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Spirituality And Love Great and Grand

Synopsis: This mini love lesson starts with love’s spiritual mystery; then explores central questions by surveying what the wisdom masters of old taught; the spiritual goodness of love; religion, spirituality and love; erotic spiritual love; and more.

Love’s Spiritual Mystery

On the beach a couple with arms around each other, under a full moon, looking out over the vastness of the ocean’s rolling waves feels they are awesomely, spiritually connected in love with each other and the universe.

A family surrounding the mother and the just born, new member of their family feel much the same, wondrous effect.  Dear, close friends also experience this standing together at the edge of the Grand Canyon as the sun sets magnificently behind the cliffs.  High atop a mountain, a lone individual looks out over a vastness of snow capped peaks and the mountain hiker feels spiritually and superbly loved by an unknown something he or she does not care or need to define.  What is this mysterious, yet great and grand, sense of the ‘spiritual’ that sometimes comes with a sense that one is permeated by a high and wondrous love?

Essential Questions

Do you see love as spiritual?

Many people around the world and throughout history have described love as a spiritual phenomenon.  For many love is the spiritual force in the universe.  It is proclaimed that whether it be love of a newborn baby, a mate, a family, a people, love of country, or art, or music, or nature, or humanity, or life itself, or even existence, love is a mystical, grand, and glorious spiritual thing inspiring individuals and relationships to the best of what they can become.  Do you see it this way?
Some say that because love is a spiritual force it, more than anything else, inspires our best and greatest actions.  Especially might this be true for actions involving connection, cooperation, collaboration and unified effort.

Others suggest that the spiritual force of love is what makes it able to inspire great individual acts of risk, protection, dedication, loyalty and courage.  That it is the spiritual force of love that’s behind the great acts of compassion and kindness in the universe is also a common teaching.  Is that your view?  Is love for you a great and grand, spiritual thing? If so, are all your love relationships spiritual?  Are all love relationships in the world spiritual?  Do we best deal with love by seeing it as essentially spiritual?

What The Wisdom Masters of Old Teach

There is an ancient Hindu teaching that says before there was anything there was just love.  Love because of its nature had to create, so in an incredible, explosive burst love gave birth to all that exists, the heavenly spheres, time, space, everything.  From that came life itself and all beings both heavenly and earth bound.  From that Hindu teaching flows the concept that all that exists flows with love and we, therefore, best flow with love in all that we do.

Buddhism teaches that our life is to sing the song of compassionate love divine.  Judaism, and later Jesus taught that we are to love God and love others as we love ourselves.  John of the Epistles simply proclaimed “God is love”.  Taoism puts forth erotic love as a supreme, spiritual love.  Rumi, the great Sufi master of Islam, taught the ways of love are the ways of Allah and, therefore, are above and beyond all else.  Furthermore, each and every form of true love is in fact but a manifestations of Allah’s love.  Therefore, all true love is spiritual in its essential nature.

The ancient Egyptian Scriptures of Hathor and Isis, the Great Mother spiritual teachings of the Fertile Crescent and beyond, all hold love to be the greatest spiritual existence, practice and blessing.  Again and again  all the way back to the dawn of history  love is exalted as a phenomenon of spirituality.  In philosophy Plato’s great Symposium on Love speaks to love’s mysterious, mystical and metaphysical essence, as do philosophers in many ages and from many lands.

What is Spirituality?

Explaining spirituality is not the easiest thing to do.  To help your understanding and my comprehension of what spirituality is, let’s look at some different and some similar ideas.

1. Spirituality is that which connects you to both your essential, innermost, core self and at the same time to the awesome ‘all’ that is beyond all of us.

2. Spirituality is a way of relating and living with that which is greater than ourselves and ultimately with the greatest of all that is.

3. Spirituality is that which enables you to have some knowledge of the unknowable.

4. Spirituality is a mysterious awareness bringing us into connection, harmony and unity with that which is both serenely awesome and intimately colossal.

5. Spirituality is that which makes us feel safe at home in a frighteningly infinite universe.
6. Spirituality is our way of connecting with divine love.

Technically spirituality has to do with that which is of the spirit, i.e. the breath of life.  Originally spirituality meant something more or less like being in-spirited or inspired by the breath of life which was the spiritual force and a gift of the gods or God.  To be spiritually inspired was to commune with the eternal and universal or to be filled with the active essence of Divine love. Spirituality has commonly been seen as the way to be in connection with divinity, one’s higher power, the great spirit, the Saints, the jinns or spirit world, the great Goddess or the omnipresent, omniscient, great God – depending on one’s personal theology.

