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Yourself As a Great Source of Love Gifts

Mini-Love-Lesson  #261

Synopsis: You may be your own best source of behavioral love gifting; what the idea of love gifting yourself to others is all about; and how your love gifts are important to love relating are aptly dealt with here.

Your Most Personal Gift of Love?

Do you agree that the more personal the gift the better is the gift’s love effect?  Do you know that among the most personal of gifts can be the gifts of yourself?  Are you aware that especially this can be true for growing healthy, real, love relationships?

Your finest love gift can be yourself, along with your real self, your growing and improving self and your best self.  Those things can be true because the more you give of yourself to someone who loves you, in a sense, the more they have of you, know about you and the more they can experience love with you.  Also, the more you give of the personal, real you the greater the growth of closeness and heart-felt bonding can occur with you.  Conversely, the more you do not give of yourself the more likely there will be an emotional distancing and disconnection.  So with that in mind, let’s ask two questions.  Do you know much about giving of yourself and do you know what the real you has to offer?

The Real You and Your Many Fine Gifts

Those who would do love with you want to know the real you and experience the real you so they can do real love relating with the real you.  Therefore, if you love someone, the challenge is twofold.  First, is to  be real and not fake.  Second, is to work to become your best self and, as you do that, keep giving of yourself to whomever you would love.

So long as you are truthful and sincere, your words and actions reveal and consequently give of yourself.  Conversely, if you are untruthful and insincere, your words and actions likely will manifest only fake love and make real love less likely.  If this effort to hide the real you is discovered, only a phony you will be revealed.

The many fine gifts you have to offer are accomplished by doing behaviors.  They are done through the behaviors of truthful talking and sincere and/or experimental action-taking.  You are capable of making a lot of different love-giving, truthful statements plus doing a great variety of sincere and experimental loving actions.  This enables you to do a lot of different kinds of love gifting.  So, let’s take a brief look at just five of the less thought about gifts of love you have to offer (see “Love Active Enough?”).

The Gift of Affirmation

You give this gift by first looking for what you can honestly see as worthy, of value and/or positive in another.  Then spend a little time appreciating what you have observed and time to find the words you can use to speak of it.  Then with those words you can give honest praise, compliments and perhaps thankful statements to the person you are gifting with your affirmational love.  This can be done privately, or in front of others or in the form of a possible keepsake type note.

Affirmation is one of the most important ways to love a great many people especially if they could use some increase in self-valuing.  By the way, whatever you find to appreciate in another reveals a certain amount of your own, inner workings and so that is a gift of yourself (see the “Affirmation Love” chapter in Recovering Love).

The Gift of Listening with Love

Have you heard the old saying that proclaims we were given two ears and only one mouth because listening is twice as important as talking?  This especially has relevance when a loved one seems to need or want to tell us something, share their emotions or just know by experiencing it that they are being heard.

It is very important to know loving listening can not be done just mentally.  It must have heart in it.  This heart-full quality must be well and often expressed via quiet but very active expressional love behaviors, via facial expressions, gestures posture changes, voice tones, etc.  Passive, inactive, blank and stone face listening can be quite anti-loving.  Link “Listening with Love”  Link “Listening With Love and IN and OUT Brain Functions”

The Gift of Loving Touch

Whether it is a gentle, soft caressing or a good solid, full-body hug, a simple comforting hand holding, a one arm buddy hug or a loving full body massage – love via touch is known to change our body and brain chemistry for the better.  Loving touch brings closeness, relational love bonding and is very assistive in both physical and emotional healing processes.  When loving touch is done well and often, the research shows it to be quite assistive in life lengthening (see “50 Varieties of Love Touch” and “Touching With and For Love – A Super Important Love Skill”).

The Gift of Receiving Love Well

It is a gift to receive a gift of love well.  This means focusing on it, appreciating it and what went into it to come into your life, as well as the thoughts and feelings behind it.  Gifts come in several categories.  Object gifts basically are things, experience gifts are like a surprise birthday party, favors and assistance gifts are like someone paying off your student debt, and gifts of yourself are like what we are focusing on here.  It is important for the health of love relationships to notice, sincerely appreciate and actively receive them all.  This is the gift of good reception (“How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better”, “Removing Your Hidden Blocks to Receiving Love Fully” and the “Receptional Love” chapter in Recovering Love ).

The Gift of Self Disclosure

Letting someone you love know you in personal, intimate ways is one of the finest of love gifts.  It is essential for growing closeness and for creating some of the deepest of love experiences, plus it often comes with a very sweet joyfulness.  Letting someone know your private, personal, not usually shared thoughts, feelings, behaviors, know the positives and negatives of your past, present and possible future and every other little and large thing about you is some of what is giving the gift of self-disclosure for love.  Of course, it is important that you receive with love the self-disclosures of those you would do love with.

If you have been taught to think poorly of yourself and what you have to offer, or you just have not discovered what a bundle of miracles you are, you may not realize how much you have to offer and how much it is needed and wanted.  Perhaps the want and need for what you have to offer is in other circles than the ones you are traveling in now (see “Intimate Love”, “Intimate Love, What Everyone Needs to Know”, “Growing Closeness – A Love Skill” and the “Self-Disclosure Love” chapter in Recovering Love).

Manifesting Yourself Where and With Whom?

If those you focus on now do not seem to care much about you or what you have to offer, you have some choices to consider.  You can try to get through to them in new, bigger, more powerful ways.  You can go looking for others who will want to see and relate to you in deeper ways, value you, and grow to love you as you do love with them better.  You can learn to love yourself better and in more self-dependent ways if needed.  You also can do all three of these, or any two.  It is also important that you self-disclose to yourself the many miracles that make you up and the many ways you can experience the good of yourself, along with the many fine ways you can come to be.  The better you do this the better you can do well with others and the better they are likely to do with you.

