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Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life

Synopsis: Jocelyn’s ‘no real love’ problem; Repeat failures; A dozen great ‘how to’s’ for getting the real thing; Love as a happy, habit and getting zestful about it.


Jocelyn came to me after a speech I had given on the dynamics of healthy, real love saying, “My problem is getting what you call healthy, real love.  Several times I thought I had the real thing but it turned out to be false.  Dr. Cookerly, what can I do to get the real thing?”

Jocelyn and a great many other people wonder about the same thing.  If you are a person wanting to know how to do this here are a dozen ideas that may be of considerable help.  First, know there is an all over principle.  You had better take the subject of love seriously and use your mind as well as your heart to achieve love success.  Lots of people don’t take love very seriously until they have a love relationship disaster.  Then they may take it quite seriously.  Others fail at a love relationship but never seriously look at understanding love itself, or the ‘how to’s’ of succeeding at love.

Consequently, they are likely to repeat their failure.  Like every other important subject success is far more likely for those who really study, learn and practice the ‘how to’s’.  So, if you really want to succeed at love more than you have so far look over the dozen ways that may help you achieve that success.  Here’s a ‘get started’ suggestion.  Go over this list and pick out only one or two items to begin on.  Then really work at them and perhaps get those you care about to do the same with you.  If you do this  I’m betting you’ll be really happy you followed the suggestion.  After that you can go on to other items in the list and probably achieve even greater love success.

How to’s for Getting Healthy, Real Love in Your Life
1.  Learn What Real Love Is We have two kinds of learning to consider.  ‘Experience learning’ and ‘Cognitive learning’.  They work well together.  Think about who has loved you best: parents?, siblings?, family?.  Maybe you have been best loved in your life by a dear friend, a pet dog or maybe grandparents.  How did they deliver love to you?  What did that feel like?  Whoever loved you best has provided you at least some ‘experience knowledge’ of love.  When you were born somebody loved you well enough to keep you alive because without at least some love a baby dies in infancy.  That means at some deep level you have some ‘experience knowledge’ of love.  With work you may be able to tap into that and raise at least some of it into conscious awareness, and that can help guide you.  Easier, but still requiring some work, is to ‘cognitively learn’ and purposefully study what is known about healthy, real love and how it is done.  To help you with that go to “The Definition of Love” and related entries, elaborations and discussions in the left column on this page.

2. Learn About False Love Study what are seen to be the major forms of false love and how to differentiate them from real love.  There are a great many ways people get into false love situations.  False love often results in enormous emotional pain and destructiveness, sometimes even leading to death.  To help you get healthy, real love review the mini love lessons on “False Love” in the Site Index, and pay particular attention to the entry “A Dozen Things Love Is and A Dozen Things Love Is Not”.

3.  Learn and Practice the Eight Major Ways of Directly Doing Love A great deal of research effort in social psychology went into discovering the ways people give, communicate, deliver and send love.  Out of this came a clear understanding of eight groups of behavior by which love is done in all types of love relationships.  You can learn and practice these ways and by doing so probably greatly improve any love relationship.  To do that I, somewhat egotistically, recommend you read part two of my book Recovering Love where these ways are covered in some detail.  Also consult the Site Index for “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”.

4.  Learn and Practice Healthy Self-Love The ancient commandment is to “love others as you love yourself”.  Without sufficient, healthy self-love most love relationships with others suffer.  One can take the eight major ways of doing love mentioned above and apply them to oneself usually with great benefit.

5.  Get Good at Giving Love Essential to getting love is giving love freely, often and much.  Healthy, real love is a free gift that tends to grow the more you give it away, especially when it is combined with healthy self-love.  Actively go looking to wisely give love wherever you can while at the same time being open to getting love.  Don’t just wait for love to find you.  Go after it and as you do keep giving it along the way.

6.  Repeatedly Mix Romance, Sex and Affection With Your Lover-Love For ongoing, couple’s type love it’s best to have ongoing romance, sex and affection and repeatedly mix those into love-mate relating.  To help you with this you may wish to check out the love and sex related mini lessons in the Site Index, such as “Lasting Sex and Lasting Love”, “Men Doing Well at Love”, “Can You Talk About Sex with Love”, “Do You Want to Say Love When You Mean Sex”, “Making Love or Having Sex”, etc.

7.  Engage in Spiritual Love Practices Search for and find your own best way of relating to and with love spiritually.  Whether it is with standard prayer, oceanic awareness of the universe, the awe and wonder of nature, practices that help you feel connected to life and your fellow humans, respect for the mysteries and unknowns of existence, or regular religious observances, finding a way to connect love and spirituality within you is often marvelously healthful.

8.  Ask for What You Want, With Love Sharing your wants with a loved one is a way to share yourself.  Not sharing your desires, wishes and requests keeps those you care about in the dark needlessly guessing, emotionally distancing you both, and frequently leads to mis-perception, mis-interpretation and relational abrasion and dissonance, along with possible destruction of the relationship. It also keeps you from getting what you want, and within your wants are usually hidden your needs.  Check out this site’s entry on asking for what you want, “Love Complaints vs. Love Requests”.

