Over 250 FREE mini-love-lessons touching the lives of thousands in over 190 countries worldwide!

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

Conclusions, Confounding and Corrupting Your Love?

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson explores the questions – Are your conclusions your secret enemy, can two people see reality the same way, do you know if you are ‘conclusion-sabotaged’, and what to do instead of conclude and thereby avoid your love being conclusion-sabotaged.


Are Your Conclusions Your Secret Enemy?

Andrew concluded Barbara was cheating on him so he broke the relationship off.  Caroline concluded Doug was trying to suppress and control her so she began to lie and deceive him.  Edward concluded her family hated him and, therefore, she probably did too, so he gave up having anything to do with them and started having fights with her.  Fiona concluded she would never be good at sex, then she gave up on it.  George concluded Helen kept thinking about men with bigger penises than his and, therefore, she was dissatisfied with him, so he got depressed and felt hopelessly inadequate.

Inna concluded she did not have what it took to have and hold a man’s love, so she retreated into living alone and lonely.  Jeff concluded Kaylee reading romance novels meant she wanted somebody else, so he started spying on her.  Lorraine concluded Mike did not love her because he could never figure out what she wanted without her asking for it, so she started looking for love elsewhere.  Donald stopped talking to her when he concluded she never would listen to him because she always interrupted him.

It turned out all these different people’s conclusions were wrong.  And these conclusions helped destroy, or nearly destroy, relationships that might otherwise have worked better if the people making the conclusions were not so very certain they were so very right, so very often.  Even when some of their conclusions were partially right, holding so firmly to those conclusions blocked them from being able to really hear any alternate or differing perceptions or opinions from their loved ones.  This resulted in them being strongly sabotaged and destructive to having love-filled interactions.  More than one disheartened person, breaking up with another, has said something like, “You think you’re always so right; You are wrong, and that’s why I’m done with you.”

Can Two People See Reality the Same Way?

Phenomenologists,, including those psychologists and brain scientists who study how we perceive and understand what we perceive, have concluded that the answer is emphatically NO!  No two people understand anything exactly the same way.  Every perception of reality in one mind/brain is at least in some small and perhaps important way, different from every other mind/brain.  When you get deeply into it, you find out every person thinks and feels at least a little bit differently than every other person about everything.  Here are some common examples of how we do not experience reality the same as others.  Food that is good on one person’s tongue is not on another’s.

In the same room, one person feels cold, and another hot and a third just right.  The colors you see are not exactly the colors anyone else sees according to vision research.  If your perceptions and understandings of how simple things like these are different, think how different you are from others concerning complicated things.  This means your truth is not other people’s, and their truth is not yours, at least not exactly.  Just like our fingerprints are not exactly the same as anyone else’s, so too are our thoughts and feelings.  At least that is what the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates.

You may be rather right about something, but someone else may be more right, or essentially also right but from a very different perspective.  That means what you have concluded is obviously true and perhaps, to you, simple to see and understand but it can and will likely be seen differently by someone else.  Also many things may be legitimately perceived by others as contradictory to what you perceive and understand.  Looking from different perspectives, you both may be right, but without each other’s perspective you may come into conflict with each other.  Remember, the blind man who holds the trunk of the elephant, and the blind man who holds the tusk, hold very different realities about what an elephant is.  Both still have a lot to learn about what they are so certain is ‘the truth’ about what an elephant is.  Sometimes you and I, and everyone are a blind man.

Consider these often passionately held conclusions: “all men cheat”, “ a good man will never cheat”, “ all women will cheat if they can cheat upwardly”, really good women don’t cheat because they don’t like sex anyway”, “cheating only matters in societies where the people are sexually insecure”, “cheating can make some marriages better”, “cheating is always destructive to every relationship”, “only those weak in character cheat”, “cheating requires bravery and boldness and is most frequently done by the strong and successful”, “cheating is trashy and low class”, “cheating is a privilege commonly afforded to the upper classes and the wealthy”, “open marriage means never having to cheat”, “open marriage means your cheating all the time”, “cheating is always an extremely important issue”, “cheating for lots of people in many parts of the world is just not a very important issue”.

There are people who hold each of these conclusions to be true, and they can present evidence to support their position.  Some would say there is some truth in each of those statements.  Others would say each of those conclusions is true for some people and not for others.  Still others might say what is cheating to one person is not to another.  Interestingly, even when two or more people hold any one of these conclusions they may choose to act very differently from one another because of that conclusion.  But, of course, whatever you think about cheating is absolutely right, and without question, and should be considered obviously and completely true by everyone else.

Do You Know If You Are ‘Conclusion Sabotaged’?

“I know you’re upset with me.”  “You did that just to get back at me.”  “I know exactly how you feel.”  “I know what you’re thinking.”  “You never change.”  “I know perfectly well why you did that.”  “I know it didn’t happen that way, so you must be lying.”   All these kind of statements indicate the likelihood that collusion-sabotage is occurring.  It is sabotage to a relationship if you think or talk this way, because these types of declarations all represent the likelihood of being blind to alternate possibilities.

Thinking that way makes you vulnerable to negative surprises.  If you are communicating with these types of conclusionary statements, you are likely to be coming across as close minded, dogmatic and dictatorial.  That usually is very sabotaging because it frequently helps people want to either prove you wrong, or hide their truths from you, and eventually distance themselves from you.

Listen to how different these ways of saying the same ideas might be said.  “I’m guessing you’re upset with me, and I’d like to check that out.  What are you feeling?”  “Could it be that you did that because you want to get back at me for something you think I did?”  “I think I have felt things sort of like what you’re feeling, so I kind of understand what you’re going through, and I care.”  “Let me guess what maybe you’re thinking.

Then tell me if I’m close, or if there is an alteration needed so I can really understand you.”  “I have ideas about why you may have done that, but suppose you tell me what you think.”  Both thinking and talking in this more open and exploratory way, more frequently, leads to better communication and improving relationships.  So the good news is, if you or a loved one are conclusion-sabotaging, you can change to a way that  usually is more harmonious, connecting, complete, accurate and successful.  It also is a more loving way of going about things with a loved one.

What to Do Instead of Conclude?

The first thing to do is to ‘own up’ to the fact that you are human and humans frequently have blind spots, jump to false conclusions, become solidly sure of things that are not true, have problems with accuracy, and seldom are great at seeing the larger picture.  Humans also distort their perceptions of reality by way of their own past experiences, their own inner needs, what was modeled for them growing up and by conclusion-drawing-systems trained into them by family and culture.  Furthermore, humans usually don’t know that there memories tend to change over time.  Since your human, you are subject to all of that, so it will behoove you to stay aware that what you think and conclude may be improved on.

The second thing to do is to change your conclusions into ‘guesses’.  They may be excellent, well-informed guesses, frequently spot-on guesses, and guesses that may have worked very well for you in the past, but none of that means your next conclusion (‘guess’) is right.  Suspect the Bible is right when it says “we see through a glass darkly”.  You can hold strongly to your guesses so long as you are open to hearing alternate possibilities, and open to receiving new and different input.

If you think and talk with the idea that you are making estimations, possibly flawed judgments, and at best only tentative conclusions, your thinking and your communicating likely will work better.  If you turn all your conclusions into hypotheses, often best checked out with the input of others who think differently than you; then take the input you get into account, and see if you can improve or elaborate on what you think; my guess is that things may go smoother in you communications with loved ones if you so this – so try it, OK?

The third thing to do is gamble on ‘your best guess’ and do it with strong confidence but know it is a gamble.  You are human, therefore, you may be mistaken, wrong, insufficiently accurate, right in some part but not in another, in need of more data, ill-informed, or only partially knowledgeable.  You may wish to abide by the adage that says “only God knows, and the rest of us are guessing as best we can”. With this approach we often are able to become much more open, democratic, accepting, tolerant, searching, and likely to arrive at better conclusion-guesses.  We also are much less likely to be conclusion-sabotaging, or let other’s conclusion-sabotage occur.  Now know, you don’t have to conclude that any of this is true!