One More Little Thing

You might want to go looking for compatible others to talk over what you have just read.  That may take some searching in new and different places, or perhaps not.  In any case, if you do talk this over with others please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons.  We are grateful and thank you for that.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If you don’t give of yourself to others you love, how much are they likely to give of themselves to you?

Destroyers of Love - The 7 Big "Ds" Most Likely to Ruin Your Love Relationships

Synopsis: This mini love lesson starts with a thought about how to use this extremely important information; then describes each of the seven most destructive kinds of behavior that can ruin any and all kinds of love relationships; and ends with a note on knowledge as protection power.

Using This Info

This information has proven extremely valuable in assisting people in various kinds of love relationships to avoid failure, maintain stability and recover from love relationship difficulty and dysfunction.  It comes from love-related research showing seven major types, or categories of behavior which destroy love relationships of all kinds including romantic love, mate love, family love, friendship love, parent/child love and healthy self-love.

Working to understand and then reduce and eliminate these seven destroyers gives any love relationship a far better chance of surviving.  Keeping away from these behaviors can set free a love relationship to grow strong and marvelous.  I suggest you study it closely and help your loved ones to do likewise.

T H E   7  D’s

1.    Deficient Demonstrations of Love

The number one destroyer of love relationships is not demonstrating love enough.  This includes not demonstrating love frequently enough, effectively enough, with enough vitality, with enough variety and just plain not demonstrating love enough at love critical times.  When love is not sufficiently demonstrated or given, love relationships can and do wither, loved ones can become love-malnourished and general relational health often will quietly, subtly and dangerously diminish until it dies.  Furthermore, this destroyer sets up vulnerability to other destroyer difficulties occurring which, at best, can lead to very unsatisfying relationships and, at worst, can lead to the very painful end of a love relationship.

2.    Demeaning

Demeaning behaviors are those which work to lower a person’s healthy self-love by devaluing, degrading and debasing their personal worth.  Demeaning has two major subcategories called (A) Derisiveness and (B) Disdain.  Demeaning behaviors are the number two destroyers of love relationships.  They often result in increasing conflict, relational dissonance, aggressive and passive aggressive retaliations, rebellion, and the demise of positive demonstrations of love – thus, destroying the love relationship.  They especially are destructive when they occur via frequent displays of anger, expressions of contempt and verbal aggressiveness.

(A)  Derisive behaviors include criticism of all types, shaming, blaming, mocking, ridiculing, scornfulness, belittling, discounting, fault-finding, using putdowns, humiliation, condescension, disparagement, castigation, being insulting, disapproving, impugning, denouncing, repudiating, dis-affirming, degrading and making personal attacks of any kind.  Most of these destroyers are carried out verbally but also often accompanied by negative expressional communications including very negative facial expressions and highly negative tones of voice.

(B)  Disdainful behaviors include showing contempt, disregard, disrespect, indifference, indignation, slighting, snubbing, sneering, spurning, making slurs, discounting, treating as trivial, insignificant, inferior or inadequate, being insolent, patronizing, paternalistic, condescending, arrogant, rude, and being non-attentive to another’s essence and efforts.

3.    Defensiveness

Defensiveness starts by too easily feeling attacked, blamed, controlled, manipulated, victimized and unfairly or unlovingly dealt with usually when a loved one brings up a problem, dissatisfaction or difficulty.  Then dysfunctional reactions commonly begin which include rationalized explanations, counter-proving, counterattacking, becoming dogmatic and dictatorial, negative ‘mind reading’, denial, ‘yes-but-ing’, dodging, excuse making, rejecting responsibility and co-responsibility, becoming threatened, and any other behavior which ‘defends’ the person feeling attacked.

These behaviors, in effect, avoid recognizing that a loved one has had difficulty, is experiencing hurt and distress, wants caring love, can use help in catharsis and/or examining a negative experience, and probably wants to be empathetically treated.  Being defensive avoids showing love during a possible critical incident when loving treatment (not to be confused with surrendering or false agreement) is most useful.  Healthy self-love usually is needed to allow a person to see that giving love, instead of feeling attacked and getting defensive is a far better response.

4.    Distancing and Blocking

Distancing and blocking are two related phenomena with the same end-result.  Distancing refers to behaviors which cause emotional distance between people in a relationship.  It often results in people feeling alone, unwanted, lonely, rejected and considerably unloved. Blocking has to do with excluding someone previously included or someone who hopes for or expects some type of inclusion behavior to be shown to them.  Experiencing distancing and blocking helps people feel both rejected and devalued.

Perceiving being ‘tuned out’, having a ‘cold shoulder’ experience, getting postponed or having a loved one ‘escape or run away’ and be unavailable are common forms of blocking.  Also Involved here are actions which diminish or block a loved one from participation in sharing, having meaningful interaction, feeling included, wanted, desired and in partnership with the person practicing these destroyers of love.

Blocking also prohibits a person from working jointly on relationship issues and inhibits emotional intercourse and intimacy in love relating.  The end result of both distancing and blocking is to divide people in a love relationship from one another, either temporarily or eventually permanently.

5.    Dependency Enhancement

Anything that causes a person to become more dependent on another and, thus, lessens their self-dependence can be included here.  When this occurs a person has less to offer the love relationship and, therefore, the combined strength and teamwork of the people in love relationship is diminished.  Two subcategories of this destroyer of love are:

(A) Dependency Submission which has to do with actions allowing and assisting in one’s own subjugation and resulting in destructive, emotional dependency in a relationship.

Actions of unnecessary sacrifice, giving in, surrendering, postponing one’s own needs, self suppression, giving away one’s power, accepting low self-worth descriptions and definitions, avoiding self-growth challenges, accepting dictatorial authority, remaining undeveloped, cooperating with demeaning treatment, becoming self-demeaning, escaping into de-powering addictions, disallowing one’s own essential democratic equality, dodging maturation and it’s incumbent strengthening, becoming co-dependent, and letting one’s self be manipulated by guilt and shame are included here.

