We tend to think of love as an uncontrollable feeling that comes over us. Although this overwhelming
feeling does happen, real love and love that is sustained is always a choice: You choose to be open
to someone, you choose to accept them, and that openness and acceptance allows love to flow. This
process is often unconscious, so we often don’t realize we are choosing to accept someone when it’s
happening. But that choice to accept someone is what precedes love. It happens unconsciously all the
time, and it can happen more consciously too.

When acceptance and love happen unconsciously, it’s often because someone fits our ideas, desires, and conditioning. We find that person pleasing because we identify with him or her in some way, probably because we see qualities similar to ours, or perhaps because we see a quality we admire
and would like to develop. When our acceptance doesn’t happen automatically and unconsciously, we can simply choose to accept someone because he or she is different or unusual in some way.

You can learn to welcome and embrace differences rather than reject them, as the ego does.
When you do that, you open up a new world of possibilities in relationship with people you never
thought you could love. You still might not choose to have relationships with them, but you don’t have to miss out on the experience of love by rejecting them just because they’re different from you or because they don’t match your conditioning in some other way.

It’s useful to notice how much we withhold love from others because they are different. Once you
become more conscious of this tendency, you are free to make another choice—to choose to celebrate
differences rather than reject them—and that choice opens your heart and your life up to new

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