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Listening With Love and IN and OUT Brain Functions

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson presents a super common, communication, love problem; and then goes on to explain how the OUT part of the process works; vent assistance and interference; how the IN part works; and some of what to do and not to do.

A Super Common, Communication, Love Problem

See if you can figure out what these common questions have to do with each other.  “Why do I feel shut down when my lover wants to fix my problem instead of listening to me?”  “How come it helps me more to vent to a person who shows care than to just vent and blow off steam when I’m alone?”  “Since venting, even with someone who shows love, doesn’t really change anything or solve any problems why do so many people want to do it?”  “How is it that just about every time I try to advise or analyze my lover’s problems it starts an argument and we both end up feeling bad?”

Couples, parents with upset children, family members, friends and others in love relationships of one type or another very frequently get into dysfunctionality in ways that lead to these types of questions.  Often worsening feelings, emotional distancing, estrangement and even breakups occur because people don’t understand the In and Out brain process involved.  With that understanding all this trouble usually can be avoided.

How the “Out” Part of the Process Works

One person starts talking about a difficulty or bad experience they’ve had, and as they do they begin to vent their bad feelings.  The bad or negative emotions they have experienced are, in essence, stored up inside them causing increased muscular tension, strained ligaments and tendons, digestive fluid imbalance, blood pressure difficulty, stress hormone production and a number of brain chemistry imbalances, along with various unhealthy malfunctions, all of which they are not consciously aware of.

Several forms of toxicity are occurring in several biological systems, and will continue unless a venting process is engaged in.  Expulsive and cathartic talking with a fair amount of well demonstrated, unhappy emotions being expressed through tone of voice, facial expression, posture and movements, along with certain kinds of verbiage like complaining, cussing, blaming, griping and generally bemoaning, etc. start and facilitate the venting process.

The venting process then releases, relaxes, relieves, reverses and re-balances the neurochemical and biological, unhealthy processes mentioned above.  When that occurs we feel better, or at least much less bad, because we are neurobiologically better after venting than before venting.  So long as nothing destructive occurs while venting, it is a healthful process.

It is the limbic system of our brain that primarily processes our emotions.  Venting is an appropriate word neurobiologically.  That’s because it is thought that our limbic system operates in a way to trigger the removal of the toxicity and harmful hormones which occur with bad feelings, and assists sending them on to our waste removal system when we are venting.  As we get clear of the toxicity and harmful neurochemistry our brain chemistry re-balances and begins to function better.
Consequently, we feel better and after some recovery we think better.

Vent Assistance and Interference

My very Irish uncle once said, this is what the elves taught him.  “Presenting your concepts to someone having a crying jag or temper fit is like serving a meal to a vomiting man.  Both will give you results no one wants”.  I think he was right.  Trying to teach, advise, reason, analyze or do anything very cognitive with a strongly venting person usually can be experienced by that person as selfish, inappropriate interference.  Until that person’s neurochemical system has had cathartic release, then cleared, followed by recovery and re-balancing their cognition system may not be ready to operate well.  Thus, their thinking about what you’re trying to tell them just won’t happen, or won’t happen very well.

When someone you love needs to vent it’s usually best to let them vent!  You might say things like, “Go ahead, let it all out”, “Tell me all about it”, “I want to hear all your feelings”, and “My heart and gut are right here with you”.  Things usually not very good to say are, “Don’t cry”, “Stop being mad”,”You’re making too much of this, be reasonable”, “If you would just stop and think it wouldn’t seem so bad”, “I told you that wouldn’t work” or any ‘fix-it’ talk, unless the person venting specifically and maybe repeatedly asks for help with their problem.

Caring statements said in soft, loving tones may do some good, but it’s the tones not the words that usually bring about the benefit.  None of the above ‘fix it’ or ‘teaching’ statements emotionally join with a person, or assist them in venting, and though they may have some immediate benefit to you their longer-range benefits are not so likely.

How The “In” Part Works

If, as a loved one vents their bad feelings, you look at them with caring eyes, you speak to them with loving tones, your facial expression shows earnest caring love, your gestures are open to them, and your posture leans toward them in a friendly manner, then you are helping to pour your healing love into them, replacing the emotional poison pouring out of them.

