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Falling in love. It has to be one of the
most exciting, heady experiences
in human existence.
Who wouldn't want to feel
this as often as possible? Studies show
that when a person is in love, actual
hormonal changes take place that last
around five and a half months. During this
time, life feels intense and exaggerated,
feelings are more magical, the beloved
one is seemingly perfect and no end to
this wonder is imaginable. But as many
of us know, we can come crashing back
to earth at a thudding rate, with egos
bruised, hearts broken and disillusion-
So, why does this happen and how
can we look out for the warning signs?
We certainly don't want to become so
emotionally guarded and cynical that we
no longer allow ourselves to dream, to
trust and to get carried away with the
adventure of falling in love. What we do
want is to avoid addictive behaviour
that leads to pain rather than fulfilment.
Addiction to all manner of things occurs
because of a lack of self reliance and basic
insecurity. Addicts -- and that's most of us
in some form -- get hooked on cigarettes,
alcohol, sex, love, work, gambling and so
on, because we convince ourselves we need
these things, that we're more important
when we're loving or working or having
sex, smoking, drinking or gambling.
These activities give us a high and get our
blood rushing and adrenalin pumping,
which is precisely how we feel when we fall
Have you ever looked in the mirror
when you're in the first flush of passion?
There's a glow about you that wasn't
present before, a distinct aura that makes
you very attractive and that energy causes
you to feel invincible and magical, as if
everything is possible. It's very noticeable
to others around you as well, so don't be
surprised if you get lots of envious looks
from women and hungry looks from
men. I say enjoy every minute of it but be
aware that this vision of life is what rose
coloured glasses were made for, so that
everything can take on a pink glow and
have an unreal quality.
When this first stage ends and you
suddenly see the world in an ordinary
way again, it causes quite a shock and
the resultant disappointment can make
your lover seem very ordinary and even
undesirable. That's why a lot of new
relationships end after six months -- they
simply can't pass the reality check. You
may have ended relationships yourself
after this time or been at the wrong end
of the break up. Either way, it's painful
and confusing. It doesn't have to be if
you learn to tell the difference between
romantic illusion and real love.
❤ The first thing you need to do is
promise yourself you will never make a
commitment in that first six month period
because you are literally not thinking
straight. Enjoy the ride for what it is with-
out endowing either the object of your
affection or the relationship itself with
unrealistic qualities. Romantic illusion,
by its very definition, implies a false
impression, a fantasy, mistaken identity.
How to tell when you've been stung by
the love bug? The usual signs are the
inability to think of anything but the
beloved, heart palpitations each time
you see them or speak on the phone, the
desire to talk about them 24 hours a day,
wanting only to do that which pleases
them and listening with rapt attention to
every word they utter. It isn't obsessive
unless these symptoms don't go away in
the fullness of time, despite day to day
❤ Next, consider the laws of attraction
which are basically two: No 1, we tend
to be attracted to people who appear to
possess qualities we think we lack and
No 2, we tend to fall in love with people
who have qualities of one or both of
our parents. This occurs for purposes of
healing past hurts and furthering self
knowledge. The more self awareness
we have, the more we can make healthy
choices about which attractions we want
to build on and which we want to let pass.
Each one of us is perfect and complete
in ourselves and, in fact, needs nothing
outside to fulfil us. But we've been
conditioned for decades by love songs,
romantic fiction and social ideals to
think that we need a mate in order to be
happy. We are made up of polarities with
all sorts of conflicting qualities; we are
not one dimensional, black and white
cardboard cut outs.
❤ Celebrate your diversity, insist on being
contradictory, allow your contrasts for
these are what make you a complex and
fabulous individual. Then you will never
think that someone you're in love with
is superior to you or far more wonderful.
Neither do you need anyone to stand up
for you, speak for you or make you feel
special. You have all the qualities you
admire in others, particularly potential
Until you realise this, you will choose
people who reflect your opposite areas,
such as a confident person if you think
you lack confidence or a loud, boisterous
partner if you're quiet and more internal.
That way, you prevent your own growth, as
you need never find the confident part of
yourself or any of your other polarities.
This creates what is known as a
'relationship pattern', often repeated and
❤ Come to love as you would a wonderful
smorgasbord. Let your eyes feast but be
selective so that you don't choose too
much or the wrong selections, ones that
don't agree with you or are too rich for
your palate. If you do take something
you're not sure of, feel free to experiment
-- try it, take a bite but also know you're
allowed to say no, thank you, this doesn't
suit me. In this way, you experience life
and love fully but it doesn't control you
as an addiction does.
For an addiction to be present, it
needs to take over your life. You have
14 © NOVA DECEMBER 2011
Learning the difference between romantic
illusion and real love is at the heart of true
happiness, says relationships counsellor
Dr Charmaine Saunders.
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