9.  Be Love Assertive You have three choices.  You can be submissive, aggressive or assertive.  Submissive surrendering may get you treated nicely but it’s just as likely to get you abused, sacrificed and destroyed.  At best it relies on charity.  Aggression means to attack in an attempt to hurt, harm and destroy in an attempt to make yourself the winner and someone else the loser.  Assertion, especially assertion with love, means to put yourself (your thoughts, feelings, actions, desires, etc.) forward preferably done in a way there are no losers.  Assertion provides the ‘I win, you win’ possibility especially when love is added.  Therefore, assert all your ‘stuff’ with love.

10.  Become Good at Receptional Love When anyone does anything that might be an expression of their love for you receive it well in such a way that they see you really got it, then digest it, enjoy it fully, and be nurtured by it.  Do not dodge it, deny you merit it, or in any way negate it.  To receive love well is a gift to those who love you.

11.  Amply Reward Your Lovers (mate, kids, parents, friends, etc.)
To get love in your life, freely and amply reward any and all love and love-like actions that come your way. Also reward those you would love for their ways of being themselves, their achievements and what they take joy in.  Praises, compliments, return expressions of love, hugs, pats on the back, doing favors and hundreds of other actions can be ways to reward.  Especially do this when there are actions of love demonstrated toward you.  Rewarded, real love behaviors tend to increase real love.  This often is not true for various forms of false love.  Reward often and show your love both in your way and in their way.  Check out in the Site Index the entry “Love in the Fridge”.

12. With Joy Study and Practice the Ways of Love Ever More Make learning about love a happy habit.  Then, full of good heartedness, take more pleasure in practicing what you have learned.  Healthy, real love done well can make people joyous.  That’s true for both the giver and getter.  So get into the joy of love, learning how to do it ever better.  Delight in learning by teaching – which is one of the best ways to learn, relish every love and love-like action that you deliver to others and that comes your way.  Get zestful about all love learned, showed and shared.

There’s lots more but this much can be used to get yourself further along love’s rich and incredibly rewarding path.  Remember the scriptural quote “The greatest of all things is love”.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question Of the above 12 points which one grabs your attention the most, and what is that guiding you toward?

Adamant Love - And How It Wins for Us All

Mini-Love-Lesson #205


Synopsis: The reader is introduced to Adamant Love and its marvelous force for winning against all manner of difficulties.  Adamant Love, it’s purpose, role in achieving victories, force for defense, role in repair and recovery, and empowerment of achievement along with a few drawbacks and its amazing greatness are discussed.


The Love You May Not Know About Yet?


You most likely have heard of Passionate Love and Compassionate Love but do you know about Adamant Love?  It is the form of love that provides the amazing power to save, protect and defend your loved ones and your love relationships against all that threatens to harm them.  Not only that, it is Adamant Love that empowers us to strive long and hard to achieve love’s great accomplishments for the well-being of the loved.  I capitalize Adamant Love to emphasize its importance throughout this mini-love-lesson.

It is Adamant Love that can inspire heroic efforts and prevail against all odds, surmounting even the greatest of difficulties.  Whether it is rushing into the burning building to save loved ones, or working tirelessly for decades to find a cure for a loved one’s illness, or just faithfully standing guard to ensure the safety of the loved, it is Adamant Love that has been known to save the day again and again down throughout history.  It also is Adamant Love that causes those who love to bravely sacrifice and endure much on behalf of those they love.

The Purpose of Adamant Love

The purpose of adamant love is to concentrate, increase and channel love’s power toward meeting the challenges involved in the fulfillment of one, or more, of love’s major functions.  Those functions are 1) to connect us, 2) to nurture us, 3) to protect us, 4) to heal us and 5) to give us the many reinforcing rewards which come with both feeling and doing love (see “A Functional Definition of Love”).

The Many Victories of Adamant Love

Think of the immigrant parents who cross the desert, the sea or the jungle to get their children away from danger and to the chance of a far better life.  How about the friend who endures the repeated pain of giving bone marrow transplants so that his best buddy may live?  Contemplate the countless lovers who have had to break off their relationships with their disapproving and condemning families in order to be together.  Then think of the countless poor parents who struggled for years to put all their offspring through college.  The examples of Adamant Love and its many victories number in the millions.  And, of course, there are the tragic and ever so painful defeats.  But there again, it was adamant self love, along with other love, that motivated rising from the ashes to try again, and yet again, and not let defeat win out.

Adamant Love empowers another type of victory.  Adamant love flows strongly and consistently in those whose love is altruistic, humanitarian, beneficent and focused on worthy causes involving justice, democracy, equal rights, defending those too disadvantaged to defend themselves and the like.  Adamant Love also can be found to be powerfully flowing forward in those who work prodigiously in the advancement of the arts, science, nature, constructive education, positive religion and those advancements and achievements which help us develop to higher levels of healthful living.

