Monday, November 30, 2015

What Does it Mean to Love?

What does it mean to love another person?   Does it mean we must always agree?    Does it mean  that we merge with them and lose our individuality?    Must we give up what makes us unique to be in a relationship?

When we enter into a relationship, whether it is with a partner or a friend, our goal is to bring ourselves as a whole person to that relationship.   If we are practicing self-care and are centered in our being we can bring ourselves to our relationship as a gift.   If, however, we are not yet at the developmental stage of being ready for interdependence... we may unwittingly hurt either ourselves or our partner.  Interdependence requires us to be willing to be vulnerable.  That can be frightening...  especially if we have been hurt in the past.

Old wounds have a way of coming to the surface as soon as we feel ourselves becoming vulnerable.  Our instincts scream out to protect ourselves from further pain as our fears loom overhead.  We must practice our tools at those times and not allow ourselves to sabotage our relationship by succumbing to our fears and insecurities.

We breathe...  we ask ourselves, " what am I feeling right now?"...   we focus on positive self-talk...  we allow ourselves a moment to think before reacting...  and finally we respond sharing our fear with our partner in a safe non-judgemental way using "I" statements.

When we communicate in this manner we are showing our partner by our actions and words that they are just as important to us as we are to ourselves.  That is a powerful message of love.

Must we always agree?  No, of course not.  But we must defend our values with calmness, respect and clarity always focused on the issue and not denigrating the person.  It is important to disagree without being disagreeable...  especially when you love your partner and want to avoid creating pain or shame.

Should we merge with our partner, giving up our uniqueness?  No.  Each of us is valuable and loveable as we are today.  We may have areas that need growth or change, but that does not mean we are defective in any way.  We are working toward a goal of becoming...  not a goal of perfection.  We love our partner as they are... giving them the space to grow and mature.  That is not only a gift to them, but a gift to ourselves, as we receive what we give in our relationship.

Using our tools and focusing on ourselves and how we can improve our own lives gives our relationship the gift of life and our partner the ultimate gift...  unconditional love.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Violence, Extremism and Self-care

Recently there has been significantly more violence in our own country and throughout the world.  Each event evokes a new wave of feelings…  helplessness, anger, bitterness, frustration and fear.

It is displayed on television and heard on the radio over and over again in vivid detail, causing us more anguish and creating more fear.  It has been shocking to see human beings devolve into hate and bigotry.  Somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten that we are all part of the human race.

Recovery demands that we continually ask the question when challenges occur, "How did I contribute to this mess?".  Shouldn’t we ask that question in the face of the violent acts we witness today?  We are so eager to take three steps backward and point the finger at others to assign blame.  Why?  Why do we default to blame, bowing to fear, instead of confronting our own issues when difficulties arise?  Is our recovery so fragile that we cannot look ourselves in the mirror and have enough courage to see the truth?

In allowing ourselves to take the easy path of blame and fear we create more problems than we solve.  By not taking the route we know to be the road of recovery…  self evaluation…  we add more obstacles and create more barriers.

The answer is deceptively simple.  Each of us needs to be self responsible.  Instead of trying to control outcomes and others we need to take the more difficult step of self-control.  Although it is simple, it is not easy to practice self-control and effective boundaries.  For many of us our default position is to try to “fix it”.  Although we know this is not the correct path.  When we are frightened and overwhelmed it is easy to backslide.

We must, as part of the human race, realize that our actions and words have consequences.  We cannot blame innocents for the actions of others simply because they may share either the same race, religion or sexual preference.  We must begin to view our actions as others see them…  not just through the myopic lens of bigotry.  It is imperative that we embrace the values we know in our beings to be valid and not succumb to fear and blame.

All human beings are valuable.  All human beings are fallible… including us.  When we come to realize that we are part of the problem we are ready to find a solution.  So long as we believe we are without fault we can continue to play the role of victim.

By practicing self-care and using our tools we can avoid becoming stuck in the victim role and can experience the warmth and love we each have to offer the world and the human race.