If you hit an impasse with a loved one and can not understand or accept a differing view, I suggest saying, without rancor, “We just see that (or remember that) differently”, and mean it, not concluding one of you is right and the other is wrong.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
What do you think of the statement that says “You can be right, or in a relationship – but not both at the same time”?


Quality Love, Quality Life?

Synopsis: This mini-love-lessons starts with an important life quality question; then goes on to a real life case; questions of “The most important factor?”, “What biology tells us about love”, then what constitutes high-quality love; and achievement of high love/life quality.


Is Your Life Quality Determined by Your Love Quality?

A growing body of evidence points to the quality and quantity of love in your life having a whole lot to do with the all over quality of your life. 

High-quality life means you are deeply pleased with the way your life is going, often happy, physically and mentally (especially mentally) healthy, successful and productive, and generally can be considered to be enjoying an enriched, growing and satisfied life.  Without sufficient amounts of these factors and feelings, life can be evaluated as being of mediocre to poor, or worse quality.  Overtly, life can look to be of high quality but covertly it may actually be quite problematic and of low quality.

Here is an example.  Milton was by all accounts a big success.  He had good health, money, status, influence, a record of outstanding accomplishments, peer and community respect, a seemingly ideal family and a whole lot more.  Milton, however, was deeply unhappy.

Two psychiatrists diagnosed Milton as depressed and prescribed various psychiatric medicines which did nothing, or apparently made his condition even worse.  It was not until a new therapist got Milton to examine the love factor in his life that things started to change for the better.  He began to see how loveless his life really was.  His nice marriage to a ‘trophy wife’ had no genuine love in it. Milton’s relationship with his children was distant at best. Friendships were all superficial.  Milton’s dealings with his parents and other family were only perfunctory.

Worst of all, Milton’s feelings for himself were summed up with the words “not good enough”.  His feelings about life, spiritual factors, meaning and purpose were merely mild as far as he could tell.  Milton had felt loved by his grandparents and deeply mourned their passing when he was in his twenties.  The fact that he once had felt loved is probably what had kept him going long after they were no longer in his life.  Now, however, he came to suspect he was in a state of serious love malnutrition, and that was ruining the quality of his life.  He saw it might even destroy his life if he didn’t do something about it.  Milton then went into several forms of counseling and therapy.

Marriage counseling was a great success because it led to a very amicable divorce and then to him later meeting a woman he could really love and who could truly love him.  Family counseling led to far better, love-filled, improved connections with his children.  Group therapy opened him to finding and growing real friendships, and individual therapy resulted in increasing healthy self-love.  It took a long time and a lot of hard emotional work but it was worth it!  Milton now says he loves life, and he now leads an exceptionally high quality life, full of healthy, real love while before he only had the trappings of a quality life.  He also jokingly says he doesn’t think he could get depressed even if he tried.

Is Love the Most Important Factor?

Milton’s experience may not be relative for everyone.  Certainly other factors besides love can make a great deal of difference to a person’s quality of life.  Physical health problems, severe poverty, war, crime, injustice, profound failure and loss, etc. all can greatly invade and have their destructive influence on one’s quality of life.  However, it may be that having high-quality, healthy, real love in one’s life may be the very most important factor in many people’s life.  Maybe yours?

There are many examples of people having all sorts of difficult problems but having ample, high-quality love in their life often makes the difference as to whether they felt they did or did not have a good life.  There also are countless examples where people having what they considered a bad life experienced it all changing for the better when healthy, real love came into their life.

There also is evidence pointing to various forms of false love, mediocre love and infrequently expressed or demonstrated love being correlated with or leading to a lesser and sometimes diminishing quality of life.

What Biology Tells Us about Love?

We learned that healthy, real love is biologically important when it was discovered in pediatrics that infants physically die of ‘failure to thrive’ illnesses when they do not experience the behaviors that convey love in their first year of life, even though they are well fed and well taken care of physically.  We learned this again when it was discovered in developmental psychology that infrequently loved children become what was diagnosed as psycho-social dwarfism i.e. the tendency not to physically grow except when being behaviorally loved.  These results were laboratory confirmed in animal comparative psychology when Harry Harlow’s experiments with infant monkeys got very similar results.

We learned this again when in rehabilitation medicine it was discovered that people in good i.e. well loved marriage, family and friendship relationships, recover from wounds, disabling accidents and debilitating illnesses far faster and far more often than those lacking such relationships (when all other factors are essentially equal).  The preponderance of evidence in these and other fields such as social psychology, the brain sciences, psychoneuroimmunology, medical sociology, etc. points to the arguable conclusion that both the quantity and quality of love in your life greatly effects a great deal about the quality and even the length of your life.

What is High-Quality Love?

One way to understand high-quality love is to look at the five major functions of healthy, real love.  When there is strong quality love frequently given or shown, both the receiver and the giver of that love are thought to experience the benefits of those five functions sufficiently and often in abundance (See the mini-love-lesson “A Functional Definition of Love”).

First, high-quality love can be seen to provide us with a sense of full and satisfying, often intimate, and a very personal connection with others.  In the absence of this connectedness there can grow a sense of both aloneness and loneliness, personal isolation, depleting emotional distance and disconnection.

Second, high-quality love can be seen to provide us with substantial safeguarding, looked after by loving others.  With safeguarding from loved ones, can come a sense of greater security and safety.  Without this safeguarding there is greater endangerment, sometimes accompanied by a sense of insecurity, apprehension and anxiety.

Third, with quality love there are efforts to help us improve, grow and generally be better than we were in a wide variety of ways.  With that can grow the sense that our improvements in any and all areas are important, wanted, encouraged, assisted and enjoyed by those who love us.  This, psychologically, both nourishes and nurtures us and helps us feel personally affirmed and meaningfully supported.  Without it there can be feelings of insignificance, abandonment, lack of personal importance to another, negation and dis-affirmation.  Without such efforts our all over improvement in life tends to be less supported, less sustained and generally hampered compared to those who have improvement assistance from their loved ones.

Fourth, quality love has a healing effect both mentally and physically. When we are physically or emotionally hurt, harmed, sick, disabled or in any way in need of healing, we heal more, faster and better when we experience being loved.  Part of this is that our loved ones take better care of us.  Another part of it is that feeling loved stimulates our self-healing mechanisms to operate better.  Another part of this healing effect of love is mysterious and perhaps spiritual or metaphysical.  Those without healthy, real, quality love in their life are thought to heal slower and less thoroughly.  It is also thought that their chances of survival with life threatening illnesses are less.

Fifth, real and healthy quality love is understood to reward our love actions, feelings, thoughts and our love receptions with greater happiness and often deep, profound, inner joy well beyond that of those who do not experience much quality, real love in their lives.  Fake and false forms of love apparently can and do provide initial or erratic, short-lived happiness and even occasional ecstasy, but this then fades or turns to agony.

Quality Love in Your Life Can Greatly Improve!

Like most other arenas of life, the arena of love in its many forms and types can be an arena of your functioning in which you purposefully improve.  You may be working at doing just that right now by reading this mini-love-lesson.  Of course you have to do a lot more than read.  You have to put into practice what you read about doing.  Unfortunately, there is a broad, cultural training which teaches the presence and quality of love in your life depends on being lucky or on some other force outside yourself and not on your own efforts.  Like everything else of importance, luck can play a role but your best chance of succeeding at love and having high-quality, real love depends mostly on your own ability to explore, experiment, study and develop your own love abilities.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: Would you rate the quality of your life and the quality of love in your life to be ‘at the same level’, ‘improving’, ‘holding steady’ or ‘worsening’?


Expressional Love Behaviors – The Last 6 of 12

 

Mini-Love-Lesson #292


Synopsis: Here are 6 more of the 12 things to know for succeeding at doing the very important way of love known as expressional love, including greater sexual love and 7 significant questions to ask yourself.

