has to do, say, or be in order for me to love her. I am just as happy to be in a relationship with her as I would be outside of it. Should she choose to want to end our relationship I would be fully supportive of that, just as if she wants to keep our relationship going indefinitely, I’m fully supportive of that too.


If she was damaging me in some way, then out of love for myself, I would have to do so at a distance (that is to say I would remove myself from the damaging situation and continue to love and support her in any way she needs), but I’ve also come to realize that no one can damage you without your permission, so I don’t allow people (anybody) to damage me anymore. But at the same time, I give her full freedom to explore who she is and be who she needs to be in order to manifest the best possible version of who she can be at any given time. In other words, my love for her is unlimited, eternal, and free.


This is an extremely high form of love, and not one that most people have experienced. And one that I don’t expect many others to be able to get to right off the bat. In fact, it’s taken me 44 years, and 11 years with my wife, and 2 years of constant self-work in order to get there.


So while I talk a lot about love, and try to hold myself up as an ideal of that form of love (even though I step out of it from time to time, whether by choice or by pattern), I thought I would talk more about the idea of love and how to get to it. Let’s face it, if you’re suffering from depression, apathy, anxiety, anger, fear, or whatever, it’s pretty tough to choose love in that situation. It’s too far of a jump for most people (outside of divine intervention) to make.


But what you can do, is move up a little bit on the hierarchy of emotions.


For example, if you’re feeling fear or powerlessness, if you can move up to hate, that’s a positive move up towards love. Is hate great? Again, everything is relative. Hate in and of itself is not fantastic, but if you’re feeling powerless, then hate can motivate you to do something (so you can forgive all those hate groups out there because they could be stuck in fear, so they’re making a positive change in their lives, albeit at other peoples’ expenses).


If you’re stuck in hatred, and you can move up to blame, again that’s a positive move towards love.


Likewise if you’re feeling apathetic, a move to hope or optimism is a positive move towards love.


So while unconditional love is the goal, it’s a big jump, and like the old joke about eating an elephant, it might be easier for you to do it one bite at a time. And as always, there’s no right or wrong, good or bad. What we refer to as right or wrong or good or bad is nothing more than a value judgement.


If someone was in a prolonged bout of apathy, and then decided that they wanted to get a job as an accountant, we’d say that was a positive move.


On the other hand, if Jesus or Buddha wanted to stop their teachings to become an accountant, we’d probably call that a move in the wrong direction.


So it entirely depends on your situation. Any move towards love can be helpful and valuable.


And ultimately, if you walk the path towards love, you’ll eventually find that love comes from within, so you stop looking for people and things outside you to help you get to love and simply turn inwards and connect to the infinite source of love that connects us all. I say this not as some hoity-toity, airy-fairy, new-agey mumbo jumbo (and I’m certainly not saying that I’m there 100% of the time), but because I’ve experienced it for myself and I can speak from experience and the knowingness that everyone will get there eventually. Everyone, without exception. It is not a question of worthiness, it’s not a question of being blessed. We are all blessed, and we are all worthy. Many times I find myself lately in complete awe at the magnificence and wonder of the world and simply walk through it and experience it in its fullness, without judgement, so I stand as a testament to its possibility.


The best way to understand this fully is to think of watching a sunset or gazing at the stars. In that moment, when you allow yourself to just be, you can appreciate the stars or the sunset for what it is. You don’t demand that the sunset be more orange or less yellow, or that the 2nd star on the left be 12 percent brighter. You simply, and totally accept that which is and allow it to be what it is, and appreciate it for the magnificence of its intrinsic beauty.


And when you can look on all things and see all situations in the same way, you can call yourself a master (although I would also add, that when you get to this point, you won’t call yourself a master, because you’ll know that all people are masters, just as all people are you).


There’s a number of hierarchies of emotions out there, all of which basically say the same thing, so here’s the Abraham-Hicks emotional guidance scale in descending order which you can use for reference.


Positive expectation/belief


In case I don’t update my blog over the holidays, I wish my twos of regular readers a wonderful holiday season. May your 2018 be filled with love, unity, and compassion.


I am you. You are me. We are one.






Tommy Heiden is a family photographer based out of Maple Ridge who, when he’s not caring for his amazing wife and two beautiful children, is occasionally found taking pictures of other peoples’ wives and children, and even more often, speaking and blogging about how to add more love to your life.

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