Dr. Cookerly's suggested
LOVE LEARNING ACTION PLANWelcome
Here is a plan that is designed to make a great big, positive difference in your life and in the lives of those you effect. Of course, that only works if you work the plan. Just like swimming, it takes actions added to mindful learning plus practice before you get to experience the many great benefits and joys possible.
I suggest you start by reading through the seven points of this plan to get some basic familiarity with it. Know that it is quite alright for you to adapt the plan to fit your situation and what works for you. I do suggest that you first use it as it is, or as close to that as possible, before experimenting with alterations.
Over the years, I have developed and used the seven elements of this system and have gotten very good results in a variety of settings. I have used it with hundreds of individuals, couples and families in my counseling practice, in US coast-to-coast workshops I have conducted, at child and parent guidance centers, in psychiatric and psychotherapy clinics, medical clinics and hospitals, in college and university classes I have taught and in all I have seen very positive outcomes and received lots of appreciative feedback. So, I suspect if you use this plan, you likely will get some very good results like so many others already have.
This Love Learning Action Plan is aimed at helping you achieve the many benefits of regular, consistent learning as apposed to the disadvantages of sporadic, occasional and crash course learning efforts. It also is a plan for helping you toward enjoyably learning about the wide, wide, exciting and fascinating new world of knowledge about love, about love’s incredible uses, about love’s immense power, love’s numerous enriching feelings and love’s many action-how-to's.
Love Without LearningFailure to learn the ways of love tends to lead to failure in love. Love without learning is love without growing, healing and improving which tends to lead to love-relationship stagnation and eventual death.
A Fundamental Love Learning Dynamic:
Love feelings come naturally
Love relating comes with learning
Love skills come with practicing what you learn
Love victories come from love learning, plus practice, plus skillful love actions
Why a Love Learning Action Plan?1. Knowledge is power! Love knowledge is love power ready for use. Love knowledge is best acquired by consistent, planned and repeated love learning actions.
2. Working a plan is how most big, important things get done. Love is a very big, important thing.
3. Growing love is much like growing crops on a farm. Both are best done by continuous learning coupled with well-planned, continuous actions.
4. Doing regularly planned and scheduled learning about love tends to work for attaining more numerous and higher quality improvements in how you think about love, feel love’s many feelings and behave routinely with healthy, real love.
5. Love enriches life. Consistent, periodic love-learning leads to fuller and more frequent, recurrent love enrichment.
6. Planned, periodic, regularized love-learning builds on itself which results in much more complete learning in ways that more casual, irregular and erratic learning cannot match.
7. Planned and regularized learning about love makes for better love skills development and more frequent usage of what has been learned.
THE LOVE LEARNING ACTION PLAN
I. Get Committed
Get committed to learning a lot more about love and using what you learn in your life. Get committed to experimenting with regular and consistent learning of all sorts of things about love and, in the learning process, enrich your life and the lives of those you touch with what you learn.
I suggest you commit to a certain number of months (3, 6, 12) in which you will work your love-learning-plan as diligently as you can, no matter what interrupts, diverts or works to sabotage your efforts. When those things happen, return to your plan’s path as soon and as well as you can, and keep going. In addition, consider complementing yourself for having allowed only a temporary derailment and then continue forward with the plan. (This is a more healthy, self-love way to proceed after any setback as opposed to beating up on or shaming yourself, doing self disparagement, or guilt which likely only leads to discouragement and de-powering yourself).
Part of anchoring in and strengthening your commitment can be to get yourself ready for making serious study efforts. That might be done by selecting and arranging your primary study space, figuring out how you are going to record what you are learning, the thoughts generated by your learning, arising questions and anything else you want to add. For most people, that means keeping a love-learning notebook (or a dictating and recording device) into which you can put all sorts of different things that relate to your love and your love studies. Some do it by journaling, others include poetry and pictures, and still others keep action goals and calendars to review and stick to goal accomplishment. Writing or dictating notes is a necessary part of this love learning action plan.