If you do not contaminate their outpouring by feeding them too many words or concepts, but just show care in these or similar ways you may see your efforts bring about healing and facilitate recovery from what was a toxic event for them.  Adding a few words showing emotional understanding also may help.

In ‘brain functioning terms’ this pretty much is what happens.  Your looks and sounds of love, perhaps coupled with loving touch triggers the wounded loved one’s brain to start making healing, neurochemical compounds that then are carried to many parts of the brain and throughout the body.  Everywhere they go, healing and re-balancing occurs.  Your loved one then may report that your loving listening has made them feel so much better.  You see, emotional poison or toxicity is pouring out and being replaced by healthful neurochemistry which results from receiving behaviors that convey love.

Some of What To Do and Not To Do

If your loved one is hurting, angry, afraid or experiencing any other strong, ‘bad’ feeling, those feelings are being processed in their brain’s limbic system.  To help them you must do things that stimulate the limbic system, more than the prefrontal cortex, cognition (thinking) system.  Loving facial expressions, tones of voice, gestures, friendly posture changes and loving touch can stimulate a person’s limbic system into doing healthful things.  Logic, reason, facts, analysis, etc. will more likely only do good after the limbic system has processed emotions sufficiently.

Softly saying things like “I care” with a loving look usually does far more good than an intellectually, brilliant solution to your loved one’s problem, which might better be said after their emotions are sufficiently and thoroughly expressed.  The emotional wounds first must be in greater repair before that brilliant solution is offered.

Sufficient venting and healing has to occur before your loved one can hear and maybe use a cognitively helpful idea.  Therefore, do love actions first and lots and then if needed do the thinking together.  Know that sometimes the loving listening is enough and the person who was venting will feel like you filled-up their heart’s gas tank, and they will run on that and do the solution part on their own.  Remember, we all must work with our brain’s way of functioning, not against it.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
How good are you at giving active, silent love to a hurting and venting loved one?

Sexual Love With Spiritual Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #233

Synopsis: Very different mindsets about this topic help you explore your own, and how you might change your life for the better via love-filled, spiritual sexuality are covered here.  Explanations of spiritual love (even for atheists), sexual love, sexual spirituality, spiritual sexuality and their mixing and more.

Can We and Should We Mix Sex and Spirituality?

Which of these following people think the closest to the way you think?

Trevor said, “I can’t think of sexual love and spiritual love at the same time.  For me it’s almost like they’re enemies or at least they belong in completely different boxes in my head”.

Celia replied, “I’m just the opposite.  To me all real loves (sexual, romantic, parental or whatever) are spiritual.  If it’s not spiritual it’s not real love, no matter what kind of love it is”.

Donald added, “I guess I don’t know how to even start thinking about what spiritual love means and putting the word sexual with the words real love gives me trouble too”.

Darla related, “I’m wondering if that’s what went wrong in my love life.  Just possibly I didn’t do romantic love or sexual love spiritually enough, so maybe my love life was bound to mess up”.

Jacob then asked, “Are we sure we are talking about anything real?  What do all those words really mean?  I know what my religion and sex are but spirituality with sex and love just confuses me.”

Ava emphatically pronounced, “Love and spirituality are the most real things in my life and they’re what make my whole life work right including the romantic and the sexual”!

Noah then firmly declared, “I don’t think we can or should try to mix sex with the spiritual.  Sexuality will just corrupt the spiritual and bring us down into sin”.

What About You?

Which of these people comes closest to having said what goes on in your head if you ponder spirituality mixed with sexuality and love?  Or do you think something entirely different from all of them?

Now for a couple of other possibly life-changing important questions.  What do you think about your spiritual life becoming more sexual and your sexual life more spiritual?  While we are at it, what do you know about the many religious movements and teachings the world over and throughout history that pronounced the unity of the spiritual and the sexual to be a good thing?  Also what do you know about what the religion you are most familiar with has to say about spiritual and sexual love?  Then there is what the nonreligious but spiritually-oriented ideologies and philosophies say?  Finally, do you want to consider the spirituality of agnostics and atheists.  Many say they are quite spiritual.

Now more personally, Do you suppose you will live more fully and more fulfilled if you achieve a greater confluence of your sexuality with and within romantic love and spirituality? Will those you love benefit more from your love if you work to intertwine these parts of your life?

