Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

High Value Investment

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

The experience of value gives a heightened sense of vitality — you feel more alive looking at a beautiful sunset, connecting to a loved one, knowing genuine compassion for another person, having a spiritual experience, appreciating something creative, committing to a cause, or identifying with a community. Valuing gives a greater sense of authenticity and often a greater sense of connection. High value investment gives meaning and purpose to life, with a stronger motivation to improve, create, build, appreciate, connect, or protect.

— Steven Stosny, Empowered Love, p. 82

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, June 6, 2018]

The Freedom of Others

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

People do not want to be told how to live. They want to be loved. Lecturing, cajoling, and manipulating will only bring about a cynical attitude toward humanity. Even when others do happen to change under your influence, you will not respect them for it. If you want people to be human beings rather than puppets, take your hands off their strings. Give them plenty of room to breathe, and you’ll breathe easier yourself.

I cannot set anyone else free. Only God can do that, and even He wants their cooperation. But if I make a habit of treating others as if they are already free, they’ll stand a much better chance of getting the hang of it. The reason they are not kind and loving may well be that no one has ever treated them as if they are. If you want to see kingly qualities, treat people like kings.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 189-190

[Photo: Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, June 15, 2008]

Path to Greatness

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

We can measure the quality of our lives by the relationships of mutual inspiration we’ve cultivated. These are the relationships that allow us to trust life. They are the very foundation of joy. Without such inspiration, any love will wither. And without these relationships, we too will wither, reverting to smaller, more defensive and wounded versions of ourselves. Humans are a lot like rubber bands: we shrink to a small, comfortable size unless we’re held to greater expansion by forces outside our ourselves. Relationships of inspiration expand us to a size we could never achieve alone.

These relationships are not only the path to love; they are the path to our own greatness. Through them we can find a way past the fears and wounds that dwarf us. Popular psychology tells us that we can only love others if we love ourselves first. But the real truth is often the other way around: until we feel seen and loved in the places we’re most vulnerable (usually the places of our deepest gifts), few of us will ever be able to fully love ourselves. That’s the great boon of relationships of inspiration. We experience our loved one seeing into our very core — and valuing what he sees. In the wake of this experience comes a sense of bravery, an innate desire to share our gifts — not out of obligation but from a sense of joyful overflow. And that makes us into just the kind of person we are looking for — one who inspires others simply by being who she is.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 90-91

[Photo: Rhein River, Germany, as seen from Burg Rheinstein, July 1997]

Overcoming with Deeper Values

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

The Adult brain is able to overcome intimate relationship dynamics by illuminating and adjusting for blind spots in our own behavior and using our partners’ reactions to us as rear- and side-view mirrors. The Adult brain is able to recognize dynamics and bring them into the open, where they shrink in relation to deeper values of compassion, kindness, and connection.

— Steven Stosny, Empowered Love, p. 80

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 9, 2018]

Practice

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

This openhanded, teachable attitude is what is implied in the word practice. Inherent in this word is the freedom to experiment, to try and try again with limitless humility to fail. Practice makes perfect, but the practice itself is not perfect. Practice is a patient, related process of finding out what works and what doesn’t. Practice leaves plenty of room for making mistakes; indeed mistakes are taken for granted. In practice it goes without saying that any success is only the fruit of many failures. Hence the failure is as important as the success, for the one could not happen without the other.

Many people avoid practice because of the fear of failure. Perfectionists have the mistaken idea that something is not worth doing if they cannot look good by getting it right the first time. For the perfectionist, any misstep is an unpleasant and embarrassing surprise. But for a humble person, the surprise is getting it right. Humility expects trial and error and so rejoices all the more at success. Humility is always being surprised by grace.

Either life is practice, or it is performance. It cannot be both. Do you love surprises, or do you prefer to stay in control? Are you a professional at life or an amateur? Do you live spontaneously and experimentally for the sheer love of it? Or are you an expert who takes pride in being right about everything? Would you rather be right than happy?

None of us can be perfect. But everyone can be free. Which will you choose?

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 180-181

[Photo: Dahn, Germany, July 1997]

Attractions of Inspiration

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

We don’t need the roller coaster of negative attractions in order to grow! We can grow through inspiration instead.