As we said before, love must be done, not just felt.  Let us also remember that the better we do love the more our love is likely to be effective, helpful, healthful, successful and wonder-full.  Remember too, expressional love may send as much as 93% of the actual communication in a face-to-face, personal, love interaction.  

To accomplish expressional love’s best actions, there are a dozen, lesser known, love sending behaviors.  We covered the first 6 in the blog post titled “Expressional Love Behaviors – The First 6 of 12”.  Now, let’s cover the last 6.  They may seem rather technical but they contain some really useful, concrete information.  Being genuine is always a best practice for relationship success.

7. Approach and Avoidance Action Messages

Love relating often involves approach or avoidance relationship signals and actions.  Think about approaching anything.  First, we notice it, then we read the signals of its approachability and then we choose to go toward it or avoid it.  Now think about love relating.  The importance of comprehending the signs and signals of our loved ones helps us determine whether or not to interact with them.  If we do not accurately read those signals, we can stumble into mis-communication and mis-understanding.  

Also important in this process are the signals we send.  The actual action of approaching a loved one can broadcast the love message that we want to be close to them physically and emotionally.  How we do that is best coordinated with their emotional state.  For example, if they look sad, we might approach more carefully and caring.  If they look happy, we might make a more exuberant approach.

If we expressionally project an approachable countenance, it can lead to so many relational benefits.  Connecting and bonding, functioning together and teamwork, and intimate knowledge of each other are only a few of the perks.

There also can be avoidance or distancing issues communicated by our signaling behaviors.  Sooner later every couple, family and ongoing friendship faces a situation where someone wants to approach some topic and the other person wants to avoid it.  This can lead to conflict if not handled well.  Consider this couple’s conundrum.  

Kelly wants to introduce Chris to a new sexual activity.  Mischievously, Kelly shows Chris a photo of the desired activity in a sexy magazine.  Chris freezes up and moves away from Kelly.  Instead of getting upset, Kelly decides to be more loving and considerate of Chris’s obvious discomfort and stiffness.  When Chris sees Kelly’s soft, caring look, it triggers a relaxation of Chris’s tension.  Kelly seeing this relaxation, moves a bit closer and makes an open arms gesture.  Chris smiles and moves into Kelly’s arms.  

This couple had a wordless, expressional conversation about whether to approach or avoid a touchy topic.  Doing that helped them get to a successful point where they were comfortable enough to openly start talking together about this sexual issue.  This example shows how important sending, recognizing and receiving expressional signals can be to richer communication in love relationships.

8. Receptive and Reciprocal Love

Suppose a person is handed an unexpected gift from a loved one.  Do they smile and look pleasantly surprised?  Or feeling interrupted, maybe they look mildly annoyed, put the gift down (to open later) and turn away?  The way we expressionally receive and respond to an act of love frequently sets off a positive or negative cycle in our close relationships. 

Here is a little, seven question survey to help you access the strengths and weaknesses in your receptive and reciprocal, expressional practices.

  1. Are you good at noticing smiles aimed at you, and smiling back?

2. When you hear loving tones of voice coming your way, do you respond likewise, or with flat tones, or gruffly, or are you often non-responsive?

3. If someone who loves you leans toward you as they talk, do you tend to lean toward them, become a bit rigid, lean away or stay as you were?

4. If you are greeted with open arms by a loved one, do you respond with open arms that are wider, not as wide or with no arm gestures at all?

5. If a loved one moves closer to you, do you move closer to them, do you stiffen or relax, do you move away or do you do nothing?

6. If a loved one looks and/or sounds troubled, sad, upset or aggravated, do you look and sound caring, annoyed, threatened, angry, baffled, unaware or what?

7. Does your everyday demeanor around your loved ones usually look and sound happy, friendly, loving, positive or more neutral, more unhappy, irritated, grouchy, indifferent or otherwise negative?

Whatever your responses to those questions are, do you wish to make improvements in your love reception responses?  If you do, how might you go about that?

Be careful of automatic responses.  They can be seen as mechanical and insincere.  If you dare, instead pepper replies with extravagant motions, exuberant gestures, chipper voice tones, and zany facial expressions that show your reciprocal love in lively ways.  Some might see that as overdoing it.  Cultural, societal, family and personal experiences influence that perception.  A lot of this may be repression training.  Look at young children who naturally are expressionally animated.  Observe the spirited interchanges of people in Latin cultures.  More and more with the help of the behavioral sciences, we see positive expressional freedom as healthy.

9. Expressionally Communicating Emotional Responsiveness

We have touched on this before but this area is so important it deserves fuller treatment.  In all our love relationships, it is immensely useful to keep current about our loved one’s feelings.  This is the art of tuning-in and then responding to those emotions.  Our loved one’s feelings might change more frequent than we think.  They can change in strength, in a different direction or in the kind of feeling projected.  Our job is to accurately read those emotional expressions.  One cannot over-estimate the importance of two indicators – facial expressions and voice variations.  Sometimes gestures, postures, positioning and all the other expressional ways of influencing a love communication are of considerable significance in reading a loved one’s emotions and then responding appropriately.

Showing a fitting emotional response to a loved one’s feelings helps them to handle bad feelings and enriches good feelings.  It also helps to grow the bond between those who love each other.

To be a star when doing expressional responsiveness, let’s look at a few basics regarding emotions and feelings in general.  Technically, all of us have physical and probably emotional feelings almost all the time, even in our sleep.  Many of the smaller feelings never reach our conscious awareness.  Some feelings reach our semi-conscious awareness in the form of intuition, hunches, notions, impulses and things like that.  Our responsiveness can be affected by any of those.  All of our emotions are thought to have evolved to help us survive and thrive, even the ones we call bad.  For example, fear tries to keep us safe, anger gives us emergency power, depression may get us to inventory what is wrong.  Good feelings guide us toward what to do again and can assist us in getting through bad feeling times.

If a loved one is happy or is having any other pleasurable feeling, it is best to respond in kind.  If a loved one expresses a bad feeling, usually it is best to respond empathetically with care.  This tends to show you believe in them and in their ability to improve, thus, helping to restore their own confidence and courage.  The general rule here is be stingy with advice at first and go further into problem-solving only if met with clear, eager receptivity.

Active listening is a good way of responding expressionally.  In active listening, your mouth says very little while your expressional behaviors say a lot.  With facial expressions, tones, gestures and postures you continuously can show your love.  If you are puzzled, you can look quizzical which communicates you are trying to understand.  Never underestimate how much love relating is accomplished by emotional interacting or how much emotional interacting is accomplished by expressional communication.

10. Gestural Love Communication

Did you know that the more you talk with your hands the more likely you are to get your message heard?  Preachers, politicians and ardent lovers seem to be adept at this.  A great many impactful messages can be communicated by hand, arm, head, and once in a while even by foot gestures. 

Gestures come in many forms and can broadcast different meanings.  You can wave at someone as an act friendship love or you can wave off someone from danger as an act of protective love.  You might gesture approval and affirmation with a thumbs-up gesture or agreement by the OK hand sign (be careful about hand signs, they can mean very different things in different cultures).

Subtle gestures also can be a part of our ability to send and receive love.  If you welcome the approach of a loved one with a recognition smile and a brief hug, they probably will feel lovingly welcomed.  If you accidentally keep your hands in your pockets or down at your sides that could be interpreted as a subtle, anti-love rejection or a devaluing gesture.  A V for victory sign flashed at a loved one can be an obvious “I’m proud of you” love message.  In more sedate or formal settings small gestures, like a slight head nod still can send strong messages of love. 

Some loving couples develop their own personal and private, gestural language.  A hand held over the heart may mean “I love you”.  While seated at a gathering, wiggling a foot in the direction of an exit, secretly may suggest “Let’s go home and be alone together”.  Certain types of smiles may beckon a loved one, shrugs may communicate “I don’t care” and a wince might suggest “I just got my feelings hurt and would like your loving support”.  Couples that grow in love, tend to increasingly and effectively interpret many mini-gestures and are guided by them.

