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Showing posts with label behavior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label behavior. Show all posts

Love Bids and Their Astounding Importance

Synopsis: How pitching and catching love bids makes an enormous difference starts our discussion; followed by what love bids are; and finally ending with the super significance of well caught and well returned bids; more.

Pitching and Catching Love Bids Makes All the Difference

Across the crowded room Michael glanced at Grace, then briefly smiled and nodded ever so slightly in her direction.  Grace coyly smiled back as she gave a slow subtle return nod.  Such a small, quick interaction but it made both Michael and Grace feel slightly elated and a bit more emotionally connected.  Both thought about how good their love relationship was and how glad they were to have it all these many years.

They both then moved through the gathering toward each other and went happily home earlier than they had planned, enjoying each other all the way.  Because Michael had ‘pitched’ Grace a little behavioral “bid” for love connecting and Grace ‘caught’ it well and pitched one back, this couple had one of their many, excellent, loving evenings together, feeling close and intimately connected.
Nan and Buck did not fare nearly as well.  Buck was eating an early lunch at work when Nan called and said, “Let’s go to lunch together”.

Buck, lost in his work, said a rather abrupt, “No, I’m already eating here at my desk.  Is there anything else?”.  Nan feeling discounted and rebuffed mumbled a goodbye and ended the call.  After work, Nan decided to get a drink with some of her fellow workers and went on to spend the evening flirting and dancing, and then got home rather late.  Waiting at home, Buck felt lonely, a bit worried and then a bit angry.

When Nan came in he greeted her with a very critical, parent-like, “Where have you been. You should have called if you were going to be late”.  Feeling criticized like a child, she lied saying she had to work late and she was going to bed because she was really “wiped out”.  Now both of them felt lonely and rebuffed.

Had Nan pitched her bid for love connecting in a much more clear fashion like, “I really want a little personal, close, ‘us’ time together.  Let’s use today’s lunch time for that.  Okay?”.  Had Buck been more aware and ‘caught’ and understood Nan’s ‘love bid’ for what it was, a chance for a love connection experience, they might have done as well as Michael and Grace but sadly they didn’t.
Research is showing that the ‘pitching and catching’ of love bids may be crucial to the success or failure of many love relationships.  This is true not only for couples but also parents and children, family relationships, deep close friends and even with pets.  There even is evidence that love bidding also may occur in the animal world, especially among mammals.

What Are Love Bids?

Simply put, a love bid is any action aimed at initiating an experience of mutual love connection.  It can be as simple as a wink, an intimate tone of voice, a tender touch, a welcoming gesture or an inviting smile.  It can be a bid for love connecting by way of showing and sharing humor, ideas, affection, excitement, fun, silliness, conversation, empathy, affirmation, self-disclosure, caring, support, catharsis or just time together.

Love bids often are subtle but they also can be quite clear and obvious.  They are accomplished by both verbal and expressional (non-verbal) behaviors.  They help fill one of love’s major purposes, that of healthful connection (see mini-love-lessons “A Functional Definition of Love”).  Love bids, well pitched and well caught, and then returned again help us come together, get happy together and help bring about the best and most important of love nurturing and emotionally nourishing experiences.

Love Bids and Love Success

There is research from the pioneering and famed Gottman Institute that shows successful couples tend to connect and interact 86% or more of the time when one partner or the other makes a bid for love relationship connection; success here is defined as a couple being together six or more years.  Failing couples, those who break up or divorce in less than six years, connect after a bid for connection is made, on average, only 33% of the time or less.  That is only one of an increasing number of findings from a growing body of large-scale, long-range, ongoing research efforts in a wide number of fields working to discover what succeeds in love relationships.

A considerable amount of growing evidence points to this conclusion.  Love bids and love connecting experiences are vital for maintaining and growing healthy, real love relationships.  The maintenance of ongoing relationships, the healing of damaged relationships and living balanced and healthfully in active relationships is crucially affected by how well people in these relationships ‘pitch and catch’ their bids for love connecting.

Subtle Bids for Love Connecting

Jennifer looked up and in whispered tones said, “Aren’t the clouds beautiful”?  She was making a small, subtle bid for her husband to briefly connect with her in a sharing appreciation, love experience.  She was purposefully making it small and subtle because, to her, it seemed more intimate and romantic that way.  Perhaps it also seemed safer protecting her from being obviously rejected if he didn’t catch it or reacted somehow negatively.

If Jennifer’s husband made absolutely no response to her bid she might see him as being insensitive, not valuing her, perhaps upset with her, or even evidence of him not loving her.  If Jennifer’s husband responded with something like, “No, I actually don’t like those clouds, they look like a storm is brewing and that’s going to ruin our barbecue plans for tonight”.  That would have been better than no response at all.  Even though it presents disagreement, it involves replying and interacting with her about what she said, and that is more of a love connecting than not responding at all.

If he added to his disagreement statement, terms of endearment like Sweetheart or Darling, along with pleasant tones of voice, it could be considered quite loving.  That might have met Jennifer’s desire to be dealt with, and connected with, as someone who is loved by her husband.  It, therefore, would have been a love nourishment and bonding experience, better by far than silence.

If Jennifer’s husband responded by putting an arm around her, and pulled her closer as he also looked at the clouds and then kissed her on the cheek, that would have given her the love connection that her bid actually was aimed at producing.  If he had added words like, “I feel so close to you when we see beautiful things together”, that might have made for an intimate moment of superb, love connection.
The pitching and catching of subtle love bids sometimes can be something of an art form.  It may involve all sorts of intriguing, enjoyable, enticing and surprising, artfully delivered, variations.  It also can be quite spontaneous and even unconsciously done.  Without even knowing it, a sad look can be a bid for supportive, caring, love connecting.

Obvious Bids for Love Connection

While subtle bids for love connection are considered more romantic and safer from embarrassment, obvious bids are much more likely to be clearly understood and successfully enacted.  However, when they are lovelessly rejected, the ‘ouch’ factor usually is much stronger.  So, unless your self-love is quite strong, having your obvious bids for love connection turned down may result in you feeling really hurt.  The healthfully, sufficiently self loving can sincerely think “their loss” and go on feeling okay.  Others, not so much.

Obvious bids usually are accomplished through the use of words requesting specific behaviors.  “Let’s cuddle on the couch for the next half-hour and just be close, okay?” is an example of an obvious bid for love connection.  A well pitched, obvious love bid includes four elements: (1) the behavior desired –  to cuddle, (2) the desired place where the behavior is to occur – on the couch, (3) the desired time – the next half-hour, and (4) the desired emotional mood – closeness.  A good, obvious love bid usually is stated in loving tones of voice with loving facial expressions, gestures and perhaps some loving touch.  If delivered in written form, it usually is good to add some additional words expressing love directly.

It also is good to be careful about making a clear difference between a bid for sex and a bid for love, or a bid for both together.  It is important that you and your intimate love partner both be sure you have the same understanding.  If you say, “I want to hug” and it means “let’s have a raunchy, good time together, miscommunication problems are highly likely.

Well Caught and Returned Love Bids

Responding to love bids is crucial for having ongoing, love success.  When couples, or families, or friends reduce their pitching, catching and return pitching of their bids for love connecting, as one might expect, connection reduces.  Reduced love connecting sets up a love relationship for all manner of problems.  Love malnutrition and love starvation may occur.  This especially is dangerous for the health and well-being of young children.

Vulnerability to couples having affair problems becomes greater.  Friends and family members can grow distant with reductions of love bids.  And all sorts of other maladies become more likely when bids for love connection are markedly reduced or absent.
Frequently and, if possible, artfully pitching your bids for love connection, receiving other’s bids, and responding with a return pitching leads to love cycling.  This in turn tends to grow love and make it stronger, as well as healthier, not to mention more enjoyable.

To do all that requires several things.  It is just like the game called “catch” when the ball is thrown back and forth.  (Notice the game is not called “throw”).  First you have to be aware that something is being thrown or pitched to you.  Otherwise, what is pitched may fly right by you.  Once you notice what is coming, you have to try to catch it.  This requires some understanding of what it really is, or might be, and a receiving response, followed by an awareness of whether you got it or not.

