Romantic love is not only a challenge for the individual person, but a social, collective problem. The pain and unhappiness caused by a romantic heartbreak to the individual creates breakdowns and disharmony in society by symptoms such as physical illness, a loss of productivity, addiction and increased violence. As prevention for these ill effects, we must educate the young, our future generation, on the essentials of love, relationship and self-awareness – preparing them for the most important, true, romantic relationship in their lives. I have included in this page, Epilogue in The Sacred Path of the Soulmate, an explanation why our society needs to include self-awareness and love education in the high school curriculum and how you can support this social movement.
One child, one teacher, one book and
one pen can change the world.
— Malala Yousafzai
While researching the subjects of fate, true romantic love and the soulmate connection, I found a common pattern among my research participants’ life journeys. In their teens, they tended to feel isolated and lonely, due to a lack of self-awareness. In their twenties they felt disconnected and disappointed in their love lives, due to a misunderstanding of the nature of love and relationship. In their thirties, they were burned out on suffering and depression after a string of broken hearts, then finally looked to therapy and spirituality for guidance in their forties or fifties. By then, not only were their psyches feeling broken, their bodies were often suffering serious ailments brought about by stress and emotional disturbance.
Too often, we don’t understand why it is that in order to love others we must first love ourselves. In youth, many of us have no awareness that all relationships, including romantic relationships, have a moral component. The truth is that the quality of our love relationships reflects the level of our moral maturity because we always bring our morality and other human qualities to bear in creating a romantic relationship. To be a responsible, loving partner, we must have the maturity to know what we really want out of life, love, sex and relationships. With maturity comes the ability to reflect on the experiences that have made us who we are and learn from our mistakes. If we have little idea of why we have turned out the way we have without embracing any sense of accountability, we will continue to defer responsibility to others, resigning ourselves to an inability to change and grow.
Some of my research participants truly discovered themselves and attained great wisdom through therapy after suffering setbacks. Yet not everyone recovers from a broken heart or love addiction. Many people continue to struggle with tremendous personal agony throughout their lives, entrenched in depression, addictions and fear as they mistake toxic relationships for romantic love. This takes an enormous toll on their social resources as well as their physical and mental health.
I have come to see our misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of romantic love not only as an individual challenge, but as an epidemic social issue that disrupts harmony and drains tremendous public resources. Damaged mental and emotional health affects our GDP by sapping productivity, and raises the collective cost of our insurance, medical, law enforcement, correction facilities and legal services. But even this pales in comparison to the human cost. It’s easy to measure a loss of productivity in the economy, but we cannot measure human suffering in dollars and cents.
It’s hard to create peace and harmony within communities if large numbers of people are suffering from mental health issues caused by childhood traumas, addiction caused by low self-esteem, and broken hearts caused by toxic relationships. But society cannot change unless the human qualities we bring into our relationships and communities change for the better. Many social problems can be traced back to an earlier point in an individual’s life in which they were deprived of love and positive relationships in childhood or adulthood.
I could not help but ask myself whether we might be lifted out of this tragic situation if we were given tools at an early age to understand ourselves, and to know the difference between a wholesome relationship and relationship addiction. As with physical ailments, prevention is a much better approach to combating the problem than any form of treatment could be. How much happier, healthier and more productive might society be if we were all instilled with a sense of our own innate worthiness of love in childhood?
The primary place we learn about love and relationships is at home with our families of origin. Yet many of us grew up in dysfunctional families with unhealthy relationship role models, leading us to develop emotional handicaps. Having said that, even being born into a loving family is no guarantee that we will grow up self-aware in our relationships. Many of us have no idea we have an addictive relationship style until our hearts have been broken many times.