Attractions of inspiration have a warmth and an easiness. In these relationships, our challenge is to accept and return our partner’s caring, not to win that caring. Our partners might challenge us to be better, but at bottom, they love us for who we are. Attractions of inspiration are fueled by the real sense of well-being that the relationship creates in us, not by the unrelenting itch for something that’s denied us. These attractions often unfold slowly. They get richer as time goes on. They may take lots of work — but such relationships allow the work of intimacy. They make us feel love, not desperation. These are the only relationships to build a life around, the only ones that deserve the gift of our most intimate self. And I promise you, they really are out there.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 90

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 18, 2018]

Unenforceable Rules

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Often when trying to enforce unenforceable rules we write mental tickets to “punish” the one who has acted wrongly. Unfortunately, if our rule is unenforceable, the only person we end up hurting with our ticket is ourselves. We clog up our minds with these tickets. We become frustrated because things do not go the way we want. We become angry because something wrong is happening. We feel helpless because we cannot make things right.

I am convinced that when you try to enforce something over which you have no control, you create a problem for yourself. That problem gets in your way as you try to figure out what is the best thing to do. It is much harder to know what to do when you are angry, frustrated, and helpless. Making a good decision is tough when you are constantly writing tickets and there is no one to give them to….

We have as much chance of enforcing our unenforceable rules as of getting blood out of a stone. Think for a minute about why trying to do so makes our lives so hard. Have you ever tried to force someone to do something they did not want to do? How successful were you? Have you ever tried to get what you needed from a person who did not want to help? How successful was that? Have you ever demanded your spouse or partner be nicer to you? Were you successful? Have you ever gotten mad at yourself for making a mistake? Did getting mad help? Ever demanded your boss treat you better? Did this change your boss’s behavior? Each of these normal desires is an example of trying to enforce an unenforceable rule. Trying to change what cannot be changed or influence those who do not want to be influenced will meet with failure and cause us emotional distress.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 49

[Photo: Duart Castle, Isle of Mull, Scotland, July 12, 2003]

The Valued Self

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Criticism fails in love relationships because it embodies two of the things that most human beings hate the most: It feels like rejection and demands submission. In short, it threatens both autonomy and connection, throwing the Grand Human Contradiction completely out of balance.

Although people hate to submit, we actually like to cooperate, which affords balance of the Grand Human Contradiction. (We choose to cooperate, which enhances autonomy, while strengthening the connection.) We have a built-in reward of well-being for cooperation, probably because it was necessary for the survival of the species. Critical people demand submission but they really want cooperation — willing, resentment-free behaviors to further the good of the relationship. They seem oblivious to this key point about human nature: The valued self cooperates; the devalued self resists.

If you want behavior change from a partner, child, relative, or friend, first show value for that person. If you want resistance, criticize.

— Steven Stosny, Empowered Love, p. 35

[Photo: Burg Katz, Rhein River, Germany, July 23, 2006]

Other People’s Needs

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

We think we know so well what other people need. Often enough we do. But before we can tell what we know, we must first, paradoxically, forget we ever knew it. We must enter the fire of a person’s living presence and accept the risk of spontaneous, unpremeditated relationship. Only in the midst of the free fall of real personal encounter may we discover, when we least expect it, the wisdom to confront a thorny problem.

Whenever possible, it is best to let others take the lead in correcting themselves. It is surprising how willing many are to do this if only they catch a whiff of genuine love. In this atmosphere, as often as not, the forbidden issue will actually be raised by the other person first, and suddenly we’re invited to give the counsel stored up within us. Alternatively, once we come to know and appreciate others, it may no longer seem so important to give them a piece of our mind!

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 155

[Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 11, 2018]

A Community of Loved Ones

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

You may think that a community of loved ones can come later; that what you really need is a partner. If you think this way, chances are good that you are sabotaging your search for love. If you seek romantic love but are not building love into your relationships with friends and family, chances are good that you won’t find what you’re looking for….

Our characters are like wax. Left alone in the cold commerce of day-to-day life, we harden into whatever shape our environment creates for us. Wax must be warmed to be reshaped. We are warmed when we are in the Gift Zone. When we are in the presence of people with whom we feel safe, we are also warmed. We begin to soften. We find ourselves becoming malleable and trusting as we open these tender parts of ourselves again. At that time we need the kind and supportive hands of others to help us reshape ourselves. We can’t do it alone.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 74.

[Photo: Bluebell Trail, Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, April 8, 2016.]