Non-Religious Spiritual Love

It is important to note that philosophically one can be spiritual and at the same time agnostic or even atheist.  In this case, spirituality is not seen as being dependent on religious belief but rather on having a reverential appreciation of anything more grand and greater than the one’s self, such as life, or existence, or beauty or love itself, etc.  With this understanding one’s love can be seen as a highly spiritual entity or phenomenon no matter what one’s religious belief system is.

Understanding Love

To find answers to the question “What is Love?”, I want to refer you back to the Definitions and discussions, and especially the Working Definition of Love already available at this site.

What Is Spiritual Love and What Does It Do for Us?

If you haven’t already perceived or experienced it, imagine feeling loved by the cosmos, the life force, the universe, some great, transcendental, metaphysical entity, or by whatever so many people call God.  That experience can be magnificently empowering, healing, motivating and for many, most of all, inspiring.  It also can be enormously reassuring, comforting, caring and intimately, personally inspiring in a whole different way than anything else.  Now imagine that the love connection you have with anyone and everyone you love, is linked to and saturated with a great and grand spiritual, power of love.

With a sense of that can you also then think that through love you are or you can be spiritually united with yourself and feel amazingly whole? For many people that seems to be their truth.  Furthermore, through the spiritual force in love can you have a sense of being connected to all people, and creatures and spirits who genuinely love?

Spirituality and its essential love-based nature often is the lifeline that keeps people alive when nothing else would.  Spirituality also is something that helps people let go of their biological life when staying physically alive is no longer tenable.  Love, when recognized and sensed as a spiritual force, brings us what some call the Konos experience.   That is when two or more people are gathered together in the spirit of love; they also can be united with something far greater and grander than the sum of their collected selves.  This is reported to be experienced as awesome beyond imagination.

The Spiritual Goodness of Love

By seeing a spiritual dimension to love, any healthy, real, love relationship can be seen, as at least partially if not wholly, a true goodness.  By identifying love as a spiritual entity or phenomenon one can associate it with goodness and distance it from the purely selfish, or the destructive mentality that promotes ideas like “all’s fair in love and war” and the unethical corrupting mindset that proclaims “winning is the only thing that counts”.  By comprehending love as a great, spiritual marvel one conceptually takes love to a higher plane, removing it from the trivial, the mundane and the lesser important factors in life.

Compassionate love, as the Buddhists teach, especially works against crass commercialism, common dishonesty and deception, against the power for power’s sake mindset, money hungry forces and the “dog eat dog” approach to business practices.  The spiritual nature of love is seen to inspire higher order behavior, bring out empathetic and altruistic action, inspire  lifelong dedication, and move people to great cooperative action in the service of all sorts of humanitarian and democratic causes.  The spiritual component in love also  sometimes is given credit for helping us move toward beauty and away from spiritless ugliness, toward natural wonder and away from lifeless, impersonal mechanization.

Love lived as a spiritual blessing can help lead to soaring actualization, improved lives and saved lives, and can help lead to the defeat of anti-human and anti-natural destructive forces.

Religion, Spirituality and Love

Great numbers of people find their lessons about love and spirituality via religion and they benefit from doing so.  Also unfortunately a lot of religion seems to get in the way of spirituality and, as sometimes practiced, leads away from healthy, real love.  While some religions are quite healthfully love-centered and love-focused, sadly, there are others that seem to operate just the opposite.
See if you think this is true. “Spirituality without love does not exist.  If this is true it proves ‘loveless religion’ to be ‘false religion’ because it is devoid of true spirituality”.

Some people’s religion primarily is guilt and shame dominated.  Other people’s religion mostly is about escaping damnation (‘fire insurance religion’).  For a great many people religion is just a great big “I’m okay  you’re not” game (unless, of course, you are in my religion and behaving ever so correctly, as I think you should).  For others it’s just a pleasant way of socializing or achieving status, or living in the safety of conformity.

I suggest none of this is spiritually love-focused.  I like to recommend to people I counsel that when they are looking for a religious or spiritual involvement with others, check out the amount of love emphasis actually going on with those others.  If the love emphasis is high it may be mentally healthy and if not, probably not.

Erotic Spiritual Love

A couple silently lays naked together after lovemaking and feels mystically, spiritually united with one another and with all space and time, and with all who have ever felt deep, spiritual love.  Have you had this experience or something like it?