Couples, families and friends, from time to time, get body language messages confused which makes for unhappy situations.  In counseling, I heard a wife tell her husband that at a party the night before, she had felt rejected by him.  She had crossed her legs at him, over and over, and she concluded he had rejected her request.  He looked baffled and said “What request”?  She replied, “You know perfectly well that means let’s go home and make love”.  With astonishment he swore he had no idea it meant that but from now on he certainly would abide by that seductive inducement.

Some gestures have fairly widespread understanding, at least in Western society.  A loved one is struggling with anguished feelings.  If you lean forward and assume an open body posture, they likely will feel cared about.  If you lean back and cross your arms, they may interpret you as rejecting or closed off.  In a noisy, crowded environment, pointing toward someone and clapping can convey strong praise and camaraderie.  Copacetic feelings often rise when hand dancing movements are used.  Italians have the best reputation for energetically gesturing conversely, upper crust, English speakers not so much.  Whether gesturing is with tiny movements or bold and vigorous ones, good use of gestures can be very additive to love relating.  For a best practices approach to love, we recommend you give expressional, emotional responsiveness some of your sincerest attention.

11. Non-Verbal Vocalization

Here is a somewhat obscure area of expressional communication called Paralinguistics.  It is a bit complicated but it has its importance.  Researchers report paralingual factors may be four times as important as the words used in face-to-face, personal conversation. 

Scientists in this field, study everything about spoken communication except the words. 

Besides the words we speak or their dictionary definitions, there may be as many as sixteen factors that influence vocal intercourse.  Don’t worry, we are not going to cover them all.  

 Non-word components of speech include things like volume, inflection, pitch, pauses, rates of speech, spacing of words, sighs, grunts, pacing, hesitations, cadence, accent, noise making and other related stuff.  These non-verbal vocalizations get subconsciously analyzed and then influence how we interpret, understand and choose to react and interact.  Consider how these things can affect the messages we send to our loved ones.  

We can affect the potency of our love messages by understanding and using some of this paralinguistic knowledge.  For instance, if we focus on our tones of voice, we may determine whether or not they are as loving as we want them to be.  Also, volume, speed of speech and pacing can be custom tailored to each of our loved ones.  Impressions we do not want to make include weak and whiny, frenetic, sing-song, always annoyed, dull and boring and so forth.  The impressions we do want to make with our voice expressiveness include up-beat, sensitive, interesting and interested, positive, loving and so forth.  If with our voice tones we can sound melodic, effervescent or joyful, we can make our love more impactful, rich and welcome.  Honing and sophisticating our ways of showing love using these factors can help us treat our loved ones as special and unique.   

12. Expressional Mirroring for Love’s Sake

Now, we come to an expressional area that encompasses all the above into one best, practices package.  If you want to help a dear one that is troubled, you could try expressional mirroring.  That also is useful in dealing with those who seem closed to hearing outside input or who just seem hard to reach.  Expressional mirroring is a way to help them feel emotionally understood and loved.  If it is done well, it frequently leads to new ideas and better dealing with hard to handle issues.  One caveat, it does not work with everyone. 

When a troubled loved one is expressing something that obviously is quite important to them, try this.  With empathy, begin to mirror back to them their movements and their voice modulations while saying very little verbally and listening intently.  If they lean one way or another, you do too.  If they smile, so do you.  If they start talking softer and slower, you say something slower and softer also.  If they make a gesture, you make a similar one.  Many who begin the art of mirroring start with more miniature behaviors until they become comfortable with mirroring. 

 New practitioners of love-by-mirroring usually have some doubts, worries and questions about this approach.  One concern is, “Won’t those I mirror ask why am I doing the same things they’re doing?”  Surprisingly, that question almost never arises.  But if it does, you can reply with the truth by saying, “It helps me feel really with you and with your emotions.  Another worry is that your loved one might feel they are being made fun of.  That probably will not happen if your empathy really shows.

Empathy is a way of riding with them as they continue their emotion-filled journey of struggle.  Don’t add anything new with words!  Just keep mirroring.  Mirroring helps to behaviorally show you are feeling what they are feeling as well as viewing what their mind is viewing as they reveal it.  Essentially, it is sort of like trying to live inside their drama as they describe it.

With mirroring, it is amazing what can accomplished.  A loved one often feels profound acceptance and deep emotional understanding.  Emotional strengthening also occurs with being well loved.  Loving through mirroring often tends to be an extremely intimate experience.  

Mirroring is a great way to help people with catharsis, tension release and stress reduction.  It seems to clear the way for new insights, for arriving at solutions and for achieving a sense of closure.  It also is a way to help your loved ones arrive at their own answers.  Quite often it appears to help open mental doors to hearing new inputs, suggestions, recommendations and fresh expressions of care and love.  However, it is surprising how often that guidance is not needed after a mirroring experience.

Mirroring also can be integrated with reflective listening.  Basically, the practice of reflective listening involves saying back to a person, versions of what they have just said, coupled with the emotions they are describing and expressionally exhibiting.  Simple example: your loved one, with a big huff and a scowl says, “Your mother told me I don’t look good with long hair”.  A reflective response might be, “Awww, that hurt your feelings”.  

Recipients of mirroring frequently express feelings like, “You really understand me”, “I felt so alone in my problems but now I don’t”, “You went to the trouble to really know me and I feel so loved”, and “I don’t know why I feel so much better but I do”.

Note: It is important not to fake but rather to more accurately convey your emotions as you interact with loved ones using the above suggestions.  Remember, it is not likely to be real love if you have to fake it.

Benefits of the 12

Again, marvelous benefits can accrue to those who becoming mindful and active with these 12 lesser known expressional behaviors.  Relationally, love connecting, bonding, nurturing, communicating, teamwork and emotional understanding improve.  Individually, these valuable and skillful ways to convey love can enhance everyone’s love-ability


One More Thing

How about telling someone about this mini-love-lesson and this website about love?  Spreading the positives about love really might make your world more love enriched. 

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question: How often do you think about how well you are doing your love – showing, giving, demonstrating, etc.?

Expressional Love Behaviors – The First 6 of 12

Mini-Love-Lesson #291


Synopsis: Doing love is as important, or more important, than feeling love; doing love well and doing it expressionally well can be crucial to the success of every relationship; here are 6 of the 12 things we all need to know about to achieve expressional love success.

The expressional choreography, going back and forth between people who love each other, can be like a beautiful, artful dance.  At times this dance can be fun and joyful, or intimate and romantic, or spirited and daring, or sensual and sexy or precious and tender if carried out skillfully and loaded with love.  To become good at this art form, takes feeling-filled practice and plenty of playful teamwork.  I’ve seen couples of all ages, families, parents with their kids and diverse others learn the dance of expressional love.  Therefore, I bet you can too!  (See “Love Expressiveness”)

Doing Expressional Love and Doing It Well!

Let us remember that love must be done, not just felt.  Let us also remember that the better we do love the more our love is likely to be effective, helpful, healthful, successful and wonder-full.  Remember too, expressional love may send as much as 93% of the actual communication in a face-to-face, personal, love interaction.  

To accomplish expressional love’s best actions, there are a dozen, lesser known, love sending behaviors.  We will cover the first 6 here and the last 6 later.  They may seem rather technical but they contain some really useful, concrete information.  Being genuine is always a best practice for relationship success.

1. Body Language Attentiveness

Attentiveness is a very important part of doing love well; it works with loved ones of all ages.  But the question is how do you show attentiveness?  Our body language can do that for us without saying a word.  When we show attentiveness, it conveys that we value a loved one and we are focused on their concerns, interests and ways of thinking, feeling and doing.  When our attention is desired and there is a lack of attentiveness, that might be interpreted as being uncaring and not valuing them.  Speaking via your body language, showing loving attentiveness, allows us to stay verbally quiet and listen while our loved one conveys what they want to get across.  At times, that can be a considerable communication advantage.  Here are some ways to show loving attentiveness.

