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

LOVE As Your Word Guide

Free Mini-Love-Lesson #282

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson gives a way to remember a little listening-well formula using a meaning for each letter of the word LOVE.

1st-L-listen with your heart as well as your head, 2nd-O -observe through others' eyes as well as your own, 3rd-V-value and validate the positive in all, as well as in yourself, 4th-E-enact love with empathy and energy as well as you can

Listening With Your Heart

It has been said that listening is the first duty of love. To listen to another person, with love, is an action-filled event. It is a mistake to think of it as a passive or non-moving thing. No, listening with love means constantly communicating you are with the person who is talking and letting them know your emotional feelings about what they have just said. You do this through expressional (nonverbal) communication -- good eye contact, nodding your head, making small arm and hand gestures, smiling, frowning, sad looks, looks of curiosity, interest and care, wide-eyed, leaning forward and sometimes touching.

Small sounds of care, surprise, interest and the like, and once in a while giving a single, affirmative word like "yes" are all involved.  Showing expressions on your face and with your hands and tones of voice that demonstrate you are emotionally in-tune with the emotions of the person you are listening to and that you are feeling care for that person is crucial.

Observing Through Another’s Eyes

Really try to see what they see and understand what they understand in the way they understand it.  Suspending your own ideas, evaluations and judgment; just see what they see as much as you possibly can -- that is part of loving them.  You can add yourself later.  Be able to reflect back to them anything they say at any given point.  That also helps you not to do rehearsal thinking about what you are going to say next instead of really hearing them.

Valuing The Positives

As you listen, look for what is positive about this person and what might be positive in anything they are saying.  Don't ignore the negative but rather focus more on the positives.  From time to time as you listen, you may include some brief comment on a positive.  Later you can say more.  If you say things about anything negative, make it shorter than what you say about the positives.  Be sure to put more energy into your tone of voice when you are talking about the positives than the energy you put in saying something about a negative.

Enact Love with Empathy and Energy

Empathy is the skill of having similar or corresponding feelings to the emotions someone else is experiencing.  It establishes heartfelt connection and communicates you are, at a heart level, more deeply and truly WITH another.  To enact your empathy is to show it as well as state it.  If you cry for the pain of someone you love as they cry, if you laugh for the happiness of someone you love who is laughing and if you frown or look puzzled when someone you love is struggling with a puzzle of their life, you are enacting your empathy.  If your voice tones contain the sound of care when you say you care, then your voice tones empathetically communicate probably more than your words. 

Vigorously, tenderly, serenely, lovingly and with every other corresponding emotion they experience, be actively with those you love.  Then maybe add some hugs or any other action that conveys your feelings are similarly connected with their feelings.

Remember, feeling love is only part of the love experience.  Doing love is the rest.  So, the next time you are with someone you love, you might want to remember the word LOVE and do what each of the letters stands for, according to this word guide.  Then, sequentially do them and see what happens.

One more thing

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

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love success question: Are you a student of good listening skills?

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’?

Learning About Love - Together

Synopsis: Why learn together and a very positive life case starts this mini-love-lesson. What couples are doing around the world;  followed by five things you can actually do together to develop your love skills and learn more about healthy, real love; this mini-love-lesson then ends with a ‘make it happen’ challenge; more.

Why Learn Together?

Chad was excited!  He said, “the thing that helped Sarah and me the most was when we started to learn about love together.  Sort of reluctantly, I gave in and let Sarah talk me into reading some new stuff on the Internet about how love can be made to grow in a relationship.  Then we got to talking about it, and together we worked on how to apply it to the way we got along with each other.  I got a total, new ‘wow’ experience from that.  I am a factual kind of guy and what we were reading wasn’t the usual fuzzy, mishmash about love.

It was totally fascinating and fact-based, but also, to us at least, it was an inspirational way to see and deal with our relationship.  Best of all it worked, I think mostly because we were doing it together.  We both had read some and worked kind of independently trying to learn about how to do our relationship better, and that did help some but by doing it together, well, that made all the difference.”
When a couple learns together a team synergy can be created which is greater than either of them separately.

Experiencing or reading the same material, and talking about it, can create a cross-fertilization of ideas and understanding.  When both people are working from the same knowledge-base; acquired together it is much more likely that they will work better in coordination and sort of like ‘be on the same page’ together.  Separate learning is much less likely to achieve that easily, although that can be good too.  Even better is that learning together helps create better behaving together.

Every team sport or endeavor requires practicing together.  Doubles tennis, football, two or more people dancing together, etc. all take practicing together for it to work well.  Five good basketball players who never played together are much more likely to lose a game to average players who are really good at teamwork.  Individual learning and practicing can add greatly to the team, but adding the ‘as a team together’ component makes a world of difference and can greatly add to the bonding experience a couple is having with one another.