Not disclosing one’s own wants and needs, unrevealed dissatisfactions, repeatedly avoiding conflict to ‘keep the peace’, etc. and consciously or subconsciously being in denial of difficulty and dysfunction eventually backfires into either a breakup or a breakdown.

(B)  Dependency Subjugation has to do with actions which attempt to make or enhance another person’s dependency and limit their healthy self-dependency.  Involved here are words and actions which assist a person devalue themselves, feel and act less adequate, confident or self-reliant, overprotection, promoting ‘learned helplessness’, conveying to a loved one that they are weak, helpless, fragile, delicate, incompetent, incapable, unable to improve or be adequate are all common here.

Enabling destructive addictions, assisting someone avoid responsibility, doing for them when doing for themselves would be more beneficial, needless rescuing, babying, promoting the avoidance of challenge, hard tasks or opportunities are all frequent in this subcategory.  In the extreme, very degrading and debasing behavior may occur.  Generally anything that works to undermine a person’s development of their own potentials or maturation fits into this subcategory.  Not to be included in this category are doing favors, providing assistance, showing kindness, giving surprising unexpected help, etc. unless those things are done in such a way as they operate to undermine confidence development, self-reliance and healthy self-love.

6.    Deception

Lying, falsely representing oneself, hiding significant aspects of one’s self or one’s actions, denial of important truths, pretense, betrayal, hypocrisy, insincerity, duplicity, fraudulent actions, providing dis-information, going back on one’s word, deliberate misrepresentation, keeping secrets, presenting a false image, deceptive manipulation, circumnavigating around truth, non-disclosure of relevant material, cheating, and any other way that prevents the truth of one’s actual self and life to accurately be known is involved here.  If an aspect of deception is involved real love has difficulty reaching a person.

‘Receptional love’ is blocked when the deceived person knows the love coming to them may be for a false persona and, therefore, not for their real self.  The deceived person often vaguely senses something is wrong and feels at least somewhat unsure of the love in the relationship.  Upon discovering significant deception, feelings of betrayal, abandonment, desertion, destabilization and not really being loved become common.  Even minor, discovered deceptions can lead to growing mistrust, decreased cooperation, increased ‘checking up on’, guardedness and excess anxiety all of which tends to erode a love relationship.

7.    Depredation

Depredation has to do actions which harm, decrease, destroy, violate and lay waste to another person’s well-being, or which extract from a loved one that which is or may be highly valuable and important to them for selfish gain or advantage.  While these acts are less common in true love relationships (they may be an indication that a relationship might be founded on something other than love) they are among the most destructive of all relational behaviors.

Depredation behaviors include doing overt physical harm to a loved one, destruction of possessions, attempts to ruin a loved one’s other important relationships, wasting or plundering another’s resources, invading, stalking, sabotaging a loved one’s desired opportunities, goals and achievements, invading privacy, destructively using another’s belongings, dissipating another’s assets, theft , larceny, forced sexuality, and any other behavior which tends to harm a supposedly loved one’s life especially for the perpetrator’s own purposes.

In pronounced situations this can include marked psychological abuse, physical violence, rape, ransacking property, looting possessions, harming another’s family or friends, markedly interfering with another’s work, acting to physically hurt, over power, control or imprison, maiming and even murder.  In lesser, but still important, situations depredation may include spying, spreading negative rumors or propaganda, getting someone in trouble with the authorities, and any act which misuses, spoils or wastes important aspects of another’s life.

Minor levels and sometimes beginning levels of depredation can include smaller acts of revenge, purposeful infliction of unwanted pain, acts which are destructively thoughtless, cruel and punishing, acting spitefully, repeatedly wasting or misusing another’s resources, and taking pleasure in treating a supposedly loved one in selfish, harsh and malicious ways to their detriment.  Depredation behavior usually means that real and healthy love, on the part of one doing these acts of depredation, is corrupted, weak or nonexistent.  Remember, that healthy, real and sufficient love tends to compel a person toward acting in ways that promote the well-being of the loved one and, therefore, avoids acts of depredation (See “The Definition of Love” and “A Functional Definition of Love” at this site).

Knowledge as Protection Power

Knowledge is power and in this case power to protect you from the 7 D’s.  Using this important knowledge can help you navigate around traps that ruin many love relationships.  Remember, one of the functions of healthy, real love is protection.  So, I suggest you study the 7 D’s closely and then go forward better protected.  Talking about the 7 D’s with loved ones might double your protection and help you go on to much safer and freer love.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you see any of your own ways of acting in a love relationship as the 7 D’s and, if so, what are you going to do about it?

Previous Comments:

  • frank
    February 15th, 2016 at 18:41 | #1
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    March 7th, 2016 at 12:01 | #2
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    What is Love Dr. Cookerly does not have an email newsletter at this time, but may in the near future. By all means do follow us via RSS if you wish, though.
  • Mike
    July 30th, 2016 at 02:33 | #3
    True. Complicated. Useful? The “7 d’s” arise from the great destroyer of relationships: indignation. Jesus said “offenses will come”, one of the least appreciated things He ever said, and most certainly one of the most profound. It was a warning – ‘offences will come, how will you respond?’ indignantly?. He was the ultimate proponent of responding in love vs responding indignantly. The truth of the matter is that indignation as a INTERNAL response is utterly avoidable. Yet to RESPOND indignantly OUTWARDLY destroys relationships. For relationships to ‘work’ forbearance and forgiveness, rather, are the indispensable tools needed. Only people who are sound, grounded and ‘whole’ can avoid the indignant sorts of responses (the “7d’s”) that tear relationships apart and instead respond with forbearance and forgiveness and thereby contiguring to the soundness and success of a relationship. “Sound, grounded and whole” ?? and just who is “sound, grounded me whole”? …. precious few it would seem. Yet when once we find ourselves having done the “7-d’s” and thereby having contributed to the denigration of a relationship can we ‘fix’ relational mess we have created by learning a long list of ‘don’t do this and do do that’? Doubtful, because such an approach does not create the underlying wholeness and soundness needed to enable us to respond with forbearance and forgiveness. Trying to follow rules without first being whole and sound is like trying to enter into a car race without gas in the tank – you cannot ‘run’ on empty. When once we have found ourselves having contributed to the demise of relationships the key to ‘fixing’ it is first getting whole and sound – a ‘tall order’ to be sure BUT indispensable to true, thriving and lasting relationships. Getting whole and sound is a lengthy process, to be sure, and seemingly impossible at times, yet even tiny strides in that direction yield good fruit and many tiny strides ultimately make for large gains. Don’t ignore ‘rules’ but don’t make the mistake of trying to follow rules without getting yourself made sound me whole as well.
  • Love Is Not Provoked to Wrathful Anger

