The Love Mask: How we use Submission to Get Love

When a person is inclined to choose love as their pseudo-solution, they have the basic feeling that ‘if only I were loved, then everything would be OK.’ So love is supposed to solve every problem. In reality, life doesn’t work this way, especially since love is something we’re to give, not get locked into demanding we receive.

Flying under the auspices of the receiving-love-solves-everything solution, we develop personality patterns and trends that cause us to act and react in ways that make us weaker and more helpless than we actually are. Ironically, due to such disturbances in our behavior, we are scarcely able to experience love.

So then we take on more self-effacing behaviors, hoping like crazy we will gain the protection and love we think offers refuge from being annihilated. We cringe and we crawl, complying with others demands—whether real or imagined—and selling our soul in an attempt to get the help, sympathy, approval and love we crave.

We use a fake weakness as our weapon in the battle to finally master life and win.

Unconsciously we believe that if we assert ourselves and stand up for what we want and need, we’ll essentially forfeit the only thing in life that has any value: being cared for like a child—not in a material way, but emotionally. So in the final analysis, what we’re really doing is claiming an imperfection of submissiveness and helplessness that aren’t genuine; they are artificial and dishonest. We use a fake weakness as our weapon in the battle to finally master life and win.

To avoid getting caught, we hide all this falseness behind a Love Mask, and then end up believing that these trends show how good and holy and unselfish we are. We are proud of the way we “sacrifice,” never claiming our own strengths or accomplishments or knowledge. In this way, we are hoping to force others to love and protect us.

These attitudes become so ingrained in us, it’s like they’re part of our nature. But they are not. They are distortions that we need to rout out in our personal work. We must avoid the temptation to rationalize them away by making it look like these are our real needs; real needs never need to masquerade like this.

Bones v.1

For a child, it is valid to need to receive protective love. But if such a need is carried over into adulthood, it’s no longer valid. It will cause us to go about searching for love with a pleasure-craving that says ‘you have to love me so I can believe in my own worth, then perhaps I’ll be willing to love you.’ That kind of desire is pretty darned self-centered and one-sided, and the effects of it are grave.

We submit as a way to dominate, but we attempt to dominate through weak helplessness.

When we’re so dependent on others for love, we become helpless; we won’t stand on our own two feet. All our energy is channeled into living up to this ideal of ours, which is designed to force others to love us. We submit as a way to dominate, but we attempt to dominate through weak helplessness. We comply with others only because we want to make them to comply with us.

It’s not hard to imagine that living this way will keep us estranged from our real self. We have to actively deny and hide the real self, in fact, because were we to assert ourselves, it would seem brash and aggressive. This, we think, must be avoided at all cost. But really, we can’t inflict such an indignity on our own soul without feeling contempt and dislike for ourselves.

But such painful feelings fly in the face of our idealized self-image. So we throw our self-effacement—which is the supreme virtue the idealized self-image is trying to uphold—onto others. The embedded contempt and resentment, however, don’t look very holy or good, so we must try to hide that too. This sort of double hiding heaps serious repercussions back on our psyche, and can lead to all sorts of bodily symptoms.

So here we are left holding a bucket of fury, shame and frustration along with self-contempt and self-hate. The first reason we have landed here is that we have denied our real self and suffered the indignity of not being able to be who we truly are. Our conclusion: the world takes advantage of our “goodness,” abusing us and stopping us from reaching self-realization. This is a classic definition of projection. The second reason we have ended up here is because we can’t live up to the dictates of our idealized self-image, which says we must never resent or despise or blame or find fault with anyone else. So then we’re just not as “good” as we ought to be.

So that, in a nutshell, is what it looks like to have chosen “love” as our pseudo-solution. We’ve turned a lot of lovely qualities, such as forgiveness and compassion, understanding and union, communication and brotherhood and sacrifice, into a rigid, one-sided affair. All this is a distortion of the divine attribute of love. If we’ve chosen submission as our strategy for surviving, our idealized self-image will demand that we always stay in the background, always give in and always love everyone; at the same time, we must never assert ourselves, find fault with others or recognize our own accomplishments or true values.

What a holy picture this paints, at least on the surface. But friends, all the underlying poison of our distorted motives destroys anything genuine. Being submissive then is a caricature of what real love looks like.


BONES: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

Chapter Seven: Love, Power and Serenity in Divinity or in Distortion