Adamant Love in the Service of Defense

It must have been Adamant Love that gave rise to the saying “never get between a mama bear and her cub”.  That represents a truism, that many loving parents of higher-order species will adamantly do just about anything it takes to protect their young.  That also is true regarding defense of  mates, and families and larger groups of a good many species, including humans.  For love of country, or clan, or tribe, or family, or spouse, or offspring or even pets, Adamant Love fuels and pushes all sorts of different, complicated and sometimes very long-lasting guarding, protecting and defending behaviors.  Adamant Love brings bravery, steadfastness, willingness to endure pain and risk harm and sometimes even life itself in defense of the loved.

Adamant Love in the Service of Repair and Recovery

A lot of repair and recovery from illness, injury, stress, strain, drain and addictions takes a long time.  Therefore, those who love someone who is working to repair and recover must oftentimes stay in their assisting roles for long periods of time.  Sometimes they must endure hard challenges, setbacks, discouraging prognoses, slow improvement and all sorts of other problematic factors.  If it were not for the flow of Adamant Love empowering their ability to doggedly and determinedly keep at it, a lot of loved ones would not repair or recover as fast, as well or even at all.  Then there is the agonizing questions of knowing when to quit and how to recover from the draining effects of loss and failed efforts.  That is when healthy self-love applied adamantly can be so useful in the recovery of loving helpers.

Adamant Love in the Service of Achievement

A family goes in together to start a new business.  Another couple agrees that one of them will work while the other goes to school for a professional degree and then they will trade places.  An individual in healthy self-love gets determined to escape his or her dire circumstances and make a better life.  Another individual becomes dedicated to helping others via becoming a health professional.  As they work toward achieving their sundry goals, roadblocks, reversals, unexpected difficulties other serious problems may arise.  With the difficulties come questions.  Who will survive and achieve their goals and who will be defeated?  Where will the power to surmount the difficulties come from?  Will those in love relationships last intact or will those relationships become seriously damaged or destroyed by defeat?

Couples who share strong, Adamant Love, families with mutually committed and supportive Adamant Love, friends functioning as comrades with mutual, Adamant Love and individuals with Adamant, healthy Self-love are the ones most likely to persevere and achieve their goals.  Without sufficient Adamant Love they all are more likely to give up sooner, be less creative in problem-solving and have and provide less of the energy required to achieve success.

I saw this time and again when treating recovering addicts, their mates and their family relationships in a tough love, addictions recovery program.  It required tremendous, Adamant tough Love for spouses and family to stop trying to help in ways that ended up harming their addicted loved ones.  They did this harmful helping out of compassion for their intensely suffering loved ones by trying to rescue them in ways that almost always backfired.  It was Adamant Love that enabled them to stick with the program of saying “No, I won’t help you in ways that harm you anymore”.  Later it was Adamant Love that helped the addicts stick to working their own programs of achieving and maintaining recovery.

I also have seen the Adamant Love of several of my therapist mentors and colleagues achieve great and amazing healing successes.  I will mention just one.  This therapist worked for six years, frequently on his own time, to help a mute child who had been horribly, parentally abused by repeated cutting, hot iron branding and continual starvation until being rescued by child protective services.  The child was considered hopelessly psychotic.  This very loving therapist adamantly would not give up on her.  In her fifth year of treatment, with a raspy voice, she whispered her first words which were “I love you too ”.  Progress was rapid after that and today, years later, she is, amaze amaze, a nurse at a children’s hospital.  Such are the miraculous victories of steadfast, Adamant Love.

It is indeed Adamant Love that can provide the toughness necessary to meet the challenges of hard to accomplish achievement.  When we adamantly love, we often discover a river of power within us that enables us to, sometimes creatively and often surprisingly, attack problems, break through barriers and remain dedicated while others would surrender to the obstacles.  It is Adamant Love that provides the muscle when muscle is needed for “winning the day”.

The Drawbacks of Adamant Love

Adamant Love can have some drawbacks.  It occasionally can assist us in being too stubborn, too narrow of focus, and too exhausted and depleted for our own or anyone else’s good.  Adamant Love can be confused with destructive, obsessive-compulsive dependency and fear-based, relational attachments whose bases are not in love but in insecure feelings of personal inadequacy or sometimes malfunctioning neurochemistry.  Nevertheless, Adamant Love’s attributes far outweigh its drawbacks and deficiencies.  It is Adamant Love that motivates taking stands and moving us to conquer the anti-love and love-negative forces that may hold sway in our world.

The Great Dynamic of Adamant Love

Think of a mighty river and the many ways it can flow.  It may flow placidly across the plane, or leap and tumble through rapids, or cascade over high falls, or just roll mightily on as a great force of nature.  The river is love and Adamant Love is one of its many ways of great and forceful flowing. This form of flowing love is not to be confused with more static terms like kinds of love i.e. romantic , family, true friend, self, etc. or types of love i.e. altruistic, companionate, unrequited, spiritual, etc..  All those categorical concepts have their value.  However, they do not lend themselves to revealing much of the dramatic dynamism and powerful, varying dynamics of Adamant Love. Adamant Love is seen as a naturally flowing, powerful, systemic forceful form which the River of Love can take on.