    Mini-Love-Lesson  #245

    Note: This is the 8th in our What Is Love?: A New Testament reply series based in Paul’s description of love and relational science. 

    Synopsis:   The great importance of this teaching for love relationships; powerful and weak interpretations; a fuller understanding of wrathful anger; the high and often overlooked significance of “not provoked”; the power of emotional equanimity for achieving this way of love; some help from a bit of Hindu/Buddhist/Christian integrated teaching – all potently come together in this discussion informed by relational science.

    Most Important?

    Speaking from a relational specialist and therapist’s point of view, this might be one of the very most and important things on Paul’s list of what is and is not love!  To me, therefore, it deserves your considerable attention.  But then again I’m biased about this.

    Please first note that this proclamation of Paul’s has two foci.  One is what we might call provokability and the other is, in this translation, wrathful anger.

    Why Is This So Important?

    No one knows how much human misery and destruction wrathful anger has caused.  Some think that more than one half of the harm humans do each other would not happen if we did not allow ourselves to be provoked into intense anger, rage, hate and other forms of wrathful anger.  How many love relationships are harmed or destroyed by episodes of anger acted out?

    We know from research that most spousal murders, cases of battered children, incidents of familial physical abuse, elder abuse, acrimonious divorces and friend related physical fights resulting in hospitalization involve fits of unrestrained anger.  The vast majority of all this harm involves people who said they loved one another.  Additionally, there are all the couples and families who, via frequent angry fights, limit and block the amount of happy, healthy love they could otherwise have.  On top of that, are all the seriously stressed and often traumatized, bystander children who witness those angry parent and family member fights (see “Anger and Love”).

    Paul’s assertion proffers that with real love all of that agony and destructiveness can be made preventable.  As a therapist, I have had a lot of first hand experience seeing couples, families, parents and others with severe anger problems prove Paul to be right.  In my work with the families of murdered children, hardest was where the victim and an almost murderer were within the same family.  But even there, the ways of anger could, with family therapy, be replaced with far better behavior.

    I came to this work because I grew up in an alcohol influenced, fighting, Irish family destroyed by endless rage attacks and counter attacks. As could be expected, after that I had my own anger issues to overcome.  The good news is, with a lot of hard work, I and countless others like me worked and grew out of a life of angry self-sabotage and relationship sabotage.  Now, it has been a long time since I have allowed myself to be provoked to wrathful anger.

    To get to the how-to’s, we first have to cover a few basics.

    What Did Paul Really Mean?

    Paul wrote his teachings and inspirations in ancient Greek and for this one he used “ou paroxunetai” which has been translated into English a diverse number of ways.  From a psychological point of view, some of these translations seem a bit questionable.  They include “love does not become angry”, “does not easily become angry”, “is not touchy and vindictive”, “does not blaze out in passionate fury”, “does not fly off the handle”, “does not get upset with others” and “is very slow to take offense”.

    Another group of interpretations renders this, in what seems to be a softening and somewhat understating way, making Paul’s pronouncement seem milder than was perhaps meant.  They include versions like “love isn’t irritable”, “isn’t easily irritated”, “doesn’t aggravate easily”, and “is not prone to being quickly upset”.

    Lastly, another group of scholars translates telling us “love is not provoked to anger”, “is not easily provoked”, “is not quickly provoked”, “is not provoked to wrath”, “is not stirred to wrath”, and “is not easily or quickly provoked to wrathful anger”.  These scholars include a focus on the provoked concept while others seem to avoid or miss that point.  This, in a psychological sense, appears to be crucial to having an in depth understanding of and the dynamics of anger, along with the workings of anger therapy and ways of conquering wrathful anger.

    I have been told the Greek, root form Paul relies on is “paroxuno” to which our word “provoke” is thought to be historically connected.  Couple that with the Greek “ou” which is considered to imply something like “take what follows in the strongest way” and, consequently, we see no reason to make this teaching seem mild or less than powerful.  Thus, we discern “love is not provoked to wrathful anger” and/or “love is not easily provoked to wrathful anger” to be the most powerful and useful of all the English translations we are aware of.

    What Is Wrathful Anger?

    To get an understanding and sense of “wrathful anger”, look at these somewhat synonymous words and terms: fury, rage, malice, vengeance, ferocity, savagery, vehemence, furor, outrage, hate, spite, unforgiving bitterness, acerbic criticism, intense and pervasive ill will, asperity and violent anger.  Basically, this is the kind of anger that does not just cathartically release frustration or empower the expression of an opinion but rather it is the kind of anger that causes real harm and destruction.

    What Does “Not Provoked” Really Mean?

    To provoke means to stimulate, give rise to, evoke, arouse or trigger a strong, usually negative emotional reaction.  It also can mean to incite, goad, spur, prod, badger, urge, encourage or agitate anger, unhappiness, violence, hate or any other destructive, hurtful or harmful reactive behavior.

    Provocation, connotes something a bit different than saying you, him, her, they or it made me feel bad.  That connotation implies a provoked person had something within them that could be provoked or triggered in the first place.  Therefore, it hints at the psychological truth that the provoked person owns at least part of the responsibility for their own reaction.  This is because the something that was provoked is inside the provoked person and in their personal domain.  That is wonderful because what is inside you, you can usually do something about.

