It stopped me dead in my tracks.

A simple question from my wife:

“Do you love me?”

Justifying my love, I said something like:

“Of course, look at what I do for you… Doesn’t that show how much I love you?”

Ronnie replied with something like:

“John, you confuse ‘doing’ with ‘being’.”

It took a while, but I then saw that ‘Being’ and ‘Doing’ originate from different states of mind.

Today, I call those states, respectively, ‘Possibility’ and ‘impossibility’.

Self-awareness is transformational in every relationship, including yours.





Back then, I was mightily confused. ‘John,’ my wife said, ‘you confuse “doing” with “being” loving.’ What was she saying? What did she mean?

My thinking flashed back to my mum. In the 1950s, she showed her love for Dad by doing so much for him. I recall Dad sitting up in bed each morning, breakfast tray across his blanket-covered legs, newspaper in one hand, cuppa in the other, and on the tray a plate of bacon, eggs and toast. With dressing gown neatly arranged around his shoulders, several pillows tucked between him and the headboard. What bliss! Get the picture?

Our next-door neighbour jokingly referred to Dad as ‘his royal highness’.

Being waited on like that sounds weird today. Times were so different then.

Mum, a loving person, showed that love by ‘doing’ things for others – especially Dad, me and my sister, Tanya. So, it was easy for me to come to the wrong conclusion: I attributed doing things for others as being loving.

No. No. No.


Of course, we can do things for others and be loving – like Mum was.

And we can do things for others and be unloving, as I often was.

I would ‘do’ out of a sense of responsibility or obligation, or with the expectation of getting similar treatment in return. In this state of mind, I would feel resentful if my ‘doing’ went unreciprocated.

‘Doing’ and ‘being’ loving doesn’t always correlate.

‘Being’ loving is fuelled by a beautiful feeling – a loving feeling – and is always delivered for free.

In ‘doing’ for others from genuine love, the lover doesn’t keep score. Nothing is asked for or expected in return. The giving doesn’t come from any feeling of obligation, of having to do a single thing for the other person.

‘Being’ loving is quite independent of ‘doing’.

When we feel loving, we are likely to do things for the loved one, the loved ones or the loved many.

Whatever we do is free of expectation and thus of any later resentment.

What we do will be, as the adage goes, ‘a labour of love’.


Consider where we might get confused – ‘doing’ without loving, but in the belief that our ‘doing’ is indeed an act of love.

  • If we do things out of a feeling of responsibility, that’s okay – in fact, it’s valuable. That’s being responsible. However, let’s not confuse our ‘doing’ with ‘being’ loving. We’re just behaving responsibly (yes, the two can coincide).
  • The idea that if I do ‘this’, I will get ‘that’ in return is quid pro quo It’s being manipulative. When we’re manipulative, we end up in all sorts of difficulties in our relationships (no, ‘doing with strings attached’ and ‘being’ loving will never coincide).
  • ‘Doing’ out of a sense of obligation, out of our designated role or position, is also fine. However, don’t confuse that ‘doing’ with ‘being’ loving. (And again, these doings can coincide with ‘being’ loving. Remember, they can be ‘a labour of love’.)

‘Being’ loving is not necessarily ‘doing’ anything for another. You can just be sitting in silence. Of course, the two, ‘being’ loving and ‘doing’ for others, can merge into one, as was the case with Mum.

When ‘being’ and ‘doing’ merge, we’re in a state of love – not in a state of expectation.


If you are confused about the difference between ‘being’ loving and ‘doing’ without a loving feeling, it’s helpful to reflect on the difference between ‘doing’ with strings attached and ‘doing’ from being loving.

‘Doing’ without a nice feeling (a feeling of love) inside is conditional.

In that state of ‘doing’, there sits an expectation (possibly unconscious) that the other or others will reciprocate, now or at some future point. That expectation may take the form of their payment, appreciation, acknowledgement, recognition, thankfulness or approval (that’s a biggie, not mentioned till now).

Yes, with an expectation of reciprocity in one form or another, we want what we’re ‘doing’ to pay off for us in some way. It would fail the informed ‘pub test’ on love.

Our second type of ‘doing’, from being loving (and we are all capable of both), flows unconsciously from feeling loving and therefore ‘being’ loving. As such, our ‘doing’ is unconditional. We have zero expectation of receiving anything in return. Our love is selfless, from the heart.


‘Doing’ with an agenda of gaining something (whether we’re aware of this or not) comes from our conditioned thinking, the home of our beliefs, opinions and judgements – our life-long accumulation. It’s our unconscious way of being in the world. I call our conditioning – good, bad and indifferent – the realm of impossibility.

‘Doing’ from a state of ‘being’ loving flows from an open-hearted state. This is our original state. Some call it our true self. This state exists before our conditioning – before our beliefs, opinions and judgements are formed. It’s our conscious way of ‘being’ in the world. (This is just one reason why it’s invaluable to be present to and aware of our state of mind, as we go through our day.)

In other words, it is our state of kindness, understanding, wisdom and common sense. It’s who we were before we came to conclusions about how things should be or jolly well must be — that state of separation from each other, of thinking we know ‘the truth’ about them and ourselves.

That original ‘being’ with love state, I call the realm of Possibility – the wellspring of kindness, understanding, wisdom and common sense.

One is the ‘doing’ state, the other the ‘being’ state — they’re much like the difference between war and peace, chalk and cheese, dark and light.

And, take it easy on yourself. All of us both ‘do’ and ‘be’ at different times. But an awareness of this distinction can lead to a deeper awakening of our loving nature and understanding of the states of Possibility and impossibility.

Will we operate from our conditioning (the realm of impossibility) sometimes? Yes.

Is it possible to operate from love (the realm of Possibility) in our ‘doing’ a lot of the time – even most of the time? Yes.

As we move to a deeper awareness, will we do what we do, more from love? Yes.

And will we, with that movement in our awareness, shift gears from impossibility to Possibility more quickly? Yes.

These states, and what flows into our life in each moment from both, are explored in many ways in the book Possibility … a state of mind, and experientially in The Realm of Possibility Retreat.

If this article strikes a chord with you, and if you have any questions or comments, please post them on the forum, where I will respond. Others – friends, family members, colleagues – may also be interested in exploring with you our inner world of love, understanding, wisdom and common sense – our innate state of simply ‘being’ who we are in our essence. If you think that they might be, please send this on to them.

Love … John  February 2019

P.S. If you liked the article you’ll love the words from “Fidler On The Roof.” What follows are excerpts from the song; “Do You Love Me.”


Do you love me?


Do I what?


Do you love me?


Do I love you?

With our daughters getting married

And this trouble in the town

You’re upset, you’re worn out

Go inside, go lie down!

Maybe it’s indigestion


“Golde I’m asking you a question…”

Do you love me?


You’re a fool


“I know…”

But do you love me?


Do I love you?

For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes

Cooked your meals, cleaned your house

Given you children, milked the cow

After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?


But do you love me?


I’m your wife


“I know…”

But do you love me?