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Forgiveness - A Much-Needed Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love lesson starts with the question “why forgive?”; then goes on to forgiveness is about the future more than the past; a surprising reason we don’t forgive; sex and forgiveness; the risk of forgiveness; big love forgives, small love does not; growing forgiveness; and ends with a forgiveness challenge.

Why forgive?

“Forgiveness is so hard. Why should I try to do it?”  Often the answer is because not doing forgiveness is even harder.  Not forgiving frequently means not healing.

In my work as a relational therapist I have dealt with couples where one or both have shot, poisoned, stabbed or tried to run over their mate with a car and who have come to forgive those actions and all that led to them.  I have dealt with several hundred couples who have experienced infidelity, even repeated infidelity and all the deceit that goes with it and yet through forgiveness and healthy, real love development many are happy, successful couples today.

The most amazing examples of forgiveness I have seen came in my work with the parents and families of murdered children.  Parents who sit before the convicted murders of their own, most precious children and yet still offer forgiveness to those murders.  They love beyond my own love capabilities but not beyond my ability to be awed by them.  Intellectually I understand that those who do not forgive are likely to never heal and to be forever be more troubled.

Emotionally my heart goes out to those who cannot yet forgive and experience the healing which forgiveness brings.  When we forgive we are on the path to recovery.  When we forgive we can let go and let that which wounded us recede into our past.  Frequently forgiveness offers the one who is doing the forgiving more than what is offered to the one who is forgiven.  To not forgive is to not let a wound heal and continues the harm one has experienced.

Forgiveness Is about the Future More Than the Past

Forgiveness offers a chance for a cleaner, lighter, brighter future.  To not forgive poisons the future by carrying the past into it.  This works as much for the one doing the forgiveness as the one receiving it.  Honest to God, real love demands and requires forgiveness for both individuals and relationships so that the future of both has a chance. The future of both individuals and relationships can be especially sabotaged by seeking revenge, trying to ‘get even’, recrimination and bitter, endless judgmentalism.

Forgiveness does not have to be coupled with giving someone another chance but if another chance is to be attempted loving forgiveness is likely to be essential.  Forgiveness clears the way for making new and better things happen.  It is especially necessary in any ongoing, couple’s life together.  In every couple’s relationship there are small, medium and sometimes large things to be forgiven, gotten past and left behind.  This also can be true of most deep friendships and lots of family relationships.  This also is true of self forgiveness.

A Surprising Reason for Why We Don’t Forgive

“ I can’t forgive her!  I just can’t forgive her cheating on me.  I can’t forgive or forget her adultery”.  This was Jake’s painful lament as he sat in front of me to start working on his recovery from discovering his wife in bed with another.  I said, “Yes, you were hurt tremendously by your wife’s betrayal but I have to ask you, Jake, what do you have yet to learn from this terrible experience?”  Jake replied “Why do you ask that? “ My reply was “Because in my experience sometimes we cannot forgive because we have yet to learn what we need to learn”.

Jake at first was baffled.  However, in time and with work he discovered he had had a part to play which had helped motivate his wife toward cheating.  He didn’t cause it but he contributed to it, and he needed to learn his part so he wouldn’t do it again.  He slowly came to realize he too often was far too unloving, indifferent, inattentive and uncaring.  He took his wife and his marriage for granted while mostly focusing his life on career success.

Jake also prioritized being tough, strong and authoritative far above being loving or lovable.  In human interaction “winning” was much more important to him than cooperation and collaboration.  This especially was true in the way he treated his wife and his children.  Jake remembered his troubled teenage daughter once saying to him, “There’s just no way I can win with you, Dad.  So I’m going to quit trying.”  After that they grew increasingly distant from one another.

Sex and Forgiveness

One other thing Jake learned concerned his own sexuality. He was secretly afraid other men were more potent and could sexually perform better than he.  As long as he was secretly insecure, forgiving his wife’s sexual infidelity meant facing his fear that he was sexually inadequate and that his wife had sexually experienced something better than he had to offer.  However, once he had discovered and admitted this openly in therapy he became surprisingly open to developing a new and better sexuality, forgiving his wife, and starting with her again as she had asked him to do.
This is often the way it works.

Once a person learns what they need to learn about themselves and their own areas of weakness that need strengthening, it becomes a bit easier to forgive.  This can be true even for people who have been heavily brought up to believe that sexual infidelity is unforgivable.  Is it not interesting that what is sexually unforgivable in one culture is fairly unimportant in another, and even is considered admirable in still another culture.

