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A Return to Love

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It’s Valentine month and, hate it or hate it more, the season of love is upon us. I happen to enjoy this holiday immensely, but it’s possible it has something to do with chocolate.

Regardless, I wanted to roll out the red carpet of emotion with a recap of my personal highlights from Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love. (You can see my favorites from Lean In here.)

I always love borrowing my loved ones books because I like to see what they highlighted, what’s dog-eared, what spoke to them. I think seeing written words that someone felt strongly enough about to underline in permanent ink is like a spotlight on the soul. I think there’s something very intimate about getting a peak into someone’s head like that.

Anyway, I’m not into y’all like that but… here is what I took from A Return to Love. It’s not all romantic love (though that’s in there). The Return is all about love in general–of yourself, your job, your community, your fellow human beings–but in what I think is a far less puke-worthy way than I just described it here. Just click through give it a go. I love you.

“We are not put here to audition one another, put someone on trial, or use other people to gratify our own ego needs. We are not here to fix, change or belittle another person. We are here to support, forgive and heal one another.”

“If a relationship allows us to merely avoid our unhealed places, then we’re hiding there, not growing. The universe will not support that.”

“Our neuroses in relationships usually stem from our having an agenda for another person, or for the relationship itself. It’s not our job to try to make a relationship into something we think it should be. If someone doesn’t behave like a great romantic partner, then perhaps they’re not meant to be that for us. That doesn’t make them wrong. Not every relationship is meant to be the ultimate romance. If the train doesn’t stop at your station, it’s not your train.

“That’s part of its purpose. It will demand all of our skills at compassion, acceptance, release, forgiveness, and selflessness. We might tend to forget the challenges involved in a relationship when we’re not in one, but we remember them clearly enough once we are.”

“It isn’t the absence of other people in our lives that causes us the pain, but rather what we do with them when they’re there. Pure love asks for nothing but peace for a brother, knowing that only in that way can we be at peace ourselves. How many times have I had to ask myself, “Do I want him to be at peace or do I want him to call?”

“As in every other area, the problem in relationships is rarely that we haven’t had wonderful opportunities or met wonderful people. The problem is, we have known how to take the greatest advantage of the opportunities we’ve had. Love is all around us. The ego is the block to our awareness of love’s presence. The idea that there is a perfect person who just hasn’t arrived yet is a major block.”

“It is not our job to seek for love, but to seek for all the barriers we hold against its coming.”

“Love is a participatory emotion. We actively create the conditions of interest, rather than passively waiting around to see whether or not we’re interested.”

“The choice to give what I haven’t received is always an available option.”

“The last thing you want to do–ever–is to buy into the insidious delusion that spiritual lives and spiritual relationships are always quiet, or always blissful.”

“The problem is not that you met him–the problem is that you gave him your number. The problem, in other words, is not that we attract a certain kind of person, but rather that we are attracted to a certain kind of person.”

“This is why we’re attracted to people who don’t want us. We know they’re not into it from the gate. We pretend to be surprised later when we find ourselves betrayed and they leave after an intense but fairly short stay. They fit perfectly into our ego’s plan: I will not be loved. The reason that nice, available people seem boring to us is because they bust us. Available people are the ones who are dangerous because they confront us with the possibility of real intimacy. They might actually hang around long enough to get to know us.

“Your only real problem is that you’ve forgotten who you are.”

“Commitment in a relationship means commitment to the process of mutual understanding and forgiveness–no matter how many conversations it takes, nor how uncomfortable those conversations might sometimes be.”

“It takes all the love we’re capable of to let a person go.”

“Ultimately you discover that how the person treated the last one is exactly how they’ll treat you.”

“So it is that a marriage is meant to be a blessing on the world, because it is a context in which two people might become more than they would have been alone.”

“Service does not mean self-sacrifice. It means giving the needs of another person the same priority as our own.”

“At a certain point, we forgive because we decide to forgive.”

“People suffer deeply, and there have been people suffering around you all your life. You just didn’t notice. You were shopping.

“We can’t fake authenticity. We think we need to create ourselves, always doing a paste-up job on our personalities. That is because we’re trying to be special rather than real. We’re pathetically trying to conform with all the other people trying to do the same.”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

“I realized that poor people didn’t need my sympathy as much as they needed cash.”

“We are not poor because the rich are rich.”

“One of the principles to remember about money is how important it is to pay for services rendered. If we begrudge someone else the right to make a living, we are begrudging ourselves the same. What we give, we will receive.”

“‘God, please use me’ is the most powerful affirmation we can say for an abundant career.”

“We have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But you can’t get a PhD in having been everywhere and done everything. Put it all together, and we don’t have a degree, but we’re interesting people with interesting stories to tell.”

“Ultimately, it is not our credentials but our commitment to a higher purpose that creates our effectiveness in the world. Our resumes are only important if we think they are.”

“Our power doesn’t lie in our resume or our connections. Our power lies in our clarity about why we’re on the earth.”

“Make happiness itself our goal and relinquish the thought that we know what that would look like.”

“There comes a time when the realization that the world could work beautifully if we would give it the chance, begins to excite us. The news isn’t how bad things are. The news is how good they could be.”

“‘I don’t want to do it because I can’t make a living doing it,’ is a very weak beam to send into the universe.”

“Some things you do for no other reason than because they’re the right thing to do.”

“Our generosity towards others is key to our positive experience of the world. There’s enough room for everyone to be beautiful. There’s enough room for everyone to be successful. There’s enough room for everyone to be rich. It is only our thinking that blocks that possibility from happening.”


  1. Colleen Colleen

    “Some things you do for no other reason than because they’re the right thing to do.”

    I wish more people would abide by this. So many things that people do are because they want to be noticed, or have reciprocation. Reminds me of that quote which I can’t remember about character being the thing you do when no one is watching.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves Valentine’s day. I love love, in any form.

    This may be too personal, but did you and Adam break up?

  2. I haven’t personally had the chance to sink my teeth into anything by Maryanne Williamson yet, but I attended a lecture once that heavily drew on this book. The passage about being powerful beyond measure in particular really really resonates with me.

    • I would love to see her lecture. What a cool opportunity.

  3. I couldn’t decide what to write in comment here, but I also couldn’t not comment. So, in conclusion… Yes. To all of this. Wow.


  4. Dana Hauck Dana Hauck

    This was beautiful. xoxoxo

    • Right? Kick in the face.

  5. Anna Anna

    It’s a great book indeed by Marianne filled with gems of wisdom. I also found “Return to Love” by Yogi Kanna to be a similarly excellent read as well, check that one out too! See if you can find a copy of that in you loved ones’ shelf or the local library 🙂

    • Thanks! I will check it out.

      (And thanks for spelling her name right. I fixed my error.)

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