When a loved one starts talking to you, stop what you are doing, turn toward them and move at least a little closer.  If you are standing, square your body with theirs while looking interested.  If seated, lean toward them.  As they speak, notice their emotions.  You can bob your head or lean toward them when they show stronger feelings.  Keep your heart area (chest) open and not covered by crossed arms or with things you might be holding.  Leave your arms and hands free for gesturing.  Shift positions mostly only with small, posture changes made slowly unless exuberance is called for.  Be sure to avoid turning your back on your loved one or giving them a cold shoulder posture.

By doing these body language actions, you send a message of attentiveness which likely will convey, consciously and subconsciously, that your loved one has a love importance to you and you are with them and for them.

2. Loving Eye Contact and Looking Movements

People who love each other frequently look into each other's eyes, often in close proximity.  They regularly make and hold eye contact longer than they spend time looking away.  When a loved one is expressing strong emotions or something of importance, loving eye contact can be imperative.  For your own better understanding, brief glances to the right or left assist the brain with processing memory, future focus thinking and figuring out what to do or say next.  A caveat here is, a brief glance away is OK if not done too frequently.  Be careful not to stare past a loved one or do much prolonged looking off into space or looking down, those actions could be interpreted as uncaring disinterest.  

Clues to a person’s feelings often are conveyed by eye movements like wide eye looks, squinting, eyebrow movements, winking, blinking, eye rolling and glancing away.  Sometimes the eyes contradict the words being spoken which sends a confusing message.  That can undermine a verbal love message.  You probably don’t want to do that.

A hard-eyes-look (intense or strained) with a frown sometimes can be interpreted as indicating uncaring, undervaluing, disapproving and that unloving reactions are going on.  When focusing on the love you feel for someone, best is to have a soft-eyes (relaxed) countenance.  

3. Positive Proxemics

Are you aware that how you place, move and position your body in proximity to another person’s body may be a communication in itself?  Love, friendship, rejection, your own approachability and quite a few other relational elements can be influenced by proximity.  We humans and quite a few other species often communicate with proxemics.  Proxemics is the science of communicating messages by positioning and altering one’s body in proximity to another’s body.  This has a lot to do with emotional closeness and distance, inclusion and exclusion, belonging and isolation, and love network dynamics.

One can stand protectively or invasively near another.  Intimate closeness can be considerably enhanced by close body positioning.  Holding oneself at a greater than usual distance may indicate a negative feeling toward someone.  Therefore, having awareness of your own body proxemics can be important to all relationships, especially love relationships.  

Consider elevation positioning.  This has to do with above, below and equal proxemic positioning and how it might affect the emotions in a love relationship.  For instance, when soothing a hurt or fearful loved one, it generally is best to appear like a strong and comforting parent who usually is positioned slightly higher.  When listening to an angry catharsis, a thrashing about rage or an anguished, anxiety-ridden loved one, usually it is more accepting and non-confrontational to be a bit below them, looking up from the seated position while leaning forward.  However, when seeking egalitarian and harmonious communication, usually it is best to be about on the same level.

Love relationships are enhanced by knowing about and using proxemics.  With whom, when and where might you use this information?  One general rule is to be close, get close.

4. Positive Posturing

Postures are different than proxemics.  Postures are about how you hold your body when sitting, standing or even laying down.  These postures tend to be subconsciously interpreted as positive, negative or rather neutral especially by those in close relationships.  To get any encounter with a loved one off to a good start, choose a positive posture.  Usually that means standing tall or sitting upright, shoulders back, head up, arms open and other gestures that communicate friendliness.  More concretely, when in family or group situations, social scientists have found that standing approximately at a 45° angle to a loved one often achieves higher levels of cooperation.  In private, facing a loved one directly usually achieves the best results.  

Asymmetrical postures tend to be seen as more friendly than symmetrical ones. An asymmetrical posture is one in which the right and left sides of the body do not mirror each other.  For example, a stance with one hand on a hip and the other hand gesturing often is seen as confident and open to happy interaction.  A symmetrical posture is when the right side and left side of the body look alike.  For example, when a person stands with their fists on their hips, with their elbows out and their feet spread apart that can be interpreted as confrontational and threatening.  In love relating, relaxed, asymmetrical postures tend to work better for everybody. 

Consciousness raising about all this can enhance your love relationships considerably.  Some people accidentally or habitually take on postures that can be interpreted as negative.  If you stand with your arms crossed, tense, and scowling you may be seen as judgmental, dismissive and uncaring, bored or boring or emotionally distant -- all these tend to be counter-indicated for goo, love relating.  If you feel positive and want to be seen as loving use postures with open arms, with palms up, head up and maybe slightly tilted, and with your body inclining forward to some degree.  

Being consciously mindful of your posture messaging to loved ones may help you get more accurately interpreted and understood.  Being aware of the possible posture messages from your loved ones usually can help you understand and more effectively relate to them.  

5. Connection Kinetics

Motions can indicate emotions.  Especially with loved ones, our motions almost continuously are being subconsciously monitored by them.  Notably, our facial, expressional motions are tracked.  Smiles, frowns, happy and unhappy looks, signs of irritation, aggravation, joy, serenity, elation, sadness, anxiety and the many other emotions a face can project are monitored.  This monitoring offers guidance to our loved ones for how to recognize our feelings and connect with us.  Likewise, we can be more aware of our loved one’s emotion indicators.  That can help us love them better. 

It is not only our facial kinetics but also all our other body movements that enable us to be psychologically and emotionally read and related to.  One of the very best practices of healthy, real love is demeanor presentation.  Creating and practicing a happy, loving countenance is a love gift you can give every day.  

This was dramatically brought home to me when learning to do family psychotherapy at a cancer treatment center.  Stage 3 and 4 cancer patients and their families did much of the training.  In spite of the pain and dire diagnosis, the patients kept choosing demeanors of genuine happiness.  This proved to me it was a choice rather than something governed by chance.  I saw happy, loving expressions, gestures and postures have wonderfully therapeutic effects on the patients and their families.  These kinetic expressions were crucial in keeping the family connections healthy and functioning.  I’ve worked to carry this lesson about choosing a happy, loving demeanor into my professional, relational and personal life.  I’ll bet you can too.

Facial, gestural, postural and other expressions can provide highly significant love connecting experiences.  When families were divided by the Berlin Wall, back when Germany was a divided nation, families on both sides could be seen still communicating.  For years, split families could not visit, hug or hold, or talk unmonitored to each other because of that barrier.  However, with exaggerated motions, they expressionally catapulted their love over that wall.  This is a potent example of how behavioral expressions of love can be instrumental in keeping our bonds with loved ones alive and well.

6. Head Movement Messaging

Nodding your head up and down to express approval, tilting your head right or left to express curiosity and interest, tilting your head forward to demonstrate keep going, I want to hear more and rocking your head backward in astonishment or surprise -- all can be used to convey loving listening.  Sometimes head movements can be tiny and still communicate support, agreement and connectedness in a love relationship.  Laughter-filled head bobbing and weaving often are a part of sharing fun.  Nodding or a slight jerk of the head in a particular direction can silently and unobtrusively point to something for another to notice or attend to.  Turning your head away can tell someone you are not willing to deal with something or with them.  Head movement messaging sometimes is developed almost into an art form within love relationships.  The intimate and elaborate variations can be infinite. 

Note: It is important not to fake but rather to more accurately convey your emotions as you interact with loved ones using the above suggestions.  Remember, it is not likely to be real love if you have to fake it.


Benefits of the first 6 of 12

Marvelous benefits can accrue to those who becoming mindful and active with these lesser known expressional behaviors.  Relationally, love connecting, bonding, nurturing, communicating, teamwork and emotional understanding improve.  Individually, these valuable and skillful ways to convey love can enhance everyone’s love-ability.

One More Thing

How about telling someone about this mini-love-lesson and this website about love?  Spreading the positives about love really might make your world more love enriched. 