For many in the world spirituality and sex are seen as each other’s enemy.  But this is not true for a great many others.  For the Taoist many of the ways of being sexual are the ways of being spiritual.  For Tantric practicing Buddhists, and Hindus, and certain branches of Wicca, along with particular Eastern Orthodox sects sexual ecstasy weaves together with spiritual ecstasy quite well.

It is thought that at the dawn of history, in the worship of the Great Mother, sexual feelings were considered her sacred, inspiring gift to humans and were, therefore, spiritual and sacred.  This made rape and many other less than healthy forms of sexual behavior greatly chastised and to be avoided or one might be cursed by the Great Mother and have to live a life of sexless agony.

So with these thoughts in mind, might you live in a way that integrates your love, your sexuality and your spirituality?

What To Do

Perhaps you would like to worshipfully pray or meditate on these matters.  A lively discussion with others may be a desirable possibility.  Reading about love and spirituality can be an option. Taking classes, going to workshops and seminars, and diligently studying the issues involved might be a way of productively dealing with all this.  Deciding to approach all love relationships with a certain amount of spirituality may yield good results.  Letting all this germinate in your subconscious and waiting to see what may unfold or emerge is another good possibility.  What do you suppose will be your way?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Is healthy self-love a spiritual practice and if you see it as such how will you practice it?

Co-Connecting -- An Essential Love Team Skill

Mini-Love-Lesson #225

Synopsis:  Introduce yourself to love teams and love’s teamwork; co-connecting with love for love relationships that really work; love advancement via co-connecting; and learning to see your circular system in this rich and enriching mini-love-lesson.

The Love Team Basic

For having a love relationship that really works, the people in the love relationship come to operate as a high functioning love team.  So, what do you know about being a good love team member?  Unfortunately the bad news is lots of people have not been trained to be a good team members of anything, let alone a love team.  The good news is you can learn and even enjoy the learning as you grow your love team skills.  Whether you are already good, or not, at love team skills, I suspect this mini-love-lesson is likely to help you get better.  So, here is a basic:

                Feeling Love Is Natural
Doing Love Takes Work – and –
Doing Love Together with Another Takes Teamwork

We do not learn and do teamwork by ourselves.  Love’s teamwork is learned and done jointly.  It takes some learning new ways, some unlearning old ways and lots of practicing better ways.  All sorts of jointly learning and jointly practicing better ways of loving in areas like communication, coordination, cooperation, compromising/synthesizing, companioning, concurring, concordant interacting, comradeship, conjoint pleasuring skills and play are involved.  One of the best things to learn for doing love’s teamwork well and better has to do with co-connecting.

Co-Connecting for a Love That Works

Connection is one of the five major functions of love link “A Functional Definition of Love”.  Co-connection skills are a major factor in what makes love become and keeps love being an ongoing, successful, relationship of love.  Without co-connection, love encounters and loving incidents can occur and exist for a while but they will not make a full-fledged, love relationship.  How often co-connection occurs and the quality of the co-connection has a lot to do with the strength and health of a love relationship.  People can feel love connected but unless they act in love’s co-connecting ways they are not likely to develop much of the full potential of a well-functioning and advancing love relationship.

What Is Co-Connecting with Love?

To understand co-connecting with love, think of two people doing a good job of lovingly hugging each other.  First they have to become aware of each other, then turn and move toward each other, then coordinate making their physical contact, followed by mindfully letting the feel of the hug mentally and emotionally soak in.  Then they might add some extra squeezing, caressing, fondling and other movements and maybe make some pleasurable sounds and comments as they savor the experience.  All those parts, or steps, go into two people co-connecting.  The steps are (1) focused awareness of each other, (2) emotionally and physically turning toward and moving toward each other, (3) emotionally making coordinated contact with each other, (4) mindfully and emotionally soaking up the feelings of that contact, then (5) adding embellishments and elaborations of the co-connection, and (6) savoring the love experience together.

If only one of the hugging people attempts to do these things and the other is limp, or stiff or in other ways nonresponsive, it does not work.  They are not two people co-connecting in joint, love action teamwork.

Now, think of a baby and its mother.  The mother holds the baby and the baby looks up and smiles maybe making a happy sound or wiggle which the mother sees and feels good with, and then she smiles back bigger at the infant, and then the infant does the same.  Love’s natural co-connecting is occurring.  In the brains of both the baby and mom, hormones are being released that facilitate love bonding and feeling good together.  Sadly there are some rare brain disorders and psychiatric conditions which make some moms and some babies unable to accomplish this co-connecting.  Also there are those that go through the overt touching and holding actions but it is not genuine and the brain does not make the chemicals that process the bonding or the good feelings.

