Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

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.]

Desires vs. Entitlements

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Desires feature more positive motivation than entitlements. If what you desire is based on your deeper values, the act of desiring makes you a better person. For example, the desire to love makes you more lovable, that is, more loving and compassionate.

Desire is appreciative, not entitled: if I desire something I am more likely to appreciate it than if I feel entitled to it. I’ll appreciate a bonus for my good work, but I’ll demand my contracted salary. I’ll appreciate gifts, unless I feel entitled to them. I’ll appreciate my partner’s help, praise, reward, affection, and support, which I very much want, as long as I don’t feel entitled to them because I “need” them.

— Steven Stosny, PhD, Empowered Love, p. 29-30

[Photo: Glenveagh, Ireland, July 2001.]

Jump in Together

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

People are less like stationary stones than like rivers, always flowing, changing from moment to moment. The best way to see people is to jump into the river with them and form relationships. Then, at least, we are moving together. This is what relationships are: people in motion together. Only as we move together does it become possible to find stillness.

— Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People, p. 28

[Photo: Rhein River, Germany, 1997]

In All Our Grandeur

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Being ourselves naturally proceeds from living our purpose rather than living for approval. Our purpose is what we, of all the people in the world, can do the best. If we do not do it, if we are not true to ourselves, who will be? Who can be? If we do not do what it is we have come to do, no one can do it. It is left undone until we are willing to give our part, until we are willing to be ourselves. Most people are frightened of their own purpose and the greatness that it seems to call from them. In being frightened of our purpose, we are frightened of our own love, passion, and happiness. Most of us feel unworthy, or we try to control our good feelings so as not to be overwhelmed. These are just symptoms of fear that lead us away from our truth, our vision, and our greatness. The greatest art, the greatest gift, is to be ourselves. Being ourselves in all of our grandeur shows how much we love the world. As we unwrap our presence, we give ourselves as the best gift that we can give to life.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 288

Giving Away Power

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

The biggest mistake we make while under the influence of the stress chemicals is to blame our distress on the person who hurt us. When we blame another person for how we feel, we grant them the power to regulate our emotions. In all likelihood, this power will not be used wisely, and we will continue to suffer. The number of people who give power over to those who did not care about them is shockingly high.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 29

Connecting to Communicate

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

If partners are motivated to attack or avoid, employing even the most sophisticated communication skills will make them appear phony and manipulative. In my quarter-century of clinical practice, I have never seen skillful communication form a connection without a sincere desire to connect, nor have I seen poor communications skills or choice of words interfere with a sincere desire to connect.

Adults in love don’t try to communicate in order to connect. They connect in order to communicate.

— Steven Stosny, Ph.D., Empowered Love, p. 19

Paul and Marriage

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Paul did make a huge change in the status of women and in marriage, but not the one we ascribe to him. By bringing the question of happiness into it, he let loose not only that hope and possibility, but with it all of the complexity that ancient customs had tamped down. People now had to figure out relationships between the sexes: whether to have relationships at all, whether they bring too much pain and trouble, whether something else would be more fulfilling, how to balance relationships with the spiritual life, and how to love each other selflessly rather than take each other for granted as providers and breeders. It’s lucky that Christians counted on divine help, because they were going to need it.

— Sarah Ruden, Paul Among the People, by Sarah Ruden