It is sort of like what was once discovered with couples doing joint counseling.  Counseling together, and learning about love together, seemed to make it much more likely that a couple would stay together than if they were doing the counseling, or the learning, separately.

As Sarah put it, “It’s been a really fine adventure for us; working on our love skills together has been a lot more fun and a lot more meaningful.”

Around the World

Around the world there are couples experiencing what Chad and Sarah discovered.  Working together to learn the new and better information about healthy, real love and developing their love skills together is making a great many love relationships much better relationships.  How do we know this?  Well, we know this because at this sites we get feedback from different people all over the globe. The mini-love-lessons are being viewed in over 150 countries.

While the feedback we get from individuals is great, we also get some wonderful feedback from couples.  Also, there is research going on about what couples are doing to help their relationships, conducted by various universities and sometimes governments.  We tap into that too.  By the way we would love to hear your input also.

It’s Not Only Couples

It is not only couples who are learning together about love and developing love skills.  Sometimes it is two or more friends who get together in a sort of informal study group. Sometimes it is families, or a parent and a child learning together.  Colleges, universities and a wide variety of religious institutions sometimes offer courses and classes, or personal development workgroups for couples focused on learning about love and love improvement.

A fair number of personal growth and retreat centers, as well as Counseling and Therapy clinics do the same thing.  In all these the cross communication, interaction and interchanges that occur add to the learning and improve the practicing.  Part of that is because love gets done to a large degree by interaction, interchange and cross-communicating.  Therefore, it makes sense for love to be learned and practiced in such a way as those actions actually are being done together with one or more others.

What To Do Together

First of all, think about love and share what you think with each other.  Puzzle over what you think and what the other one thinks; question, imagine, fantasize, reason, suspect, doubt, guess, hypothesize, posit, remember, dream and share it all with one another.

Second is what you are doing right now, but do it together.  Read about love and what can be done to grow and improve love in your life together.  Now you are reading one of more than 140 mini-love-lessons (with more on the way) which you can use to make love in your life more real, more complete, more healthy and more wonderful.  Read the same mini-love-lessons together, if possible at the same time, and then talk about them a lot.  You don’t have to agree with what you read, and you don’t have to stay on the topic.

Sometimes the offshoots and side trails are the most important pathways for your talk to go.  Remember to share and show your emotions as well as your thoughts.  That often is the most significant and meaningful part.  (See mini-love-lessons focused on feelings and emotions in the titles and subjects indexes).

Third, together do the same thing with books and other writings about love.  Be sure to include books that are of more than one type.  Be careful not to just read books about love problems and what goes wrong in love relationships, or ones that offer no real solutions or ways to improve.  Unfortunately, there are quite a few of those.  Also be wary of books that have ‘love’ in the title but all they are really about is sex.  To me that is like false advertising.  Then there are those books that have ‘love’ in the title but there isn’t anything much actually in the book about love.  Maybe the publisher just thought it would sell better if love was added to the title.

Most romantic novels are not that much help either.  Most just seem to promulgate falsehoods and destructive myths.  What works for one does not work for another. Different books click for different people and for some people at certain times but not other times.  That makes it hard to recommend but here are four possibilities you might want to consider.  All About Love by Bell Hooks, The Anatomy of Love by Dr. Helen Fisher, The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, and the e-book Kathleen McClaren and I wrote Real Love or False Love.

Fourth, together go to the movies whose reviews seem to indicate they may have something worthwhile and positive to say about how love is best done.  Schedule at least an hour after the movie to talk about it.  Look for the true and the false messages about love that may be embedded in the movie, and watch out for tear-jerkers that may move you, but not teach you.  For many people a really good movie offers a much more complete experience, well worth sharing together.

Fifth, together go to workshops, retreats, classes, courses and talks that have to do with improving love relationships.  Some colleges, some religious institutions,  a variety of personal growth centers, therapeutic agencies, etc. give worthwhile workshops, classes etc. that have to do with healthy, real love.  Especially the kind of workshop that offer an intensive experience over a weekend or even a week, often can provide you with one of life’s best together experiences.  There also are some great workshops that combine learning about healthy, real love interwoven with great, healthy sexuality.  (Look for workshops that have the word Tantric in the title).

When Not to Learn Together

It probably is not a good idea to learn about love together if one of you uses what you are learning to criticize, control, condemn or be condescending to the other.  It also probably is not a good idea to try learning together if one of you keeps trying to prove the other one is wrong, playing “I’m more okay than you are”, focusing on what’s wrong more than what can become right, or better, and focusing in the extreme on what has happened in the past more than what can be made to happen in the near future.  Remember, the historical, diagnostic analysis of a flat tire doesn’t tell you how to change it, even if the analysis is spot-on and brilliant.