Adamant Love is not much written about or researched but we think the reader may agree there is much evidence that it exists as the basis of many of love’s most heroic and astonishing victories.  Throughout human history, Adamant Love arguably is the dynamic form of love most responsible for and involved in many of human kind’s greatest achievements.  It is the flowing form of love for which the words resolute, steadfast, tenacious, undaunted, valiant, stouthearted, lionhearted and heroic are most applicable.  Along with compassionate and passionate love, Adamant Love is seen as worthy of considerable attention and cultivation.  When life gets really difficult, it is the great, forceful form that love takes which time and again, and against all odds, wins the day.

Now, here is my suggestion.  Talk over this mini-love-lesson and its ideas with one or more others, and while you are at it, maybe recommend this site to them.  Remember, “love feeling is natural, love doing takes learning” so help spread the love learning.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: In what area of your life might it be wise for you to get more determined to apply your love adamantly?

Understanding Friendship: From Mild Geniality to Profound Love

Mini-Love–Lesson  # 203


Synopsis: How friendship is defined, understood and valued differently in different countries, cultures,  the importance of your own valuing of friendship and doing more about it are presented here and more.


Friendship Seen Differently Here and There and Elsewhere

Internationally friendship is understood in a number of rather different ways in different countries, cultures and societies.

There also are quite a few different definitions and connotations to the words friend and friendship in its various translations.  Not only that but in different social classes, strata, diverse subcultures and societal spheres, friendship is viewed and valued quite divergently.  All of these variations of meaning can be seen as contributing to an all-over enriched understanding of friendship.  These differences, however, also suggest it is best to be careful when dealing with the subject of or engaged in the activities of friendship, or trying to comprehend exactly what other people mean when they use the words friend or friendship.

Defining Friendship Differently

It is kind of amazing how differently various sources have defined friendship.  One source says it’s just “a mutual association of those who like each other”, another says it’s people who feel attached to one another by feelings of personal regard and fondness” and still another says it’s “a relationship of those who grow emotionally close to one another and who have a mostly positive mutual appreciation and therefore feel attached, linked or at least somewhat bonded and in union with each other”.

Other definitions use terms and phrases like “mutuality of affinity”, “ having ongoing rapport”, “enjoy each other’s company”, “repeatedly interacting pleasurably” “people you feel more good than bad about”, “those who treat you nice”, “people who you hope like you”, “those acting in mutually beneficial alliance” and more cynically and hopefully as a joke “anyone who doesn’t want you dead”.

I have heard it taught among the Sufis who have been emphasizing friendship since the year 900 or so that “a friend is someone who helps you know yourself with love”.  Aristotle, who had a fair amount to say about friendship, noted that “a true friend is one who likes who we are and wants what is good for us”.

A Three Level Understanding of Friendship

Concepts about friendship can be analyzed as indicating it is a phenomenon occurring on at least three different levels.  Here they are called Mild, Significant and Profound and are explained as follows:
Mild Friendship: a relationship between those who at least mildly like each other, who at least mildly enjoy being in each other’s company and mildly but pleasurably have at least some ongoing, occasional interactions with each other.
Significant Friendship: a relationship between those who mutually emotionally feel fairly closely and positively connected, are mutually trusting, have a fair degree of shared values and interests, have some mutual intimate and personal knowledge of each other, are mutually concerned about each other’s well-being and who mutually have a mostly positive effect on each other and who find importance in their relationship continuing.
Profound Friendship: a relationship of healthy and usually sibling or familial like real love.  In addition, those whose relationship manifests a sense of mutual, deeply felt, meaningfulness along with intimately personal and privately shared knowledge, a sense of being strongly bonded with attitudes of unconditional acceptance, non-condemning, all forgiving, intense loyalty, mutual appreciation, respect, and affirmation, dependability especially in troubled situations and involving people who are solidly committed to each other’s well-being and their relationships continuation.
These three levels can be seen as a existing on a continuum of sequential degrees going from more or less mild to more or less profound.  Some analysis suggests it would be appropriate to add a fourth category of Friendly Acquaintance mostly for those who have briefer or only occasional friendly interactions with each other.  In analyzing friendship, others suggest additional situational categories are useful like “work buddy”, “good neighbor”, “school chum”, “comrade-at-arms” “internet pal”, “Facebook friend”, etc..  Additional terms like best friend, fast friend, bosom friend, confidant, crony, sidekick, etc. also may be useful in seeking a full understanding of friendship.

The Varying Valuing of Friendship

In some parts of the world, you would not use the word friend for someone you had known less than two years nor would you invite them to your house before then.  In other parts of the world, one can hear oxymoronic statements like “hello, old friend, what’s your name?” probably stated by someone being artificial with something to sell.  Among still others, ending a friendship is commonly more significant and impactful than ending a marriage.  Then there are those for whom the word friendship privately means a relationship conducted for selfish benefit and easily ended for the same reason.

Among health professionals and psychological researchers, friendship is increasingly being seen as highly contributory to health, well-being, happiness and especially to longevity.  Of course, this means friendship closer to the Significant and Profound levels.  Rehabilitation and recovery specialists count real and deep friendships among the most important factors effecting their patient’s return to health.  Even Mild friendships, as described above, have been found to contribute substantially to the physical and psychological repair of the wounded, injured and otherwise impaired.