    If I think you have all the power to make me feel bad, then it follows I think I am powerless, weak and an emotionally vulnerable and helpless victim.  Thinking that way can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  At the same time, it is a way of escaping all responsibility for one’s own feelings.  I don’t make me feel bad, you do and, therefore, my bad feelings are all your fault and I am blameless.

    We learn to think that way in infancy and childhood when we are indeed powerless, weak, emotionally vulnerable and helpless creatures made to do and feel a great many things not of our own choosing or desire.  We start life largely outer and other controlled.  Maturation, to a fair extent, is a matter of becoming increasingly inner and self controlled.  Emotionally, on the maturation road, many people never make it very far.  They remain highly provokable and, as a result, are prone to malfunction in love relationships (see “Changing Your Emotions Via Love and Love Smarts”).

    Paul’s “not provoked” speaks to the often unrecognized truth that most people can become very largely unprovokable.  Therefore, you probably can learn to live not much affected by things like criticism, putdowns, angry blaming personal attacks, condemnations, etc..  By doing so, you can be and live unprovoked to wrathful anger and its extremely relationally destructive and health sabotage filled ways.

    One step in accomplishing this is buying into and owning the fact that you can, with work and love, have a lot more good feelings and a lot fewer bad feelings.  In doing so, you also can have better and better love relationships with others as well as with yourself.

    Lots of this is accomplished with new and better self talk.  Instead of thinking somebody made you feel bad, try the more accurate statement “you and I together made me feel bad and I can change my part in that and not let your part affect me.”  Then add “I absolutely will not give my power away to you to upset me, make me angry, etc. and I will believe and own that I am just fine enough for right now and I can stay that way no matter what words you throw at me.  After all they are only words with tones and facial expressions having only the power I give them.  Your actions tell me you are upset and about that I can care – and perhaps come to show you some of that care” (see “Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away”).

    Paul’s “not provoked” has an additional inference.  That is with love’s help, Christians especially but really everybody would do well to learn and develop the love skill of being not provoked and then teach it broadly.

    A Big How-To for Becoming Not Provoked

    You and your loveD ones together, or all by yourself, can become more and more not provoked.  It might take a long time to accomplish this but as you do it slowly will make life easier and happier as you go.  You can let go of your habit of letting others upset you, make you angry, etc., etc. and learn to replace that with something far better.  This is the best of a number of ways that I know of for not letting wrathful anger, or any other destructive habit reaction, negatively affect your relational life.

    The essence of it is this, you learn and work to replace your proneness to be provoked with emotional equanimity and the behaviors that display it.  Remember, it always works better to replace a habit or tendency with a better one rather than just trying to stop that habit or tendency.

    What Is Emotional Equanimity?

    Ordinary equanimity means when you can mentally, non-prejudicially and dispassionately be able to see both sides of an issue including yours and theirs.  It means being able to see through another’s eyes, take into account another’s differences, viewpoints, understanding, experiences and feelings and, thus, give due consideration to diverse and opposing concepts to your own.  Technically, it means seeing things equally.

    Emotional equanimity means to do the above with empathy and love for both your adversaries and yourself.  Both mental and emotional equanimity usually include a mental and emotional calmness when facing provocative attempts to disrupt, derail or emotionally destroy you and what you are all about at the time.  Any person trying to get you angry, confused or feeling bad about yourself in any way or to feel like you are losing and they are winning is included here.

    Like learning to easily catch a fast thrown hardball without hurting your hands, you coolly catch and handle whatever negative attributions or accusations are thrown at you without letting your emotions get hurt.  You do not ignore what is thrown but you more dispassionately evaluate it to see if anything is useful in it.  Mentally you also may remind yourself that whatever is coming at you probably tells you more about the sender than it tells anything accurate about you yourself.  Emotionally, you own your own okayness and do not give it away.  You do that by internal, self affirming self-talk if you need to.  At the same time, you emotionally care about the person or persons sending you the negatives while pondering what this tells you about them and what emotional state they might be in.  Then behaviorally you see if you can find a way to show them some of your care while continuing to be care-giving to yourself.  Hence, you love others as you love yourself.

    Emotional equanimity is very similar to what the Hindu and Buddhist teachers call the fourth mind or primary way of love.  In Sanskrit, it is expressed as “Upeksha” which includes a loving heart while being nondiscriminatory, unbiased, open, egalitarian and impartial as you sincerely and lovingly consider viewpoints, positions, values, emotions and ways of behaving other than your own (see “Listening with Love”).

    Upeksha has been said to offer the love-filled wisdom of seeing things equally.  One of its more recently acclaimed understandings includes it being self lovingly self protective.  Simply put, it does this by being a way of not letting things get to you.  This is not a way of being emotionally detached or indifferent because love is very much involved here along with kindness and compassion.  It is an excellent way of working toward “I win, you win to, no one loses” outcomes and a fine way of integrating and synthesizing the best of people’s differences.  For more on this, you might want to read two books. Teachings On Love and Living Buddha Living Christ both by the world renowned monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

    In my opinion, developing your emotional equanimity, or your Upeksha mindset of love is not the easiest or quickest way to not be provoked to wrathful anger but it is, I think, the best way offering the most useful gains and positive advantages for love relating.  It is also is my suspicion that had the ancient Greek language had words for and concepts of emotional equanimity and/or upeksha, Paul might have used them along with “not provoked”.  In any case, arguably to me at least, those concepts seem implied in what he tried to teach us about not allowing ourselves to be provoked into wrathful anger.

    One More Thing  You especially might want to talk all this over with a religionist, cleric, person of the cloth, etc. and see what they have to say.  If you do, please mention this site and say that we welcome their input also.  Thank you.

    As always – Go and Grow with Love

    Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

    Quotable Question:  Do you think there Is wisdom you can use in the Samurai teaching “first to anger, first to die”?