Misinterpreting or misunderstanding is like fumbling the ball.  Next you have to come up with how you are going to make a return pitch, followed by aiming and sending it.  Each of these steps can be handled artfully with practice, clumsily, or not at all.  The research suggests everybody totally misses some of the time, fumbles at other times, but with practice, sometimes with coaching, they can get better and better at this astonishingly important love skill.  So, the more you study and practice both your pitching love bids and catching your loved one’s bids for love connection, the better the relationship likely will be.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What kind of bids for love connecting are you good at making, and what kinds are you likely to miss or misunderstand?

Unselfish Self-Love

Synopsis: Three contrarian questions lead off our mini-love-lesson; which then goes to eye-opening answers to those questions; some knowledge about the benefits of unselfish self love; more.

Three Contrarian Questions

Who do you think does more good in the world, the highly self caring or those who are frequently self-sacrificing?

Who do you think are more giving and helpful to others, those who are highly self-critical or those who like and love themselves a lot?  Who do you think attends more to the less able and less fortunate, those who are low or those who are high in active self-love?

Eye-Opening Answers

The research data shows, contrary to what many have been taught to think, the healthfully self loving are more effective and more frequently active in doing kind and compassionate love behaviors and working for the benefit of others than those in various other comparison groups.  It appears the self-sacrificing are not viewed as very good at self care.  Therefore, they are thought to grow depleted and less able to help others over time.

The self-critical often are seen to be too busy giving themselves negative attention to do all that much for others and are considered to have a lack of sufficient self-confidence which slows them down.  The emotionally needy and low in self-love put much more of their energy into confused attempts to get their own needs met, so they too often do not have much to give others.  The timid and guilty fear to act because they might do something wrong and they also are believed to back away from criticism, resistance and disagreements that arise in trying to benefit others.

Those who are healthfully self loving turn out to be the more unselfish, compassionate to others as well as to themselves.  They also are more likely to act altruistically, charitably and champion humanitarian causes, plus be more steadfast in encountering resistance and they are far less likely to surrender to criticism or opposition.  At least that is what a growing body of research points to.

There are other groups that are largely unselfish but it seems that without sufficient, healthy self-love and the self-care and self compassion healthy self-love brings them, for various reasons, don’t do as well.  There are those who think they have never done enough but the self-negativity that brings can be de-energizing and counterproductive.  There are those who have been taught that all pride is a sin, feeling good about yourself is egotistical and blinding to one’s own flaws, and all types of self-love lead to being self-centered, self-indulgent, self-seeking, smug, complacent to the detriment and expense of others.

So far at least, research does not support the contention that people who believe this way are better at being beneficial to others than are those who have strong, healthy self-love. Quite the contrary in fact.  There is evidence that points to the self compassionate and self caring being the most compassionate and caring to and for others.  Thus, they more than others, actually best fulfill the ancient admonition “Love others as you love yourself”.

Are the Selfish the Least Self Loving?

It can be argued that the highly selfish, egocentric, braggadocios, egomaniacal, etc. are just misguided and mistaken, and are attempting to make up for their own considerable lack of real and healthy self-love.  In essence the selfish are seen as trying hard to be self loving but they are trying in the wrong ways.  From this point of view they are doomed to real, self love failure.  Their’s, in fact, is seen as fake self-love.

The healthfully self loving are thought to more likely have a large sense of mysterious awe concerning their own nature, a great sense of gratitude for all that contributed to their own, unique selfhood, plus a tendency toward humorously accepting their own flaws and fumbles.  These are not characteristics thought to be easily found in the strongly selfish.  It is the unkind, uncharitable, unforgiving, un-thoughtful and insensitive to others who are deficient in self-love.

Those who are healthfully self loving are more likely to have what can be called ‘a full cup’ and, therefore, have a lot more they can give to others than those who are desperately trying to fill their very empty and leaking cup, so to speak.  The healthfully self-loving do not need to be egotistical because their cup not only ‘runneth over’ but does not leak.

Narcissism Versus Healthy Self-Love

Narcissism often is defined with the term self-love.  In light of a growing body of evidence concerning healthy, real love, it would seem appropriate to re-think narcissism.  Narcissism is understood to be a condition which blocks or at least lessens love for others.  More and more available evidence shows healthy self-love to enable and promote the love of others.  In fact, narcissism most accurately may be seen as a form of false self-love.  Perhaps it was not self-love that Narcissus experienced when he saw his image in the pool of water and fell in love with himself, but rather just a romantic infatuation, crush, or some other form of false love like love/lust confusion (see the entry) or even a case of time-limited limerence (see the entry).

One of the characteristics of the healthfully self loving is self compassion, well mixed with empathetic compassion for others in suffering and misfortune.  Narcissism is understood as making people so enamored of themselves that they do not notice or care about the suffering and misfortune of others.  Clearly healthy self-love and narcissism appear to be two very different things.

The Benefits of Unselfish Self-Love

It is very self-serving to be unselfish.  A bunch of surprising research results, show that when you act from altruism for the benefit of others you get all sorts of health benefits like improved immunity mechanism functioning, lowered bad cholesterol, better blood pressure and a number of other very, healthy things.  When you show compassion for the suffering of others, but also when you show compassion for yourself at the same time, or soon after, the likelihood of feeling depleted from giving to and caring for others is much less.  Likewise, if you show empathetic responses tor others, they are much more likely to show the same back toward you.

So, if you want to be good to yourself be good to others.  Once again, the amazing wisdom hidden in the simple words “Love others AS you love yourself” is being shown to have biological validity.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question Have you ever decided to make yourself feel good by going to do some kind of good for another?  If not, how about starting now?

Happier Love and Six Big Ways to Make It So!

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson covers six important ways recent research in behavioral economics and the emotions of economic decisions have discovered, which can help people in love relationships be happier together.

About Happier Love

Is your love life getting happier?  By love we don’t just mean sex but that is definitely included.  We mean, are you doing love in such a way as it makes you and those you love smile, grin, laugh and have a sense of shared joy and, maybe once in a while, even have a sense of oceanic rapture together?  Whether you are a couple, a family or are really close, loving friends, you ‘together’ can learn and practice certain behaviors which researchers have discovered may assist us in growing happier as we go about love together.

1.  Savor more and more together!
Any good, joint experience is worth lingering in, so enjoy and share it longer and more fully.  So often we cut short our joy in order to get to the ‘next thing’.  Usually the ‘next thing’ could have waited a bit longer and wasn’t really that good, important or as necessary as you might have first thought.  Jointly sharing and, in essence, saturating yourselves longer in any positive experience likely will do you and your love relationship more good than whatever you are about to hurry on to.  Savoring any positive experience together can double your joy, strengthen your relationship and help you be more physically and mentally healthy.

Savoring basically is accomplished by purposely focusing longer on, and sort of soaking up, or emotionally digesting further the experience and it’s various elements.  Then for doing it more fully together, you can share what you focused on and the feelings that brought you.

2.  Be jointly open to flexibility!
Do you push to have the excellent date, set the just right scene, produce the most superb romantic dinner, create outstanding and incredible sex, have the finest time ever, give the perfect party or even just have a super clean house before company comes.  Well, doing all that often makes for way too much pressure, tension and stress for happiness to have much of a chance.  At best you may get a sense of pride and a sense of relief when it’s all over.

The more perfectionistic the goals and standards, and the more elaborate and picky the plans, the greater the likelihood of insufficient mental flexibility for shared elation to occur.  With flexibility and tolerational love, shared merrymaking has a much better opportunity to happen.  The ability to laugh together at various foul-ups, jointly appreciate odd occurrences, be united in humorous tolerance for deviations from the plan, and celebrate the unexpected as a loving team, the more you are likely to create great, happy memories and fine togetherness.

3.  Schedule fun including sexual fun frequently.
Most good and happy times occur because they were on somebody’s schedule to make happen.  Even if an experience seems spontaneous it is likely at least part of it was planned.  By its very nature, spontaneity can help provide some wonderful times together but it cannot be counted on to provide all the recreation (re– creation) fun love relationships need.

I suggest you abide by the principle that says ‘it won’t happen unless it’s given a time and it’s on your calendar’.  Enjoy whatever else comes along but don’t depend on it to fulfill your minimum, regular quotient of quality love experiences.  That requires scheduling.  Those who do this are found to have a lot more happy times, have greater experiences together and consistently grow their love better than those who don’t.  By the way, shared experiences usually bring more happiness than most acquired objects.