Love’s co-connecting only happens when two or more are rather simultaneously giving and receiving each other’s love via the acts that convey love.  They, in effect, are cycling love and in the process generating more love.

With practice and artistry as a unified team, we can come to send and receive love actions in a wonderful co-functioning and co-connecting manner.  This is somewhat comparable to dancing the tango.  Each person moves with strong individuality but in harmonious, highly coordinated wholeness.  Either person making the same movements alone might be interesting but not as magnificent and amazing as the two harmoniously together.  The movements of the tango are revealing and representative of interacting with intimate passions and often the interconnecting emotions of a deeply felt, concurrent, co-connecting love relationship.  Both the tango and co-connecting via love can be erotically beautiful to behold and even better to participate in.

Co-Connecting For Love Advancement

We call it co-connecting, not just connecting, for a good reason. This is because in some love relationships only one person, or animal, is enacting the behaviors that bring about the sense of being love connected.  Co-connecting love is accomplished by two or more in a systemic, coordinated, interacting teamwork.  Together they form a joint system with various, repeated, behavioral patterns for giving, receiving, creating, using and enjoying love together.  Think of both a dance company and an American football team.  They both have people doing sometimes different and sometimes similar things individually but with interweaving patterns of behavior.  These patterns, when well executed, advance the cause and reason for the existence of both groups.  Likewise, it is with those in love who co-connect well.  (This also is true of many counselors and therapists and whether or not they become good at couple, family or conjoint therapy.)

Now, there is a problem.  Most people are not well-trained at seeing interaction patterns or all-over systemic functioning.  It is hard enough to understand the patterns of one person’s behavior let alone two, as in a couple, or more than two as in a family.  Many people who, for the first time, attend a modern dance troupe performance or a football game just see a lot of individuals moving around in peculiar ways.  They do not see the rhyme or reason, that is the patterns and systems forming and reforming, nor do they see the artful, and often beautiful and even astounding accomplishments of perfected teamwork going on before their eyes.  For first-timers, they may only see chaos and have no idea why at various times other watchers are clapping or cheering wildly.  When there is good, love-based, co-connection teamwork in couples, families, close friendships and comrade networks, similar amazing advancements and accomplishments can be achieved.  For people in a love relationship to make these advancements, it helps to see the larger picture of interaction patterns and the even bigger systems governing what is happening.     

If you only see individuals and never their interrelationship system, you may never see your own system and how it influences your own conjoint behavior.  It is extremely useful to see how you yourself and those you love behave in both healthy and unhealthy, circular patterns of interacting.  It also is quite difficult, especially at first.  But if you can learn to see your joint patterns and systems, you also can discover all sorts of ways to make life advancements, not to mention experiencing the joys they provide.  Here, we have space only to introduce you to this concept of systemic relating and how it is confluent with teamwork love and co-connecting love.  We encourage you to think with these concepts, apply them to your own life and see what you come up with.

One more thing, see what happens when you talk these ideas over with others, and while you are at it, we will thank you for mentioning this site to others so they also might have a bit more to do with and about love in their life.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

A Quotable Question about Love
Do not all love connections involve risk and, therefore, require at least some courage? (So, are you and yours – love courageous?)

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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    I will right away seize your rss feed as I can’t find your email subscription link or newsletter service.
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  • admin
    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.
  • Anti-Self-Love Thinking and How to Defeat It

    Mini-Love-Lesson #224


    Synopsis: After a short self-exam and a bit of explanation, this mini-love-lesson presents 4 major things to do about the fact that a great many people are programmed to think negatively about themselves, and thus, harm their own lives and the lives they effect.

    Take the Anti-Self-Love Thinking Test

    Could it be that your head is programmed to think too negatively about yourself?  Could such subconscious programming/conditioning be automatically sabotaging you, causing self-defeat, holding you back, subtly messing up your life, blocking your chances for love, happiness and success plus working against your mental and physical health?  That is what happens to so many.

    To find out see what answers pop up in your head to the following 12 simple questions.
    Your first impression answers are probably best.