How Were You Taught?

Were you perhaps subconsciously trained to keep spirituality and sexuality in separate boxes in your head like Trevor?  If your love life has been very troubled or disappointing could Darla’s concerns be yours?  About these matters, is your background training deficient, conflicted or just unhelpful leaving you confused like Donald or maybe a bit rigidly dubious more like Jacob?

Figuring out what and how much has already gotten in your head about these issues is often a good way to start exploring for what may turn out to be stupendous improvements in your life.  I say that because that is what has been true for the many who proclaim the integration of sex and spirituality has been for them, nothing short of stupendous.

What Is Real Love?

To answer this question I refer you to the definition of love mini-love-lessons at this site (see “The Definition of Love” and “A More Ample Definition of Love”).

What Is Spiritual Love?

Spiritual love can be described as a sense of mysterious love connection with that which is perceived as being far greater than the self.  It also is seen as transcending the ordinary, the mundane, the usual, the normative, the common and even time and space, and as infinitely profound and often amazingly life changing.

Is all real love spiritual?  Sages of quite a number of diverse spiritual and metaphysical traditions have said that it is.  Interestingly, several teach that before anything there was only love and love in its need to be creative burst forth with the birth of the universe.  Therefore, everything of real importance is of love and especially is that true of sexuality because it can lead to the miracle of birth.  Another shared teaching holds that the substance of deity is pure love from which all real love flows (see “Spirituality and Love, Great and Grand”).

Throughout history and all around the world, those in love relationships, be they spouses, lovers, deep dear friends, loving parents of a newborn or even lovers of life itself, proclaim the experience of love to sometimes be awesomely spiritual.  Many a couple experiencing amazing love-filled sex testify to having undergone a profound, spiritual/sexual experience.

Some reductionist scientists posit that spiritual love must only be some unusual, neurophysical event in the brain.  However, others comment that this reductionist explanation might describe how spiritual love is neurochemically processed and that cosmically there may well be much more to it than that arguably arrogant conclusion suggests.

More Spiritual or More Religious?

Spiritual seekers tend to be quite different from religionists though many are both.  Spiritual quests lead seekers along mysterious paths into the unknown as well as toward uncertain goals.  Religionists, on the other hand, tend more to accept and profess established doctrines and credos.  Spiritual seekers often grapple with the great questions like why are we here and what is my purpose in life.  Frequently they then quest for their own individual answers and personal enlightenment.  Religionists more often conform and adhere to the belief systems provided for them by authoritative sources.  Spiritual seekers can tend to be more open to a diversity of love experiences and understandings while many religionists not so much.  At least that is what some research suggests.

What Is Sexual Love?

Sexual love is easier to define.  It simply is real love integrated with natural sexuality.  As such, it can be experienced confluently with spiritual love.

What Is Sexual Spirituality and Spiritual Sexuality?

These two can be described together as grand and powerful feelings of intimacy while feeling and acting passionately sexual and, at the same time, feeling intensely loving which brings on a sense of transcendental and oceanic connection with that which is far greater than the self.  It often includes awesome feelings of being a part of the universal, unknowable and immensely wondrous.  Spiritual sex and sexual spirituality also can be described as incredibly precious, highly personal, extraordinarily intimate, deep core uniting with the sacred spirit of another and/or a deistic presence.

Exploring Sexual and Spiritual Love Together

By exploring this mini-love-lesson, you already are joining millions of others who have, or are exploring sexual and spiritual love often together with a loved one or more.  I suggest the next step might be for you to read more about it.  There is plenty written.  For that, you might check-out Sacred Sexuality by A. T. Mann and Jane Lyle, perhaps followed by Sex and Spirit by Clifford Bishop. Love and Living by the Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton, is full of the wisdom of love and the theological.  For a more deeply psychological understanding, Sexuality and Spirituality, Pursuing Integration by Dr. William F. Kraft will do nicely.  All of these help in giving a fascinating and wonderfully, wide-ranging look at the many components of our subject.  The first two of these sources especially cover what a great many, different approaches actually have done about exploring love-filled sex and spirituality.

Some books give sexual/spiritual procedures to follow in the form of a series of exercises, and a fair number of couples have followed these and reported positively about their results.