If we cannot learn these critical life lessons at home, I would hope that we might at least have the chance to learn them at school. Although our education system provides sex education to young people, the most essential aspects of romantic life are not taught: what love is, how to love, why we love, why we became the person we are now, and how to understand ourselves and our partners in the midst of creating a relationship. There is no self-love and self-awareness education, and minimal instruction on mental and emotional health. To reduce the loneliness, emptiness and despair that are the source of relationship addiction, young people need to know how to cultivate positive human qualities in themselves and create healthy relationships with themselves and others. A morality-based curriculum of self-awareness and healthy relationship skills could enable the next generation to avoid developing life-damaging relationship habits, or at least spur them to seek counselling earlier in adulthood, before many years of toxic energy are invested in dysfunctional, addictive patterns.
The thesis of romantic love in this book cannot be fully learned in the classroom setting, because the power of true romantic love can only be experienced in the presence of one’s beloved. However, when we are properly taught self-awareness and relationship principles, the training itself can enable a young mind to mature faster, and prepare the individual for loving, functional relationships later on.
What’s more, I believe that a program like this could also increase the harmony in our communities. Imagine how bullying at school and online might be reduced if young people were taught about emotional intelligence, or trained in energy exercises such as qigong, yoga or meditation. Just as these practices can foster self-awareness and resilience in adults, they can also refine young people’s physical, energetic and emotional sensitivity. Communication and the capacity for understanding between teens and their parents would also improve if teens were taught self-awareness techniques that might enable them to better understand their own and their parent’s emotions, thought patterns and reasons for behaving as they do. Perhaps we can even reduce the instances of unwanted pregnancy, addiction and suicide.
Years ago, I was speaking with a participant in my research project about a number of concerns I found in her energy chart, when she suddenly closed her eyes and began sobbing. She said that she had just realized that she had been re-enacting her mother’s dysfunctional behaviour, which had hurt her greatly as a young person. Seeing her own ignorance and blind spots for the first time, she told me that she wished she’d had more self-knowledge in her teens, which might have led her to accept her mother and avoid unconsciously perpetuating her mistakes. Another research participant who was addicted to sex and dysfunctional relationships had broken up with his girlfriend for reasons he could not make sense of. He knew he had to get out of the relationship, he said, because it was “too good to be true.”
This man was unaware that he was actually breaking up with his own good fortune to prove to himself an unconscious belief that he was incapable of loving others or being loved. Responding to a request from his ex-girlfriend, this man wrote a long letter to the hypothetical new boyfriend she would be with in her next relationship. As he read the entire letter to me under a moonlit sky, I knew that he was describing the man he truly wanted to be, and the love and relationship he desperately wanted to experience but did not know he was capable of. I told him that he, like all of us, was born with the capacity to love another soul in the way he described in his letter, but would probably need to undergo therapy to break his addictive patterns before he could be ready for the true romantic love that was his birthright.
Society cannot afford to continue to wait for its members to seek emotional help in their thirties, forties or fifties, when the resources needed to recover are greater than in youth, and the likelihood of recovery so much lower. My greatest wish for this book is that it should initiate a social movement to raise awareness of the importance of teaching the younger generation how to develop self-awareness and an understanding of love, morality and relationships. If you, too, can see the benefit of educating young people on these critical life skills and insights, I encourage you to join me in campaigning for self-awareness education in our schools, specifically self-awareness in the context of relationships, moral integrity and mental health. This new love and self-awareness curriculum need not be based on any particular worldview, since love and self-awareness are universal humanistic values independent of religion or ideology.
The first way in which you can help is to sign the online petition at geraldsze.com to tell our local and federal governments that you want to see a change in the high school curriculum. And while you are there, I invite you to send a message to me through the website to share your ideas about how we might work together to realize this vision.
Second, I urge you to organize a local chapter of this community to bring our movement to your local school board. I truly believe that together we can create a grassroots movement to urge lawmakers, school trustees and educators to include love based, self-awareness education in at the high school level.
Third, you can make a statement about your values by giving a copy of this book to socially conscious organizations and to your friends and families, and by asking them to pass it on to their friends and families in turn. By passionately campaigning in this way for love and self-awareness education, we can make a lasting difference that ripples out beyond our immediate communities to positively affect the lives of people around the world. Please join us in our efforts to lift up humanity, to ease our collective suffering and to help us all to live in greater love, hope and happiness.