    1. Are a good many of your thoughts about yourself critical, negative and/or disapproving?
    2. Do you often think about your shortcomings and inadequacies?
    3. Does what is wrong with you occupy your thoughts more than what is right about you?
    4. Do you compare yourself to others a lot and find yourself coming out on the short end of that comparison?
    5. Do you frequently worry about what others think and say about you and suspect it is not very positive?
    6. When you accomplish something do you usually find things that are wrong with it causing you to feel less good about what you have done?
    7. Do you put yourself down a lot for mistakes, blunders and less-than-perfect performance?
    8. Do you suspect your friends, acquaintances and/or coworkers secretly look down on you?
    9. Do you believe being critical and hard on yourself helps you improve and is the only way you have a chance at becoming successful or even adequate?
    10. Do you suspect that if you like, love or approve of yourself you will be guilty of pridefulness, becoming egotistical, arrogant and no one will like you?
    11. Do you sometimes suspect that you are not truly good enough to really deserve much praise, admiration or accolades?
    12. Do you suspect or believe yourself to be unworthy of love and/or are unlovable?

    Interpreting Your Results

    Well, if you answered any of those questions in the affirmative, it is rather likely that you have been, at least somewhat, subconsciously programmed for self-defeat, becoming drained and de-powered, having higher anxiety, depression, limited success at best, as well as for living unfulfilled and far less happy than you could be.  The more questions or parts of questions you answered yes to, the more probable this interpretation could apply to you.

    Now, it is important to note that you also have been programmed by nature to be positive about yourself because nature made you into an astounding creature with many positive potentials.  You also may be non-consciously programmed by those who loved you to be at least somewhat self-positive and in opposition to the negative programs.  Those opposite, positive programs probably are at war with the anti-you, negative programs in your head.  Part of your healthy, self-love job is to join forces with every, accurate, positive program and help strengthen them.

    Nature programs us to be healthy and that includes our mental and emotional health.  The scientific evidence points to natural, healthy, real self-love being part of that program for being healthy.  The evidence also shows that good, healthy self-love does not lead to egotism, arrogance, selfishness, sloth, etc. (link “Self-Love the Enemy of Egotism”).  In fact, healthy self-love mostly leads to the opposite of all those bad things even though lots of traditional teaching says otherwise.  Frequently, it is the family, and sometimes even more the culture or subculture, we grow up in that teaches that self-love and positivity about the self is bad and will lead you to social rejection and relational ruin.

    Join with the Positive

    Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to consciously and purposefully join with your natural drive for health and well-being and become strong and more effectively loving to others by growing your healthy self-love. (Link “Unselfish Self-Love”)  Part of that is working against and combating your anti-self-love training and habits for thinking negatively about yourself.

    If you are strongly programmed to be negative to yourself and about yourself, you are programmed for harming your physical and mental health.  That is what anti-self love thinking does to you.  It causes your brain to make neurochemicals that help bring on stress and stress-related illnesses, anxiety, depression, fatigue, cognitive inefficiency, immune system dysfunction and a host of other maladies.

    Your job is to stop all that and do the opposite for your health’s sake and the sake of those whose lives you effect.  You see, when you are infected with toxic anti-self-love you tend to be bad for others, or at least not as good as you could be.

    A Little Understanding Can Help

    A little understanding of how programming works can help you reprogram for positive and healthy, self-love thinking.
    A part of our brain/mind works pretty much like a computer.  It gets programmed to automatically give us certain thoughts which are triggered, or clicked on, by certain internal and external events and situations.  What is different is those brain/mind, programs also automatically trigger various downer emotions that come with the automatic, negative thoughts.  Many of those programs got into our subconscious from the early experiences we had with our parents, our family, other caregivers and local acquaintances.  Probably most of those people thought they were doing the right thing, or a good thing, for us but they may have been wrong, or only partially right.  Later, our programming experiences came from our exemplary models, playmates and peers, as well by as repetitious messages from various electronic devices.  Some, maybe even a lot, of that may have been healthy, positive and useful, at least for a while.  At the same time, some, maybe even a lot, may have been quite destructive.  The destructive parts, unless you discover and change them, negatively can influence you throughout life.  So, to be more fully healthy, discover these programs and work to delete them.     

    Along with that work, is the work of replacement.  You must work to replace the negativity programs with realistic, accurate positives that are good for you and truthfully about you.  You have lots of positives but you may not know it yet.  However, first comes starting to counter the negative, thinking and feeling programs of anti-self-love and those that promote self-negation.

    Using the Okayness Approach

    One way to think about this is to say just about everything that happens to you can give you an okay message about yourself, or a not okay message about yourself.  If the you are not okay messages are stronger and more numerous than the you are okay messages, and if they get into your head, you are in for trouble, a lot of bad feelings about yourself and probably about life itself.  However, if you can work to de-power and delete the you are not okay, inner messages, you can start heading toward your natural birthright of okayness, sense of well-being and healthy love, including self-love.  Here are four ways you can begin to do that.