A Google search will show you a huge number of other sources, many of which are not very useful in my opinion.  Some are just propaganda for selling a particular brand of religion or costly stuff.  But then again, some sources are quite fine, helpful and less expensive.

The next thing you might consider doing is attending workshops, retreats, courses, spirit quests, getting group coaching and attending other more experiential events.  Tantric workshops and retreats are among the most popular in this area of spiritual sexuality.  These kinds of experience-based events have a great range of intensity and for some are quite shocking.

So, considering the experiential, are you ready for participating in or observing reverent eroticism, prayerful masturbation and sacred mutual masturbation, liturgical naked chanting and dancing, reverential group nude massage, sacramental lovemaking, genital sanctification, risqué and sensuous religious rituals, aphrodisiac ceremony, orgasmic blessedness, Goddess sex and a great deal more.  It is important to select carefully which of these kind of and level of experiences you will be okay with.  Be sure to get enough information ahead of time from those who are in charge.  Many of these are for couples only but there are ones for singles available.  My suggestion is to carefully consider doing at least one or two of these type things but only if they seem to have a lot to say about love itself and are not ridiculously expensive.  Perhaps start with the milder ones and watch out for con artists (see “Sex Fears Mastered with Love”).

Now, if you are in a romantic type, love relationship, consider together following a guidebook or receiving instruction in a course of spiritual/sexual/love-based procedures available via a well credentialed, trained and qualified sex educator, counselor or therapist with some modern loving, health-oriented, spiritual background and see where that leads.

This is not to say that a couple in a deeply loving relationship must search outside their relationship to learn and experiment with combining sexuality and spirituality.  In a mutual, loving and trusting environment, peak experiences can be achieved together.  Just don’t play strike one, you’re out; time and patience often leads to success. Outside alternatives sometimes offer things a couple might not have thought of or instructions that might prove helpful.

One More Little Thing: With whom might you lovingly talk-over this mini-love-lesson, perhaps mentioning where you got the ideas from?

As always Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If we keep the sexual and the spiritual separate, who benefits and who is perhaps harmed?

Love Against Bigotry

Mini-Love-Lesson  #233

Synopsis: The dangers of bigotry for its targets, practitioners and those who fight it; personal questions to face; bigotry more deeply defined with a deeper psychological understanding of its dynamics and causes; Adamant Love as bigotry’s best enemy; the survival necessity of fighting bigotry and three major ways to fight bigotry with love are well and succinctly presented in this mini-love-lesson.

Tough Love May Be Required

Bigotry is dangerous!  Not only does bigotry cause harm to others but eventually it becomes self-destructive to those who obsessively practice it.  It works much like a dangerous, contagious disease often subtly spreading and becoming more virulent and resistant to cure as it infects more and more of the vulnerable.  That is when the hate and fear-based core of toxic bigotry can come to dominate the entire life of the bigot destroying everything even connection to other bigots which is thought to be the last thing to go.  Family life, social life, physical and mental health, self-care and everything constructive usually eventually suffers due to bigotry’s pathological effects.  Physical disease susceptibility tends to grow and bring about a final demise of the profoundly bigoted.  That is part of what research into bigotry is revealing.  Research also gives evidence to bigotry being a serious and dangerous, pathological psychodynamic for all concerned (Check out The Violence of Hate, 3ed. by Jack Levine and Jim Nolan).

Of course, in many people bigotry appears in milder and more restricted forms.  Even there, research suggests it has a corrosive effect on its practitioners, on their healthier relationships and on the people they effect.  Even in its milder forms, bigotry retards progress and advancement by merit, and thus, it works to limit societal improvement.

There is one good thing about bigotry.  Paradoxically throughout history, bigotry has been a great help to the countries who welcome the refugees of bigotry.  Many countries’s best and highest achievers in countless fields were once escapees from persecutory bigotry.

Combating bigotry can also can be quite dangerous at times.  Done unwisely and without sufficient self-care, bigotry can get you and yours hurt, harmed and, although rarely, may even get you or yours killed.  However, not fighting bigotry can arrive at very similar results, but perhaps for different victims.  Often it is the innocent, uninformed and the unaware who fall victim to bigotry’s most dangerous acting-out manifestations.

