Monthly Archives: August 2015

Mature Love

I can’t tell you how many people sit in my office and say, “I know I love ______, but I don’t know if I’m “in love” with him/her.”

I’ve never really known what “in love” meant. Most of us experience the passion and constant obsession of early infatuation. But for almost everyone I’ve known, that eventually wanes. Many interpret this as no longer loving that person, and for some, perhaps that’s the case. But some recognize that a more mature, tangible love can gradually take it’s place.

Dr. Henry Grayson says “falling in love” is a syndrome. The very words we use to describe it (falling head over heels, being swept away, I’m crazy about you) imply a feeling of powerlessness. It’s immature – and says “I love you because I need you.”

Mature love is not just emotion. It’s a consistent series of acts of kindness, compassion and respect; occasional passion; and most of all – loving thoughts. It’s our thoughts that lead to how we feel about something/someone and ultimately to how we behave.

Mature love is empowering and unconditional. It’s an active striving for the growth and happiness of the loved one. There are no conditions, expectations or bartering (which I call “keeping score”).

One very real example of mature love in my life was shown to me when our granddaughter was living with us.  I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu in the middle of the night. It really took me down. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty!

My husband came to my rescue and stayed with me, helping me clean things up, wash clothes & towels, and sanitize everything as much as we could to prevent him and our granddaughter from coming into contact with it if at all possible. He probably lost more sleep that night than I did, even though I told him on several occasions to let me do it.

I know others who cared for their loved ones at the end of their lives, when the person could literally do nothing to care for themselves. Again, it’s not pretty, and often it’s thankless.  That’s mature love. I strive to learn from my husband, and from these others, how to give unconditionally.

It’s easy to love someone when they’re clean, attractive and smell good. But real love shows up at these other times.

Expectations vs Trust

I don’t believe we have the right to expect anything from anyone. Some people have difficulty with that concept – especially in intimate relationships. They get confused with the difference between expectations and trust.

An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or will be the case in the future or a belief that someone will or should do something. If we apply that to any relationship, it sets us up for failure. Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Trust, on the other hand is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. I liken trust to faith. It’s accepted without the need for evidence or investigation. However, in a healthy relationship, trust is built slowly, which does give us evidence of past trustworthiness.  A pattern is developed over time that shows one that the other is trustworthy. Those who trust too much, too soon are either confusing trust with expectations, or they are afraid to let the relationship take its normal course. Either way, they find themselves in a lot of pain they could probably avoid if they could learn to be patient and allow the relationship to evolve.

When trust is broken, it can be rebuilt, but it takes long-term, consistent effort – sometimes extreme effort – to prove trustworthiness again. Once that process has begun, then the other side must eventually begin to trust again – a little at a time. Both parties must be diligent in rebuilding trust. When that’s done, the relationship will never be the same – but it is often better.

Allow the Goodness

Whatever you allow to hold you back will hold you back. Whatever you allow to push you forward will push you forward.

There are many factors, circumstances and influences that will flow through your life. Whether each one is a liability or an asset is, for the most part, up to you.

Great disappointments and tragedies can arise out of seemingly perfect situations. And magnificent achievements can come from desperate, seemingly hopeless conditions.

What matters most is not the nature of your situation. What matters most is what you take from it and what you do with it.

Even in places and pursuits where others may have failed, you have the opportunity to succeed. Even those factors that may have held others back can be your motivation to move forward.

Many things may seem inevitable, and yet most things are really not. No matter what life may send your way, choose to use it in a positive, productive and valuable manner.

Allow the goodness, the abundance, the joy, and they will be.

-Ralph Marston

Boundaries in Intimate Relationships

Setting boundaries is very often a topic in my office.  Very often clients have no or few boundaries.  But occasionally I come across someone who has been hurt badly and has very rigid boundaries – in the hope of not letting that happen again.

Boundaries  in relationships are like putting a fence around our house. They define what’s ours. Boundaries provide a sense of self, safety/protection, help us understand expectations, and maintain our own identity. Boundaries are setting limits, determining rules we’re both willing to abide by and acknowledging our differences.

Love involves an extension of one’s limits/boundaries. The closer we get to someone, the more blurred the distinction is between us.

We all have the need to belong, so we sometimes let our boundaries slip before we’re ready to in order to feel that connectedness to another.

But we must possess something before we can give it up – so we must set boundaries for self-identity before we can open ourselves up to an intimate relationship. However, we need to maintain that sense of our own individuality throughout the relationship! The concept the media often presents of “you complete me” is not healthy. A healthy relationship is when two whole people come together because they WANT to be there, not because they need the other to feel whole.

I like to think of our boundaries as a clear shield with a zipper. When we feel safe and respected we can unzip it some to allow the other to come a little closer. When we don’t feel safe, we can zip it to protect ourselves.

Sometimes someone else ignores or even crosses our boundaries. That’s abuse. It means they’re taking control – but that can only happen if we allow it. We can be in control of our own safety and identity by being aware of the situations and relationships we enter.

So the moral of this story is: Protect yourself. Be in charge of your own zipper!  :)

Life is a Choice

It’s my belief that we are here on earth to have experiences that help us evolve.  The majority of those experiences are through our relationships.  So if we feel stuck or victimized in some or all of our relationships, we have to look at ourselves to understand why.   We’ve all heard “no one else can MAKE you angry.”  And I think most of us would agree with that intellectually.  But do we really understand it?

When we are angry about someone else’s behavior or feel their actions have caused us pain in some way, we are not really taking responsibility for our own feelings.  We are allowing other people, and events to dictate our environment.  Some would argue that we have a right to feel whatever we feel.  I agree.  Just be sure that while you’re feeling, acknowledge it as a choice you’re making.

Our emotions are not what our experiences generate, they are what generate our experiences (Neale Donald Walsh).   Our emotions are chosen.  We decide to feel a certain way about something or someone, based on our perspective about ourselves and our connection to that other thing or person (or what we believe to be true).  Our perspective creates our perceptions, which in turn lead to our feelings.

Beliefs are not innate. They are based on thoughts that come from our environment – our parents, our church, our education, our friends, and the things that have happened to us over years.  The thoughts we feed are the ones that gain weight and eventually become our beliefs.

What is innate, is that which we “know.”  I’m not speaking of the knowledge we gain through our education over the years.  (As I said above, that is information that helps to form our belief system).  This kind of “knowing” is that “aha moment” when we read or hear something that resonates to our souls.  It’s a feeling that “I’ve always known this.”  Sometimes we didn’t even realize we’ve “known” it; sometimes it’s been swimming around under the surface for a long time, but since it might be slightly different from the concepts that others around us articulate; we’ve never really formulated the concept fully.

This might be a bit confusing if this is the first time you’ve considered this angle to your life.  But if you ask yourself, “what is another way I can look at this situation?” and you’re truly able to come up with an alternative perception, you can follow the process through and see how you are making the decisions at every step.

For me, when I can look at life this way, it eliminates the victim mindset that someone is doing something to me. All the minutia that wasn’t what I had planned, and that I think is screwing up my life, is just the weeds I know I have to wade through to get to the garden on the other side.

It gives me freedom to feel, and more importantly BE what I choose, based on the lessons I’ve learned on that trek through the weeds.  And what I choose is to be free of the constraints put on me by all the “supposed to’s” in this world.