    Is Love the Most Important Thing in the Universe?

    With great perplexity George, one of my interns, moaned, “I don’t know which of my professors to side with.

    One says the subject of love is to be totally ignored and everything written about love should be disregarded by all serious thinkers because the subject is too fuzzy, muddled, means too many different things to too many people and in truth actually is quite meaningless.

    The other says that for 5000 years the world’s greatest sages have taught that love is the most important of all subjects and it should be a major focus for anyone trying to understand human nature, life and the universe”.

    George explained that both professors were going to be on his doctoral oral exams’ panel and both had indicated they would be asking him for his understanding of love and the role it should play in his future practice as a therapist.  To him after 10 grueling years of higher education he worried that whether or not he might practice his chosen career, at his chosen level, looked like it might turn on this one question.  What was he to do?

    Before we get to what George decided let me ask, “What would you do if you were George?  Where do you really stand on the issue of love and its importance, both in your life and in your understanding of what’s really important?  Do you take the position that love means too many different things to too many different people so there is no reason to bother about it?  Do you think love is a meaningless term? (See the Definition of Love series listed at left)  Do you believe love exists but is of minor importance?  Do you suspect love is of enormous importance but don’t know what to do about that?  Are you a diligent student of love, working hard to understand, give and receive it?  To help you figure out the importance of love let’s look at a few things.

    According to many of the wisdom masters of old, nothing could be more important than love.  Here is what just four of them have related to us:

    “Of all that is of lasting importance there are these three – faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love”.  “Put love first…” From Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (13th and 14th chapters) – almost 2000 years ago

    “Love is a moving energy which causes us to travel toward wisdom, goodness and the beautiful.  Love is the primeval cosmic desire, the spirit which moves between the gods and people linking us all and giving birth to that which becomes ultimate and eternal.  Love is that which transcends from the individual to the universal bringing us spiritual inspiration and the great motivation of divine madness”. From the teachings of Socrates as seen in the Symposium and the Phaedo by Plato – approximately 2400 years ago

    “I have this treasure… first is love… love is victorious in attack, secure in defense.  Heaven arms with love those it would not see destroyed”. From the Tao Te Ching of  Lao  Tzu – Chinese wisdom teaching of perhaps 2500 years ago

    “Let the disciple cultivate love without measure toward all beings… the world, above, below, and around having a heart of love unstinted… for in all the world this state of a loving heart is best”. From the teachings of Buddha, The Hymn of Divine Love – approximately 2500 years ago

    Very similar teachings emphasizing the incredible importance of love are to be found in the timeless works of the major religions, and philosophies of the ancient world and the writings of a hundred other wisdom masters of old.

    You may ask what do more modern sages and especially scientists have to say about the importance of love.  If you are one of those who see love as one of the most incredibly important, if not the most important, factors in the universe take heart because you are in good company.  If you go to the trouble to look it up you will discover that there is a growing and great similarity to wisdom masters of old in the findings and teachings of those who recently have been looking into the nature and dynamics of love.

    From A to Z, or in other words from fields as diverse as anthropology to zoology, research is looking into love and finding astounding things.  New understandings of the workings of love are emerging especially in the brain sciences of neurobiology, neurochemistry and psychoneurology.  Likewise, practical applications of the new knowledge about love and its importance are being discovered in a number of medical and medically related fields.

    When a famous oncologist said, “If I can teach my patients to love their survival rate goes up” medicine rather seriously started taking notice of love.  When a famous laboratory-oriented, experimental psychologist titled his most important research book Learning to Love the many fields of behavioral research took note. When modern fields as complicated as psychoneuroimmunology have symposiums oriented to love, scientists of many types begin to focus on love and its importance.  Studies in the relatively recent past in experimental comparative psychology, cultural anthropology, social biology, ethology, primatology and even in behavioral economics have confirmed, substantiated and, thus, laid down a strong scientific research base for an understanding of what love is and how it works.

    New conceptualizations and understandings concerning love are being worked on in contemporary theology, modern philosophy, linguistics, evolutional spirituality, political science, historical analysis and in a plethora of other creative, intelligent, thoughtful endeavors.  This, I think, gives considerable evidence and emphasis to just how important love is being seen in the modern world.  If you run into nay-sayers who don’t have much regard for love you might want to inform them of these love facts.

    So, dear reader, with all that in mind let me ask just how important are you making love in your life? Is it the most important thing in the universe for you?  Because you are reading this blog about love I suspect you’re doing pretty well.  Let me ask another question.  Would you do well to be talking to others about making love more important in their lives?  Reading about love, talking about love and most of all practicing the behaviors of love are things we all can be doing to help make our personal world a more loving place.

    George, by the way, did fine in his oral exams having found a way to adroitly reply that both professors’ viewpoints needed vigorous, further exploration.  It was then that they told him he had done an excellent job on his oral exams and they were just ‘messing with him’ to see how he handled a ‘double bind’ situation and because that’s just what professors sometimes do, all in the spirit of loving friendship of course.

    As always – Go and Grow with Love

    Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

    Love Success Question
    Which of these things might you soon do concerning growing your love knowledge and love ability?

    1. Go to the library or a large bookstore and in the psychology and self-help sections look at a number of the books you find with the word ‘love’ in the title.  (How many will really be about sex, or religion or something else?)

    2. Ask some of the people you are closest with to come to your place on a specific evening and have a group discussion about love and how to learn more about it.  3. Decide on and then enact a new way to demonstrate or communicate love to at least three people in your life who you perhaps have not recently shown much love to.  Then will you evaluate how well you have done and how to improve?

    Forgiveness in Healthy Self-Love

    Synopsis: Looking at forgiveness and healthy self-love; what forgiveness means and does not mean; benefits to the forgiver and the forgiven; the inability to forgive and its special meanings; blind forgiveness; self forgiveness; considering the tenant “love forgives all”.