Love (not reason or facts) is bigotry’s most successful enemy.  But because of bigotry’s considerable danger, opposition is best accomplished through tough love, or more accurately, love’s strongest most powerful form known as Adamant Love (see “Adamant Love – and How It Wins for Us All”).  Softer forms of love, such as compassionate love, usually are treated by bigots as only contemptible weakness.  Reason and facts have their place but they only treat, if at all, the surface symptoms of bigotry (fallacious thinking) not even touching the profound hate-undergirding fear and bigotry’s deep roots in personal love deprivation.

Know Your Enemy

What exactly is bigotry?  What causes bigotry?  Who becomes a bigot?  Are you or those you care about perhaps unknowingly infected with the seeds of pathological bigotry?  Most importantly what can be done that works to prevent and defeat bigotry?  To effectively go against bigotry, it helps to have good answers to these and similar questions.  For all that, here is a bit of assistance.

Bigotry More Deeply Defined

Overtly and at the surface symptom level, bigotry simply can be defined as stubborn and intense intolerance of any opinion, belief, creed, policy, tenant or lifestyle differing from one’s own.  More completely, bigotry is also obstinate intolerant, blind devotion to one’s own opinions, prejudice, viewpoints, lifestyle and one’s own identity tribe’s myths, mores, customs, values, hatreds, conceptualized enemies and hierarchies done to the defensive exclusion of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of outside other identity groups or tribes.

A Psychological Understanding of Bigotry

A deeper more psychological understanding suggests that bigotry is a deep-seated, unconscious fear and insecurity about being replaced and reduced in importance, and not having the qualities and attributes necessary to maintain one’s level of importance, status and general sense of okayness.  Hate-filled bigotry seems to be most strongly activated when the bigoted perceive or sense they are in danger of having their own inadequacies exposed and social standing reduced.  This is especially onerous to bigots when it involves being compared to what they consider to be lower status identity groups which might gain higher status over their own.

Such inadequacy fears activate the brain’s defensive emergency power systems of anger, hatred, rejection and tendencies for exclusionary and/or destructive action taking.  Cognitively, the resulting symptomatic thought process is one of self-justifying rationalization rather than real reasoning, dodging, denial and distortion of facts coupled with irrational protective blaming.

This is well revealed in the white nationalist’s marching chant, “Jews will not take our jobs”.  Exposed in this chant is the secret, underlying fear that jews have what it takes to take their jobs away from them.  Furthermore, the secret fear is the white nationalists do not have sufficient adequacy to hold on to their jobs in the face of the  Jewish competition which is seen as unfair and perverse.

What Causes Bigotry

“You have to teach them to hate before they are six, or seven or eight” so goes, the once banned, line from the musical South Pacific.  This expresses the simple truth that in many families children are raised to be hate-filled and secretly fear-filled offspring of their likewise-minded parents and relatives.  Add exclusionary hate-filled religion, authoritarian sociopolitical thinking, autocratic charismatic leaders and a simple lack of education delineating the superior advantages of healthy, real love and democracy and you have the social milieu ethos that breeds bigotry.

Another cause seems to have to do with erratic and inefficient love in infancy and childhood.  Research indicates certain patterns of erratic and inconsistent love behaviors occurring in the raising of infants and children cause long-lasting insecurities as well as certain deficiencies in normal physical growth.  Both human children and laboratory animals raised with these love deprivation behavioral patterns develop larger fear-based reactions to new and different things and others entering their environment.  In children, this sometimes takes the form of obvious bigotry type reactions.  In laboratory animals especially monkeys, more primitive withdrawal, fear and angry attack behaviors toward the new and different occur.  Behaviorally, consistently well loved lab animals show mostly friendly curiosity toward the new and different.

Some developmental researchers suspect that in the above situation of inconsistent, reassuring love which occurs during certain critical periods of brain development, the amygdala (a brain part having to do with processing fear) may be damaged and become lifelong prone to producing stronger and more frequent fear feelings, interpretations and resulting fear-based behaviors.  Such children are suspected of becoming more highly susceptible to developing bigotry-filled outlooks on life and especially toward anything or anyone new and different.