The Risk of Forgiveness

Another reason we don’t forgive is that unless it is done with wisdom forgiveness can set you up for repeated, painful experiences.  For many people forgiveness is not offered because they fear it makes them vulnerable and more likely to be hurt again.  When forgiveness is seen as something ‘you do in your heart’ and that it is all right to join forgiveness with adequate self protection, it becomes an easier choice (See the entry Forgiveness in Healthy Self-Love).

It is important to realize that forgiveness can put you at risk.  It is perfectly healthy to limit your risk to something you are pretty sure you can handle.  Could you say and mean something like “I forgive you but I have my own problem of being vulnerable and repeating my own mistakes, so I’m not going to return to our relationship again.  Therefore, I forgive you and wish you well.  Goodbye.”  That’s one way to deal with the risk of forgiveness.

Love often takes risking or gambling on the person you love.  That often means you do give them another chance and risk again experiencing deception, betrayal and emotional pain.  Strong and sufficient love often pushes us to forgive and risk again.  That does not mean to try in ways that enable and reward being used and misused endlessly.  Cooperatively making a clearly defined contract or agreement before starting over may help to minimize the risk and pain.

Big Love Forgives, Small Love Does Not

Some people never forgive the transgressions committed against them (real or imagined).  Some hold grudges until the day they die.  Those who are big enough and strong enough to forgive, give their love relationships a chance for renewal and new, ongoing success.  Without forgiveness many, perhaps most, love relationships deteriorate and die, or at least become comatose.  Forgiveness often takes being brave and loving in a big way.

If your own personal strengths are too weak or your love not powerful don’t forgive because you may not survive what you risk.  However, if your love is real, big and bold and you have powerful character strengths forgiveness maybe is what it will take to achieve a great, lasting, love relationship.  Sheila said, “He forgave me when no one else would.  How can I not love him more and better than anyone else and choose to spend my life with him?”  Some of the best love relationships could not come into being until there was great forgiveness – given and received.  That is the way of big love.

Growing Forgiveness

If you are having trouble forgiving someone for something there are ways to work on it  and win yourself the freedom forgiveness brings.  You can work on coming to understand why someone choose a path of action that hurt you.  If you can see through their eyes, feel their feelings and comprehend their thinking it may give you considerable assistance in the forgiving process.  Understanding is best done with compassion and empathy.  You don’t have to agree or call what they did ‘right’ to do that.  You also can work to understand how your own actions and words may have contributed to their transgressions.  Furthermore, you can work to understand your weakness which made you so vulnerable to being hurt, and from that you may find a way to grow stronger and defend against that vulnerability.

Another work you can do is to accept that you and all other humans are imperfect beings prone to making mistakes and needing forgiveness so that progress can go on.  Sometimes it helps to know that major religions the world over preach and teach forgiveness as the way of love.  If you work at it you can grow forgiveness and if you do not you may be stuck in the self poisoning of non-forgiveness.  If you are in a ongoing, love relationship with a lover, spouse, friend or family member and are not sufficiently forgiving, or they are not, see if you can both go to a good relational, love-oriented therapist who can help both of you get forgiveness to start growing.  Lasting love relationships require forgiveness skills and practices, or they don’t last.

There are books to read which can help.  May I suggest you take a look at Dare to Forgive by Dr. E.M. Hollowell, and Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope by a Dr. Worthington.  There are lots of counselors and therapists, and especially couples and family therapists, who are good at assisting two or more people with growing forgiveness and its many mutual benefits.

The Forgiveness Challenge

If you are going to do healthy, real love of anyone I suggest you develop your forgiveness skills.  Every human relationship that is ongoing will need some forgiveness, sometimes a lot of forgiveness.  The nature of love itself challenges you to be forgiving so that healing, repairing and love’s continuation can happen.  It is important that your forgiveness be done wisely so that it does not reward and reinforce dysfunction.  It often is important that your forgiveness be abundant and generous, but also wisely given.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Who have you not forgiven, for what, and what effect is that having on you?

Love Active Enough?

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson first proclaims love takes action; then goes on to discuss some common things that are mistakenly relied upon in people’s mindsets concerning love to take the place of action; much more.

Love Takes Action!

Are you love active enough?  Lots of people are not and that can lessen, spoil and even ruin a love relationship and a lot of life.

Some say healthy, real love works both like a very nurturing food and a healing medicine.  However, love has to be actively given for it to do any good. Therefore, giving love takes actions.  If love is not actively given, shown, demonstrated, delivered through actions, the people you love may become love hungry, love malnourished and love starved.  If someone you love is in need of love’s healing effects that person may not cure, recover or recuperate from whatever ails them nearly as well or as quickly as they might with a lot of love actions coming their way.

