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Healthy Relationships

How to Be the Love That You Are

Each of us have the opportunity to be the love that we are at any moment. Here is how one 5-year-old showed us how it's done. I love this story! This school district dared to teach troubled kids meditation, and had amazing results. A man after my own heart - writing about how consciousness alters physical reality. Even rats have been shown to be empaths and will rescue a fellow rat over eating chocolate!

Cultivating Self-Love

meditationtemplegirl

Recently a client of mine asked to share her journal entries, with me and you, so that others could benefit from knowing what it is like to gain new insights, and begin to act on them.

In this case she was struggling to love herself, for she was really good at intense and unconstructive self-talk, and at beating herself up for every little thing she judged herself for doing wrong. We were trying to help her move into more automatic constructive, rather than unconstructive, self-talk. One of the things we had worked on was helping her distinguish between discernment and judging.

Read more: Cultivating Self-Love

What is "Essential" Parenting?

boymother

I'm moved to write this post after meeting with so many clients who were raised by mentally ill parents.

They struggle with the idea of becoming parents themselves, worried that they will do what their parents did, or didn't do. Clueless as to what a healthy relationship or lifestyle even looks like, they feel completely overwhelmed at the idea of becoming a parent.

What is essential parenting? Forget the idea of "good enough" parenting for now. I'm not sure how helpful that concept is in this moment. Let's focus on what exactly is needed by any child.

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Self-Love or Selfishness?

womanmirror

Self-love is nurturing of growth and allowing oneself the conditions in which to thrive. Imagine you are a budding flower, perhaps a dandelion, a peace lily or a rose. As a flowering plant, you need an ideal amount of sunlight and water, a certain type of soil, and just the right mix of nutrients. To self-love is to allow yourself to be in your ideal garden spot, not too crowded or overly shaded, not burned by too much sun, drinking in enough water but not so much that you drown, receiving all of the nutrients that you need to be strong, resilient, and long-lasting. If a plant could be selfish, (and here the metaphor is a stretch but work with me!) it would be hoarding the sunlight and the shade, the water and the nutrients, taking more than it needs and much of what it doesn't, just to have it all. It would not show its flower, nor share its seed. When you are being selfish, you are taking to the degree you are hurting others and causing them some form of harm.

Read more: Self-Love or Selfishness?

Stages of Love

heartrocksHave you ever wondered how we tend to evolve in the ways of love? Here is a brief look at love as it unfolds through us. Stage 1: "I love me" This is the stage where "me, me, me" is the object of love. We focus on our safety, security, self-preservation, appearance...the physical aspects of self. Physical sensation rules. Love is confused with sex. Instinct is the predominant consciousness here. This aspect of love is needed because we have to be very aware of the physical self or else we would run into walls and, in many ways, hurt ourselves. However, if we overdo it, we can get stuck in narcissism. Balance is key. Stage 2: "I love you, on condition that..." This is the stage where "you", another person or thing, is the object of love. Here, we focus on love for family, friends, and most of all, our beloved or significant other. But love is usually limited to one or few people, and handed out on condition that we get something in return. Our big desire is to get into intimate relationship, marry, and have children. Yet, we have this selfish habit of picking people who "complete us", who fulfill certain needs that we see in ourselves. Unfortunately, these types of relationships aren't often sustainable because when we outgrow the need, we outgrow the person.

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How To Offer Loving Support To Your Spouse or Partner

coupleolderswing

Many people have asked me how to know whether or not they are loving their spouse or partner in "healthy enough" ways. They wonder how they can best support their loved one on a daily basis, in the daily activity of their relationship. First of all, ask them. In a quiet moment, when you are talking about your relationship, ask them directly in which ways you could do more to make them feel loved. The goal is to allow them space to be who they really are authentically inside, to freely support them as they express their loving self in the world at large, to forgive them when they make mistakes as we expect them to forgive us in return, and to give plenty of room for change, balance, growth and evolution. In the person, as well as in the relationship. Realize that everyone experiences love differently. The mistake we often make is assuming that the way we like to experience love is the way our partner likes to experience love. For instance, I feel very loved when my husband does little things for me without me having to ask him, like emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the floors, or picking up clutter around the house. Why?

Read more: How To Offer Loving Support To Your Spouse or Partner

The Ways of Love: Qualities, Attributes, Characteristics

childbabyloveLove is..... Gentle. Not terse.

More an intimate whisper that invokes intent listening and inspires responsive action, than a fierce wind that sends us scurrying for protection.

Kind. Respectful of all.

Wise. In wisdom, there is loving understanding.....a sense of patient compassion that comes from the realization that perfection lies in the whole beyond time, rather than in the part that defines space.

Responsible. We know what needs to be done. We choose a part to play in the entire activity of construction. We do it, regardless of how inadequate our contribution seems. We understand that perfection is only achieved from group rather than individual effort. Follow through is our strength, as is persistence and steadfastness to the task at present.

Present. When we are present, we are listening, attending and connecting. We become aware of that which weaves us together in synthesis. Through mindful and heartful presence, we fully become aware of the whole, as well as our role in it. Meaning and purpose become known, since it is the whole picture that bestows context to any one part. (Consider that when our life fails to have meaning and purpose for us, it is we who have neglected to give it any.)

Allowing. Freeing. Not binding, nor demanding. 

In love, there is understanding that each flower grows in its own field in its own time and pace, and in this way, life continues its blooming.

Grateful. Appreciative of what is, rather than judgmental of what is not. This is the yin of love, receptive and open.

Inclusive. Including all, marginalizing no one. Love's creative process requires our togetherness, unity, synthesis, collaboration, and cooperation.

Constructive. Supportive. Creative. This is the yang of love. As St. Paul said, love builds. Any destruction that takes place simply makes room for the building process. An old house must be torn down before the new can be erected in its place. When the new one is built, it is constructed upon a foundation of support. Love supports, like rebar to a concrete structure. Love raises us up, like pillars and beams to a roof.