Similarly, certain research results in the neurosciences and genetics suggests some people inherit amygdalas that easily overproduce, and too frequently produce, strong fear and resulting defensive anger reactions when encountering new and different others.  Other brains, especially those of children securely loved in their infancy, tend to produce happy curiosity on encountering the same new and different others.  The genetic neuroscience results posit that between 10% and 40% of bigotry may be attributable to genetics.

The highly healthfully, self loving and those who live in happy, healthful, love-interactive, inclusive and not isolationistic networks tend to be those least prone to developing bigotry.

Likewise, those who have the most frequent personal contact with people of varying identity groups tend to be the most comfortable and appreciative of people differing from themselves.  Those who have the least contact with people of identity groups different than their own tend to exhibit the most fear of differing others.  Basically, more contact equals more comfort and less bigotry.

Adamant Love Can Defeat Bigotry

Love naturally opposes bigotry.  Healthy, real love is kind, compassionate, not easily threatened, inclusive not exclusive, prone to seek the well-being of all, brave and much more – just as Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Rumi and the Scriptures of the major religions of the world have taught us.  Bigotry is fear-based, hate empowered, exclusionary, unkind, easily threatened, defensively aggressive and prone to seek only the well-being of the similarly bigoted.

Adamant love is the type of love which is strong, determined, steadfast, powerful in face of adversity and in the service of the well-being of the loved (see “Adamant Love – and How It Wins for Us All”).  It, therefore, is likely the form of love best able to powerfully combat the fear and hate of militant bigotry.  Other forms of love such as compassionate love and serene love also have a roles to play.

Working and Fighting for Love Victories Is the Best Option!
Let me suggest, it is good but not enough to be against bigotry, hate, prejudice, inequality, etc.  It works better to also be for what needs to go in place of those things, or in other words, fill the vacuum that defeating bigotry leaves.  Otherwise, like weeds, they return.  Growing evidence points to humanitarian, altruistic and inclusive, healthy, real love being the best, strongest and most positive vacuum filler.

Wherever love loses, and bigotry, hate and/or indifference wins, history shows disintegration, destruction and demise become the eventual outcome.  This proves true for couples, families, societies, nations, cultures and even empires.  You can read all about that in A New Reality by Drs Jonas and Jonathan Salk and in several of Jonas Salk’s previous works.  This is also well backed by the work of Dr. Reuben Fine in The Meaning of Love in Human Experience and also in Love and Survival by Dr. Dean Ornish.

Three Ways to Fight Bigotry with Love!

First arm yourself with knowledge about the behaviors that convey healthy, real love.  That knowledge and those behaviors become your primary tools or, if you prefer, weapons by which you can fight for and with love and against bigotry (see “Behaviors that Give Love – The Basic Core Four” and Link “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”).

Now for a little personal example.  At an interfaith conference, I once had the privilege of seeing the theologian, Nels Ferre, lovingly handle being confronted by two very angry and accusatory Palestinian graduate students.  Through the sincere use of love listening techniques, friendly facial expressions, kind tones of voice, open arm gestures and non-combative questions, he literally loved them into receptiveness.  The next day they were all walking to breakfast together laughing and acting like long-standing comrades.  Best of all, the Palestinians were now very interested in listening to Dr. Ferre’s input, where before, interruptive attack statements were all they seemed capable of.

You might want to review what your own religious tradition teaches about love.  Most major religions have very important, healthy, positive things to say about how we are to love one another – which turns out to be in surprising agreement with each other.

If and when you encounter anyone talking or acting in bigoted ways, think about not arguing with them or being silent but rather with kind, expressional love (see “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”) asking them a few questions and perhaps later getting around to a short, positive, personal testimony, laudatory statement about the people they seem to be against.  Imagine saying something like “what you’re saying about them could be true, I suppose, but my own personal experience with them has been mostly quite positive.  Why do you suppose that is?”  In this way you use some of your behaviors of love tools, usually avoid the wasted energy of combativeness, and just possibly get your positive message actually heard a bit.

Second, Live Social Diversity!  The research is clear.  The more people personally experience those of other identity groups the more bigotry, negative bias and prejudice diminish and feelings of fraternity grow.  There are exceptions but not nearly as many as researchers once thought likely.  Those people who have the least contact with any outside identity group tend to exhibit the most fear, disapproval, intolerance, and bigotry toward that group.  It has long been noted that, for the most part, it is not the people who live along a peaceful border who are intolerant of those on the other side but those who live further in-land away from that border, and out of contact with those people across the border.