    Four simple Tools for Defeating Anti-Self-Love Thinking & Self Negation, Inner Programming

    1. Talkback
    Whenever you hear an inner, negative thought about yourself, talkback!  You might want to emphatically say something like “You’re just an old, negative program in my head and I’m not going to let you make me feel bad about myself anymore, no matter what you say!  I’m a lot more than only just my human shortcomings and tomorrow I’m going to be even a bit better.  You don’t get to bring me down and control my feelings anymore.  I choose to use my power to listen to what you say to determine if it has any use.  But I refuse to feel bad because whatever is not so good about me is only a smaller, sub-part of the total, amazing me.”  The more emotion you put into talking back at the negative inner message the better.  Remember, motion changes emotion so stomping around, shaking a fist, etc. will help your brain make the necessary neurological alterations for improvement.

    I have seen this talkback technique work even with people who have serious mental illnesses and hear voices telling themselves very horrible things.  Usually the voices become weaker and go away as talking back is practiced.  With enough strong emoting and repetition, you likely can make it work too.

    2. Question the Provenance
    Ask, Who says, Why and Where did that come from?  Who programmed me to think that way, what is it for, does it do me any good today and, if so, how much good, or do I just want to toss it because it is out-of-date and more harmful to me than beneficial.

    If your inner critic says something like “you’re stupid” or any other putdown term, question its origin and veracity.  Who told you you were stupid, or whatever, and what did they get out of doing that.  Just because there possibly is some truth in the negative message, does not mean you should give it a lot of your power.  For instance, we are all stupid about some things sometimes -- so what!  We also sometimes are brilliant, and much more important than brilliance is the fact we can love.

    3. Do conversion thinking
    If a self-negating thought appears, ask “Is there any way I can make a positive use of this thought?”  If there is, do so and feel good about having made that conversion.  If not, tell your inner critic to give you more useful things to work with, and to quit with this message.  Example: If you got an inner message like “You’re a lousy lover”, you might convert it into “I think I’ll start learning some more about how to be an even better lover”.  Then thank your inner critic for helping you get to doing some improvement thinking.  Staying stuck with the lousy lover constipation will not help.

    4. Do self-affirmational self-love countering
    Prepare a list of what is good about you.  Using that list, prepare a series of good, positive messages from you - to you.  When the negative, anti-self-love messages occur bringing on bad feelings about yourself, confront and counter them emotively with the positive messages from your list.  Use body postures, head movements and gestures of strength, pride and being victorious while doing so.

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    Most of the bad things we say to ourselves about ourselves have a strong, habit component.  Often they got in our heads by being repeated at us over and over.  That may have caused us to say them over and over to ourselves continuing the toxic conditioning or programming effect.  This means it probably is going to take you saying countering positives over, and over, and over to yourself.  The more vigorously you do this the better and sooner it works.  Dare to love and value yourself enough that you do the practice it takes.  There is lots more you can learn about deleting the negatives in your head and replacing them with positives but these four points provide a pretty good start.

    Another Item.  Might you do well to talk over these ideas with someone else?  If you do, please mention our mini-love-lesson site and help spread the idea of purposefully learning more about the ways of love that work.

    As always – Go and Grow with Love

    Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

    Quotable Love Question:  If we want others to think well of us, won’t it be good for us to do the same thing?

    Intercourse Absent Lovemaking - a Love Skill

    Synopsis: This mini-love skill lesson explorers the puzzle of sex without sex?; the great world of sexual variety for the loving; intercourse dependency; why have sex without intercourse; how do we start moving beyond intercourse dependency with a sample scenario; and a bit about fixing sexual intercourse problems:more.

    Sex Without Sex?

    Sex without sexual intercourse is almost unthinkable to some people.  When you say the word sex a whole bunch of people think sexual intercourse is what you mean.  Having sex, doing sex, making love and a hundred other phrases mean, to them, having sexual intercourse.

    The truth is there are a lot of people having a lot of great sex and no sexual intercourse is going on.  Quite often there also is a great deal of healthy, real love happening, the intensity of the erotic experience is fantastic and yet there is no ‘penis in vagina’ sex happening.

    The Great World of Sexual Variety for The Loving

    For some people sex without intercourse is seen as a necessity.  For others it is seen as being preferable at least some of the time.  For a lot of people who really love each other sexual intercourse is kind of incidental so long as there is good, love-filled, emotional intercourse.  There is another group who somewhat crudely say “who cares how you get to come, just so you do”.  Then again, some proclaim there is so much more to sexuality than intercourse or climaxing they can do without both so long as they get to do all the rest with someone they really love and who loves them.