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

♥ Love Success Question: Is one of your goals to keep doing love better and better?

Yellow Love: Are You Suffering from It and Don't Know

Mini-Love-Lesson #183

Synopsis: With an ancient love master’s help yellow love briefly is explained, its commonness noted, how those who don’t suffer from it are different, and a five point cure is described for those who do.


A Most Common Relationship Affliction

Rumi, around 616 A.D., Islam’s great Sufi master of love knowledge, once asked “Why be content with Yellow Love?”

Yellow love like yellow fever (which makes you jaundiced with yellow skin) was seen as an all too common love-relationship affliction.  Its symptoms sneak up on people causing love relationships to be d-energized, depleted, dull, dragging and depressed.  It makes one subject to low-grade emotional illness, lack of happiness, lack of closeness, romantically and sexually less active and less enjoyably interactive with those you love.  Yellow love also can make life and love seem considerably less enriching and worthwhile than they once were.

Worst of all, many people believe this is just what happens in a love relationship as it goes on over time.  So they accept this affliction as normal.  Rumi and the Sufi masters of old saw that this did not have to be.  Modern love relationship research agrees.  There are all sorts of love relationships in which people continue to be, in an ongoing way, energized and enriched by love-filled interactions.

There are couples who after 40 years together still have a lot to pleasurably say to each other.  They quite frequently, pleasurably and playfully interact with each other in ever-varying ways, want to be around each other and to continue to actively behave in ways that can only be described as love filled.  Much the same can be said about a great many love-filled friendships, families, relationships with and between pets and don’t forget healthy self-love relationships.  In all these, yellow love is not a problem.

What Makes the Difference?

We must admit that sometimes yellow love symptoms stem from a lack of real love and a false love condition which exists. However, in many cases real love started the relationship and continues in the participant’s hearts but a yellow love condition is slowly seeping in and taking over.

What makes the difference is that those people in love relationships in which the yellow love affliction does not happen, are relationships which do not rely on love being something that takes care of itself.  Instead, the participants continually work to learn about love, work on practicing what they learned, especially work on honing their skills at giving and getting love, jointly work to fill their interactions with healthy, real love and both individually and jointly work to eliminate anti-love problems as they arise.  In short, they keep working at their love relationships.

Can Yellow Love Be Cured and, If so, How?

The answer to this question is an enthusiastic yes, and here’s how:

1. Individually and jointly accept that ongoing, healthy, real love must be worked on continually.  It will not automatically take care of itself, is not magically maintained or automatically improved.  The work can be done so harmoniously it doesn’t seem like work at all, and maybe even sometimes seems more like play.  Like everything else worthwhile, it takes work.  Doing the work jointly in loving teamwork is faster and better but individual work is also required.  Much of this work is to be done with joy, happiness, satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.  Those positive elements in fact must be included as some of the goals involved in that work.

2. Continually and often happily, study love and how it can be done well, freshly, deeper, higher and more broadly.  Think about how people get good at anything enriching or important.  They study, or in other words, get into it, learn more and more about it and its variations, applications and manifestations.

3. Continually experiment and practice what you are learning about love.  It is not just a mental learning but in action-practice learning.  Like a good craftsman, sportsman, artist, scientist, etc., with joy practicing and experimenting for variation and improvement is magnificently ongoing and endless.

4. Whenever possible, work jointly as well as individually.  Love relationships best take working and learning through two or more person relationship actions.  This is how harmonious, cooperative and victorious teamwork is developed.  A love relationship is best done as a team effort that requires team members to learn and work as a team together in interaction.  Add to that, individual work on and with yourself about how you give and get love to everyone including to yourself.

5. Work together and individually on the anti-love problems which come along in your life, preferably as they arise.  Problems left un-dealt with often get worse.  This usually is done with much honest self-disclosure, openness, a lack of secrecy and lots of tolerational love  (see Behaviors of Love: the Basic Core Four).  If problems persist, seek help preferably jointly.  Couples and family therapy, parent guidance counseling and relational psychotherapy are increasingly working wonders with many.

Don’t Settle for Less

Yellow love essentially is underdone and poorly done love.  Love must be actively and enjoyably engaged in.  If you are not enjoying and helping those you love experience love enjoyably, at least much of the time, something is missing.  It is sort of like swimming.  You have to get in the water and practice it to really experientially know and have it.  The more you do that the more you can just jump in and have fun doing it.  If you just settle for wading in the shallows, it will not be near what it could be.  In swimming, those who learn and practice all nine basic strokes, learn to dive and swim underwater, learn the skills of long-distance swimming, etc. get to have the most fun and also are safest. Yes, love is much like that.

In case you’re interested, you might want to read The Sufi Path of Love, the Spiritual Teachings of Rumi by William C. Chittick. and/or The Love Poems of Rumi by Deepak Chopra.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: Are your ways and skills of giving and getting love growing and improving or are they a bit stale, rusty, blah and maybe becoming a little yellow?



Love Hugs for Health and Happiness

Mini-love lesson #182
FREE over 200 mini-love lessons touching thousands of lives in over 190 countries – worldwide!

Synopsis: This mini-love lesson, both seriously and lightly, gets the reader into some the many surprising health and happiness benefits of becoming skilled at love hugs, doing more for your loved ones, yourself and your love relationships.


Love Hugs and Their Surprising Goodies

A good love hug may surprise you with how many broad-ranging benefits it offers.  But first let’s be sure what were talking about.  Not all hugs are love hugs.  A real love hug starts with a person having and then wanting to give a gift of some sincere, heartfelt, real love.  It frequently contains a fair amount of empathy and a bit of evaluation of what the recipient will find beneficial and/or enjoyable.  Then, of course, it takes behavioral action.  It seldom contains elements of being sexual, perfunctory, manipulative or anything other than a behavioral connection gift.

The Many Types of Love Hugs

Love hugs are for everybody – friends, family, young, old, mates, kids, etc.  Hugs can be of a great many different types: tender, sweet, comforting, zestful, bold, intimate, lively, and a lot more.  Most love hugs include a lot of body contact.  Standing and laying down love hugs are often full-bodied and can go from cheek to cheek contact all the way down to the knees or even the feet.  Sitting, they usually in essence are sort of like cuddling and physically encompassing.  Love hugging frequently last a bit longer than other kinds of hugs and, therefore, can be savored better.  Love hugs can be considered a sort of pick me up behavioral vitamin.  Have at least one a day.

Most genuine love hugs benefit both the initiator and the receiver.  This group of benefits is increased when the receiver hugs back. Even without this hug back response, both people benefit.  There also are multiple person or clump love hugs with groups of close friends and family, sometimes even including pets.

The following are a dozen of the many, frequent benefits research has discovered having to do with love hugging.

A love hug:
•    triggers an invigorating, energizing, biological effect
•    sets off natural anti-depressive neurochemistry
•    starts a cascade of automatic, tension reduction responses
•    increases a sense of support and safety
•    improves blood circulation
∙    normalizes blood pressure
•    improves auto-immune functioning
∙    decreases anxiety
•    generates increases in self-confidence
•    improves digestive functioning
•    tends to increase the feeling of love connection with others
•    has a soothing effect on emotional disturbance and disruption

Two Way Benefit

Remember that both the person giving and the one getting an initiated love hug may receive the above listed benefits.  There are quite a few other benefits research has discovered but the ones listed above are some of the main ones.  Love hugs are part of the broader spectrum of tactile love which brain research increasingly shows loving touch to be very healthful and in some cases vitally necessary.

On the Lighter Side

Here is another list of love hug benefits:
Love hugs are:
•    non-fattening
•    non-taxable
•    non-polluting
•    don’t require monthly payments
•    are theft proof
•    don’t have to be insured
•    are inflation proof
•    don’t require batteries
•    don’t require refrigeration but can assist thawing
•    and the supply doesn’t run out no matter how many you give away

Give and Therefore Get More Love Hugs

Right this minute whatever amount of love hugging you already do, consider love hugging a little more often and a bit longer.  Also, when you could use a love hug and you realize it, consider directly, quickly and clearly asking for it, not hinting or silently hoping someone will sense your want and act.  With good, healthy, self love, don’t expect anybody to read your mind, just ask for what you want – you are worth it.  You also can specify whether you want a big bear hug or a sweet soft bunny type love hug or whatever else you might really want.