Research also is showing that those who do not value friendship and friendship love significantly or sufficiently enough are much less engaged in friendship actions and consequently are more susceptible to killer stress illnesses, substance abuse problems, severe love-life difficulties and workplace non-cooperation and passive/aggressive resistance.

Intriguingly there also is foreign affairs research showing that the more international friendships citizens of a country have the more a country tends toward peaceful and cooperative relations with other nations.  The reverse also turns out to be true.  The more people of a country do not cross borders and befriend dissimilar people the more suspicion, hostility, non-cooperation and international dysfunction there is likely to be with that country.

Likewise, and contrary to much of the past, there has been a recent joint call from major leaders of six of the world’s great religions for developing worldwide, cross-faith friendships.  This worldwide call is aimed at producing a reduction in cross-faith religious bigotry, hostility and violence.  Those inter-faith and internationally minded clerics ask us all to escape our insular provinciality and work at befriending those not only different from us religiously but also socially and culturally.  They postulate doing so will lead to joyfully discovering more about our positive similarities than our disharmonious differences.

How Is Your Own Personal Valuing of Friendship?

Generally, the more you value friendship at all three levels but especially the deeper Significant and Profound levels of friendship, the more you will do about it at all three levels.  Because of that, the better off you likely will live and probably the longer you will live, the healthier you will live and the more enriched your life will be.  So, how are you doing that at all three friendship levels?  Do you think you do enough about your friendships, making new friendships, developing friendships further and what about your friendship with yourself?

One of the things a person runs into when studying friendship and friendship love is this.  Again and again from lots of different places lots of different scientists, authorities, experts, sears, sages, teachers and wisdom masters cry out for people to see how important friendship is to individuals, families, societies and the well-being of our whole world.  They all urge us all to study, think about, talk about, more highly value and then do more about friendship.

So, the challenge is for you to do some more about friendship in your own life.  You, of course, can continue studying friendship as you are doing right now and then you can add your own friendship actions.  Whether it is locally, refreshing current and old friendships, connecting on the Internet, reaching into different communities, reaching out internationally or becoming a part of answering that call for creating interfaith friendships across the world, you can do some things you perhaps have not done yet, but could.  Remember also, that doing more about friendship is a great, healthy, self-love action because you are one of the ones who gets enriched along with the others you connect with in friendship.

Want More to Help You with Your Friendship Life?

To learn more about what you can do for more and better friendship in your life, you may wish to consult the following Mini-Love-Lessons Friendship Love and Its Extraordinary Importance and Friendship “Like” to Friendship “Love.

For making new international friends, check out Friendship Force International which has local groups in over 300 communities in 60 countries around the world, headquartered in Atlanta Georgia USA and also you might look into the International Friendship League with members on five continents, headquartered and quite active in the UK but also around Europe, Africa, India and Asia where they also have contact centers.

For a more in-depth understanding of friendship, here are some books you might want to consult: Love and Friendship by Allan Bloom, Friends As Family by Karen Lindsey, Friendship: How to Give It, How to Get It by Dr. Joel D. Block, The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis and Friendship by Martin E. Marty.

Maybe make a better friend by telling them about this mini-love-lesson and this mini-love-lessons site?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: What are just 2 acts you could do before 2 days pass that likely would benefit another’s and your friendship life?


Changing Your Emotions Via Love And Love Smarts

Mini-Love-Lesson #202


Synopsis: For many, this mini-love-lesson presents a fresh and different than usual approach to both discovering new learning from your feelings and for changing them for the better with love-befriending techniques and through some rather different ways to think and behave in regard to your own emotions, especially the ones you don’t like to feel.


About Bad-To-Better Feelings

When you feel bad, even real bad or maybe just blah or sort of neutral; do you want to feel better?  Of course you do.  But do you know how?  Many people don’t or aren’t very good at it.  Some people even think it can’t be done but maybe they just don’t know how.  There are ways to do it which you can learn, and with practice you can accomplish the changes quite well and healthfully.  Also, you might want to assist your loved ones in learning these love connected skills.

Some Stuff to Know and Think About Concerning Emotions

To change your emotions from bad to better and best, you will do well to first know some things about emotions.  Emotions are part of your feeling system.  You have two kinds of feelings, physical and emotional.  Your emotions are processed in your brain but also effect your body.  Because emotions are inside you, you can effect them (change them).  To do that you may have to give up the idea that they are entirely caused by things outside of you and over which you have little or no influence, let alone control.  That means changing the way you think and maybe the way you talk, especially to yourself.

When you say “he, she or it made me feel . . .” you may be subtly and subconsciously giving away your power to change your feelings.  He, she or it did not make you feel anything.  They only triggered, or assisted or activated your internal feeling system.  Your internal feeling system can be strongly influenced by the other two major psychological parts of you – your thinking and your behaving.  To change your emotions, change your thinking and/or your behavior.  Of course that is much simpler said than done.