    Looking at Forgiveness And Self-Love

    Forgiveness is a part of healthy, real love but sometimes it comes into conflict with healthy self-love.  Healthy self-love requires good self-care and a part of that is self-protection.  Forgiveness poorly done may make you vulnerable to repeated hurt and harm experiences.

    Nevertheless, without forgiveness many love relationships cannot heal or continue to grow and fulfill their wonderful potential.  That consequence of non-forgiveness is self-defeating and, therefore, is not healthfully self-loving.  Offering forgiveness usually is an act of healthy self-love because it helps the forgiver improve in several different ways, (more on that a little later).  The problem is forgiveness can be enacted in ways that work against the self and repeated maltreatment may result.  To do really good, healthy self-love in the area of forgiveness often takes some careful study.

    What Forgiveness Means

    What do you think of when you think of forgiveness?  Is it something you see yourself to be good at or more poor at?  Is forgiveness something you are just puzzled about or do you not even think about it?  Do you desire forgiveness more than you give it?  Do you give it to yourself?  Are there people you want forgiveness from and/or people who want forgiveness from you?  Do you have relationships in which forgiveness could play a more important role?  What’s easy for you to forgive and what is harder?  Are there things you think it is impossible for you to forgive?  Are there things no one should forgive?  What did the way you grew up teach you or perhaps subtly model for you about forgiveness?

    For some people forgiveness means giving people a pardon from being punished for transgressions they have committed.  For others it mostly has to do with absolution from blame.  For still others it is a reprieve from punishment or penalty they have been experiencing.  Some see forgiveness as a release and being set free from certain duties and obligations.  For still others it’s all about no longer having to feel guilty.  Forgiveness can mean the end of rejection and being allowed to continue in a love relationship.  Many understand forgiveness as giving them another chance to do something they previously failed at.  There, of course, are those who see receiving forgiveness as another chance to manipulate, deceive and unfairly misuse others.

    In a number of religious communities forgiveness is taught as an act of compassion, mercy, generosity, charity, humanity and kindheartedness.  This pretty much is the view of certain ethicist groups as well as those who just are generally good-hearted.  In more so-called “hard-hearted” populations forgiveness is seen as stupid, a foolish mistake, a weakness, a risky needless behavior, an idiotic surrendering of power or at best something very rarely to engage in.

    A dictionary understanding of forgiveness purports it has to do with the cessation of resentment and retribution attempts concerning things one feels wronged about.  It also has to do with relief from debts and penalties owed and the ending of claims against one.  Psychologically forgiveness relates to not emotionally holding previously perceived wrongdoings against the wrongdoer.  It also has to do with not wanting to, or acting to get revenge, get even, render payback, be vindictive, retaliate, avenge, punish, hurt, harm, destroy or in any way negate another.  Forgiveness is given, or not given, in relationship to acts others have committed which are judged by you to be wrong, undesirable or faulty.

    Forgiveness can involve giving people another chance, not barring people from certain opportunities, and restoring one or more others to a former position or opportunity. Forgiveness also can mean that to accomplish it you probably have to put your emotions about being wronged to rest.  Forgiveness can mean that if you are actively involved with the person you are forgiving that you attempt to at least treat them decently, fairly, democratically, kindly, respectfully and with human-to-human love.  In many love relationships forgiveness means picking up where you left off, making up, being restored to okayness in the relationship, and veering away from anything that would lead to a breakup.

    What Forgiveness Does Not Mean

    You might have heard the phrase “forgive and forget”.  To forgive and forget is the advice often given when there have been love relationship problems.  Let’s be clear here.  Forgiveness does not mean cognitively forgetting.  Your memory won’t go away because you forgive someone for something.  It may mean you think about the alleged wrongdoing less, and feel much less upset about that wrongdoing.  Forgiveness does not mean you have to stop protecting yourself from possibly being harmed in the future by someone repeating their wrongful actions against you.

    Forgiveness does not mean you won’t feel cautious, apprehensive and avoidant of people who you perceive to have caused you hurt or harm.  Forgiveness does not mean that you are required to be involved with someone you no longer want to be involved with.  As the old Texas saying goes “I can forgive a snake for being poisonous but that don’t mean I have to pet it.”

    Forgiveness does not mean trust is automatically and fully restored.  The protective mechanisms of healthy self-love may keep a forgiving person at least occasionally suspicious, doubtful and skeptical about anyone they have forgiven.  Forgiveness may mean that they will give someone another chance and perhaps even act in a trusting way but an inner sense of trust is usually best understood as having to be earned by repeated good experience over time.

    You can forgive someone but out of healthy self-love decide not to deal with them anymore.  That is done not for vengeance but for self protection.  If you judge yourself unable to withstand being betrayed or otherwise harmed again by someone you love saving yourself is the best, healthy self-love act you can do.  It also may be the best thing you can do for the one you love because it prevents them from again acting in ways that are destructive to you and then possibly having the guilt and repercussions from having done that.  So, forgiveness does not necessarily and automatically have to mean a relationship will continue.

    Forgiveness does not mean it won’t happen again.  Whatever you are forgiving someone for may be something they do again.  Is your self-love strong enough to re-experience that?  Whatever it is, if they do it again will you be able to keep yourself sufficiently okay?  Maybe you will forgive yourself for something that you do again.  Will self-forgiveness work for or against you in that situation? 

    Forgiveness is not very advisable when it is likely to lead to the repeating of a destructive action, the weakening of self-control, or the rewarding of ‘toxic behavior’.  Forgiveness especially is not advisable when it is perceived as giving permission for repeating a transgression, as it sometimes is.  I once heard a woman say “My screwing around really is OK because my husband always ends up forgiving me after he finds out”.

    Benefits to the Forgiver

    Did you know there are physical benefits to forgiving for the one doing the forgiving?  Research done at the Stanford University Forgiveness Project shows those doing forgiveness have fewer backaches, less muscle tension, less likelihood of dizziness, fewer and milder headaches, and fewer and milder stomach upset experiences.  Those who act to forgive also tend to have healthier appetites and sleep patterns, more general energy, and more general health and well-being.

