How Can We Move Beyond Grievances?

We have been in the midst of intense and turbulent energies that have brought up old “issues” and conflicts in our close relationships. Many people view conflict as a failure, or as something painful to avoid, to brush under the rug, or to escape from. What is the root cause of all relationship issues? How can we move beyond grievances?

What is the mood of unlove?

In his brilliant book (“Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships”), psychotherapist John Welwood defined the “mood of unlove” as a deep-seated suspicion within ourselves that we are not truly loved or lovable, just for who we are. This is the core wound of the heart. He wrote:

  • Most often it grows out of childhood conditioning, where we didn’t feel fully accepted or embraced by our family of origin. We may have experienced neglect, abuse, trauma, or lack of attunement to our needs, which left us hungry for love and acceptance.
  • In other cases, the parents may have seemed loving enough, but dispensed their love in controlling or manipulative ways (often unconsciously). The child was expected to please their parents, to have certain attributes, to perform, to win or earn their love.

The problem is that the “mood of unlove” undermines our capacity to give and receive love in ALL our relationships. It has the power to repel, belittle, or sabotage whatever love is there—it’s seen as not sufficient, not good enough, or not the right kind, as Welwood observed.

What is the mood of grievance?

When we feel disconnected from love, it’s easy to see ourselves as the victim and our parents (or any opposition) as the adversaries or the “bad other.” This sets up a “mood of grievance,” that may permeate all areas of life (e.g. home, school, work, politics, nations), stated as:

  • You want to control me. You take advantage of me. You use me for your own ends.
  • You don’t value me for who I am. You don’t care about me. You don’t respect me.
  • You can’t be trusted. You betrayed me. You hurt me again. You abandoned me.

The “bad other” image is projected to whoever stands in our way. We hold onto the grievance, because it seems to give us something, whether it’s a sense of power, righteous anger, a way of bonding together as victims, or shifting the blame onto the bad other/scapegoat without having to take full responsibility for our own desires, thoughts, behaviors and actions.

How can we move beyond grievances?

Welwood noted that grievance always cuts two ways:

“Every grudge against the bad other not treating me right or loving me properly is accompanied by a sense of bad self—a grievance against myself for not being good enough, or worthy of that love. Bad other and bad self are two sides of the same coin.”

He said behind all the evils and the deadly sins of the world is the pain of a wounded heart. Quoting Arnaud Desjardins, there are no bad people, only badly loved people. He added:

  • They may seek power, wealth, status, recognition, praise, or other substitutes to feel good about themselves. But these things don’t really nourish their inner hunger for love.
  • Greed, jealousy, arrogance, pride, power over others, and egocentricity are symptoms of not knowing that you have enough, you are loved enough, and you are good enough (see How To Shift From Ego To Soul Activation? – Big Picture

According to Welwood, grievance and gratitude are polar opposites. We have the choice to feel one or the other in every moment and every relationship we have. At the core of all grievance is pain and grief about loss of connection [illusion of separation from Source]. He explained:

  • As children, we first lost connection with our parents, then with some friends, lovers, or spouses that lost interest in us or left us. Every time it happens, we tend to turn away from our pain, not realizing that what we fail to grieve turns into grievance.
  • Grievance focuses on what is not there, what is missing in life, and who to blame.
  • Gratitude is positive focus on what is here right now, responding to it with appreciation. That gives feedback to the universe to bring us more of what we’re grateful for.

When we feel grateful, our heart opens and expands. We feel a natural desire to repay any kindness shown to us. We develop loving-kindness and compassion, as taught by Buddha.

What is relative love vs. absolute love?

“Human relationships provide the ultimate litmus test of how healed, or whole, or spiritually mature we really are.” – John Welwood

He said we’re all entitled to perfect love, but we’re looking for it in the wrong places—outside ourselves. We have the illusion that the source of all happiness and well-being lies in other people’s acceptance, approval, or caring. That was true in our childhood, not throughout life.