So, though it is sometimes complicated and difficult work to seek contact with those who are different and diverse from yourself and your own identity group, I bet it will prove well worth it.  In your own environment, ponder who are the most likely targets of bigotry, exclusionary treatment, negative bias and derogatory opinions.  Seek some of them out.  Start with the concept that if you get to know some of them you probably will be considerably enriched by interacting with them.  And you probably have a lot to learn from them that will be ever so good for you to learn.  Not only that, you will increasingly enjoy it and, who knows, you may make a truly loving friendship or two.

Almost everywhere there are both informal and organized groups of people made up of those who interact with and/or support people who are more different from you but who are open to your inclusion.  It takes a little social bravery and doing a bit of homework but you can find and start befriending some of them.  They may be a little protectively standoffish at first but keep being friendly and you can put them in your life and be better for it and likely so will they.

Third, join and become active in one or more groups that actively fight for or work for positive social diversity interaction and democratic equality/inclusiveness.  You also can join and be active in groups that fight against hate, bigotry and various forms of destructive prejudice and authoritarian anti-democratic movements (Check out the prevention programs of the International Network for Hate Studies and the Counter Bigotry Action Report of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee).

You can do these things both locally and in much wider ways.  For instance, both globally and locally and also for an easy start you might want to join up with Friendship Force International where you get to fairly inexpensively travel to and live briefly with people in other countries all over the world.  Then you get to host some of them in your home if you wish.  Remember, Mark Twain told us “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness”.

So, the challenge is be a part of those who fight for the ways of healthy, real love and against the anti-love forces of bigotry, hatred, prejudice, etc.  Part of that challenge is to not live inactive or indifferent about love.  Both inaction and indifference assist the anti-love forces which would and could destroy us all.

One More Little Thing.  How about talking all this over with somebody and in the process tell them about our FREE mini-love-lessons and our FREE subscriptions.  We would appreciate that.

As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question:  Could the human race lose the race for human survival because enough humans didn’t fight hard enough for treating one another with the ways of love?

Alphabet Love Test

To take this test, first read the brief statement of what love can be given for each letter of the alphabet.  Then read the sentence below the statement and choose the answer (and record the number) which comes closest to your own..  If you do not know or cannot be sure enough, record a zero for your answer.  However, it is best to make the ‘best guess’ you can, coming as close as possible to what you think your answer might be so you do not have too many zero scores.  Choose only one answer for each stimulus sentence.