Relying on Just Knowing

“I know he (or she) loves me but they don’t show it much or hardly at all”.  In counseling that sort of statement is something I have heard time and time again.  Knowing someone loves you is good but it is like being aware food is in the pantry but not getting to eat it.  Yet many people have been brought up on the idea that knowing someone, like a spouse or parent or mate, loves you should be enough.  That does help a little but it doesn’t lead to living a love-abundant life or even a love-sufficient existence.  Just knowing, without healthy real love being actively given and received, won’t meet anyone’s minimum daily requirement for optimized functioning.

Relying on Love’s Magic

“I guess I just thought love took care of itself, and that it was sort of like magic and once you were in love you didn’t have to do all that much about it.  Then I got served with divorce papers.  What a horrible shock that was.”  This was the lament of a person working hard to figure  out how to get their spouse back and repair their neglected marriage. Quite a few people sort of subconsciously think love will sort of magically take care of itself and the people in the love relationship.  That is like a farmer thinking the crops will water, fertilize and harvest themselves.

Relying on Your Spouse/Mate

“Women should take care of everything that has to do with love along with the children, the house and the social calendar.  We men have to take care of making a living, the yard, house repairs, cars and making sure everyone is protected and safe.  That’s the way my daddy taught me.  I guess life used to work that way but it doesn’t anymore.  So, what is it I have to learn about this love thing?”  This somewhat reluctant insight was voiced by an older gentleman admittedly more enamored of the past than the present.  But he did love his wife so he was willing to learn the new ways his wife was insisting on.  And actually in time he got quite good at it, and was as good about his new love action skills as his wife was.

Relying on Custom

“He forgot my birthday again.  He never holds my chair for me, or opens the door for me and he has yet to get me flowers.  I thought if he really loved me he was supposed to do those things.  Now I’m hearing I have to ask for these things if they don’t happen.  If he really loves me isn’t he just supposed to know to do these things and then do them?  If I have to ask doesn’t that spoil it?”  Well probably this gal’s guy did not learn the same things she learned about how love was to be shown.

In fact he may not have learned anything about actively showing love.  Therefore, communication that is quite clear and specific is likely to be needed.  Yes, she will have to lovingly ask for what she wants and probably will have to do a good job of it repeatedly.  She also probably will have to look at how he does show his love and learn to recognize it, applauded it and appreciate it.

Relying on Sex

“She seems to think that because we have great sex that’s enough but I want more.  I want us to share our dreams, our hopes, our fears and everything else important.  I want us to talk and enjoy going places together just as a couple.  I want us to share the rest of life and there’s so much more to it than great sex.”  This was the complaint of a fellow who had previously pretty much relied on sex to take care of all his love needs.  He had found a woman with the same mindset but now he wanted more.  Their relationship had shrunk and become increasingly unsatisfactory.  With couple’s enrichment work this couple did fine, as do many couples who discover their relationship has been too love inactive.

Ways to Become More Fully Love Active

Examine the areas of behavior listed below in which people can be ‘love active’.  See if you think you are sufficiently love active in each of them.  If not, you can choose particular actions to add to your behaviors so that you show your love more fully.  You might also wish to talk to those you love about which areas they would like you to improve in, and ask for suggestions as to the particular behaviors they might like to see you begin to do.  Of course, you might want to give them similar information and suggestions.

Areas of Behavior in Which People Can Be Love Active

Basic Love Action Areas
1.Tactile (physical touch) love actions
(including affectionate touch, comforting touch, romantic touch and sexual touch)

2. Expressional love actions (nonverbal expressions)
(including facial expression, tonal expression, gesture and postural change)

3. Verbal love actions
(including spoken, written and electronic messaging)

4. Gifting actions
(including tangible object giving, experience giving, favors, errands, providing services, etc.)

Median Composite Love Action Areas
5. Affirmational love actions
(including compliments, praises, thanks, valuing, supporting, honoring, etc.)

6. Self-disclosure love actions
(including sharing and showing emotions, thoughts, actions, hopes, fears, dreams, confessions, secrets and personal intimate and idiosyncratic ways of being, plus sharing one’s physical self)

7. Tolerational love actions
(including being patient, accepting, understanding, enduring, giving clemency, leniency, and benevolence, and being flexible, nonjudgmental, etc.)

8. Receptional love actions
(including showing and stating appreciativeness, sincere thankfulness, etc. and fully absorbing love shown to you)

Advanced Love Action Areas
9. Protectional love actions
(including protectiveness, watchfulness, safeguarding, defending, preserving, care taking, protective guidance giving, guardianship, escorting, security providing, shielding, health assistance, etc.)

10. Nurturing love actions
(including any and all actions which assist a person’s healthful growth and development, actualization of potential and healthful strengthening)

11. Bonding love actions
(including any and all acts which bring about a sense of connectedness, closeness, loyalty, intimate affiliation, etc.)