How You Catch, Is Key

Think of a game of catch the ball.  Somebody throws the ball at you and how well you catch it determines whether it hurts or not, and whether or not you get to play catch with them and have some fun.  How well you psychologically catch what is thrown at you, determines how you psychologically feel.  When being cussed at or criticized, some people catch it poorly and get all upset while others can disregard it and be unaffected or even be amused.  If you are cussed at or criticized in a language you do not know, you are likely to be mostly puzzled but not hurt.

Sure, the nonverbal or expressional part might make you a bit apprehensive but it does not have the same effect as if you understand the language.  If what they send at us made us feel something, we would all feel pretty much the same thing when it reached us.  Like we all react the same way to a bullet entering us, we bleed.  It is your linguistic understanding that causes it to hurt, or upset you or whatever feeling you get.  That feeling occurs in your head where you can have influence and make (catching) changes.  You learn to emotionally catch, the way you do growing up.  You can improve on that now.

Bad Feelings Are Your Friends Trying to Help You

I once had a really brilliant little kid in therapy who said, “I guess God made evolution put that bad feeling in me for a good reason.  Without it I would never have learned to forgive and love my mother and myself for what we did to each other”.  He had learned that he does better when he learns from his hurt and that is part of why it is there.  And, no, you do not get to know about the thing with his mother.  That is private and confidential.

You have to learn that hurt is the enemy of harm (that is one of the big things to learn about emotions).  Here are some examples.  Anxiety warns you that something harmful may be approaching, so look for it.  Fear says the same thing only stronger and gives you power to escape faster.  Anger gives you emergency power to fight perceived threatening destructiveness.  Depression helps you inventory what is wrong in your life.  Very frequently depression has something do with a lack of sufficient healthy, real other love or self love.

When you hurt after hearing something negative aimed at you, it is a message telling you “maybe you need to catch better”.  All your feelings, both good and bad, were created in you to help you.  So, learn to befriend them, listen to what they are trying to tell you and then cooperate.  Doing that usually gets bad feelings to get over and be done with faster than trying to fight or ignore them.  Trying to influence your emotions with just chemicals (e.g. drugs) or escapist behavior, may only help you miss their message and make things worse in the long run.  There is a role for meds to play when bad feelings overdo it but medication is best used along with counseling or therapy.

About Seeking Help

Like all human systems, your emotions system can overdo or under do it.  None of our human systems are yet perfected.  Fear can turn to dysfunctional panic, anger to irrational rage, and so forth.  This especially can happen when people have not learned to work with their feelings and hear their feeling’s guidance messages.  It also can happen when there are certain neurochemical imbalances in the brain.  When that happens seek professional help.  A good therapist usually can work wonders.
Emotional education can help.  It can be argued that at least half of our emotional pain seems to come from love problems of one sort or another.  For more on dealing with love related hurt and negative feelings  link to the mini-love-lessons Dealing with Love Hurts: Pain’s Crucial Guidance and Dealing with Love Hurts: A Dozen Love Hurts to Know and Grow From”.

What Love Has To Do with Changing Bad Feelings to Good Feelings

Have you heard the concept: “Love all your parts and all your systems, and they will be more likely to love you back better.  Especially love the ones you do not like and think you do not want.  That is the way to bring them into harmony with the rest of you so they can do you their maximum good, which is their purpose”.  What do you think of that concept?

To help you think about that, consider what Maxine thought.  “I just couldn’t stop worrying.  I over-worried about everything and nothing helped.  Distractions, drugs, alcohol, sex, cognitive behavior therapy, religion, they all did a little good but only for a little while.  Then a new therapist got me to talk and listen to my inner worrying self in a semi-hypnotic state.  She told me my worry was just a presentation of a possible problem.  But I would never do what I was supposed to do about the problems, which she told me was to make a plan and then do something about the problem, or go on to something else if there was nothing that could be done.

My worry myself also told me I just get stuck on the problem’s presentation.  That is because I don’t love and believe in myself enough, nor believe that I am competent enough and can come up with adequate solutions, which don’t have to be perfect solutions.  I was astonished that all that knowledge was in me and I just had to lovingly listen to the part of me that knew it”.

“With my therapist’s help I worked on growing my healthy self-love and believing what my worrying self told me.  It was even more amazing when my worrying self evolved into my solution suggesting self.  Now when I worry, I listen really closely and get the guidance message.  I don’t know exactly how that works but it does work for me.  I now love and respect that part of me that worries but that also comes up with solutions.  It’s a precious part of me I was ignorantly trying to reject and ignore, but now I embrace it with love”.

More Love Please!

This love is so often, at least a part if not the whole solution, needed for the emotions you want to change.  So, you might consider just going and asking someone who loves you to show you love, and see if that helps.  If you have a good loving dog or other pet, go get a dose of their love and see what that does.  While you are at it, give yourself a hug and some good, self loving, affirmational talk.  Getting more love is like putting high-octane gas in your tank.  It helps you go further with more power and more calm confidence.