    Psychologically the benefits of learning and acting to forgive include reduced feelings of hurt, reductions in anger, reductions in stress and depression, becoming more hopeful, more optimistic, and more compassionate.  Research also has shown that forgiveness is often the key to becoming unblocked when there is some obstacle to progressing in life.

    Forgiveness enables the forgiver to go on to more productive and enjoyable living.  People who have long been unforgiving and then learn to forgive report attaining a much greater sense of freedom from anguish and negativity.  Generally forgiveness results in a cessation of re-experiencing all sorts of different, negative emotions and then improved self-concept.  In these ways acting and feeling forgiveness is a good, healthy, self-love behavior.  Thus, those wishing to be good at a healthy self-love will do well to work at developing the love skill called forgiveness.

    Benefits To the Forgiven

    I like to suggest that whenever someone is forgiven for something that the forgiver and the forgiven talk with each other about what the benefits are because people sometimes understand those benefits quite differently.  Naturally there can be a sense of relief on the part of the person receiving the forgiveness.  Hopefully there will be a sense of gratitude and a motivation to live up to some standard of behavior better than before.  That, most likely, will mean less stress and less agony, probably less guilt, and hopefully more harmony in the relationship.  Past that, the people involved may have to sort of make a contract about what the benefits are to the relationship they have with one another.

    Does the forgiveness mean everything is okay and they can pick up and proceed as before, or is there a probationary period, or is the relationship dramatically altered in some way?  Until both people clearly know what the benefits of a forgiveness act are, misunderstandings and other difficulties could occur.

    The Inability to Forgive

    Some people have an inability to forgive.  This has several possible special meanings.  The truly emotionally strong are much more able to forgive than the weak.  The weak, perhaps only subconsciously, understand that they are weak and if their forgiveness were to be betrayed they would be destroyed or hurt more than they can stand.  Hence, they do not forgive, or at least they do not forgive easily.  The problem with this position is the inability to forgive is not very good self-protection.  It usually alienates and isolates people and can keep people stuck in a stagnant life-position.

    Some are unable to forgive certain things.  However, what those unforgivable things are has great variation.  Here’s an example.  In several cultures various sexual transgressions are among the hardest things to forgive.  If someone has trouble like this it just may mean that person has been severely programmed to regard sexual transgressions as especially awful.  It also can mean that sexuality is that person’s area of greatest weakness or insecurity.  In a number of cultures and subcultures sexual transgressions are much more easily forgiven but lying and deception, theft, destruction of property, disrespect of family, anti-religious behavior, or some other thing is not considered forgivable.

    Inability to forgive often means a person is stuck or blocked in their own healing or healthful growing.  The recommendation here usually is counseling or psychotherapy.  Sometimes religious-based counseling is in order.  The inability to forgive sometimes traps people in a vengeance cycle.  In this cycle two or more people seek vengeance against each other for previous acts of vengeance committed against them.

    Thus, revenge-seeking makes one become vulnerable to retaliation efforts, which definitely is not a healthy self-loving way to behave.  Tragically there are whole families, clans, tribes, other large groups of people, and even whole societies who were trained to have great self-disrespect unless they ‘get even’, seek revenge and act to retaliate.  Sometimes the most healthfully self-loving thing people belonging to such groups can do is find a way to exit the group and join with those who are more healthfully love-oriented.  People trained with a strong revenge orientation who later discover forgiveness sometimes report becoming astonished with a resulting lighthearted sense of freedom.

    Blind Forgiveness

    There are people who forgive too much, too easily and too often.  By doing so they repeatedly set themselves up for misuse and abuse.  They are likely blind to the importance of seeing the repercussions of ‘forgiveness done without wisdom and self-care’.  Frequently this is an important symptom of low, healthy self-love.  Commonly such people are so in need of outside sources of love, affirmation, inclusion, friendship, acceptance, etc. that they will forgive anyone anything in order to get what they think they need.

    This means that their forgiveness will be regarded as ‘cheap’ by those they give it to.  When this is the case let me suggest that counseling and therapy for developing healthy self-love definitely is in order.  There also are people who’s religious or ethical position is one of offering endless, easy, quick forgiveness to all, and especially to those who say they desire it.  That can be a prescription for useless martyrdom.  With these people following the logic of “loving others AS you love yourself” might lead to thinking that greater self-protection could be viewed as OK and desirable.


    Unfortunately there are a large number of people who can forgive everybody but themselves.  They may see their duty as to give forgiveness to everyone but themselves which in most theologies is absurd.  These usually are people who have been trained in their upbringing for torturing themselves with perfectionistic standards.  That can be a very serious problem and may best be overcome through counseling and therapy.  The healthfully self-loving are self-forgiving.  When they make a mistake or do something they later wish they hadn’t done, the healthfully self-loving work to learn from the experience but don’t de-energizing themselves by wasting time in self-punishment or debilitating inadequacy feelings – it just is not their way.

    There may be a period of intense dislike for what they have done, usually quickly followed by an intense dedication to do better.  The healthfully self-loving know they are only human and humans living active, vital lives do lots of things they later wish they had not done.  What counts to the healthfully self-loving is not so much what they have done in the past but what they do now and next with the understanding and dedication to do better.

    Love Forgives All

    Great love can forgive greatly.  Puny love, not so much.  Several religions and philosophies teach that through the grand power and transcendence of love all things are forgivable.  Certainly the great and wise living exemplifications of love throughout history (Buddha, Jesus, Rumi, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc.) are seen as testifying to this tenet.  If your love is truly great you too may be able to forgive all.  Remember that does not mean you, therefore, automatically and necessarily have to act against your own, healthy self-love.  Be wise and whenever possible live within the context of “Love Others AS You Love Yourself”.

    As always – Go and Grow with Love

    Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

    Love Success Question Is there anyone you would do well to forgive that you haven’t yet?