12. Metaphysical love actions
(including joint or intercessory prayer and/or mutuality in meditation, worship, liturgical practices, joint experiencing of the oceanic, transcendental and awe-inspiring)

As you can see love actions are divided into three major classifications or areas and 12 subcategories or types of love action.  Within each are hundreds of possible individual love actions.  One thing you might do is think of a specific action you might do in each of the 12 types of love action listed above.  You also might talk to someone you love about what they might want done in each of the above 12 categories.  For healthy self-love action you might consider self loving actions having to do with each of the love action areas and categories above.

Hopefully this will help you become sufficiently and perhaps even abundantly ‘love active’, if you are not already.

As always – Go and Grow in Love

Dr. J Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
What will happen in your life if you are not sufficiently love active?

Want New and Better Love in the Next Year?

Mini-Love-Lesson  #262

Synopsis: Love can be felt and love can be done. This mini-love-lesson focuses on the getting it done part, and doing love ever better in spite of some dangers.  There is a simple, quick love rating scale to help you evaluate where you are in your love relating world; followed by how to analyze its results and use them for growing ever better love in the coming year, no matter how good or bad love was for you last year.

Ever Better Love

Love is one of those things that always can be done even better than it was before, no matter how good it was – or wasn’t.  Love feelings come naturally but doing love takes active participation in the doing part. That, of course, takes figuring out and learning what to do.  This means, if you want your next year of love relating to go better than the last, you probably will have to  do some learning and thinking about doing love.  This mini-love-lesson is aimed at helping you do just that.  It begins with a simple evaluation exercise to help you see where you might want to focus your improvement efforts.

Caution – Danger – Don’t Do’s

Let’s look at something you may be non-consciously programmed to do which many of us relationship researchers, coaches, counselors and therapists tend to see as common and, more often than not, destructive and frequently even disastrous.  It has to do with trying to do love with only part of yourself instead of with your whole self.  We tend to succeed at love better when all our major parts get involved.  One part many are subconsciously programmed to leave out is our conscious thinking self.  This kind of program may read something like this.

“For doing love you can only rely on your intuition and your love luck.  After all, love is done by unknowable magic, or maybe done by how your parents treated you when you were an infant and, in any case, you can’t do anything about either, so don’t try.  In fact, trying gets in the way.  You only can hope and maybe pray.  Otherwise, how you do love and love relating only can be carried out by your intuitive impulses, governed by your luck at love.”

Your personal program may read rather differently or similarly to that.  However, if it is in any way like that, know that it is antithetical to the knowledge and teachings of a great many of our time-honored sages, wisdom masters and spiritual leaders of old, plus it is in opposition to a lot of recent research, all of whom have a lot to say about how to do love and do it well.

Quick Rate Your Love Relationships

First, look over the following list of a dozen forms of love relationship and pick out the ones you want to give a rating to then give them a check mark.  Next using a scale of 0 to 10 (zero meaning the worst and 10 meaning the best) quickly rate how well you estimate you are doing at love relating in each those relationships you have checked.  Don’t over think any of them.  You can do that later if you wish.  Just use a quick first impression approach.

Forms of Love Relating to Rate. (Using 0 – 10 or NA for not applicable)
1. Pet love ____, 2. Friendship love ____, 3. Family love ____, 4. Love of children ____,
5. Love of Parent Figures ____, 6. Love of special heartmate (spouse etc.) ____,
7. Healthy Real Level of Self ____, 8. Spiritual Love ____, 9. Love of Life ____,
10. Love of others, people, etc. _____, 11. Love of nature _____,
12 love of a special cause, endeavor, involvement, group or population ____.

Evaluation and Analysis

Now, examine your highest ratings and ask yourself how might you do even better in those higher rated, important areas?  Maybe make some notes or start a file.  Then, examine your low scores asking yourself if you really want to make any improvements in those lower scored relationships?  If so, you might circle them.  Now, look closely at the middle-range-ratings asking yourself if those relationship areas might merit further focus and exploration?  Finally, look at the forms of love relating you did not rate asking yourself what you might want to do so that you could easily and quickly have a rate to give in those areas?

Now you can choose to go back and give longer, more full thought to any of the forms of love relating you might want to examine more deeply how you think and feel about them – or not.  Again, maybe making some notes?  I recommend you also give yourself an overall, not too critical or praising, tentative, general analysis statement about what this is telling you about you and your world of love relationships.  Put that into exact words, as best you can, and keep it wherever you might want to.  Then take it out tomorrow and review it again adding or subtracting from it, and do it again in a week.