  • We get into imperfect relationships with imperfect people who are just as wounded as we are. The same is true of our parents—struggling with their own unexamined wounds.
  • From our soul’s perspective, we set up our lives with particular issues in place. We chose parents and families with a particular set of beliefs, so that the pattern shows up early on.
  • Our goal is to work our way through these issues by co-creating situations that stretch us and make us grow from them, as Wendy Kennedy and others have explained.
  • Every being has an agenda. Everyone incarnated on Earth is dealing with their own fears, insecurities, blind spots, emotional triggers, trust issues, controlling and manipulative tendencies (see How To Dissolve Your Victim Patterns? – Big Picture

Welwood described two types of love. Relative love is human love, person-to-person, which is imperfect and inconsistent. It’s meant to be ever-changing as a springboard for our growth and evolution. Absolute love is pure unconditional love, our true nature, being-to-being.

  • Since we exist on both levels (absolute and personal), we may even say: I love you, but right now I can’t stand you!!! That doesn’t make you or the other person bad.
  • That’s just the nature of relative love with push and pull, ambivalence, or mixed feelings (below). 😉


Kennedy said that discomfort is merely a redirectional tool. Absolutely every issue is about unconditional love and loving yourself unconditionally. Pure love is accessed through your vertical connection to Source, not through your horizontal connections with other people (see How To Amplify Your Connectivity With Source? – Big Picture

Final Thoughts

This post is a brief overview of John Welwood’s newest book (“Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart), which I highly recommend for personal healing and transformation. The book includes a number of exercises to help us move from grievance to grief to self-love and unconditional love.

His psychospiritual approach combines the best of both worlds to give us a higher spiritual but very grounded understanding of ourselves and our relationships. We are meant to go through dynamic cycles of up/down, like/dislike, conflict/resolution, moving apart/coming together again. Each cycle allows us to grow a bit further, and not become stagnant.

As Wendy Kennedy put it, if you’re incarnated, you’ve got issues!! Acceptance is what allows us to move beyond judgment. When we stop judging our life and others as being wrong, we start to see everything as being divinely perfect for our and their progression as souls.

On Golden Pond (1981) – IMDb


“Your existence is full of choices, my child, and the most important ones you make have been/are/will be how you act and react to any given situation. You can choose to believe that the world and everyone in it is ‘out to get you’ or you can step back, look at each moment and see it for what it really is.

Regardless of what happens, you can be sure that your actions/reactions have played a part in it. One of the most challenging experiences you will have during your life is taking responsibility for these things. That responsibility is ultimately responsible for how quickly (or slowly) you grow.” ~ Creator (via Jennifer Farley)

For more information, please see:

John Welwood: Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, 2006

John Welwood: Love and Awakening: Discovering the Sacred Path of Intimate Relationships, 1996

John Welwood Articles and Interviews (website)

Wendy Kennedy: Home – Higher Frequencies (website)

Tom Kenyon & Wendy Kennedy: The Great Human Potential: Walking in One’s Own Light, 2013

Jennifer Farley: Your Choice, Your Responsibility | The Creator Writings

What Is the Purpose of Relationships, Soul Mates and Self-Love? – Big Picture

What Is Human Love vs. Divine Love? – Big Picture

What Are the Core Issues Of Humanity? – Big Picture

How To Dissolve Your Victim Patterns? – Big Picture

Where Do Fear Patterns Come From? – Big Picture

How To Reframe Your Life? – Big Picture

What Are Some Limiting Beliefs About Relationships? – Big Picture

Why Are We Attracted To Certain Souls? – Big Picture

Why Are We Attracted To Certain People? – Big Picture

What Are Some Common Love Issues? – Big Picture

Are We Having Accelerated Lives? – Big Picture

How To Know Thyself? – Big Picture

Do Enneatypes Reflect Soul Blueprints? – Big Picture

What Are the Stages Of Spiritual Development? – Big Picture

What Is Spiritual Bypassing? – Big Picture

What Is Meant By Soul Age? – Big Picture

What Is Meant By Grace? – Big Picture

How To Amplify Your Connectivity With Source? – Big Picture

How To Contact Your True Energetic Self? – Big Picture

What Is Meant By Self-Realization vs. God-Realization? – Big Picture

José Stevens 6-17-16…”Understanding the Dynamics of Hate” – Big Picture

How To Nurture Yourself? – Big Picture

How To Do a Purification Meditation? – Big Picture

What Is Self-Awareness versus Sentience? – Big Picture

What Does Service To Self Or Others Mean? – Big Picture

How To Release Old Limiting Beliefs? – Big Picture

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