    People who love each other ‘through and with’ their sexuality often tend toward engaging in a wide variety of different, erotic experiences with each other.  The more different things they do together the less they become what some call ‘intercourse dependent’.

    Intercourse Dependency

    Quite a lot of males protest things like “I just have to be in her.  In fact I’m driven to get in her again and again, that’s just the way I’m built.  I’ve got to feel that ‘inside her’ feeling and nothing else will do”.  No small number of females declare things like “having a man inside me is what makes me feel feminine and like a real woman.  I have to have that more than anything, even more than an orgasm”.
    Others deeply and strongly want to have the “in” experience coupled with feeling their lover climax while “in”.  This is all likely to be quite natural and maybe genetic.  However, some people let this drive toward intercourse and/or climax in intercourse narrow their sexuality.  They’re sort of like the people who have to have meat at every meal or the don’t feel like they’ve eaten well.

    There are those who are religiously trained that it is wrong to do anything but intercourse and so their sexuality has been unnaturally narrowed by outside forces.  From a health perspective behavioral variety is a good thing in almost everything humans do, sexuality included.  When humans have too much sameness in just about anything they tend1 to give up on it because humans are the creature that seeks variety more than any other.  Therefore, exploring for the wide variety of ways sexuality can be practiced outside of intercourse can be a healthy, enriching experience.

    There are the millions who prefer oral-genital sexuality which some think of as a form of oral intercourse. There are men and women who are more desirous of anal intercourse than they are vaginal. A fair number of women enjoy and even prefer dildos and other intercourse toys.   There are quite a few people who don’t care which kind of intercourse is occurring, or whether or not there’s any intercourse, just as long as what’s happening  is very loving.  Along with oral, anal or vaginal intercourse some people also need to hear sexy words and see sexy looks, or they combine their intercourse with various “kinky” actions.  Plain  intercourse usually is not high on their priority list, though they can be quite intercourse involved.

    Why Have Sex Without Intercourse?

    Do you wonder why some people have and even strongly desire to have sex without intercourse?  One reason is to develop all one’s other loving sex skills.  Lots of couples who resist or abstain from having intercourse discover that they develop many other ways to excite and pleasure each other.  Some say intercourse-dependency deprives people of all the better things there are to do sexually with each another.  They say too much focus on intercourse makes for a rather limited sex life.  By not doing intercourse for a while other things often are explored, discovered and developed.  Thus, a much broader range of experience can be shared which often is a major joy in a loving couple’s life together.

    There are a larger number than you might think of people who don’t participate in sexual intercourse for religious reasons, but ‘do everything else’.  These fall into three groups.  One is the group who has been religiously taught not to have intercourse unless it is to procreate – have a baby.  Another group it’s because they have been taught that they are still virgins if they don’t have male-female, vaginal intercourse, even though they might do everything else imaginable.  Then there is the group who has been taught that only  male-female sexual intercourse is sanctified (especially in marriage), and they are in religious rebellion attempting to break out of and away from their faith’s restrictive dogma, so they might do everything except sanctioned sexual intercourse.

    Very large numbers of people do not engage in sexual intercourse because of medical reasons.  Sadly, some of those have just given up on sex when they don’t have to.  Sometimes they have given up because they are indeed intercourse dependent in the way they go about taking care of their natural, sexuality, and they are unaware or inexperienced in the many ways sexuality can be expressed.  They can learn that, in spite of injuries, illnesses and various other hampering or debilitating medical conditions that limit or prohibit sexual intercourse, they can have a great life of love-filled sexuality.  Even paraplegic and quadriplegic people can have a sex life, and treatment programs exist for accomplishing exactly that.

    How Do People Have Great Sex Without Intercourse?

    There are lots of ways people can have a great sex life without sexual intercourse or with only occasional sexual intercourse?  Some couples simultaneously masturbate each other, and some do side-by-side parallel masturbation while talking sexy to each other, or watching each other, or watching films.  Some take turns as giver and as receiver teasing, tempting and pleasuring each other sometimes applying oils, powders, feathers, toys, vibrators and other  stimulating actions and devices all over each other’s bodies.

    Those people who have to spend time away from each other can do ‘Skype sex’ where they can watch each other do sexually stimulating things (according to company policies this is not supposed to be done, but often is).  Some couples watch the same sex video at the same time, though they are thousands of miles apart, while they talk to each other on the phone.  Of course, millions do ‘phone sex’ with their beloved on a regular basis while apart.

