LOVE does not Hurt!

LOVE doesn’t hurt you. A person who doesn’t know how to love or who is in pain may hurt you. Be a person who loves anyway.

I love this quote (author unknown) about love and pain because it is so true. Love does not hurt. Period.

love hurts

Loving energy only produces loving feelings. Just like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 states:  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Anything else… does not originate from loving energy. It comes from pain and fear. It comes from not knowing love. Someone who has rarely experienced kindness may not know how to be kind. Likewise, if they don’t have a history of being supported – how do they know that supporting others is an expression of love?

When we don’t experience consistent and pure loving energy as we grow, we are likely not to extend it as adults. This is evident over and over again in people who claim to love yet they engage in behavior that is very unloving. Think about it…

A parent says “I love you” and then they are demanding and critical. A child makes a connection between the two.

A parent says “I love you” and then doesn’t listen or isn’t attentive. A child believes they are related.

In this way, a child grows up to understand that love is demanding, critical, and inattentive. They don’t think twice about engaging in that behavior and expressing love at the same time. For that adult, true loving energy was scarce and consequently, remains unlearned. They will continue the pattern with the next generation unless they are able to experience true love.

True love is peaceful. It is joyful. And it is always a better choice. We are born in a natural state of knowing love and then learn otherwise. Getting back there may take a bit of work as we unplug all of the correlations that were made as we learned. One by one, it’s important to disconnect the idea that love is something other than patience, compassion, understanding, and kindness and practice how to extend loving energy under all conditions.

If it’s ‘true’ love – it will always feel good.

TTAHYou can listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

Image by Pexels on Pixabay

#1 Practice Mutuality

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#1

Practice Mutuality

Mutuality is defined as…

The sharing of a feeling, action, or relationship between two or more parties.”

It’s a reciprocal exchange of intent, energy, and commitment in friendship, familial relationships, and marriage. The pinnacle of mutuality is when your interest is in the love, respect, support, and trust of another individual. We do this easily in friendship. We encourage, support, trust, love, and respect the autonomy and independence of our friends.

Love Relationships

In order to practice mutuality in romantic relationships, you get up every day with the goal of helping your loved one have their best day ever. Your focus is on supporting them to achieve their highest goals, to be their best selves and you do this no. matter. what. It can be hard in those love relationships that endure day to day stressors and get more complicated over time as we combine finances, raise children, and try to balance home and work. 

Reciprocal

Mutuality is the based on the concept of reciprocation. You have my back… I have yours. Do onto me what you would have me do onto you. Etcetera. When I feel supported, I am willing to support. When I feel loved, I am offering love back. When I am respected, I respect. When I am appreciated, I will be appreciative. It works beautifully under those conditions and it fosters great respect. Without reciprocation, mutuality takes on a whole new look.

Self-respect

In the best example of mutuality, both people in the relationship are focused on one another, respecting the space, independence, goals, and autonomy of the other. If you are in a relationship where it is not reciprocated, then the key is to kick self-respect into high gear and practice mutuality personally.

In this case, it may look like this…  “I respect you but if you can’t be as respectful of me, I must practice self-respect”. “I am encouraging you to reach your goals but if you can’t encourage me than I must encourage myself”. “ I am supporting you to be your best and will continue to support myself to grow and learn”. Sometimes, the mutuality you engage in is with yourself by setting boundaries that demonstrate a respect for self.

Relationships

The self-respect examples I list are more often for those relationships that  you don’t necessarily choose; family, boss, neighbor, etc… In a romantic relationship, the practice of mutuality is one of the only ways to foster a happy and healthy bond. It creates an environment where both of your needs for love, respect, support, and autonomy are being encouraged and developed. You are building one another up – not with hot air, but with energy that binds. It will ‘feel’ good.

For best results in every relationship, it’s important to …

Practice Mutuality.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#12 Argue Effectively

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#12

Argue Effectively

In January, I dedicated a post to ‘Stop Arguing’ but in a relationship, the idea that you may never argue is too idealistic. When you live with someone, you’re bound to run into conflict and the solution isn’t to avoid the confrontation, but to approach it effectively.

The following eight suggestions – when followed – will allow disagreements to be addressed with respect and maturity.