Improvement Usage

Now, I suggest you start toward making your plans for love improvements in the next year.  This is sort of like making New Year’s Resolutions.  To make them work, you probably have to check up on doing them in some regular way, like once a week, once a month, every six weeks, etc. using a calendar and/or reminder system.

Making a doing love better plan is usually best done with specifics like who or what is exactly the target of your efforts, what exact behaviors will you do (give a particular compliment, kiss, hug, favor, dozen smiles, an hour of undivided attention, take to a movie they want to see, etc., etc. etc.).  Also specifics  on what day and time will this action be taken, when and how you will record and evaluate afterwards and plan a next action.  You can include generalities like I will be kinder, happier toward them, attentive, affirmative, etc. but unless you add more behaviorally specific actions, it is not likely much actually will happen often enough.

If your love improvement plan also includes things you want not to do like stop getting mad so easily, talk over others when they are talking, immediately bringing up problems and negative issues when first encountering loved ones, etc. that is half a success-oriented plan.  It also is important to add what you will do instead of the action you wish to stop or limit.  Without the instead action, old action habits tend to prevail.

Now for New Learning

To do new and better thinking about anything, usually requires new and hopefully enjoyable learning.  Here is my suggestion for that.  At this site, go to the two indexes of the mini-love-lessons.  In the Title Index, scan down the titles once a week, on the same day of the week, preferably for the next 52 weeks.  Every time you do this, pick a title that gets your attention for whatever reason and read it, think about it, make a note or two about it and see if there is a way to use it for doing love better love in your next week.  After you have some notes written, review some of them each time you write new notes  When you miss a week, do two the next week.


Using the Subject Index, find a Large Topic Area that for whatever reason seems to interest you a bit more than the others.  Then scan the mini-love-lesson titles listed in that topic area and once a week read one of them, following the same instructions as above.  Do this until you want to change to another Large Topic Area.  Then do so.  Keep doing this until you have read, thought about and made some notes, plus reviewed some of your past notes hopefully for 52 weeks.  Each time you do this, record or draw a :-) on your calendar or on your way of keeping your record of love actions taken.

By doing this, you very likely will teach yourself how to make your ways of love relating and doing love better, and better, plus making it a habit to do love actions more regularly.

One More Thing

Discussing what you have just read with others tends to help you more diversely expand and develop your thinking about what you have read, plus it often leads to other stimulating topics.  That is thought to be because discussing ideas uses different and additional parts of your brain than does thinking silently by yourself – which does have its own advantages.  If you do discuss this mini-love-lesson with others, please mention this site and its many love lessons aimed at helping all people to love more and better.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: If knowledge is power as they say, won’t new love knowledge empower you to do love more and better love as long as you keep acquiring new love knowledge?

Yourself As a Great Source of Love Gifts

Mini-Love-Lesson  #261

Synopsis: You may be your own best source of behavioral love gifting; what the idea of love gifting yourself to others is all about; and how your love gifts are important to love relating are aptly dealt with here.

Your Most Personal Gift of Love?

Do you agree that the more personal the gift the better is the gift’s love effect?  Do you know that among the most personal of gifts can be the gifts of yourself?  Are you aware that especially this can be true for growing healthy, real, love relationships?

Your finest love gift can be yourself, along with your real self, your growing and improving self and your best self.  Those things can be true because the more you give of yourself to someone who loves you, in a sense, the more they have of you, know about you and the more they can experience love with you.  Also, the more you give of the personal, real you the greater the growth of closeness and heart-felt bonding can occur with you.  Conversely, the more you do not give of yourself the more likely there will be an emotional distancing and disconnection.  So with that in mind, let’s ask two questions.  Do you know much about giving of yourself and do you know what the real you has to offer?

The Real You and Your Many Fine Gifts

Those who would do love with you want to know the real you and experience the real you so they can do real love relating with the real you.  Therefore, if you love someone, the challenge is twofold.  First, is to  be real and not fake.  Second, is to work to become your best self and, as you do that, keep giving of yourself to whomever you would love.

So long as you are truthful and sincere, your words and actions reveal and consequently give of yourself.  Conversely, if you are untruthful and insincere, your words and actions likely will manifest only fake love and make real love less likely.  If this effort to hide the real you is discovered, only a phony you will be revealed.

The many fine gifts you have to offer are accomplished by doing behaviors.  They are done through the behaviors of truthful talking and sincere and/or experimental action-taking.  You are capable of making a lot of different love-giving, truthful statements plus doing a great variety of sincere and experimental loving actions.  This enables you to do a lot of different kinds of love gifting.  So, let’s take a brief look at just five of the less thought about gifts of love you have to offer (see “Love Active Enough?”).