4.  Grow your mindfulness sharing.
Mindfulness means focusing on what you are experiencing right now, in thought and feeling.  It also means not letting your focus switch to anything in or from the past, the future or anywhere besides the ‘here and now’.  Mindfulness sharing means doing the same thing but sharing your ‘here and now’ awareness with someone you love.  It can involve verbally expressing the thoughts and feelings you are having right now about and with each other.  That works especially well if the mindfulness has to do with appreciation and affirmation.

Sharing mindfulness also can be done nonverbally with the expressional communications of touch, lovingly looking into each other’s eyes, facial expressions, tones of voice, gestures and posture changes, and just being physically close while experiencing emotional connectedness as you experience what is happening around you.  Think of standing together holding hands and feeling awe together as you both look at a truly awesome sunset, over and equally awesome land or seascape.

Now if for example, you are there but your mind has wandered off to some issue at work, checking your e-mails, or worrying that you didn’t lock the door back home, you have lost a “precious now” and are no longer receiving and sharing the “present” of the present.  Love’s intimacy, closeness and bonding will all be less.  When that happens I suggest you practice ‘mind yanking’ back to the ‘existential now’ and lose yourself in it together.

5.  Go for shared, serene joy as much, or more, as you go for jubilant excitement!
Shared calm serenity, simple easy-going non-demand comfort, quiet awesomeness, and the grand mystical togetherness feelings of deep, joyful love often bring much greater happiness than momentary ecstasy, or the highs of adrenaline-filled adventure.  Relaxed, peaceful, ongoing joy and happiness often is the best of love, although elation surprises and experiences also can be great.  Go for both.

6.  Enjoy emotional intercourse every day you can!
Emotional intercourse happens when you empathetically feel whatever a loved one is feeling emotionally, and they know or sense you are feeling something very similar to what they are feeling.  It can happen mildly to moderately, or in wonderfully strong and powerful ways.  If you ever feel like you really are inside each other, or you have melded together, or in ecstasy you exploded together and have become one with the universe, you have experienced great, emotional intercourse.

If you feel comforted and safe, pleasantly but deeply with, peacefully connected and just right with someone you love, you may be having the very excellent, more moderate form of emotional intercourse.  And if you have moments where you just are showing and feeling care for someone and they for you, that might be one of the milder, emotional intercourse experiences occurring.  There is great individual difference in these, but they all are very good.

To have emotional intercourse, focus on your loved one and what is going on in their heart and gut as much, or more than what is coming from their mind.  Enjoy their enjoyment.  Then center yourself in care or loving appreciation.  Do this especially when they are happy, or up, about something as well as when they are down.  In happy experiences be sure all your attention does not go outwardly to the experience and what is happening there, but also that some of you attention, or a lot of it, goes to the one you love and sharing the joy, or whatever feeling they are having.

At the same time share your own concurrent emotional experiences.  Then keep going back and forth in the sharing of feelings with them, responding with your thoughts and feelings about their thoughts and feelings.  Notice and share each emotion you are having when your loved one relates an emotion they are having.  This back and forth sharing of emotions of both of you, especially the happy ones, is the emotional intercourse that jointly grows happy love. (See the mini-love-lesson “Emotional Intercourse”).

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What do you think of the idea of becoming ‘a happy love farmer’?

Loneliness and Love

Synopsis: First this mini-love-lesson covers the surprising ways loneliness harms us; then the issues of ignore, fight, escape, just get used to loneliness, or what?; doing what loneliness wants you to do; a cautionary note; Ricardo’s example and Ricardo’s results, (can they be yours?).

Surprising Ways Loneliness Harms Us

Recent research shows loneliness is especially bad for your brain.  What is bad for your brain can be bad for many of your body’s health processes and systems because the brain influences and regulates them.  Loneliness also is bad for your psychological health and that can influence everything else in your life.  One study of over 8000 men and women showed the lonely have up to a 20% faster rate of decline in mental abilities.

Those who have prolonged loneliness are seen to have more stress illnesses and a greater likelihood of having brain inflammation problems.  Loneliness can be seen as a component of love malnutrition or love starvation, which is understood to have a very negative impact on our immunity mechanisms, cancer resistance, blood pressure and a host of other physical problems.

Ignore, Fight, Escape, Just Get Used To It – or ???

Many people try to escape their loneliness by diving into their work, business or various other involvements.  Some try to escape into substance abuse or various behavioral addictions.  Others get some temporary help from antidepressants and other medications.  Another group of people try to fight loneliness seeing it as some kind of weakness or enemy.  Still others see it as just one more human emotion to be ignored.  Learning to live with it can dull the pain but the damage being done by prolonged loneliness  still can happen.  Usually none of these approaches prove to best serve our health or well-being. At best, they may provide some assistance in the short run but they can turn out to be quite bad for us in the long run, or at most, useless.

So what are we to do?  Wallow in our loneliness and just let it do all the harm it can?  Of course not, that won’t help but there is a way that will.

Doing What Loneliness Wants You to Do!

Like all emotions, loneliness was created in us to do us some good, even though it feels bad, sometimes extremely bad.  It may in fact get worse for not doing what the feeling of loneliness wants us to do.  When we follow the guidance message in loneliness, the bad feelings tend to subside.  Sometimes they begin to subside as soon as we get loneliness’s message, even before we have begun to follow that message with action.  So what is the healthful, constructive, guidance message in the feeling we call loneliness?

Basically loneliness can be seen as an emotional message telling us to go in search of love in any of its many forms.  If you can’t find love quickly, go in search of “like” or at least tolerable company first because that might be on the way to healthy, real love.

It also is important to know that it is not just about romantic love, as our culture and/or family training may have subconsciously programmed us to think.  We are a gregarious species, meant to connect with each other and especially to connect in love relationships with one another.  So, hear the guidance message of loneliness telling you to go in search of new or renewed love.

You may be de-energized from your loneliness, think searching for love is too much work, you don’t have what it takes, love is all a matter of luck anyway and your luck in love is bad, and 100 other self sabotaging negatives with which to block yourself from taking productive action.  Remember, your loneliness may just get worse if you do that.  And none of those blocking mechanisms get you to a new and better place though they might help you rest up a bit first.

A Cautionary Note

As I have emphasized before, all our emotions, even the most painful ones, were created in us to do us constructive, healthy good though they may overdo it, under do it, or mis-do it like all human systems.  If you get any kind of interpretation of an emotion’s guidance message that is destructive to yourself or to anyone, it may have cathartic value but that is all.  Acting destructively is almost always destructive to yourself and not the real guidance message of any emotion.  Unless your interpretation of an emotion’s guidance message goes toward health and well-being, probably for all concerned, it is likely not to be your best or most accurate interpretation.

Following Ricardo’s Example to Love

Ricardo was laying awake night after night, hurting badly with loneliness.  He tried various prescription medications, then alcohol and other substances but nothing seemed to help all that much.  Some people at work, including his boss, pressured and nagged him into going to a counselor, and he went along with that just to get them off his back.  He expected to have to dredge up a lot of his past which would just use up a lot of time and money, but he thought he could probably cut it short being able to say okay, he tried that and it didn’t work either.  He was surprised that his counselor didn’t want to talk much about his past but wanted him to do some immediate things that might be helpful.

After resisting and just a few sessions later, Ricardo got himself a pet dog and everything started changing for the better.  He learned that a good pet dog is perhaps the world’s quickest and surest way to get some good, healthy love.  Brain studies of canines show evidence that, in brain functioning, dogs really do love pretty much just like we do and it is not just because we feed and pet them.

In counseling Ricardo did have to do some work on his blocks and fears that had some causation from his past, but mostly it was about understanding and following the guidance messages in his emotions.  It wasn’t long before Ricardo tentatively went in search of new involvements and new acquaintances.  He went online and discovered some groups with similar interests to his own, and with reluctance got himself to some meetings.  The new acquaintances showed him that new friendships might develop and were even likely.  He then looked up some relatives that he had lost contact with and a renewed family love possibility came out of that.