  1. Use “I” statements only. Explain your position, your role in the conflict, and your expectations. Identify your triggers, explain your needs, and describe how you will work to bridge the gap in the conflict. Concentrate on your perspective here and work hard not to engage in finger pointing or blaming.
  2. Step back from your ego. In supportive partnerships, it is important to embrace our differences with respect and develop acceptance for the ways that our partners are different. There are mostly differences between us – not always rights and wrongs. If you feel you need to fight for being ‘right’ about something, ask yourself “why?” If it is only ego based, drop it.
  3. Be present.  Don’t focus on the past (unless you are reflecting for the lesson it is teaching you) – or worry about the future.  Try and stay right there in the present moment and what is happening there. Don’t allow your baggage to overwhelm the issue at hand.
  4. Pay attention to the issue. Try to understand why it is important to or distracting you. Is is a failed expectation? Something you didn’t know? Are you defensive? Why? Exactly what are you feeling and why?
  5. Don’t interrupt your partner. You can’t be a good listener if you aren’t allowing their complete thought to be articulated or expressed.
  6. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If necessary, restate what you hear – paraphrase it – based on your understanding so that you get on the same page.
  7. Remember that most of us have good intentions. Try not to jump right to the conclusion that your partner is being an ass. Consider that they are experiencing frustration and give them space to talk about how they feel.
  8. Do not raise your voice or walk out. If you need a break from the conflict – honor that it remains unsolved and ask for a time out. Don’t threaten. People who feel attacked or threatened will get defensive almost immediately. Once that happens, the discussion is doomed.

Communicating with respect is probably the most critical aspect of a healthy relationship. Remembering that we each come into a relationship with different experiences, worldviews, expectations, and methods will go a long way. Resolving conflict is more easily accomplished when you know how to …

Argue effectively.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#15 Eliminate These Words from Your Vocabulary

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#15

Eliminate These Words from Your Vocabulary

After years of working with couples in crisis and helping families communicate better, I’ve noticed a pattern of vernacular that is a part of most dysfunctional relationships. Our language matters; the words we use are important and paying close attention to your vocabulary will help you communicate better… improving your relationships and your overall sense of happiness. Here are the primary culprits:

“Should”

I wrote a post early in this project about eliminating the ‘should’s in your life and that was mostly from the perspective of identifying the internal expectations that guide you. However, they often interfere in our relationships as well because we think others “should” do something. When we impose our own ‘should’s on others, we are really attempting to convey an expectation and it’s better expressed that way. Instead of “you should take a day off so we can spend time together” you might eliminate the word should and offer this: “It would be great if you could take a day off so we can spend time together”. Simply replacing the word ‘should’ with the word ‘could’ – makes all the difference.

“Right & Wrong”

“Do it the right way”, “If you did it right the first time”, “No, you’re wrong”… all of those phrases are likely to incite a defensive reaction almost as soon as they are spoken. When someone is defensive – they probably aren’t listening and so the conversation is broken at that point. When we understanding that ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are generally spoken about perspective and values and that they are different for different people we can shift the way we speak about them. Try to adopt the ideology that there is no right or wrong – only differences.

Instead of the phrases above, try these: “I was thinking it could be done this way”, “Generally, I do it like this”, “I’d like it done this way”, “that’s an interesting perspective” or “I don’t see it that way”… notice that in each of these statements – you are using the “I” voice and describing YOUR thoughts/perspective. That’s the key.

“Make”

In the English language, we often use the word ‘make’ to mean ‘cause’ which, is one of the secondary definitions and yet when it is in reference to feelings or behavior – it creates a problem of responsibility. Under the assumption that we – each of us as individuals – is personally responsible for our behavior – no one can force us to behave in a particular way. Literally speaking – WE are the cause of our behavior. Thinking anything different is deflecting responsibility and handing away our personal power. Each time we utter the phrase “you make me…” or “you made me…” etc., we are inferring that the responsibility for OUR behavior is on another. That is simply untrue. While it is true that we may react to another person’s behavior – it is still OUR choice on if, when, and how we react.

When we feel something and react – that happens inside our own being and is OUR responsibility. Try these phrases: “I get really angry when you….”, “I feel really disappointed when [that] happens”,  “I have a lot of feelings about…” – notice that in each case again, the communication is about what is happening for YOU. It’s always about communicating your experience from your perspective.

When we pay close attention to the language that we use in our communication, we can significantly reduce the amount of defensiveness that is generated by…

Eliminating these words from your vocabulary.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#16 Create a “Make Me Happy” List

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#16

Create a “Make Me Happy” List

When my children were young, I made a list of things that “made mama happy” so that if they wanted to ask me for something such as running them to the basketball game after I’d gotten home and put on my jammies, they could look at the list and do something nice for me in return. And, while I don’t generally promote a ‘tit for tat’ attitude in most relationships, it’s no surprise that humans are more apt to concede when their needs are also met.

