We have another special day to celebrate love, relationships; to show the specialness of rituals and traditions. Human beings want to love and be loved. Some of us are equipped to love and be loved; some of us are not. We have been talking about characteristics of people who do well in relationships, and of those who do not. Those who do not do well are raised by negative, unloving parent(s). They are often controllers in relationships. We must know if our parents were unloving, unaffectionate, unaccepting, unappreciative; if they were negative, dominating, poor communicators, controllers, poor problem-solvers. We have talked about loving yourself(but letting go of ego). We cannot give love fully, or receive love fully if we do not love ourselves. So this is always the first step: self awareness; To know where we came from, examine it, then let it go and forgive; then learn new skills, attitudes and become a loved and loving person. In order to love and be loved we must be willing to be vulnerable, to feel feelings, emotions deeply, and express them deeply.
Following are the skills, attitudes, behaviors we must learn and use in order to be loving and loved:
These are the basics that we have talked about over and over. That is what we have to do as imperfect humans: think about positives every day; how to love and be loved daily:
Be open and vulnerable, able to feel all feelings deeply: joy, love, fear, grief, frustration; to be able to laugh and cry with a special person; to risk; to put your heart and soul “out there”.
Use unconditional Love: I love you all the time; not just when you are “good”; unconditional love includes communicating when there are disagreements using respect, courtesy, good stress management, good communication, touching, reflecting feelings, good problem solving skills. Let go of “I am right”:
- acceptance, “I accept you as you are”;
- allowing people to just be: allowed to make mistakes;
- show appreciation to people and to yourself: for who you are; for what you do to help: “I appreciate you”; “thank you”; show gratitude each day;
- give attention (positive): spend time together, have fun together; if you are parents, go out on a date at least every other weekend; take care of your relationship: “the couple that plays together stays together”;
- love (show love; say “I love you”); I love you regardless of how many mistakes you make, etc; (but I do not tolerate abuse);
- kindness; encouragement; patience. Let go of control. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Let go of irritability, anger, fear, ego. Say, “I’m sorry”. These are powerful words; very courageous. Controllers think these words show weakness;
- respect: “I respect you; I will respect your thoughts, feelings, words, ideas, right to not be yelled at…”;”I respect YOU; I like you”; “I respect your rights and your needs”. Peter’s definition of respect was opening doors for Linda. He had been told by his father to respect women. But he didn’t know what that meant. So he saw his father opening doors for his mother and thought that was it. He also saw his father belittling his mother, ordering her around, criticizing, arguing with her… When you constantly belittle or argue with a partner/child, you are not showing respect;
- celebrate the wonders of this world with your partner (child); connect with nature and learn to enjoy simple things, simple wonders; experience joy;
- affection: give affection each day; not just affection aimed at “getting sex” ; intimacy on a regular basis; not just seductive affection; affection for good times and in bad times;
Valentine’s Day, as with all “special days”, can also be a time for examination and reflection for setting new goals for love. Set goals for improvement. Special days with emphasis can be days that jump up and hit us in the face; wake us up to life and how we are doing. Linda went shopping for Valentine’s cards for her husband of many years. She was reading hundreds of cards looking for “just the right one”. She started crying. She could not find one to express what her relationship looked like; what love looked like in her relationship; how she “felt”. There was no love left in the relationship. For years she and her husband “settled on” funny cards. They could not give a card saying, “I love you with all my heart and soul”, “you are my best friend and lover”, and all the other “mushy” things that cards say. Reading the cards made them realize that their love was dying on the vine. They did not say it to one another anymore. There was no love expressed in their marriage. It was time to get help or get out. There was no love, joy, affection, kindness, appreciation, intimacy expressed or felt.
Loving involves putting forth effort every day to love and be loved, to be positive and let go of negatives. Loving people has the effect of helping them to improve, to be better people. Being negative, critical, neutral, unloving, judgmental and dominating causes a person to withdraw, feel shame, fear and feel bad. It is not enough to “fall in love”. We want to continue the feeling of loving and being loved each day, even in this imperfect world with our imperfect lives. Love can be our haven from stress and strain, love can be wondrous. It should be a place to grow and learn, not to feel bad.