The Thinking Different to Feel Different Approaches

Sometimes a new insight, a different understanding, the mental re-framing of an event, or reasoning something through, changes emotions for the better.  That often occurs in psychotherapy and personal counseling.  Another type of thinking also accomplishes changes in emotion.  This is the positive cognition approach which sometimes uses positive imagery, affirmational language, heightened emotional motivation self-talk and confidence building terms, sayings and slogans.  It does not go through investigative reasoning very often but rather works to directly create emotional change. 

Non-conscious and semiconscious approaches, such as occur in pictorial thinking and the thinking that goes into music, movement and art therapies sometimes bring about marvelous changes in emotions.  When any of these are dynamically coupled with healthy self-love, love of life, altruistic love and spiritual love focused thought techniques, they seem to have a more powerful effect, at least for a lot of people.

The Motion Emotion Love Connection

If your emotions are not what you want, out of healthy self-love decide you are going to treat yourself with a big dose of positive, upbeat movement.  That’s right, motion can change emotion especially when done with a healthy self loving thought process.  If you talk to yourself with some positive self loving affirmations and push yourself into dancing around the house, going for a run or vigorous walk, doing happy movements exercise, bouncing a ball off the wall and catching it, marching to vigorous music or any other way you choose to move, you are very likely to change your emotions for the better.

Remember before or after you do the upbeat different motions approach, or any other approach, to change your feelings, it will be important to listen and figure out the guidance message coming from your less than pleasant emotions.  Otherwise they probably will have to come back and try to deliver their maybe unpleasant but actually friendly message again.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Possibly all your life you have been practicing some other approach to dealing with what you perhaps think of as negative emotions.  It also is likely that no one around you has been effectively modeling for you the approach of loving befriending and working cooperatively with all your feelings.

Therefore, it may take quite a bit of practice to counter and reform your habitual way of dealing with certain emotions.  Working on making these changes with a counselor’s or personal coach’s help can speed the process.  Working on this sort of changing as a couple or with friends doing similar work also can be quite useful.  However, you do not have to believe in this process before you experiment with it.  It is not a true believer system.  It is a “do different to get different” system. Know that it usually does take repeated effort.  So, with good, healthy self-love why not give it a go?

Help us spread the word.  Tell somebody about this site and our free mini-love-lessons, and how knowledge about love and love-relating helps.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love success question: How much do you know about your own and other’s emotions; where did you get your knowledge; and is it doing you any good, especially in your love relationships?  You might want to read any of a number of books about emotional intelligence.


Equality Quality in Love - a Super-Good Love Skill

Mini-love-lesson  #201


Synopsis: The values, payoffs and subtleties of treating others as uniquely different but equal, and how it is best for that to be a part of a healthy, good, love relationship is presented here with a few author’s self disclosures.


My Unseen Flaw

My bad!  I was so unaware until an intern of mine pointed out a flaw in the way I was treating some of my patients.  Unknowingly, mostly in group therapy and in lots of very small subtle ways, she pointed out that I was acting in ways that favored males over females.  And I thought I was so democratically equal in the treatment of everyone but she was right.  It was right there on the tapes.  I interrupted females more often than males, I nodded approvingly more often at males than females.  I dealt with the guy’s issues longer and maybe even better especially in group therapy.  And in a host of other tiny ways I did not exemplify my own value of loving equality.

Group therapy can be pretty much like a family and I was doing about the same as the family males I grew up around, and I did not want to be like them.  But there it was and so I had to go to work on me and change.  I asked my patients and other interns and they all agreed that I seemed a bit differential in favor of males.  Ouch!  I did change, and sure enough, my work with females got even better results.  I also became a lot more aware of the subtleties of treating people more lovingly by way of equality.  What a good gift that excellent intern gave me!

The Quality of Equality

I learned a lot in the poor, slum neighborhood where I spent my young childhood.  There was an old, Irish gentleman that used to singsong-speak to us kids in ditties.  Here is one that went more or less like this.
    “There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, it behooves the most of us to treat the rest of us with all the love that’s really there for all of us.”
(Yes, there are other versions of this but that was his version)

See if you agree with this idea.  People are so incredibly different from one another that the only sensible way of seeing them is as unique equals.  It is my contention that treating each person with the respect of an equal who is wonderfully and intriguingly different from all the rest usually tends to get the best results.  Of course, I don’t always live up to that ideal and I sometimes let my prejudice programming of old still have influence.  But now I catch myself sooner and put more energy into my personal, always growing programming of equality.

I also suspect most prejudicial disrespect is just a big “I’m okay but you’re not” psychological game.  It is likely based in an attempt to hide from one’s own personal fears of being inadequate by looking down on others instead of on oneself.

Loving others by treating them democratically and as equals, I suggest, is a superior trait in a person.  Though that is a bit of a paradox, like a lot of paradoxes it turns out to have a lot of truth in it.  This especially is important in close relationships.  Inequality treatment seldom, if ever, leads to closeness, or much of anything else that can help a love relationship.  It can lead those treated unequally to keep secrets from you, to resist what you want, to make sneaky passive-aggressive attacks on you, to secretly sabotage you and may lead to out and out rebellion.  It also can get you hated and distrusted or at least disliked.