What is it that makes your mama, your partner, or your roommate happy? [know that the word “makes” is being used in the context of ‘generates’ – what ‘generates happiness for your partner, etc.,]

Love Language

There’s an old fable that goes like this:

A man and a woman show up in a counselor’s office after 40 years of marriage stating that they were on the verge of calling it quits. The counselor asks “why after all this time are you opting to end the relationship?” The gentleman replied with a frustrated and loud voice “Every time she walks by me, she pats my God Damn head. I’ve asked her a thousand times to stop and she won’t. I’m done!”. The counselor looks at the woman who is sitting demurely and asks “and you? What’s your position in this?” to which the woman replies sadly and softly… “he never pats my head.”

The point here being that she patted her husband’s head as a way of telling him she loved him… and because it irritated him so – he never considered that she may actually like it. We each have a different way of understanding and feeling loved. It’s the premise behind Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages and a common problem in many relationships. We are inclined to treat our partners and family members the way we want to be treated instead of stopping to recognize how they want to be treated.

Speak Up

One simple way to have your needs met is to blatantly tell those who matter – what is is that generates happiness for you. Are flowers important to you or would you rather have the house cleaned? Do you value a romantic dinner or a couples massage? Does it bring you peace when the kids pick up their shoes and put away their backpacks? Or when they empty the dishwasher? (assuming you need to choose).

Write It Down

I am suggesting that you make a list and tape it all over the house… on the mirrors in the bathrooms. On the back of the bedroom doors. In front of the Playstation or to the top of the laptop. Wherever it is most likely to be seen most.

You don’t use the list just at those times when you want a favor however… if that’s the only effort – it is manipulative. You use the list when your partner has had a bad day, feels sick, or has gone above and beyond. When a child feels appreciated, they will often step up without being asked so know what is important to them as well.

Appreciation

Finally – be sure to be appreciative! We only have so much to give without a consideration of appreciation before we adopt a sour attitude. Even though appreciation isn’t the motivation – once again, we’re human and unless you are a strongly evolved individual – you probably have limits on how much you are willing to give without any acknowledgement of the effort.

A simple and effective method of having your needs met and meeting the actual vs. perceived needs of others to to have everyone in the household…

Create a ‘make me happy’ list.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#30 Masquerade for a Night

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#30

Masquerade for a Night

Have you ever thought about escaping your life? Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you were someone else? We all have at one time or another and if you opt to don a masquerade for an evening, you may surprise yourself at how good it feels to step out for a brief escape of your reality.

This suggestion isn’t so that you can escape the overall reality of being you… it’s not a permanent coping mechanism. It is a way to give yourself a ‘break’ from the stressors and/or responsibilities that you may need some distance from. This ‘escape’ is best played out with a partner or friend and can actually stimulate intrigue, curiosity, and excitement as you both engage with a new persona. It’s your chance to role play or pretend for a few hours; an activity often recognized as helpful in spicing up an intimate relationship.

Fantasy

Masquerading and role playing are great ways to play out emotional fantasies such having increased courage, being more sultry, or having more confidence. Sometimes, if we don’t have the inner belief that we possess a particular trait, it’s helpful to ‘pretend’ that we do to ‘try it on’ and get a sense of how it may be to experience that element. It’s a way to “fake it until you make it”.  

Something as simple as wearing your hair up, or wearing makeup if you don’t typically do either – can create a ‘shift’ in the way that you think of yourself and hence, give you a different perspective out in public. Getting out and doing something completely different from your ‘norm’ while dressed or made up completely different from what’s typical may add just the spice to your life that allows you to have a little breathing space.

So, don those hair extensions and add a pair of glasses or ditch the suit and tie for a pair of jeans and a Hawaiian shirt – grab your partner and …

Masquerade for a night.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#42 Develop More Empathy

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#42

Develop More Empathy

Empathy plays a major roles in our ability to be socially competent. It is a key trait found in healthy relationships. None of us can exist on our own. Societies thrive when their citizens embrace the values of helping one another. While it’s true that we are all responsible for our own actions, it can be easy to forget just how much the desire to understand others and to work on their behalf matters also.