The Gift of Affirmation

You give this gift by first looking for what you can honestly see as worthy, of value and/or positive in another.  Then spend a little time appreciating what you have observed and time to find the words you can use to speak of it.  Then with those words you can give honest praise, compliments and perhaps thankful statements to the person you are gifting with your affirmational love.  This can be done privately, or in front of others or in the form of a possible keepsake type note.

Affirmation is one of the most important ways to love a great many people especially if they could use some increase in self-valuing.  By the way, whatever you find to appreciate in another reveals a certain amount of your own, inner workings and so that is a gift of yourself (see the “Affirmation Love” chapter in Recovering Love).

The Gift of Listening with Love

Have you heard the old saying that proclaims we were given two ears and only one mouth because listening is twice as important as talking?  This especially has relevance when a loved one seems to need or want to tell us something, share their emotions or just know by experiencing it that they are being heard.

It is very important to know loving listening can not be done just mentally.  It must have heart in it.  This heart-full quality must be well and often expressed via quiet but very active expressional love behaviors, via facial expressions, gestures posture changes, voice tones, etc.  Passive, inactive, blank and stone face listening can be quite anti-loving.  Link “Listening with Love”  Link “Listening With Love and IN and OUT Brain Functions”

The Gift of Loving Touch

Whether it is a gentle, soft caressing or a good solid, full-body hug, a simple comforting hand holding, a one arm buddy hug or a loving full body massage – love via touch is known to change our body and brain chemistry for the better.  Loving touch brings closeness, relational love bonding and is very assistive in both physical and emotional healing processes.  When loving touch is done well and often, the research shows it to be quite assistive in life lengthening (see “50 Varieties of Love Touch” and “Touching With and For Love – A Super Important Love Skill”).

The Gift of Receiving Love Well

It is a gift to receive a gift of love well.  This means focusing on it, appreciating it and what went into it to come into your life, as well as the thoughts and feelings behind it.  Gifts come in several categories.  Object gifts basically are things, experience gifts are like a surprise birthday party, favors and assistance gifts are like someone paying off your student debt, and gifts of yourself are like what we are focusing on here.  It is important for the health of love relationships to notice, sincerely appreciate and actively receive them all.  This is the gift of good reception (“How Receiving Love Well Gives Love Better”, “Removing Your Hidden Blocks to Receiving Love Fully” and the “Receptional Love” chapter in Recovering Love ).

The Gift of Self Disclosure

Letting someone you love know you in personal, intimate ways is one of the finest of love gifts.  It is essential for growing closeness and for creating some of the deepest of love experiences, plus it often comes with a very sweet joyfulness.  Letting someone know your private, personal, not usually shared thoughts, feelings, behaviors, know the positives and negatives of your past, present and possible future and every other little and large thing about you is some of what is giving the gift of self-disclosure for love.  Of course, it is important that you receive with love the self-disclosures of those you would do love with.

If you have been taught to think poorly of yourself and what you have to offer, or you just have not discovered what a bundle of miracles you are, you may not realize how much you have to offer and how much it is needed and wanted.  Perhaps the want and need for what you have to offer is in other circles than the ones you are traveling in now (see “Intimate Love”, “Intimate Love, What Everyone Needs to Know”, “Growing Closeness – A Love Skill” and the “Self-Disclosure Love” chapter in Recovery Love).

Manifesting Yourself Where and With Whom?

If those you focus on now do not seem to care much about you or what you have to offer, you have some choices to consider.  You can try to get through to them in new, bigger, more powerful ways.  You can go looking for others who will want to see and relate to you in deeper ways, value you, and grow to love you as you do love with them better.  You can learn to love yourself better and in more self-dependent ways if needed.  You also can do all three of these, or any two.  It is also important that you self-disclose to yourself the many miracles that make you up and the many ways you can experience the good of yourself, along with the many fine ways you can come to be.  The better you do this the better you can do well with others and the better they are likely to do with you.

One More Little Thing

You might want to go looking for compatible others to talk over what you have just read.  That may take some searching in new and different places, or perhaps not.  In any case, if you do talk this over with others please mention this site and its many mini-love-lessons.  We are grateful and thank you for that.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If you don’t give of yourself to others you love, how much are they likely to give of themselves to you?

Upbeat Emotions & Learning for Love

Synopsis: An Elven teaching about a difference between “smart” and “wise”, finding the guidance messages for upbeat love emotions, the grand importance of sharing emotions, 7 upbeat emotions to share and use for practice in getting your personal guidance messages and more.

It was told of old that the ancient elves taught:
“The smart learn from their hurts, agonies, disappointments and despair.