Ricardo volunteered to help in a cause he believed was good, and surprise surprise, out of that came a new romantic interest.  He took a class in something he was intrigued by and that yielded some more very interesting new people in his life.  He got involved in a religious connected singles group and out of that came a sense of spiritual love that he had not known before, plus some other new friends.  In counseling Ricardo learned about healthy, self-love and that there is a lot of good that comes from that.

Ricardo’s Results

Today Ricardo has a small group of deep, close friends he feels very bonded with, a renewed family love connection, a wide network of medium and milder friends, a fine and growing romantic love relationship and a much improved, healthy self-love.  Ricardo is not lonely anymore.

Whether loneliness comes from months or years of aloneness, or the death of a mate, or from shyness or any other reason, the prescription is the same: overcome reluctance and connect with others, and grow a loving support network for your health and well being.

Can you follow Ricardo’s example if you are struggling with loneliness?  I suspect you can, and hopefully you will if you need to.  It would be a healthy act of self-love and self-care, if loneliness is pushing at you, to do something rather similar to what Ricardo did.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question

Are you willing to be a good friend so as to do your share of having a good, friendship love relationship?

Tolerational Love

Mini-Love-Lesson # 283

Tolerational love is full of benefits.  It can bring acceptance, leniency, the possibility of forgiveness, flexibility, the allowance for imperfection and the maintenance of connectedness in bonded, love relating.  Tolerational love is great for avoiding arguments and other conflicts over inconsequential and less than serious areas of dispute. Tolerational love also is responsible for keeping a great many couples, families and friendships together, for facilitating reconnecting of those disconnected and for getting past troubles which otherwise would split up relationships.  Tolerational love also clears the way for much more appreciation, enjoyment and the teamwork of constructive love relating. All the time and energy spent in stupid, little disputes, contention over minor factors, unimportant slights and all the other small stuff is freed up for happier and more constructive interaction when there is sufficient tolerational love.

Love adds a lot to tolerance.  Love motivates all the behaviors that show and demonstrate toleration.  By adding the kindness and empathy that is so representative of love itself, toleration is amplified.  When we love someone special, or some group like a family, or even when we love altruistically and for humanitarian reasons, toleration is empowered by that love. When we have healthy, real love for someone, we tolerate their less pleasant aspects -- unless that tolerance supports harmfulness, as in tolerating a physical or substance abuser.

Toleration without love, never-the-less, is a positive attribute.  Often it is more like putting up with something or enduring and just getting past a negative.  Tolerance by itself can be part of being fair and just, minus the feelings of kindness and empathy that love brings.  None the less, sympathy, empathy and pity sometimes may be present within tolerance.  Another difference between tolerance and tolerational love is tolerance, by itself, frequently is short range focused.   For example, we may tolerate loud music for a short time but not day in and day out.  Tolerational love tends to have a longer range focus.  For instance, tolerational love is exemplified by the forbearance given in the long term care of a loved one with a chronic illness.  In short, tolerance lacking love can be done without one’s heart being in it.  Tolerational love, in contrast, magnifies the quantity and quality of the benefits involved.

Intolerance is antithetical to love.  Intolerance sets the stage for disharmony and conflict, robbing us of peace and security.  Intolerance communicates rejection and exclusion.  Intolerance can be seen as narrow minded, prejudiced, biased, dictatorial and unforgiving (“Parenting Series: How To Love Your Child Better” see #6). Intolerant people often are lonely people because their actions tend to exclude and push away others, or they mostly associate with the like-minded and consequently have a narrow societal experience.  A concept to consider about intolerant people is that they may come across as egotistical and arrogant but, in fact, they may lack healthy, real self-love.  It is clinically thought that if intolerant people become healthfully loved, their ability to be more tolerant grows.

Walking in another’s shoes, seeing through another’s eyes or empathetically feeling what another is feeling all speak to understanding, both mentally and emotionally, where another person is coming from.  Having a tolerant, heart-felt approach to humankind, especially to our loved ones, is a best practice in love relating.  

If we can fend off taking things personally, wearing our heart on our sleeve or easily taking offence, we can avoid a great many interpersonal battles.  Tolerational love helps to keep the peace and grow our chances for mutual harmony.

There are some modern enemies of Tolerational Love to watch out for.  Feelings of entitlement can foster intolerance, so can any form of authoritarianism.  Cancel-culture mindsets and behaviors can be filled with intolerance.  That is where meanness and hypercritical blaming are filled with intolerance   Anything that inhibits or censors free speech may involve intolerance.  Intolerance can be seen as imposing one’s own values on another.  Tolerational love can require learning to lovingly listen to things you do not want to hear, at least for a while.  Too long can be detrimental if it is abusive.  Usually, this kind of listening gets easier with more self-love and really owning our own OKness (see “Listening With Love”).

The development of appreciation helps make toleration easier because the more things we appreciate about another the less we focus on the negative.  If we look for what to appreciate in the many ways we are different instead of looking for what to criticize or disdain, we can improve our lives and the lives of others.  An appreciative, love environment fosters everyone’s well-being and happiness.

One more thing

If you talk-over the ideas in this mini-love-lesson with another, it will help to implant them in your own head and maybe in their's which is a good thing, we think. If you do that, please mention our site as the source of a whole lot of ways love can be done and done better. Thank you.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love success question: Can you listen to intolerance long enough to try to lovingly affect it?

Cycling Love for Lasting Love

Synopsis: Here you learn the ‘why’ of love cycling; how thinking about love cycling takes a different kind of thinking; what love cycling really is; the benefits of love cycling; what can go wrong; and what to do next with this knowledge.

Why Love Cycling

Do you want your love relationships to last?  Couple’s love, parent-child love, family love, friendship love and even healthy self-love all become much more likely to be long lasting if you, and your love ones, become good at cycling love.  Not only that, but those who are good at love cycling are likely to enjoy more love, and get more of love’s many emotional and physical health making benefits.  Without love cycling, love relationships tend to be either puny, compared to what they might become, or they are more likely to wither and die.

Thinking about Love Cycling Takes a Different Kind of Thinking

Many people aren’t very good about thinking systemically.  They know how to think about individuals but have trouble wrapping their minds around the systems people operate in.  Here some examples to help you think this different way.  Five mediocre basketball players, who have a really good system of fine teamwork, often can defeat five star players whose teamwork system is poor.  It is the system of interacting that makes the better team, rather than individual ability.  This became abundantly clear to me when I was involved in some research that discovered psychologically healthy, okay individuals could have bad marriages, and people with certain kinds of mental health problems could have good marriages.

Coaches, of every kind of team, have to know how to think systemically about their teams, as a whole, and not just about its individuals, though that too is important.  People suffering from addictions, criminal pasts and certain kinds of mental health problems, who move back to old neighborhoods or their old family, often get sucked into the toxic system that continues to exist in those environments.   That, in turn, triggers their old problems to recur and again they become part of the old system.  Going to live in new and different living situations, with new and different interaction systems, often works far better.

Couples joint counseling and family therapy are much better at getting interaction systems to improve than is individual therapy.  Especially in couples therapy, those who cannot think and operate systemically may not improve.  Listen to Alexander.  “For the longest time I could only think, if my wife would just make a few improvements everything would become okay.  Then I decided it was only me who needed to make the changes.  But both ways of thinking, (she needs to change) (no, I need to change), never helped.  Then I learned that when one of us got unhappy it almost immediately triggered the other one into unhappiness.  It was simultaneously, therefore, both of us in a bad joint system”.

He continued with, “Our system started triggering each other’s frustration, upsetness, anger, fear and mutual defensive dysfunction.  We were, in unison, making an ever escalating, circular system which was destroying our relationship and spiraling us down into failure.

It wasn’t until we replaced that bad, old circular system with ‘love cycling’, that we together created a new system spiraling us up into the happy love we have now.  Whatever either one of us did individually to try to fix our relationship problems, did not work.  It wasn’t until both of us were trying, at the same time, and in the same way, that we worked as a cooperating team.  It wasn’t until we both jointly were using the same, better system, that things improved.  That’s what fixed us”.

Think of a football team and a ballet troupe.  If half the team are running one play and the other half is running some other play; or half a ballet troupe are dancing one dance and the other half a different dance, dysfunctional chaos and confusion will result.  In both, the team and the troupe, one half is likely to be telling the other half that they should be doing things their way, and arguing about it.  The members of the team and the troupe are all doing what they think is the right thing to do, and in fact they are right, from their own perspective.  None of them are doing anything really wrong or bad.

