“Love is a gift of one’s inner most soul to another so both can be whole.”
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This is the month of love. Cinnamon hearts and overpriced prix-fixe menus seem to point out that a romantic, care-free love is easy and natural. Yet for many who are not in a satisfying, healthy relationship, it can be a time of disappointment and sadness.
For the many years I was single during this time, I wondered what was wrong with me that even though I was relatively attractive and successful, this kind of love eluded me.
When I was dating, I kept meeting men and trying to see if they would fit my stringent criteria. Were they caring enough? Attractive enough? Committed enough? Will they be good enough for me? Will they make me happy and stay with me always? Turns out, I had the question wrong. Luckily, I had a friend at the time who was quite wise, and challenged me to enter dates from a place of service and curiosity, rather than judgment.
When I met my now-husband, she encouraged me to open up to him as he really was, with his current fears and imperfections, and get curious about getting to know him. When I began to get scared, she always asked me – do you enjoy being with him? If you lived only for today, would you stay? I stayed. This was the beginning of a lifelong journey of getting to know one another.
I have told people that my key to a satisfying, long-lasting love, is to have no expectations. Of course, we all have needs and we can communicate them to one another. Having no expectations does not mean that we can’t be clear about our boundaries, interests, hopes and dreams.
Yet in my experience, the more I can drop my own story line, take responsibility for my own well-being, and open up to another human being, just as he or she is, the more I can open to love.
This month, I challenge you to notice your thoughts when you are in relationship – with your partner, your colleague, your boss, a stranger.
Are you asking yourself “what about ME?” What would happen if instead, you asked “what about YOU?”
Here are some ways that you can begin to change the question:
1. Become Curious
- Next time you go on a date, job interview, or a meeting with someone new, take a moment prior to entering.
- Notice any thoughts about “Will they like me?” and how this feels in the body.
- Take a breath, and choose to focus instead on really getting to know the person.
- What is this person really like? What makes them tick? How can you be helpful to them?
2. Pause The Judgment
- When you are interacting with a friend, family member or colleague that rubs you the wrong way, notice the constant judgment that goes on in your head about them.
- How they are not smart enough / thoughtful enough / relaxed enough / organized enough…
- Now put those thoughts aside, and begin to notice their face.
- What do their eyes tell you? Is there any pain or suffering there? Can you begin to empathize with whatever it might be that is making them act in these ways?
3. Act On Your Needs
- Bring your attention to a constant complaint you have about a loved one.
- Perhaps they never do the dishes, aren’t organized enough around the house, or don’t remember dates that are important to you.
- Ask yourself – Why is their behavior bothering you? What is the need that is not being met by their actions?
- Then, find a way to meet this need for yourself today.
In allowing ourselves to become genuinely interested in and present with the people we come into contact with, noticing our judgment of them, and taking responsibility for meeting our needs, we will find that love is not something that comes in shiny red hearts, chocolates and roses, but an essential part of being human. Underneath the fears, anxieties, and endless dialogues about the story of me, lies an ocean of love, just waiting to be touched upon and shared freely.
Get curious about others and watch the magic happen…