Anti-hug Issues?

Do you have anti-touch or anti-hug training or fears from previous life experiences?  If so, consider doing some work on that because health research is all very pro-love hug and love touch except in the case of some very rare and deplorable conditions.

Develop Your Love Hugging Skills

You can become very artful in delivering love through hugs of various types and sorts.  Think about custom tailoring your love hugs to the intended hug recipient and their current needs, wishes and wants.  Then give them what they likely want.  Don’t forget they may just want to see you greatly enjoying having a love hug, so as you give or get one show your joy.

It is okay to be a little selfish in lots of love hugs.  You also may improve the hugs you get by thinking and asking for little experiments in changing what you are getting in the way of a hug.  Maybe you want the arms a little tighter, or held differently or some other change but have you asked for it?  That can be part of healthy self-love.  You can learn more about how loving touch is important and how you can develop those skills of loving touch by going to the index at this site and looking up mini-love lessons on loving touch.  You also can get this mini-love lesson deeper inside yourself by talking about it to someone else.  So, who are you going to do that with?

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: Concerning the people you love, do you know for sure just exactly how they want to be hugged– more tenderly, more strongly, more softly, with or without caressing, differing hand placement, open or closed eyes, etc.?


Small Love for Lasting Love

Synopsis: Big impression romantic actions and their significance starts our mini-love-lesson; which then goes on to explore love action vacuums; love like food; and more.


Grand Love Gestures and Big Love Impressions

Joe was really good at making grand, romantic gestures and big, extravagant impressions on women.  He sent a stretch-limousine for his first date to pick up his first wife, a helicopter for his first date with his second wife, and before he went bankrupt he sent a large yacht for his first date with his third wife.    Obviously Joe was great with big, romantic, impression-making but not so good at lasting, real love: he was good at catching but not keeping.

Lover’s myths, stories, and histories abound with tales of grand gestures and outlandish actions which made huge impressions.  They were done for launching, conveying, solidifying or repairing love, or at least so we are told.  These giant gestures create astounding memories but, alas, they are not the stuff of which lasting love is mostly and best made.  No, the research shows lasting, healthy, real love comes from small love-conveying behaviors enacted day after day, after day.

A tender touch, a special smile, a tiny nod, some words of praise or thanks, a special little favor, a thoughtful remembrance, an extra embrace, a sweetness in the voice, or any other of thousands of different kinds of acts that can convey love – these are the things that make love lasting.  Those who give and receive love daily, through small acts meant to show love, create a kind of love cycling (see the “Cycling Love for Lasting Love” mini-love-lesson) that keeps a love relationship going on, and on and on.  This is what field, laboratory and clinical research reveals. (Check out the latest findings from the Gottman Institute).

The Love Action Vacuum

Clinical research of which I have been involved points to the most relationship-destroying factor: a deficiency in the demonstration of love in an ongoing way. This was hard to discover because discovering ‘something that is not there’, or is absent is a lot harder than discovering something that is there.  Probably that accounts for the fact that, until now, laboratory type research pointed to ‘the presence’ of derogatory and demeaning words and actions as being the most common relationship-destroying behavior.  Both are very important.

If there is an absence of regularly demonstrated love or an absence of good love reception, a love relationship is likely to wither and die.  Some relationships do live on with very sparsely shown love but they are not thought to thrive like they could.  If there is both the absence of daily actions showing love and the presence of demeaning words and actions, a really close, enriching love relationship is not likely to develop and most likely will die.

Love relationships which are not so close, like those of distant friends and family members, can do well with only occasional actions conveying love.  Also those who have previously done really well at showing each other love, but no longer have much contact, can sort of pick up where they left off to re-contact.  The participants know that their love relationship continues though it seems at times dormant.

Love As Food

Love is a psychological food.  In fact, it is probably the healthiest and most energizing psychological food there is.  Like with physical food, it helps to have daily meals.  So, with your closest loved ones, it is best to be sure you regularly feed them, preferably multiple times every day.  Also, don’t forget yourself.  Healthy self-love also nourishes best when it is done regularly.

A lack of small, daily showings of love leads to love malnutrition and love starvation (see the mini-love-lesson “Is Depression Love Starvation”).  So, don’t starve those you love – spouse, children, closest friends, or yourself.

Learn & Practice the Eight, Major, Direct Ways to Show Love

Massive, well conducted research in social psychology led to the discovery of the major ways that people show each other love.  There are eight groups of behavior that do this according to that research.  Each of these behavior categories has been found to result in different benefits.  You can learn and practice small, easily done behaviors in each category.  It is all covered in our books Recovering Love and Real Love False Love.  You also can start learning about them with the mini-love-lesson titled “Behaviors That Give Love – The Basic Core Four”.  There also are indirect ways that convey love but those are for another day.

Big and False, Small, Regular and Real

Sometimes the grand gesture comes from someone who is in one form or another of false love.  Maybe they just want to make really big impressions for boosting their own ego or something like that.  One of the signs of healthy, real love is the consistency of love actions.  This is done a little bit, but not too much, regularly and fairly frequently, but not too frequently.  Overdoing it can be just a symptom of insecurity.  That does not mean that the grand gesture or big production can not occasionally happen.  It just has to be mixed with the regular, more frequent and smaller love-conveying behaviors.

Even if the great big, amazing, romantic things never happen, be sure to count the little ones you do get from those who love you.  There are too many people who don’t notice or really receive the smaller love messages coming their way.  So, remember that receiving love well is a major way to give love.  Also regarding the occasional big gestures, remember, it is your job to ask for what you want if you are not getting it.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question: Who could you go show a little love to today, and what about tomorrow, and the day after that?


Self-Affirmation for Healthy Self-Love

Synopsis: The huge and often poorly dealt with problem of self ‘dis’-affirmation is first presented; followed by why affirmation from others is not enough; and then how to do healthy, strong self-affirmation complete with a 10 Point Program for helping you grow your own healthy self-love through self-affirmation exercises.


The Huge Problem of Self Dis-Affirmation

Chelsea, everybody agreed, was gorgeous but in her own evaluation Chelsea was sure she was, at best, average looking.  Everybody agreed Chelsea was quite sweet but she believed she was far too often very mean.  Chelsea made high grades in college but secretly believed she was below average in intelligence.

Worst of all, Chelsea was convinced she was so basically inferior she was unlovable and, therefore, destined for a life of loneliness.  Her self dis-affirmation caused her a lot of self defeat and as those defeats mounted she became increasingly depressed and eventually suicidal.

Then a loving friend trying hard to break through to her, forced a puppy on her.  Her parents had never allowed pets.  The unconditional love this dog seemed to have for her began to put sparks of color into her formerly gray life.  Later that same friend, along with another, cajoled her into seeing a very loving therapist.

She soon was aware of the very negative way she was brought up that programmed her to think of herself as sinful, selfish, inadequate and unworthy.  With good therapy she fought back, beginning to re-program her inner thinking about herself.  One of the tools that helped the most was learning self-affirmation for growing her own healthy self-love.

Chelsea is not alone.  There literally are millions of people who as they grew up heard and incorporated far too many negative messages and far too few positive messages about themselves.  Too many positive messages without counterbalancing with accurate critiquing of what does need improvement can be a big problem too. However, subconsciously incorporating copious negatives seems to be much more common in many parts of the world.

There also is the problem of indifference where a child hears neither negative nor positive messages about themselves.  That can be almost as bad as the problem of too many negatives and not enough accurate, realistic positives.  If the negatives are accompanied by a lack of other behaviors that convey love, serious depression and other forms of mental and emotional illness problems seem very likely to develop.  Escaping the ‘inner voices of self-criticism’ through destructive substance addiction is thought to be especially common for those with high negative message backgrounds.