They can be running the play or dancing the dance they think they should be running or dancing quite well, but not in coordination with the other half of their own team or troupe.  That is what so often happens in couples and families when they are not all interacting in the same system.  No matter how well they do individually, until they are in a mutual successful system, the best they can do may not be good enough.

Now, let’s see if we can use this kind of systemic thinking to understand love cycling.

What Is Love Cycling?

In its simplest form, love cycling means this systemic process.  Person number one says or does something that conveys some love to person number two, who then sends love back to person number one.  Then they keep doing that, which forms a circular, feedback loop of giving and getting love actions.  But there’s more to it than that.  Person number two has to notice the incoming love action and actively take it in, and then let themselves feel at least somewhat loved.  Person number two must let, or choose to let, themselves feel loving back toward person number one.  Person number two then has to choose to do some action or words conveying love in return to person number one.

After that they actually have to do what they choose to do.  The two of them, together, have then created one complete turn of a love cycle.  If person number one and two repeatedly keep operating in this receiving and sending, circular fashion, they can be said to be ‘love cycling’.  If this becomes their common way of operating and interacting, they will have created their joint, love cycling, systemic pattern of interacting with mutual interacting love.

What Are the Benefits of Love Cycling?
The existence of that circulating pattern of loving interaction, tends to have a very bonding together influence on couples.  This then frequently results in a lasting love relationship.  Not only that, but the cycle tends to wonderfully generate increasing and more powerful, growing love.  Think of an electric motor going round and round, generating more and more power.

That is how love cycling often works.  Then if a couple adds occasional doses of pleasant surprises, playful variety, exciting sexuality, comforting tenderness and the many other ways of giving love, they are, in effect, feeding each other a rich, healthy diet of nurturing love in an ongoing cycling system.  That cycling pattern is likely to keep them healthfully functioning as a couple for a very long time in spite of whatever adversities may come their way.

What Can Go Wrong

All sorts of things can get in the way of cycling love.  Here are just a few of the major ‘monkey wrenches’ that can be thrown into the love cycling machinery.  If either one of a couple thinks, or has been brought up to subconsciously think, that it is the other one’s job to take care of the love in the relationship, failure is likely.  That is like half a team expecting the other half to do all the work.  Almost as bad, is one person thinking that they themselves must do all the work.  That means they never get around to the essential teamwork of couples love.  Both partners in a couples love relationship have to communicate what they want the next ‘play’ or ‘dance’ to be, and have a way of mutually choosing a joint course of action, and then carrying it out, with each doing their part.  When one, or both, just expect the other one to know what to do, according to how they themselves think, it is likely to go awry.

Some couples are like two performers attempting to sing a duet but they are singing different songs, so all they make is noise.  Until they are using the same song, i.e. system, it is not going to work.  There are hundreds of other things that can go wrong, and about those I suggest you are going to want to read the mini-love-lessons listed in the Subject Index under the “Pain and Problems” heading at this site.  I also, egotistically but truly, highly recommend our new e-book Real Love, False Love, exclusively available at this site, and our older, but still proving to be super useful to couples, book Recovering Love.  That one is especially useful for couples who face addiction issues and is available at www.amazon.com .

What to Do Next

The next thing to do probably is start thinking about how what you do, or say, may trigger someone you love into saying, or doing, what you don’t want them to do or say.  Then also think, how you let what they say, or do, trigger you into doing things, or saying things, they do not want you to say or do.  Add to that, thinking about what you do, or say, that also triggers them into doing saying things you do like, and vice versa.  By doing that, you will begin to have some ideas about your ‘joint system’ with that person you love.  Just about every couple has both negative and positive cycling going on, but they don’t know to think of it as a ‘joint interactive system’.

After that thinking exercise, it might be very good to talk to a beloved of yours about all this, and perhaps get them to read the same things you are reading.  Then start talking about how you want to work as a team in joint, coordinated action.  There is a mini-love-lesson at this site called ‘Competitive Niceness’.  I recently heard from the couple who invented that ‘game’ (or positive interactive system).  Going toward retirement, they moved both their offices into their home, which has accelerated their competitive niceness rivalry, and made for all kinds of new, happy, loving, competitive niceness events in their life together – to the point of each trying to sneak into the kitchen first to do the dishes, to surprise the other, and other hilarious and loving behaviors. Maybe you and yours can do the same.

Hopefully this will help you have a good, starter understanding of love cycling and how to use it in your life.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you ever think with the question “What am I doing, that triggers you into doing, what I do not want you to do”, or the question “What am I doing, that triggers you into doing, what I do want you to do”?

Related posts:
  1. Listening With Love – Are You Good At It?
  2. Listening with Love
  3. Wall and Catapult Love Destruction & How To Avoid It
  4. Learning About Love – Together
  5. Anti-Love, Non-Love & Real Love 

How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better

Synopsis: A note on ongoing love; then getting a grasp of what is good and bad love reception starts our mini-love-lesson; leading to how to really receive love – part one having to do love mindfulness and really getting it, which is followed by part two on how to give love back by showing you truly got it.

Ongoing Love Is a Game of Pitch, Catch and Throw Back

First you have to notice love is coming your way, then you have to react to really catch it well and not let it go by or drop it, then you have to accomplish a good return pitch.

Good and Bad Love Reception

When love comes your way, do you do a good job of receiving it?  Some people are so bad at receiving love they unknowingly get themselves love-starved.  They also unknowingly may be turning off people from trying to love them.  That can ruin a love relationship.  Those who are really good at love reception are better nourished and more energized by the love they receive.  In the act of good love reception, someone good at love reception sends love back to the previous love sender.  This greatly helps to form and maintain a love-generating, love-bonding, and love-cycling love relationship.

Poor receivers dishearten and disappoint the people they love, and even may cause them to feel rejected and futile in their attempts to give love.  Poor receivers also model and, therefore,  program or unintentionally may teach their children to become poor receivers.  Good receivers do exactly the opposite.  Those who are good at love reception generally are much more liked, befriended, included and assisted than are those who are poor at love reception.

It turns out that receiving love well is an excellent way to actually send love to someone.  It is one of the eight major types of behavior by which a person can directly help another person thrive on love.  (See “A Behavioral (Operational) Definition of Love” mini-love-lessons at this site).  It is for that reason that it can be called Receptional Love and can be listed along with the other seven major types of behavior that convey love discovered by the massive research efforts in social psychology to understand love started by the eminent Dr. Clifford Swensen.

How to Receive Love Well: Part One

If someone sends you a statement of love, a gift of love, a loving touch, a loving look or any of the other ways that show and convey love, what do you do with it?  First, of course, you have to notice it.  Sadly many people are very poor at noticing the love that is coming their way.  They have been programmed, even self-trained to be so focused on a great many other things that they totally miss the love that actually is there for them.  Next, they have to count it.  Once a love action is noticed it is important to value it.

Here is an example.  A child, in an act of love toward a parent, goes to the trouble of making a picture.  Maybe they go to a lot of trouble making the picture, really taking time with it.  Then they present it to their parent as a gift of love.  If the parent is busy with something else, like talking to someone, and the parent takes the picture but does not look at it and instead places it aside on a pile of other papers, where soon it will be buried by other papers; this parent has sent a message which says to the child, your gift of love is of no value.

If that or similar things happen at crucial times, and far too often, the child may learn not to behave with love.  This child also may learn to feel unworthy, insignificant and even unlovable since loving behavior did not came back.  Someday the parent may be asking, why don’t my children want to visit me, contact me, or show any signs that they love me?  The parent also may wonder why their children have so much trouble with their own love relationships.

All was not lost.  If the parent later were to come back to the child holding the picture, and with warm tones of voice and a smile say they have been looking at the picture, and soaking up what a fine gift of love the picture is, and how they will cherish it, and give it a place of honor in a scrapbook, they may have amended sufficiently their former poor love reception, and turned it into an act of good receptional love.