A   Love Can Be Affectionate
      I show love affectionately     1. Badly     2. Poorly     3. Fairly well     4. Very well.
B   Love Can Be Beneficial
      I act to benefit those I love    1. Rarely    2. Seldom    3. Often     4. Quite frequently
C   Love Can Be Caring
      I show I care to those I love   1. Ineptly    2. Tolerably well    3. Quite well    4. Very well.
D   Love Can Be a Delight
      I obviously delight in those I love   1. Rarely   2. Seldom   3. Often   4. Quite frequently.
E   Love Can Be Enriching
      I realize the enrichment of other’s love   1. Rarely    2. Seldom   3. Often   4. Quite frequently
F   Love Can Be Fun
      I do ‘fun love’     1. Rarely     2. Seldom     3. Often     4. Quite frequently
G   Love Can Be Giving
      I express love through giving  1. Deficiently   2. Mediocre   3. Moderately well   4 Quite well
H   Love Can Be Helpful
      I am helpful to those I love    1. Rarely    2. Seldom    3. Often    4. Quite frequently
I   Love Can Be Intimate
      Emotional intimacy for me is   1. Laborious    2. Difficult    3. Pleasurable    4. Superb
J   Love Can Be Joyful
      I experience the joy of love   1. Deficiently    2. Mildly    3. Strongly    4. Powerfully
K   Love Can Be Kind
      I show loving kindness   1. Rarely   2. Seldom   3. Often   4. Quite frequently.
L   Love Can Be Liberating
      I feel love’ s liberating influence  1. Rarely    2. Seldom    3. Often    4. Quite frequently
M   Love Can Be Merciful
      I give merciful love  1. With great difficulty    2 reluctantly    3. Easily    4. Abundantly
N   Love Can Be Nurturing
      I nurture others with love  1. Poorly    2 Tolerably well    3. Moderately well    4. Very well
O   Love Can Be Observant
      I observe those I love   1. Inadequately    2. Sporadically    3. Carefully    4. Expertly
P   Love Can Be Powerful
      I exhibit powerful love  1. Sparsely     2. Tenuously     3. Commonly     4. Marvelously
Q   Love Can Be Questing
      Via love I quest for growth and improvement  1. Passively   2. Modestly   3.Enthusiastically  4. Passionately
R   Love Can Be Receptive
      I receive love   1. Badly    2. Poorly    3. Fairly well    4. Extremely well
S   Love Can Be Sexual
      I mix love and sexuality  1. Almost never     2 Incompetently     3. Well     4. Superbly
T   Love Can Be Tender
      I give tender love  1. Awkwardly     2. Clumsily     3. Tolerably well     4. Expertly
U   Love Can Be Unconditional
      At offering unconditional love I am   1. At a loss    2. Reluctant    3. Liberal    4. Generous
V   Love Can Be Victorious
      I strive to win with love   1. Never     2. Infrequently     3. Frequently     4. Consistently
W   Love Can Be Willing
      I give my willingness to those I love   1. Miserly    2 Sporadically    3. Freely    4. Joyously
X   Love Can Be Xenial. (Hospitable)
      With those I love I am xenial   1. With resistance    2. Dutifully    3. Pleasantly    4. Happily
Y   Love Can Be Yielding
      I yield to those I love   1. With anger   2. With resentment   3. With acceptance   4. With ease
Z   Love Can Be Zestful
      I zestfully join with those I love  1. Hardly ever   2. Not often enough   3. Fairly often   4. Quite often

The number corresponding to your response on each question is your Score for each sentence.  If you chose a number ‘1.’ response your score is one.  If your answer was a ‘2.’ response your score is 2 on that item, and so forth.  Add up all your ‘1.’ responses, ‘2.’ responses, ‘3.’ responses and ‘4.’ responses; then add them all together for your TOTAL Score.  Do not add your zero (don’t know & not sure) responses.  Now, use the following scale to interpret your score.

Scores zero – 26 suggest you may not know enough about yourself and healthy, real love, how it’s done and how to evaluate yourself in relationship to healthy, real love.  A lack of love knowledge may lead to love failure.  Considerable study of love, therefore, is recommended, perhaps coupled with developing your introspection skills.

Scores 27 – 52 suggest you may not have given love and how to do it well and successfully anywhere near enough attention and, therefore, love failures may be all too likely in your life.  Lots of study of the behaviors that convey love (See “An Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love”) and those that help love grow and develop, followed by practicing what you learn is recommended for your consideration.

Scores 53 – 78 suggest you are doing the actions that lead, at least, to a fairly successful chance at succeeding at love, and that it will be wise for you to study and learn more of the skills, techniques and ways of healthy, real love.

Scores 79 – 104 suggest you have a well above average understanding of how to grow and develop a healthy love relationship or that you are giving yourself too much credit and may be in denial about how much you need to learn.

It is useful to go back and study your lowest scores on each of the above sentences, thinking of them as possible areas you might do well to make improvements in.  Studying your highest scores may tell you something about your strengths concerning healthy, real love.  Developing your strengths even further as you also strengthen the weakest areas is considered a rather good strategy.

The Alphabet Love Test also may provide a good exercise for a couple to do together, and it also can be used by families and friends.

The Alphabet Love Test is just one of many ways to get a bit clearer and more well-informed about yourself and your healthy, real love strengths and weaknesses.  It is not to be considered a definitive instrument as it only has what is called face validity.  It, however, may provide a rather good stimulus for thinking about love and factors that have to do with love in their many, rich and varied forms.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you consider yourself to be a student of love, or do you mostly let love and your love relationships be a matter of luck and whatever you learned growing up?  Which is your guess as to which of these approaches gets the better results and which does not?

Adamant Love - And How It Wins for Us All

Mini-Love-Lesson #205

One of over 200 FREE mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries -worldwide!

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?