    An amazingly large number of people, especially females, are sending naked and otherwise sexy pictures of themselves to their lovers as stimulating love gifts, and then delighting in hearing about what their lover did while looking at the pictures.  Oral sex, anal sex, spanking, B&D, S&M, D&H, Tantric sacred sex meditation exercises, mud pit sex, second life avatar with love partner avatar sex on the Internet, all sorts of role-playing, sharing porn sex, etc. – why the list goes on and on.

    Not all these ways are pleasing to all people but choosing the ones that are can help loving couples share fantastic sex lives together without sexual intercourse.  For couples for whom intercourse is painful, somehow physically dangerous, ill-advised or impossible many of these ways are used and make available sexual alternatives which can show each other intimate, personal love and can make available loving, sexual adventures together.

    What Does It Take for Couples to Have a Sex Life
    Not Overly Based on Intercourse?

    Usually it takes a very love-centered relationship where tolerance, acceptance and a “whatever works” attitude prevails.  It also takes being able to be lovingly open to experiments and explorations of lots of varying sexual behaviors.  Happy, shared, excited, anticipation, curiosity and a sense of joyful sharing in each other’s erotic, adventuring feelings also are great additions.

    An important consideration backing up all these actions and adventures often has to be a sense of being able to (if needed) to take small steps, pause, back up or totally escape any sexual exploration with full, loving support from one’s lover.  Frequently a sense of strong support and protection of one another in each and every sexual experiment or adventure must be readily available for people to be able to move forward together.

    When lovers fear their beloved may be critical, disappointed, disparaging , judgmental, angry, prudish or any other relationally negative process, it becomes quite difficult if not impossible for couples to sexually progress.  Also there has to be a sort of “we can try that again later” understanding.  No one wins by playing the destructive, psychological game known as ‘strike one, we are out and our game is over’.

    How Do We Start Moving Beyond Intercourse Dependency

    One way is to do a homework exercises that I sometimes assign which seems to work for a lot of couples.  It starts with a trip to a good bookstore and going to the sexuality section.  There a couple often can read and look at beautiful, erotic pictures portraying many of the different ways people can and do go about sex, with and without sexual intercourse.

    It’s important to talk together about whatever grabs your attention, gets you interested or piques your curiosity.  You might want to take a book or two home, then share going deeper into the books with one another.  After that I suggest giving each other a full, very light touch, naked, all parts of the body massage with intercourse absolutely prohibited.

    Following that you can begin to take little, mental, sexual adventurers like sharing some sex fantasy and maybe do a little role-playing.  There are more advanced ways to progress to sexual intercourse-absent sexuality, and then even much more advanced ways.  If you’re up for it you might attend a Tantric, Shakti or Taoist spiritual sex practices weekend workshop which many couples proclaim as the most amazing and productive way to maximize a couple’s sexual love together.

    Sample Scenario

    One couple followed this scenario.  Shy Sarah whispered, “I will go skinny dipping if you will, but it has to be dark and no intercourse.”  Timid Tim agreed, and it turned out to be incredibly exciting.  Then timid Tim said, “Let’s make out in the back seat of our old station wagon, and so they laughed and giggled while they kissed and fondled for hours.  Sarah, no longer quite so shy, had read about couples doing nude meditation together which they did and quite a few wide-ranging, new and intriguing feelings enveloped both of them.

    Later Tim, less and less timid, brought home a sexy movie and side-by-side they played with each others genitals as they watched it, driving them into passions they never knew existed before. Even later their ecstasy soared when Sarah said to Tim, “Tease, tempt and lightly ‘torture’ me for the rest of the night.”  Tim quite enthusiastically obliged, although because of blissful exhaustion they didn’t make it all through the night.

    Of course, some days later Tim came with chocolate syrup and did all manner of erotic oral things to and with Sarah.  Together they visited a sex shop and came home with a variety of toys plus a great eagerness to learn how to play with them.  Those were the beginning practices that went into shy Sarah and timid Tim building a love filled, not intercourse dependent, sex life.

    Fixing Intercourse Problems

    Couples who have sexual intercourse problems can do all the above, while working on whatever difficulties they might have concerning sexual intercourse itself.  If you have problems with intercourse, or getting started in the above described areas, come to talk to one of us who have received the additional training it takes to develop expertise in sex therapy.  We’ll be glad to help you.

    As always – Go and Grow in Love

    Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

    Love Success Question If you’re going to get into a sexy, new practices or actions with your beloved what would you really like them to be?  Do they include a healthy dose of love?