Love Mindfulness

It is the same with adults, only with complications.  First notice, then take time to value or ‘count’ the demonstrations of love coming your way.  Maybe you say to yourself, “He (or she) is holding my hand and that’s showing me some love, so I will let myself fully notice it and value it”.  The next step is to let yourself more fully feel it.  Don’t let your mind go off somewhere else.  Stick with the fact that your hand is being held and that means some love can come in.  Maybe you tell yourself, with a bit of a deeper breath, “I feel it; I’m being loved and I feel it,  I am letting myself fully feel that this person holding my hand is loving me right now; I digest it; I absorb it and I let it nourish me”.

I have heard people who are learning this mindfulness technique say, “I don’t have time for all that”.  Sometimes I reply, “You don’t have maybe 15 seconds, even the 20 or 30 seconds it will take to do that?  You don’t have time to feel loved?  What will that do to you in the long run”?  Usually they then begin to try what I’m suggesting they do, to absorb and digest the love that comes their way.  You can do the same.  Bear in mind, it does take practice and repetition to do it well.

Lots of love comes to us through statements.  Those statements of love often are accompanied by loving looks and loving tones of voice.  There may be a loving gesture or posture change (known as expressional love) like opening arms to us or leaning forward toward us.  It is important we become mindful of all that, along with the words.  In this way you get the whole behavioral love gift and not just part of it.  If your beloved says “I love you” and all you do is snap back with “I love you too”, that is nice but usually it is not deep or nearly all you could be experiencing.  If you take a couple of seconds to look into your beloved’s face and say to yourself something like “I’m being told ‘you’ ‘love’ ‘me’, and that’s important.  I am taking it in, and I am absorbing it,.  I am letting myself fully feel it and know it”.  It is when we learn to do things like that, that we can much more fully receive love in a deep way and really be nourished by it.

Sometimes love comes to us through much bigger actions which take longer than a simple statement or an act like holding your hand.  It is appropriate to take a lot longer to focus on, strongly value, and more deeply absorb those demonstrations of love.  To feel precious and cherished by ongoing actions of love, to let ourselves feel honored by the day-to-day ways we are loved, to let ourselves feel highly valued by loving thoughtfulness, kindness, assistance, support and the many other ways we are loved also is highly important. By doing so, we help our loved ones succeed at loving us.  Healthy, real love partly comes our way from those who truly love us, so that love accomplishes its goal of benefiting us, because this is what love does.  Letting love do exactly that by absorbing it well, lets those who love us achieve one of love’s great goals.  Anything that depletes good, full reception, helps inhibit love.

Training your mind not to let anything interfere with taking some time to really feel and absorb the love coming of your way helps.  You can train yourself to do a good job of part one of receptional love.  At first it may take more practice that you might think but like anything if you keep practicing you get better at it, and you begin to notice the good feelings and many other benefits that result.  It may feel odd, strange, or unusual if you have not been doing this sort of thing.  With repeated work, you can join the happy people who know how to receive love well and let it nourish them.

How to Receive Love Well: Part Two

Now, as you work on really noticing, valuing, absorbing, and therefore, letting yourself fully feel loved, there is another big, important thing to do.  This is to do a good job of showing that you are getting the love being sent your way.  If somebody hands you a ‘love gift’ and you just say “thanks”, and put it down, and you don’t do much more, that is not very good reception.  If you take it for granted, that shows you do not sincerely and honestly notice, value and absorb it which may also show that you are not giving back the gift of good receiving.

If someone says words of love to you and you act as if nothing happened, or you only return some perfunctory politeness, that probably will not do the job of good love reception either.  Being truthful also is important.  The truth best be that you have really noticed with appreciation (valued) and felt (absorbed) the love demonstration that came your way.  Even if the ‘love action’ coming your way is not really ‘your thing’, you can appreciate the loving gesture behind it and absorb the love itself that is being delivered.

Love Behaviors That Give Love Back

If you are with someone who loves you, and they say or do something loving towards you, and you absorb it, your expressional reaction immediately can give love back.  Expressional love is given by your facial expression – usually a smile, your tonal expression – usually warm and happy tones of voice, a gestural expression – maybe open arms, and a postural expression – leaning in or moving toward the person.  In some situations these may be done in minimal ways like a small nod of the head with just a tiny momentary grin, but usually it is better if the expressional behavior is bigger and more robust.

Tactile behavior such as hugs and kisses, hand and arm squeezes, pats on legs, arms, backs, etc., all can be added to the expressional reaction and all can show you really noticed, value and have absorbed with appreciation the other person’s love action.

Words of thanks and appreciation are great ways to show you got the love sent, and you are sending love back.   There are many love getting and giving situations that can be well done with words, both verbally and in written form.  But be careful not to sound like you are being only dutifully polite.
Gifting, both tangible gifts and experiential gifts, also can be terrifically good in showing someone you truly got their gift of love.  Thank you cards, flowers, and other tangible gifts are great.  Doing someone a return favor, or surprising them in some happy-making way is often the experiential gift that shows you really got and appreciated their gift of love.

Sometimes opening up to a person who has shown you love, returns the love by your self disclosure.  Various ways to show affirmation of a person’s value in your life is especially good for demonstrating receptional love.  Even tolerational love can be tied in with reception love.

More to Learn

This mini-love-lesson is aimed at getting you started toward new and better receptional love behaviors.  There is more to learn about reception love, and especially about how it is key to maintaining lasting love relationships.  To do that learning, you may wish to read other mini-love-lessons at this site having to do with the behaviors of love.  You also can read the section on Receptional Love in my book, Recovering Love, which I am proud to say has especially helped a lot of people with this and related issues.  Another good source is Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt’s book Receiving Love which covers quite a few, in depth factors often involved in this very important topic.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being best, how do you rate yourself on being a good receiver of love, and what are you going to do to help yourself have an even higher score?

Holding Hands with Love

Synopsis: This mini-love-lessons starts with questions you may not have thought of concerning holding hands; then works to help you examine your own inner programming concerning hand holding and love; and what you can do with this knowledge; and more.

Questions of Holding Hands

Have you ever given thought to how you hold hands with someone you love?  Do you know how you want your hand held by someone who loves you?  Do you, like many, want your hand held differently depending on how you feel at the time?  Are you good at conveying love via holding the hand of a loved one? Are you good at letting yourself feel loved when your hands are held by someone loving you?  Do you hold hands quite frequently, just every so often, or rarely?  Why?

Are there people, family members, dear friends, etc. you love that you would not hold hands with?  Why?  Did you grow up in a family, neighborhood or culture where there was a lot of the holding of hands going on, or the reverse?  Do you hold a loved one’s hands more or less for the same amount of time as what was going on around you when you were growing up, or do you know?  Would you, or the one you are most likely to hold hands with, desire more frequent or different holding hands experiences?

You might wonder, why ponder all these questions over such a simple thing as holding hands.  The reason is, holding hands is a major way to show and share love, and there is a lot more to it than you might think.

Hands: The Great Tools of Artful Love

Our hands are incredible!  Our hands have millions of nerve endings capable of receiving a vast array of stimulations, both physical and psychological.  Through the hands the emotion centers of the brain can be triggered into feeling a great many different things, including feeling loving and loved.  With touch, including the holding of hands, we are capable of giving messages of love that can vary from delicate and tender to strong and powerful.

Holding hands can convey comfort, support, security, connectedness, shared joy, playfulness, cherishing, enthusiasm, sensuality and, of course, with these emotions hands can convey love itself.  Holding hands, therefore, can be part of the way people come to experience the many emotions of love together.

The artful lover can vary holding hands by greater or lesser palm pressure, intertwining fingers, squeezing or giving very soft touch, and many other subtle, small movements.  In making these variations, different emotions may be felt and conveyed or triggered.  There is some evidence to suggest that people who love each other may experience a neuro–electrical interchange and harmonizing phenomena when holding hands.  That, in turn, may have something to do with feelings of being bonded together or feeling deeply united.

The Many Ways of Holding Hands with Love

Holding hands side-by-side, two hands holding one hand, two hands holding two hands, holding hands walking together, holding hands sitting side-by-side, holding hands in the moonlight, holding one hand as you lay back and relax after making love, holding hands as you pray or meditate together, holding hands at times of mutual excitement and exultation, holding hands at times of sorrow, holding hands at times of celebration, holding hands when one is in pain, and holding hands during day-to-day ordinary life: all these, and many more, can be times of hand holding with love.  Each of those times can be moments of cherished, precious nurturing and united loving by way of holding hands.