Treating children slowly and in small steps, increasingly more and more democratically, with doses of growing equality until they are functioning as equal adults usually works well.  Children nurtured like this also tend to feel quite well love-bonded with those who treated them this way.
That is part of a larger truth.  Minorities, the disadvantaged and those with less than equal power who are treated more equally and more democratically tend to work more cooperatively and productively.  They also tend to make contributions that they otherwise might not.  The prejudicially ignored, suppressed and repressed often tend to react secretly against the prejudicial, one way or another.

Historically this likely was true of a great many of the wives of old, and currently is true for a growing number of today’s wives living in situations of inequality found all around the globe.
So, you might want to consider the question “how well are you doing at loving others by treating them as true equals who in many ways may be different i.e. unique one-of-a-kind people.  If you do a good job of that, you may be seen as a bit superior.

What Anti-Equality Prejudice Are You Programmed to Have?

In the Chicago slum neighborhood of my early childhood, it was seen as appropriate to disrespect and look down upon the people of 11 national backgrounds, 5 ethnic groups, 3 religions, 4 of 6 social classes, 4 racial groups, 3 political persuasions, those of weird sexuality, all females and sundry others.

Whatever your experience and training in being prejudiced might be, I suggest you discover it and work to eliminate it.  That will help you be more loving, lovable, happy and superior to who you were before you did so.

Romantic Love and Equality

If you are in love with somebody and you do not treat them with democratic equality, are you loving them as well as you might?  Some might even question whether you have healthy or real love for them.  If they do not treat you with democratic equality, appreciating your unique differences, are you being well loved?  If the two of you together do not establish your relationship as one of unique equals, what will happen to your teamwork when you face the difficulties life frequently brings?

Singles as well as couples hoping for good, romantic love do well to be aware of the issues of equality involved in interacting and doing love-relating.  This especially is important for the increasing number of people getting into love relationships with people of differing social and cultural heritages.

I worked with a  lot of the singles who were frustrated and longing for more love than they had.  They did better when they changed one big factor.  They broadened their horizons, so to speak, and started mixing with new but very different groups of people than they were used to.  Some joined co-ed sports teams.  Others explored different spiritual and religious groups, still others got into the art or music of another culture.  More and different education experiences were quite helpful to many.  A lot of them got active in good causes.  With the different people they met, they risked being very friendly, assertive, and then flirting, and a bit later even seductive.

People of different cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, races, religions, political history, avocations, vocations, educational backgrounds, recreational involvements, sexualities, travel preferences and anything else they could think of that might be different from themselves were considered and explored.  The results almost always were at first discouraging but then, if they kept at it positive, good things started happening.  Many had to put away their prejudices and learn how to be enriched by the very differences they at first had thought too odd, distasteful or worse.

Purposefully putting the quality of meeting and treating new people with equality and as uniquely worthwhile paid off in the form of new adventures, new enrichments, new friendships and, yes, new romances resulted and new love grew.  Of course, it did not always go well, and even when things went well sometimes new, undreamed of problems arose.  Frequently these new romances did not fit the previously held “happily ever after/no problems dreams” of the participants but then again how many great loves do?  The good news is, real love often prevailed.

A lot of internationally mixed couples come to counseling when one of the couple insists on having a modern relationship of loving equality.  When there is a fair abundance of healthy, real love, that usually is achieved but not without work.  Overcoming a cultural heritage of gender inequality can be a very tall order but it is what more and more couples are choosing to do and to do with love.

Equality and Healthy Self-Love

Feeling and treating people as equals, I suggest, is a gift of self-love.  That is because it opens you up to what others have to offer which usually is quite a lot when you look for it.  It also gets you treated better by those people and by the high-quality  people who respect equality-oriented others.  Disrespect and putting others down and treating them as inferior just cuts you off from the many goodies people of diversity have to offer.

Some say, treat others as equals because it is the golden rule right thing to do.  Others say it is the charitable way to be toward those who are disadvantaged.  Still others remark, it promotes democracy and peace.  Then there is the group testifying that treating others is just practical because it works far better than not treating others with equality.  I say, yes, to all that and there is another great reason.  Treating others as equal is an excellent way to do some enriching, healthy self-love.  Embrace the differences and the people who are different and you will be enriched in ways more than you can imagine.  See everybody as a unique, multifaceted, work of art and give yourself the reward of appreciating and enjoying that creation.  It really is the self-love thing to do.

Equality As a Quality Gift of Love

Isn’t having an inner mindset or attitude that all people are to be viewed essentially as equal but intriguingly and uniquely different, a pretty fine way to think and act?  Isn’t viewing those people who are very equality-prone in the way they treat and deal with others, something you can admire and respect?  Isn’t striving to be more like them a worthy goal and one you will feel good about achieving?  If you become good or better at the skill of treating your loved ones with the quality of equality, might not everybody benefit?  Won’t each of your love relationships, including the one with yourself, flow smoother and grow stronger by way of relating in equality as opposed to inequality?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

How about you tell somebody about this mini-love-lesson and this site so you help spread knowledge about love and so you have somebody new to talk all this over with.