The wise learn from their joys, ecstasies, contentments, and elations,
while sadly – the rest learn not from their feelings at all.”
Natural, good feeling emotions can give us great guidance.  Natural, good feeling emotions tell us that we are doing something probably healthful and right for us to do.  Shared natural, good feeling emotions guide us toward more and better bonding together in love relationships.  Natural, good feeling emotions can teach us a great deal about ourselves, our relationships and how to make both stronger and more successful.  It is our job to learn how to get the guidance messages of our natural, good feeling emotions and use them for higher, greater and more wonderful love.

Feelings, both physical and emotional, are ancient, natural guidance systems working for our safety, survival and advancement.  They are far older than are reasoning and conscious thought.  In relationships and especially love relationships our emotional system of feelings often gives far wiser guidance than do reason or contemplation.  However, it is even more advantageous when we use our thinking and reasoning abilities with our emotions because that gives us the very best guidance our incredible brains can produce.

Of even greater benefit is when two or more people in a love relationship share in a simple, ‘four step process’.  First comes sharing their emotions, second is searching for and discovering the guidance messages in their emotions and sharing them with one another, third comes sharing and synthesizing their thinking about the feelings and the guidance message, and finally comes acting in teamwork with one another from what they have discovered from sharing and synthesizing.  Synthesizing means to interweave together the guidance messages of the emotions and actions stemming from those guidance messages.

Here’s a simple example.  Harriet feels cold and understands her feeling guidance message is to “warm up”.  Charlie feels hot and understands his guidance message is to  “cool down”.  Instead of arguing about whether or not they’re going to turn up or turn down the thermostat they synthesize their guidance messages, so Charlie takes off his shirt and hands it to Harriet who puts it on.  Charlie is cooler, Harriet is warmer, and both are happier in their harmony together via sharing feelings and their guidance messages and arriving at ‘synthesis’.

There are a number of good things that come from sharing emotions and together discovering the guidance that those emotions give.  Here’s the biggest and most wonderful part of that.  Sharing emotions together may result in the most significant relationship experiences people have together.  By lovingly sharing both the emotions we call “good” and the ones we call “bad” continued emotional connecting and bonding tends to become ongoing.  Without that sharing, emotional connection can fade and love relationships may die.

Sharing the emotions of good times and bad times, but especially the upbeat, good times tends to strengthen a couple, or a family, or friendship, or any other human unit.  Sharing upbeat feelings is more easily enriching to humans who love each other, but sometimes through sharing hurts there is deep connectedness also.  Without the sharing of good, happy, upbeat emotions the continued strengthening and enrichment of a love relationship is very hard to achieve.

Many people do not know that sharing good or upbeat emotions is just as important, if not more important, than sharing the ‘downer’ emotions of pain and displeasure.  While sharing pain tends to lessen the pain, sharing good feelings provides motivation to be together, stay together and move forward together.  Sharing good or upbeat feelings also provides knowledge, for those who know to learn from it, for how to repeatedly achieve good feelings and the enrichments, health and well-being that natural, good feelings bring.  Consider the statement “Date your mate or lose your mate” (see blog entry “Date Your Mate – Always!”).  It is in the shared joys of recreation that couples, families, and others are re-created as the word recreation indicates.  Therefore, dates, vacations and other ‘upbeat’ emotional experiences are vital to the healthful continuance of love relationships.

Of course it is really best and highly important to share both the feelings we call “good” and the feelings we call “bad” which enable us to better get the guidance messages of them all.  In a sense all feelings are good because all feelings give guidance.  The ‘team’ we call a couple, or a family, or a friendship, like any team, needs shared guidance.  Otherwise one part of the team doesn’t know what the other part of the team is all about and, thus, teamwork fails.  It is a simple truth that within a team shared guidance works far better than un-shared guidance and that’s why it is important that all the team members join in sharing their feelings with each other.  Only then can all share in the guidance those feelings can give.

Here is an example.  His strong emotions were pushing him toward adventure.  Her strong feelings were for safety.  With love they shared their emotions, and with wisdom they synthesized the guidance messages they got from their feelings.  Mountain climbing, starting with a modest mountain, became the most exciting thing they had ever done together and the shared excitement, shared adventure and the shared awe of grand vistas bonded them together like little else could.

She was so thankful for his spirit and desire for adventure because it brought her worlds she never knew and ecstasy she never imagined experiencing.  Her own emotions of fear, anxiety and foreboding motivated her request that they start with a not too difficult ascent and also that she bring an extra well-equipped first-aid kit, which contained the necessary items that saved his life when a rattlesnake bit him as they were descending the mountain.  He was so thankful that her emotions guided her to the safeguarding actions that saved his life.