The Importance of Place and Situation

Frequently holding hands in special places and situations enhances the sharing and connecting of those who love each other.  Hand holding also assists in generating more love and more lasting love.  When needed, hand holding also can be very helpful to love’s healing influence.  This healing effect often can facilitate the repair of a wounded relationship, or aid a troubled person, or even be assistive to physical healing.

Holding hands while looking at awesomely beautiful, natural wonders frequently is said to double the pleasure of the viewing experience.  Also often reported, hand holding assists the people who are holding each other’s hands to connect, not only to each other but to the transcendental, the universal and the divine.  Whether they are holding hands while looking at the natural wonder of a gorgeous mountain range, or a newborn baby, or are looking into each other’s eyes, this metaphysical or spiritual sense of connection is enhanced by their hands connecting.

Holding hands in the hospital, in a place of worship and reverence, at a funeral, in a court room, at a graduation, in a place of danger, or in any other place or situation of special significance, hand holding has been known to make major differences in how people feel in those experiences.  So, if you are going to make good use of holding hands to give, receive and generate love, give some thought to place and situation.

Examining Your Holding Hands’ Program

Around the world people grow up with different hand holding customs and cultural training.  In some countries, societies, cultures and subcultures, and also in some families, there are strong social rules governing the do’s and don’t’s of holding hands.  In some, the rule is ‘no public showing of physical affection’.  In others, the rule is ‘no public male with female physical contact’, including the holding of hands; but in some of those female with female public hand holding is acceptable, and in some not.

In some communities it is quite common and acceptable for men to hold hands and in others it is forbidden.  In still others, men holding hands is considered homosexual and okay, and in others it is just friendly.  Then there are those places where any signs of affection between men is forbidden, and in a few countries even illegal and could lead to imprisonment, public flogging and even execution.

Almost everywhere these rules are under attack and are slowly changing.  These changes, however, are meeting with a great deal of resistance in various localities.  Anyone holding hands, other than a child’s hands, may be scolded by local elders and authorities in some places.  Fathers and grandfathers holding teenager’s hands is considered quite inappropriate and suspicious in some lands.  The more conservative religious leaders of a number of faiths preach and teach against holding hands, except with one’s legitimate spouse and only in private.  In other religious settings holding hands is accepted, or encouraged, or actually is part of certain ceremonies.

In many places, a sort of new rule seems to be being offered.  It is something like ‘holding hands, and lots of other physical affection between any two or more people, in any place is a good thing because it helps make our world a more loving world’.  All of these rules, standards, customs, etc. have a programming effect in the subconscious of many people, perhaps including you.

If you have not already, we urge you to raise into your conscious awareness, the training or programming effects of your own upbringing and cultural influences.  Then see if you are unknowingly abiding by that programming and, if so, do you consciously wish to alter it?  Will making some changes regarding holding hands improve the giving, getting and generating of love in your love relationships?  That is how you might use this knowledge.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Are you now going to experiment with more holding hands with someone you love?

Kissing with Love

Synopsis: We start with a kiss puzzle; then address a kiss learning question and give steps you might want to take along with some important things to consider about love-filled kissing; then we go on to great kiss reception; and some thoughts about what could get in the way; then we end with a personal challenge question.

A Kissing Puzzle

“His kisses are so filled with love,” Angela sighed.  “There’s something about the way she kisses me that makes me feel like I am really loved and really special,” Brad affirmed.  “The way he kisses me is totally hot and sexy, and it really turns me on.  But I don’t feel any love in it,” Claire protested. 

Donald moaned, “my lover is such a romantic kisser.  The trouble is it’s just romance.  I don’t feel any love in it”.  “Evelyn sighed and said, “I wish when I kiss or get kissed there was something more to it.  It’s nice but it’s always kind of blah; no sex, no romance and nothing I’d call kissing with love feelings”.

What is going on or not going on for the people who made those statements about kissing?  Is there a problem in the way they kiss or the way their partners kiss?  Is it that love’s magic is sometimes in the kiss and sometimes not?  Does it have something to do with the way they saw kisses done in the families they grew up in?   Does it have something to do with the mood or attitude at the time of kissing?  Is the answer in their neurochemistry?  Were they, as children, somehow traumatized with kissing?  Do some people have good kissing teachers and some not?  Are all of them in some type of false love and so they just can’t feel any real love?

The answer to the above questions is – maybe all of these things and other answers too. Biochemistry is likely to be part of it because the saliva in people who are feeling love and the people who are not feeling love is perhaps rather different.  There also may be tiny neuro-electrical differences sensed only in the non-conscious mind.  Definitive research on this has yet to be done.

Can We Learn to Make Our Kisses More Love Filled?

I think the answer to this is probably yes, and you really have to put your heart into it.  Here are three ways and some additional things to think about that may help you do the giving, the getting and the growing of real love through kissing.

    First, before you do anything else, take a few seconds to center yourself in your love for the person you are about to kiss. (See mini-love-lesson “Love Centering Yourself”).  You might want to use mental imaging, or something similar, and fantasize your love pouring up from your heart and across to your loved one through your kiss.

    Along with love centering yourself, mentally see yourself putting everything else out of your mind except your love.

    As a you start to kiss purposefully, tell yourself you are opening yourself to letting your love out and your loved one’s love in.  You are filling with love and pouring love into your beloved.  You both are wonderfully saturated with love.  Focus on those or similar thoughts as you begin the kiss.  Then just feel what you feel.

Here are some additional things you might want to give thought to.
Kissing with love often begins with the eyes and the facial expressions of love. Sometimes looking at someone with love, especially if they are looking back with love, is done at some distance and sometimes it starts just inches away from each other.  These looks may be of tenderness, may be intense, may be caring, or may be a sweet happy smile.

    How you move toward someone to kiss them is important too.  The movement toward starting a love-filled kiss often is a bit slow but very direct.  The slowness helps the other person mentally and emotionally start to psychologically connect with you before the physical kiss actually happens.  The directness helps them mentally and emotionally feel that energized intimacy is starting to happen with you.  Fast surprise kisses also can convey love but usually not with the precious, cherishing feelings of the kisses that are approached more slowly and directly.

    Closing the eyes first on the part of the recipient, and then the initiator, often helps.  This allows a fuller focus on the feeling of the kiss and the emotions that come with it, without visual distraction or interference.

    Touching with hands, arms and body are also important to creating a love-filled kiss.  With a loving embrace, the kiss becomes a total body experience.  Caresses, so long as they are not too sexual, holding hands, and light fingertip gliding touches on the back, neck, cheeks, arms, etc. can assist a person feeling this really is about being loved.

    The length of time the kiss takes also has importance.  Usually lingering a bit, and truly savoring the experience, and not darting away too soon helps to both convey love and receive love feelings.
    Be aware of lip pressure and movement.  Kissing can be very light and tender, or more firm and passionate.  It kind of depends on what a person likes and wants to feel.  In the love-filled kiss, there may be some lip movement but again it is important for it not to be too sexual so that it can be really about love first and most.

    Parting from the kiss is the next important part.  After lips part, it usually is important to keep looking into the eyes of the person you have just kissed and continuing to lovingly touch them with your hands for a bit, then slowly pull apart while really savoring the experience.  That often is very enhancing to the love feelings possible.

Those are pretty specific instructions.  What I want to convey is for you to make kissing a love-filled art.  You may prefer eyes open – fine.  Your partner may not like the face touched much, that is OK.  Talk about your kisses, then give and ask for what you really like, as long as ‘love’ is the main ingredient.

Receiving a Love-Filled Kiss

How well do you think you receive a love-filled kiss?  Do you respond in kind?  Do you really focus on opening to the love coming in?  Do you let yourself feel fully and really loved?  Do you think things like “I’m really being loved at this moment”?  Do you think you really savor, digest, absorb and let yourself intensely experience the kissing with love you are receiving?  Are you able to be ‘in the here and now’, and nowhere else as you are kissed and kiss back?  Remember, receiving love well is a major way to give love.

