Love is a powerful word with so many meanings. You can love ice cream or love a pet. You can love the flowers in your garden. You can love someone so strongly that you think you will die if you cannot be with them. But what is the Essence of Love? If, as many believe, love is inherent within us—it is the physician within, the energy that heals—how do we learn to express that love? How do we learn to believe that we are not lovable?
Dr. Gladys tells us stories of finding the love within us when fear has almost destroyed us. What is this duality of love versus fear that humanity has come to think is the natural order of life? We can begin to explore this duality from the perspective of biology, literally what cell biologist Bruce Lipton explains is an either/or dilemma for each of our cells. That’s right, each cell in our bodies can experience love or fear, but they can only do one at a time. In the presence of love, cells expand and grow in healthy ways. In the presence of fear, they contract and protect themselves. Positive growth toward life is only possible in the Presence of Love.
Where do we first experience love or fear? It is in our mother’s womb! From the very beginning of this life, we are suffused in vibrations, thoughts, feelings, actions, words, and other influences of our mother and her environment. At this vulnerable time we are not able to distinguish between those thoughts, feelings or any other input. Are they beneficial to us or are they detrimental to us? We are like little sponges, taking in everything as our cells mature into bodies and minds of unique individuals. At this earliest and most vulnerable time in our lives, we take in everything—we have no choice!
Longitudinal studies performed over decades in Europe have shown that children who were unwanted grew into adults who had more depression and mental illness, more suicidal and homicidal tendencies, more antisocial behavior and therefore more incarceration, and simply more unhappiness. They were not demonstrably loved compared to children who were wanted. Unwanted children are often abused, neglected, and victimized. Sometimes they become perpetrators who harm others—all in the absence of love. Most importantly, unwanted children perceived that they were not loved and erroneously concluded that they were not loveable—these individuals could not love themselves. After all, if they were not loved by their caretakers, there must be something wrong with them. How could they believe anything else?
It is astonishing that love—or the absence of love—can make such a difference in our lives.
While in the womb, and at our births, every experience is creating a template, a foundation for how we will live our lives. Our developing brains take in all the data and without analysis accept the treatment we receive as the way things are! Our brains continue to develop, forming neural networks like roadmaps until we are adults in our twenties.
Babies, even fetuses, function at the level of the reptilian brain which is our action brain. It is the most primitive part of the triune brain [postulated by Paul MacLean] and controls basic survival functions. It is predominantly online through our first year of life outside the womb while the limbic brain is developing and we experience more complex emotions. We learn from our environment and caregivers what appropriate feelings are, whether to fear, for example, by those around us who demonstrate negative emotions because they are themselves afraid.
By age two, our critical thinking is beginning to come online. We begin to say “no” and to weigh alternatives. The left hemisphere of our growing neocortex (the third component of our triune brain) loves words and we begin to speak coherently and value logic, reason and all mental functions. The right hemisphere has more connections to the emotional/limbic brain centers and gives us the ability to express artistic creativity and intuition. Our choices, based on what we have learned to think and feel, are now shaped by our underlying perception of our worthiness and love-ability.
Over time, through this ongoing process, we develop an identity. This personality some call ego forms in the presence of love or fear. The more fear we experience the more we conclude that something is wrong with us, that we are not worthy of love. In fact, in the absence of love and acceptance, our neurons and neural pathways do not develop the capacity to receive love. We don’t know what we don’t know. Many of us receive conditional love, that is, approval if we perform well, earn good grades, behave appropriately and make our caretakers proud. Later in life, when we are forming relationships, we may be good at pleasing others but may not have a clue how to recognize or receive authentic love. We will attract to ourselves those who treat us the way we learned to be treated. Life is a great teacher and it will reflect to us how we feel about ourselves. Loving ourselves is more valuable than gold.
As Dr. Gladys says: “the fact that we have choice doesn’t mean that the bad things that happen are our fault.” If we use the metaphor of our brains as computers, we just have faulty software. Our programming is flawed. Learning to love and be loved is contingent upon what patterns were established very early, even at conception, throughout our development in the womb, at our births and into our childhoods. Faulty programming lies within the unconscious mind which includes “the things we assume, believe, or have forgotten we experienced.”
In discussing choice, Dr. Gladys explains that through her interaction with Dr. Milton Erickson she learned a great deal about the unconscious mind. She remarks:
Though the conscious and subconscious could be directed with will, as long as the unconscious remained the same, he [Dr. Erickson] believed, any strides made in therapy or psychiatry could have only a limited effect, because people were likely to return to their old patterns of behavior.
Prenatal and perinatal psychologists would agree with Dr. Erickson. Science is revealing that the negative, that is, faulty programming was imprinted at a time when were too young and our brains too undeveloped to choose what was appropriate for us. If we were told that we were stupid or clumsy, smart or graceful, the messages went right in. Those programs create patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that persist until we change them. Unfortunately, most of us are change averse. Our personalities (egos) don’t want to change because we learned to survive with all the programs and patterns we developed over time. We are addicted to them! If we perceived we were unlovable, we will not be able to love ourselves or to receive love because it conflicts with the old well-ingrained patterns.
Dr. Gladys says anything that has happened in the past can be healed, but the real change must occur at the unconscious level. We have to learn to love ourselves at that deeply unconscious level where the original programs are stored. She says, “we can’t love anyone else until we believe that we ourselves can be loved . . . [but] in some cases we are held back by unconscious beliefs.” Through her own experience and the experience of others, Dr. Gladys has visualized herself—and taught others to visualize themselves—healthy, literally loving themselves into health! She shares, “we direct our conscious mind toward transforming the unconscious.” She points out that “our minds affect everything, right down to the cellular level.”
For Love to heal, we first look at the results in our lives which reflect to us how we feel about ourselves. If we find that we do not have the relationships, the jobs, the success, the prosperity or anything else that is suggesting we may not feel worthy, we can do an exercise that Dr. Gladys recommends: think about our birth and “imagine how vulnerable and perfect” we were. Imagine angels singing and being bathed in golden light. We can heal any negative messages we received and begin to “overcome the fear” that tells us lies about our own worth. The mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Visualizing your own perfect birth overwrites the old programs and provides a new template from which to love ourselves free!
Loving, according to Dr. Gladys, “is just letting the energy flow into and out of the heart freely, without stopping it.” The Love we have within ourselves can be shared freely with others. “In living medicine, we are constantly working to give and receive love.” Overcoming old messages of unworthiness, learning how worthy of love we are, changes everything for the better. Living to 102 and beyond is possible when we have learned to love ourselves and share that love with others. It’s the most powerful medicine!