Benefits for Those Who Give

When we think of being empathetic and doing compassionate deeds, our emphasis is usually on what the person in need, or who is receiving the assistance, gets. It’s rare to look at what you can gain through working on behalf of someone else. Of course, you get the satisfaction and warm feeling of helping. It’s an increase in feel-good neurochemicals that leads to this. Performing compassionate deeds lowers our levels of stress and improves our health.

Empathy for others influences our social growth and competence, as well. Such actions force you to look beyond yourself and broaden your perspectives. Doing so can lessen your own emotional issues such as depression and anxiety. Reaching out to others in times of need builds social connections and enhances interpersonal skills necessary for healthy relationships.  

What Receivers Gain

Those on the receiving end of your empathetic efforts gain the sense that others care, which can go a long way toward improving overall mental outlook and sense of self. They gain trust in the outside world and feel seen. When others show compassion, it can lead receivers to believe that they are being perceived as worthwhile and of value. They feel more trusting and are often more motivated to work toward self-improvement goals.

We never know how the empathy we express may affect the person who receives it and I’m not sure we can have too much empathy as long as we are establishing healthy boundaries along the way. Empathy, compassion, and perspective work hand in hand to make great relationships better. If you’re seeking more growth you can work to….

Develop more empathy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#43 Create a Romantic Road Map

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#43

Create a Romantic Road Map

Did you have a year end review with your boss? Did you review goals and set new ones? Do you have a workout plan? Have you made a commitment to work out or lose weight? Are you in school? Do you know exactly what classes you need to complete in order to meet your objective? These are common ambitions at the beginning of the year and yet I find that very few people turn the same attention to their romantic relationships.

Long Term Growth

Your relationship is a long term objective. It requires nurturing and effort and as such, it will benefit from all the energy you commit in designing a plan for its own specific growth and development. Indeed, those that are ignored rarely flourish.

Making a Road map

Where do you see yourself as a couple? What do you have in common? What are your individual growth aspirations? How are you supporting one another in achieving them? When do you spend time together and what do you do? How have your needs changed? Do you have savings goals? Projects to complete? All of these questions can be a springboard in helping you design your relationship road map.

Togetherness

Of course, in designing this road map, you’ll want to do it together. You may want to individually craft some ideas to save time and then blend them together in a more organized manner that moves you toward a common theme. The most important element of the road map is a clear plan to GROW your relationship. Defining dedicated time together is perhaps, the most common mistake that couples make and it’s apparent when the show up for relationship counseling.

Follow the Map

As with any effort of getting to a new place, we seldom end up there randomly. It’s important to have a plan and follow it – even if you get sidetracked. In fact, it’s helpful to have a plan B or some contingencies that will offer some breathing room for you to get back on track. We can’t always plan for the things that life dishes out but knowing that we’ve dedicated some energy to knowing how to stay focused on the end game is helpful.

Grab your partner, a tablet and pen, a cuppa coffee or glass of wine, and devote a few hours to designing the map of your romance. Keep it alive and well by…

Creating a romantic road map.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#68 Take a Cooking Class

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#68

Take a Cooking Class

Are you looking for a last minute gift for that family gathering or birthday? Are you wondering how to change up your date nights? This suggestion may be just the thing that sparks a new passion or a shared interest.

Cooking classes are for cooks of any ability. They are not to be confused with culinary schools as they are typically range from just a couple of hours, a full day, or at most – a week. They are generally designed to introduce you to a new skill, new ingredients, and new methods.

Hometown

It’s likely that there’s a local opportunity for you to take a cooking class if you live in or near a major metropolitan area. A quick google search for a location in Baltimore returned several options. The Schola Cooking school offers technique classes ranging from butter making to bread baking and from sushi to fresh pasta. You can take classes that focus on Cuban cuisine or treats from the sea.

Destinations

If you don’t live near a major city and/or you want the options of a specific location, consider a destination getaway with the intent specifically to take a cooking class. What a great thing to do for a girls weekend, a bachelorette celebration, or a mother/daughter day out. It could be an anniversary event that you do together and carry the skills home as a shared interest.

International

Do you love Italian or French food and want to learn local favorites or from an infamous internationally acclaimed chef? A trip abroad for the purpose of learning cuisine from that region is a great reason to plan a trip. Like schools in the states, international classes are designed for all levels of knowledge and can accommodate the most uneducated beginners.

Even if all you really want to do is eat well, consider grabbing a friend and …

Take a cooking class.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.