Love: Just Is

What is love really? Do you know?

For me love is…

Not saying everything that immediately comes to mind.

Why?

Because if the same were said to us by the one we love, we would be seriously devastated.  The emotional damage could likely be irreparable. 

Love is knowing that you are right about a point or situation. Love is knowing that the other person may be aware of this yet is on a different page, and thus has valid points to be considered also. People who enjoy successful relationships work extremely hard to be on the same page when it comes to things that matter: core values, family, ethics, etc. 

Being in a relationship with some (one) who is always right means that everyone else is always wrong. This is not a home, it is a prison. 

Love is accepting the one whom we have chosen. All of it. Because we chose them. And they chose us. We picked each other. Accept your part in the decision to be partnered with this human being. If not, perhaps a revised decision based on the new information is in order.

Yes, there are disagreements. And yes, we gain more information or clarity as the relationship evolves and we evolve in it. I agree that it’s impossible to know about all of the traits and idiosyncrasies that another person has after a few dates. This is why dating is really a discovery phase. In the midst of dining at fancy restaurants, new-couple-weekends/meet and greets, and other juicy parts of new love, the key objective is to assess early on-the other person’s suitability for being our life partner.

Men more often than women, will reveal themselves relatively early in the relationship. At least this has been my experience.  For me, love is knowing that I can’t change who my mate inherently is. Influence, yes. Empower, absolutely. But change someone into a completely different human being? 

Guess what? 

Organized religion has been trying to do the same for centuries.  

How has that worked out? 

Love. Just. Is.

To Defend and Protect

Am I defensive?

The very thought of behaving defensively makes me clutch my invisible pearls in mild embarrassment.

Am I really walking around with a pinned mental note that states: “Tendency to need to be heard and over explain.” Or, “Needs to justify her decisions, statements, or actions so that others can understand her better.”

When random people share their experiences about matters that are unrelated to me, or their experiences differ from mine, do I sometimes feel compelled to offer & defend my alternate point of view? Do I feel uneasy over not agreeing with them, or for not sharing their beliefs?

At times, yes.

I confess that I have acted defensively at times. Sometimes I’ve even tried to fix situations that aren’t my responsibility to address.

As I get super introspective, I can see that there have been times that I’ve conflated what I do with who I am. This is often evidenced when someone makes a critical statement about my work, or a project that I’m involved with. There have been situations in which I “heard” something completely different than what was actually said. For example, someone comments about a presentation I worked on. They may have offered suggestions on how the presentation could have been “better”, or suggest items to add in the future. Admittedly in some of those instances, the constructive feedback was muted, and the examples of my inadequacy were amplified. In this scenario, what I “heard” was the person detailing all the ways that I could be better (as a person), versus how the thing (the presentation) could have been better. The criticism was about me.

Light-bulb moment: There is a core difference between what we do and who we are. So when someone adds their two cents, it’s important for me to understand it’s just that. Sometimes we have to be okay with everybody not being okay with every detail, or in agreement with our decisions.

In my opinion, this mindset is rooted in a setting called survival-mode also known as people pleasing. As children, we needed to please the adults in our experience. Just watch the interactions of any child between the ages of 4-8 years old. Observe how these brilliant little humans are innately masterful in defending themselves.

“Stephanie took my scissors!”

Without missing a beat comes…

“No I didn’t! I don’t have Matthew’s scissors! He’s telling a STORY!”

Children learn right away that they must protect themselves from reprisals and punishment…early. Sadly, many of us never grow out of the habit. Some actually perfect it by going out of their way to ensure that everyone around them, especially those who matter and occasionally those who don’t, are pleased. And when they are not, some of us become defensive to avoid being disliked. Sometimes we are hypersensitive about preventing being in the line of fire of false accusations.

The point isn’t to let others get away with lies or let unacceptable behavior go unchecked. That’s not defense, it’s called common sense.

What I’m referring to is taking on other people’s stuff; excessively personalizing insignificant situations, opinions, and even feedback. People really are entitled to their opinions. And when they decide to share these views, we can choose-I can choose what to do with them. Implement, respond, or simply ignore.

Sometimes…actually most of the time, there is nothing to defend or protect.