Shared fears and desires lead to following the guidance messages that lead to both of them surviving adversity and to a grand and enriching shared adventure.  It also brought them closer together and strengthened their mutual love experience.  He at first had thought her safety concerns were a bit excessive.  She quite definitely thought his adventure desires were excessive but with love, hope and certain safeguarding actions she went forward with him.  Both came to feel very glad for being able to understand the guidance their emotions gave them.

So, are you learning the guidance messages and teachings hidden in the wisdom of your emotions?  (For more information about the guidance messages of emotions see the entry “Dealing with Love Hurts #1 – Pain’s Crucial Guidance”)  Are you especially learning from your upbeat, happy emotions?  With a loved one, together are you sharing those emotions, jointly learning their guidance messages, and weaving together what you learn?  Do you actively seek to learn the feelings of those you love and ascertain the guidance messages and teachings in the feelings of your loved ones?  Are you good at synthesizing yours and your loved one’s emotional guidance messages?

To help you toward doing these things here are five types of ‘good’ or pleasant to experience emotions, and typical learnings or guidance messages ‘wise people’ — or elves — sometimes get from these good feelings.

1. Emotion: Serenity: Possible Guidance Message: Here is restoration, so linger with it and soak it up.  Whenever you’re stressed, hassled, anguished or just drained learning from your serenity could help you remember what you did, and how you behaved, and where you went that got you to serenity and to its highly restorative enrichment so that you might do it again.  If you share your feelings of serenity with a loved one they may also feel some serenity or feel more connected with you and your current serene countenance, plus they could learn the same thing you’re learning from that feeling.  A loved one might also notice and remind you when you need to do those things that lead to your restorative serenity.

2.  Emotion: Joyful Anticipation: Possible Guidance Message: Go forward, let yourself get into the anticipated experience fully, soak it up and be enriched by it.  Sharing it with a loved one may help them have a good feeling of joyful anticipation also, and that may double both your pleasures, helping to connect you with your loved one more fully.

3.  Emotion: Tenderness: Possible Guidance Message: Feeling tender toward someone can guide you to show and share your feeling softly, delicately, slowly and somewhat carefully.  The guidance coming from tenderness can lead you toward a more intimate connection with someone you love.

4.  Emotion: Affection:  Possible Guidance Message: feeling affectionate can guide us to lovingly touch, say words of affection, give and act with affectionate affirmation, and actually be far more in touch with experiencing what is wonderful about a loved one.  Done well, expressed affectionate feelings are often highly rewarding to both the lover and the loved.  Received well, affection is often energizing, thus, boosting a person’s experience of you, themselves and life.

5. Emotion: Pride: Possible Guidance Message: Feeling pride guides you to be more confident in either ‘your being’ or ‘your doing’ accomplishments.  It also may get you to store up that confidence so that you can accomplish more.  Pride may help you honor yourself which will tend to strengthen your self-esteem, your sense of worth, and be more motivated ‘to own’ your okayness and, therefore, attempt more in your life.  Accurate pride also may counter low self esteem, poor self concept, and a general sense of inadequacy, along with encouraging independence and self-assertion. (Note: Accurate pride in yourself is always the enemy of that which is dictatorial and controlling).

Pride in a loved one, or in your coupleness, in your family, in a friendship or anything else you’re a part of is great for feeling united and inspired.  Furthermore, accurate pride can guide us toward having a greater sense of empowered security because of a solidarity with ourselves and others.  Pride in others is best when it is shared, which rewards other’s actions and helps with feeling connected.  Sharing pride in yourself with a good, self respecting loved one, so long as it is not overdone and is accurate, usually garners respect and greater relaxation together.  Do note, there are those who may have trouble with you being proud, for example, the envious, the jealous, the inadequate and those who have been taught that pride is a sin

It is important that everyone work to get their own guidance messages from their own emotions because the guidance messages can vary to a fair degree from person to person.  Generally the guidance message in all so-called “good” feeling emotions is to keep doing the actions or thoughts that brought the feelings, until boredom comes along to tell you to do something else.  The general guidance message in most emotions known as “bad” feelings is to do something different, usually right away.  But as you can see from the above examples of upbeat emotions there is a lot more ‘wisdom’ to be learned and lived by in the “guidance messages for the wise”.

You and a loved one might want to talk about what you think the guidance messages could be for both of you together when experiencing the following ‘upbeat’ emotions: 1. Awe, 2. Joy, 3. Sweetness,  4. Closeness,  5. Tickled , 6. Ecstasy & 7. Respect.

As always –Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Will you identify and share with a loved one the strongest two emotions you have felt so far today, and together see if you can discern what the guidance messages in those feelings might be?