What Can Get in the Way

Lots and lots of things can get in the way and block love being given, received and generated in a kiss.  Fear and its cousins, apprehension and anxiety, can do it.  Self-doubt, self-consciousness, feeling unworthy, insecurity and allowing distraction can operate to deprive you of the love experience in a kiss.  Coming from habit instead of love may dilute the kiss for both of you.  Worry about anything, trying to impress, focusing in the future or the past, guilt, duty, work, embarrassment, shame connected to anything, feeling clumsy, awkward, inferior or superior, all can take you away from fully experiencing the kiss and the love that may be coming with it.

Letting any of these things occur can crowd your mind and prevent you from fully feeling a love-filled kiss.  That can make the experience far less than you both might want it to be.  It also can have a negative effect on the person you are being kissed by.  Any of these things might make you pull away too soon, or make you move in some less than loving way.  Such movements can be interpreted as rejection, repulsion, discomfort with intimacy, valuing the person kissing you as relatively unimportant, or in some other way sending an anti-love message.

So, as you think about these things, how are you doing at giving, getting and growing love through love-filled kissing?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Who are you going to kiss next, and how are you perhaps going to make it a truly love-filled kiss?

Self Talk for Improving Love

Synopsis: This mini love lessons starts with the surprising importance of self talk; then goes to what is self talk; what is positive and negative self talk; some things to do about better self talk and love relationship improvement; more.

The Surprising Importance of Self Talk

Self talk is very important in all sorts of ways.  It can be especially useful in improving love relationships.

Recently researchers were surprised to learn just how important self talk could be to our physical, mental, emotional and relational health.  Negative self talk can lower one’s immunity, cause destructive stress hormones to flow in the body, and increase a whole lot of other physically, unhealthy things.  Mental efficiency is decreased, anxiety mounts, and self confidence can take a dive, all because of negative self talk.  It is thought that couples who practice negative self talk tend to fight more, and breakup more and are far less happy in their relationships.  The allover happiness in families seems to decrease if there is an abundance of negative self talk.  Certain kinds of positive self talk have produced the exact opposite results in individuals, and couples, and families and friendship networks.

What Is Self Talk?

Self talk has to do with how we talk out loud, or silently to ourselves about ourselves.  It includes what we think about our own thinking, our feelings and our behavior past, present and future.  It expresses our attitude toward who we are, how we are, and what is best and worst about ourselves.  Self talk is seen as ‘setting us up’ for future success or failure.  Self talking can encourage or discourage us when facing difficulties, help us feel weak or strong, and many other similar things depending on whether self talk is negative or positive.

What Is Positive and Negative Self Talk?

If the way you talk to yourself, about yourself and your life is mostly critical, judgmental, full of putdowns, punishing remarks, demeaning, derogatory, fearful, guilt ridden, hopeless, deficiency-oriented, etc. then it is negative and very likely quite unhealthy.  If, on the other hand, the way you talk to yourself is realistically balanced toward the positive, affirmative, laudatory, self rewarding, encouraging, challenging; if it is toward improvement, includes recognition of limitations without bad feeling, is more proud of attributes than unhappy about shortcomings and is in awe of the many miracles that make up a self, then it is likely to be very positive and quite helpful and healthful.  The inclusion of mild self depreciatory humor coupled with pride of qualities and achievements, and the ability to enjoy one’s own idiosyncratic ways also can be seen as part of the positive picture.

Where Does Our Self Talk Come From?

Originally most of our self talk comes from the way we were talked to is a child and the way we heard others around us talking when we were young.  If we had a highly critical parent we are likely to talk to ourselves about ourselves in highly critical ways.  If, on the other hand, our parents were more realistically prone to appreciative affirmation, praise and compliments and thankful statements, we are much more likely to talk to ourselves about ourselves in the same way.  Some therapists like to explain this as ‘your incorporated copy of your parents’ or your ‘inner parent self’ talking to you from your subconscious.

Self talk can come from how you choose and teach yourself to talk to yourself about yourself.  That can replace old messages with new and better messages.  And, of course, this re-training takes a fair amount of work but usually it is quite worth it.

How Does Self Talk Effect Love Relationships?

Self talk has a number of important positive or negative effects on our love relationships. One of them works this way.  If we are talking continuously critically and ‘down’ to ourselves, it may help us to tend to try only for love relationships with those who are less than we see ourselves to be.  This can lead us to repeatedly get involved with ‘losers’.  If we do achieve a love relationship with someone better than we see ourselves to be, that negative self talk can assist us in feeling insecure, suspect our love mate will find someone better than we are, and abandon us for that person.  Thus, jealousy, possessiveness and fear-based relating can come to dominate our relationship instead of healthy, real love.

If you continually put yourself down in self talk, you are likely to go down emotionally, making you less fit for good, love relating.  You also can make yourself very suspicious, mistrusting and unbelieving when affirmational  love comes your way.  That can help you end up love-starved.  Those who have adequate, healthy self-love are better at being nourished by the love that does come their way.  When you do realistic, positive, self-affirmation self talk, you have more to give and you are more likely to go around in your world more friendly and more loving.  That generally attracts other people who want to be friendly and loving to you.

By the way, coming across egotistical, stuck up, superior, etc. does not represent a person who actually loves themselves healthfully, but rather someone who is trying too hard but in self-defeating ways.  So, it is okay to brag briefly, which many people find rather charming because it shows you believe in yourself and are confident about yourself, but remember – briefly.

Self Talk for Healthy Self-Love

It turns out that realistic, positive self talk can be super important for the development of healthy self-love.  Being able to encourage yourself through a challenge with “You can do it” and similar affirmations, can make a huge difference as to whether you will succeed or not.  Healthy, loving self talk can help you to be proud of yourself for accomplishments, attributes, qualities, etc..  And loving, positive self talk generally can help you be more effective and happier with yourself and with your life.

Talking to yourself hatefully or in any other way negatively, or just indifferently, tends to have a weakening effect which can lead to increased anxiety and depression.

The Importance of Positive, Future-Oriented Self Talk

One of the best ways for self talk to help a love relationship improve, works like this.  Imagine saying to yourself, “Hello John (or whatever your name is).  I’m your inner self and I want to tell you to give a lot more physical affection and praise to your wife today.  You really can make her feel especially good, like no one else can, so get busy and start right now.  You want to become a more loving person and this will help you do just that, and it will keep you getting better at it.”  You can talk, challenge and orient yourself to love improvements by encouraging yourself to learn and practice getting good at the major love skills taught in the mini-love-lessons found at this site.  Encouraging self talk is often a big help in going forward with just about everything.  Obviously, discouraging self talk has the opposite effect.

Be and Do Self Affirmation

Do you ever tell yourself you are worth loving?  Do you own-up to the fact that you are a wondrous bunch of miracles and that is the nature of your being?  You don’t have to do anything but recognize that, and feel good about it because it is a ‘being’ thing rather than a “doing” thing.  You are a unique work of art that also can get something done.  Both your being and your doing make you worthwhile, not just your doings.  You can see yourself by one or both of two ways.  Either your being is a wondrous work of God or of millions of years of evolution.  Either way, you are a bundle of miracles – own that!

Self Love’s Relationship to Other Love and Self Talk

Have you heard it said “you have to love yourself in order for other people to love you”?  That is not exactly true but it hints at an important idea.  It does seem to work out that the more you healthfully love yourself the better others will love you too.  A lot of love-filled self talk often seems to result in more love coming your way from others.  That is probably because you become more lovable and probably more loving by that kind of self talk.

Some Things to Do for Better Self Talk and Love Relationship Improvement

Try writing down some statements you would like to hear you tell yourself.  Then do it.  Tell yourself statements you want someone else to tell you, and then ask them to do so as you also tell those statements to yourself.  Make a list of ‘100 Good Things’ about yourself – small, medium and large things; then talk positively to yourself about how each of those things is true and be happy about it.  Then get someone you love to do the same thing.

Then say things from each other’s list to each other.  Give yourself praise and be glad about how you are unique and different from others, instead of being a dull, normal copy of other people’s standards.  Work to be more ‘up’ on yourself than down on yourself every day, and do that with the words you say to yourself.  Also you might want to get a copy of the June, 2015 issue of Psychology Today, which has as its main feature article, a rather good presentation about Your Inner Voice.  It touches on recent discoveries and what is known, useful and important about self talk.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What do you think of the idea that says your self love determines how much and how well others will love you?