Unless the focus mostly is on how to do, act, behave and put into practice what you are learning together more constructively, productively and healthfully concerning love skills, you may not be using this ‘together’ learning experience in the best way. It is important and okay to think and understand better, more accurately and more fully, anything and everything connected to love but thinking about love without the actions that grow, give and send love will seldom be enough.  It also is important that the actions and the thinking lead to improvements in the many wondrous feelings that come with love.  If that is not happening sufficiently, then learning together may not be working for you.

Make It Happen

Now here is a suggestion.  With a spouse, lover, friend or family member, ask them if they would experiment with you in doing some joint-learning about healthy, real love and developing your love skills together.  You can start by picking a mini-love-lesson for both of you to read, or reading one of the other actions listed above.  You might want to specify a short amount of time for this experiment, and if it is working well you can extend it.

If the person you ask is dubious and reluctant, tell them that is good, and this is only an experiment, so why not try it.  If they positively will not do this, well, that is not a very good indicator for developing love, is it?  Maybe try asking somebody else.  Of course, it’s fine to start on your own, and maybe inviting somebody into the process with you later.

As always – Going and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question

What do you suppose you might need to ‘unlearn’ about love, because it could be wrong or false?

In Depth Affirmational Love

Mini-Love-Lesson  #281

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson covers what affirmational love is and can sometimes do; how to go deeper with affirmational love; and the need for attending to both intrinsic and productive valuing of our loved ones through affirmations. 

Affirmational love sends the intimate message that we have focused attention on a loved one and discovered worth and wonder.  Often that propels us to share our appreciation.  If well received, our affirmation can strengthen, energize and trigger happiness in those we love (see “In the Garden of Love”).

Affirmational love is expressed by words and actions that convey and affirm our high valuing and appreciation of a loved one for either, or both, their intrinsic and their productive qualities.

A sense of safety and security can be a superb consequence of first-rate, affirmational loving.  When we show our valuing of a loved one with an affirmation, they are likely to feel they are cherished by us.  As a consequence, their belief in the strength of our shared relationship can be elevated and they may feel more secure and safe in the relationship.  When we know we are valued, our anxieties reduce and our trust increases.  Well-affirmed relationships tend to be long lasting.

Affirmational love can be rendered with both words and actions.  Whether it is a statement of praise or a pat on the back, both can convey loving affirmation.  An elaborately planned experience gift or a subtle wink, both can send a message of affirmational love.  Even the simple may have a deep effect.  It is a best practice when we remember to sprinkle affirmations into our messages to friends, children, parents, family and all those we deeply love.  Link “Is Your Affirmational Love Enough?

Jane and Sue excitedly reviewed their plans for a weekend together on the coast.  George, Sue’s fiancĂ©e, called asking Sue for a weekend date.  Overhearing that, Jane looked despondent until she heard Sue say, “Thanks I’d really like to, but Jane and I already have made plans for a beach getaway, so let’s do it the next weekend”.  George did a beautiful job of affirmation loving by saying, “I understand, I know she’s your best friend, have a wonderful time”.  There are two affirmational examples in this vignette.  The first is affirmation of the importance of a friendship.  The second is affirmation through understanding and acceptance (see “Yourself As a Great Source of Love Gifts”).

Too many people notice mostly the negatives in others.  Attending only to the negative, frequently results in destructive criticism or complaints which is neither good for individuals nor relationships.   We want people to put much more effort into noticing the positives and into forming a habit of searching for the good.  Especially is that important with loved ones.  

Do you notice what is good, admirable, precious, unique, praiseworthy, honorable or any other positive characteristics in those you care about?  If you do, do you, in words and actions, affirm these deserving traits?  

It is not enough to only feel appreciation, it must be turned into affirmational statements or acts in order to benefit the one you have appreciated.  To achieve deep results requires skill and intimacy.  How well we deliver affirmational love and how deeply it benefits, depends on our mastery of imparting affirmational love and on our knowledge of a loved one.

Appreciation and affirmations can focus on intrinsic qualities or the more superficial.  Superficial aspects spot-light things such as popularity, looks, status, wealth or incidental characteristics.  They tend to be less consequential, less significant and more temporary than intrinsic attributes.  If we want to have deep, meaningful love in our affirmations we need to look deeper and attend to the intrinsic nature of those we love.  We use the term intrinsic here, to represent what a person is and has become at a core level.  Honest, caring, loyal, courageous, kind or cooperative can speak to the intrinsic makeup of someone’s inner nature.  That is not to say that the not-so-deep factors are undeserving of affirmation.  It feels good to hear “you make that shirt you’re wearing look good”.  It feels even better to hear “I admire your honesty”.  Affirmation is an excellent way of loving. Maybe you’ll want to do some more of it with your loved ones (see “Self-Affirmation for Healthy Self-Love”).

As always – Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question:  Ask yourself,  “Am I deeply appreciating and affirming those I love –  sufficiently?”