Why Affirmation from Others Is Not Enough

Chelsea, and many like her, later did get praise, compliments, thanks and many other positive messages about herself but she never believed them.  Each positive statement was blocked from doing any good by her earlier training that told her things like “other people don’t really mean what they’re saying, they are just being nice”, “they are after something and trying to manipulate you, so watch out” and “if you let yourself be praised, complimented, etc. you will become egotistical and then for sure no one will want you” and “you’re in danger of being led astray by flattery and false praise.” Not to mention “Thinking well of yourself is the road to destruction and damnation”.  Thus, all positives coming into Chelsea were poisoned as they often are for so many.

Once a person has been taught to thoroughly dis-affirm themselves, other people’s positive messages about them often are nearly useless.  However, if they are lead to look at the actual evidence of what is truly good about themselves, improvement sometimes can begin.  There always are a lot of good or positives which have been hidden from their awareness.  The process of learning self-affirmation for the development of self-love can greatly hurry the achievement of healthy, accurate self opinion.
Once the natural process of growing healthy self-love gets started or re-started, it can accelerate.  When that happens the wonders of healthy self-love can be achieved and everybody benefits.

How to Self Affirm for Healthy, Self-Love Development

There are many good programs for self-affirmation.  Here is an outline that has worked well for a large number of my clients who’ve needed self-affirmation.

Usually I adapted it somewhat to fit the individual, so feel free to do the same for yourself.  You also can weave it into other self-affirmation systems.

SELF AFFIRMING FOR HEALTHY SELF-LOVING, A 10 POINT PROGRAM

1.    Start talking back to whatever part of you tells you not to try this program.  If in your head you hear things like “this is silly, stupid, how can this really help?, its phony, shallow, don’t ever try because you can’t do anything right and besides you’re hopeless, or put it off, you will do it someday but not now – talk back.  Tell that self-defeating part of you to shut up, and say it with vigor and determination!  You also might say to the naysayer within “what you’re doing doesn’t help even if it is meant to, so learn to do something else better, more positive.”  Internal naysayers can become yea-sayers.

2.    Decide to do the following practices wholeheartedly.  After all, the negative messages in your head probably got there with energy and emotion being expressed, so countering them will need the same – energy and emotion.  It is okay not to believe this will work but it is not so okay to believe it will certainly fail.  Be open-minded to help your experiment not be self sabotaged by your negative programming.  Doubt and skepticism are okay later after you really have done the exercises recommended here.  It is like physical exercise, you do not have to believe in it, you just have to do it.

3.    Start making a list of 100 Good Things About Yourself. Yes, you have at least 100.  Small, medium and large, they all count.  Most everything about you can be made good use of.  If you are short, you can get to the stuff down low.  If you are tall, you can get the stuff up high.  If you have been programmed to ‘not notice’ this kind of positive (and lots of other positive things) that are true about yourself, when you ‘do notice’, you then probably will devalue it automatically.  Whatever is true, or at least a bit true, counts so put them on your 100 positives list.  If you have a good heart (kind, caring, empathetic, etc.) that truly is of value.  0ur planet needs more people like you.  Got a nice smile?  That counts too.  It is okay to ask friends, family or whoever for some input on this, but remember, it is about ‘your’ positives, nothing else.

There are two categories of personal value, ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do’, also known as your ‘intrinsic value’ and your ‘extrinsic or production value”.  Many people have been programmed to only count their production value, i.e. what they can accomplish, produce, etc..  As you grow elderly or if you become disabled, your production value may lessen.  So long as you are alive, your intrinsic value remains.  Perhaps you can get a sense of that by meditating on the statement “all babies are born important”.  “I was born important”.  “I am of value”.  Then try to ‘feel loving and to feel loved’ toward yourself, showing yourself you are of (intrinsic) worth.  Then, if you want to, ‘do’ (produce) something with those feelings, all the better.

4.    Go somewhere pleasant, private, and fairly quiet as soon as you have at least five things on your list of 100 Good Things About Yourself.  It is okay if there is pleasant but not distracting music in the background.  Then just be there for a few minutes, doing nothing but breathing.

5.    Slowly stretch, twist and pleasantly bend your body every way you can.  Then sit down and begin to breathe slowly and deeper, at least three times.  Think “I will do this exercise to the best of my ability”, with each breath.  Continue breathing slowly and deeply, (to your own comfort level) repeating that statement.  Then say to yourself  “I am doing this exercise to the best of my ability” with each repetition take more deep, slow breaths.  With firmness, you may need to command “silence” to any and all other, interfering, or negative thoughts which might creep in.  You also can add “naysayer within, I will listen to and deal with your thoughts later but not now.  Repeat as needed.

6.    Look at your list of five or more good things about yourself and pick one.  It is best if it is a short, specific statement.  “I can intensely enjoy beautiful sunsets” would be an example.  (Anything you know how to truly appreciate is a valuable attribute, so ‘own’ it as a part of yourself!).  “I enjoy puns and that is no joke, and it’s a good thing about me” would be another example.
7.    Now, from your list, say these good things about yourself, out loud, beginning with a firm “I am…  “followed by the good thing from your list.

Something to know, motions help change emotions.  Therefore, begin to move your arms in ways that express how you want to feel about what you have just said.  If you strongly said “I am smart”, putting a finger on your head with a bold gesture would be an example.  Whatever ‘negative’ got in your head, probably was expressed and received with certain tones of voice, facial expressions, body posture and perhaps hand and arm gestures.

If someone scowled at you, pointed a finger at you and in mocking tones said “you’re so stupid”, it isn’t just the words that stuck in your head.  It is the whole picture, with sound.  So it will work best, if while you’re implanting a counterbalancing positive in your head, you are doing it with vigorous, strong movement and sound.  Looking in the mirror while doing this can get to the facial expression part.  If you were scowled at, smile as you affirm yourself.

Talk simply and in the present tense.  Declare the positive about yourself. Sometimes it helps to add a short bit of evidence.  “I’m smart!  My good grades give me strong evidence that is a truth about me”, is an example.  Each out-loud statement, done with motion, may counterbalance or erase as many as seven negatives that came your way, some experts suggest.  It is okay to pound your fist, shout, get up and march around, dance, jump, or anything else that helps you intensely live your affirmation of yourself.  Remember to command the naysayer within, who may be trying to tell you this is stupid, silly, etc. to be silent.

8.    Now pick another item from your growing list of 100 Good Things About Yourself and do the procedures just described.  As your list grows to 100, keep repeating this process with new items from the list.  Doing this exercise once a day and at the very least once a week until you have done this exercise with at least 30 of the self affirmations on your list, is strongly recommended for getting good results.  Many concentrate on one a day for 100 days.  It is good to repeat the ones most important to you.  Also suggested, is drawing a little:-) on a calendar for each day you do this, and not being down on yourself if you miss a day.  Just pick one tomorrow and keep going.

9.    Each time, after you have done the out-loud and strong movement part of this exercise, sit quietly for a bit.  Then read this statement to yourself.  “I am doing these exercises as acts of healthy self-love because I am important to myself, I am worthy of my own love and, therefore, feeling good and being positive about myself, to myself, is a worthy exercise.  I am in the process of ‘owning’ all that is good and miraculous in me.  By doing these things, I am becoming thankfully happy about who I am, and how I am me.  I will strengthen and improve myself with these truths about me.”  Then close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly again, and meditate on what you have just read for at least two or more minutes.

10.    After doing the above exercise with 10 of the items on your list of 100 Good Things About Yourself, add this statement to your meditation reading.  “I will love others better as I love myself better”.  Then close your eyes and meditate on how you will make that true.

Now, go and do some of this and start noticing how it helps you feel about yourself, as you keep doing it.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question:
Do you know and live by the truth that you have to ‘do’ different, again and again, to ‘become’ different?