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III. Read and Study Regularly
As soon as possible after each mini-love-lesson arrives, and preferably in a comfortable study space, start reading the lesson. As you do so, it is good to mark in whatever way you like (highlight, underline, circle, copy, etc.) the parts that grab your attention for whatever reason. Those may be the parts chosen in your subconscious, possibly because they could be of extra importance in your life. Commit to making at least one brief note about what you are reading for every mini-love-lesson and then do so. Making notes helps because when you write, you use different parts of your brain usually resulting in different and additional, better thinking than when you are just thinking.
As you study each mini-love-lesson, consider making not only notes but also sketches, diagrams, graphs, lists, symbols and any other symbolic representations of your understanding along with colored abstract designs which can be important projections of your innermost feelings. The notes and other entries are just for you alone and to help your conscious and subconscious, right brain and left brain, outer, mid and deep brain, etc. to learn love at many levels. You might want to journal your feelings as well as your thoughts as you go.
There is another study technique I especially want you to use. It has to do with the illustration in each mini-love-lesson. I suggest you spend at least a little time pondering the illustration and guessing into the picture your interpretation of what you will decide it means for you and to you. It is okay to puzzle over what it means according to others but the more important part is what you read into it. There are no right or wrong interpretations; your interpretation is likely to be the one most right for you. As you do this, consider the colors used, placement and sizes of different parts of the illustration and the empty places. They all can be meaningful. Then make some notes about all that.
IV Revisit and Reencounter the Lesson One Week Later
After a week goes by, take a look at the things you marked as having grabbed your attention, review the notes you wrote and any other type of entry in your love-learners-notebook (or recording). You also can reread the lesson. What are your new thoughts? Do you have different feelings than you had a week ago concerning or related to this lesson? Either way, what are your feelings telling you about you and love now? Make some additional, brief notes about this one week later, re-study effort.
V. Set Love Action Goals
In setting your love action goals, it usually is best to start with only one or two, small and very specific goals at first. An example of what I mean by specific might be an action like I will place my hand on grandfather’s forearm and say “Grandpa, I know you aren’t used to me saying it but I wanted to tell you, out loud, I love you”, while lightly squeezing his forearm and smiling, then departing unless he starts talking. Accomplish this by Sunday evening. Notice how behavioral and easily observable this kind of goal is. That makes it easily counted as accomplished or not accomplished in your love learning notebook. Remember, to record your feelings and their degree of intensity (Mild, moderate, strong?) maybe right after your targeted goal time has passed. You also might want to record your thoughts on how this goal behavior could be improved-on in the future.
Don’t forget healthy, self-love, action goals which actually sometimes are the best to start with. Here is an example. Look in mirror and say out loud, with a big smile – “good for you; you truly are working at learning lots more about love – and, as a reward, go eat one piece of dark chocolate candy or put on my favorite music”. Then make a brief note of what you did and how you felt about it. When you ponder inventing love action goals, it helps to target particular people, groups of people like families or pets, as well as yourself. Then it is good to do a brief, imaginary rehearsal of your planned love action. Things probably will not go exactly as you plan but the little rehearsal likely will help it go better than it would have otherwise.
Know that even if your planed love action goes seriously awry, it still is a victory because you can learn and improve from it. It also is a victory because you had the gumption to do something instead of doing nothing. Of course, if it turned out quite well, bravo and then learn from that too. I had a great professor who told me “go fail at some things because that’s the route to true success”. I did and it was.
VI Talk What You’re Learning
Talk, at least a little, to one or more others about what you are learning, thinking, feeling and doing about love. Do that every week or at least every month. Mark it on your calendar as a to do and check it off when its done. When we talk what we are learning, it tends to anchor the learning and help it stick. Talking about what we are learning also uses parts of our brain that silent thinking does not. Like writing, that tends to produce different and additive, beneficial ideas to our thinking. Sometimes we can be quite surprised by what comes out of our own mouths. We then realized we did not know that part of us knew something the rest of our self did not. It can be astonishing how much talking, out loud, about love can lead to a new thought we hear for the first time just like another person we talk to hears it. That kind of thing happens more easily with people we love and trust. Some people do this talking love by teaching. They teach what they are learning about love to their children, give a talk to a club, teach a class or even a course in one setting or another It is an old, tried-and-true formula. To really know something, read about it, ask questions about it, do it, then teach it.
While you are talking about what you are learning concerning love, be sure you to do your fair share, or more, of listing to what others have to say. Once in a while that is where you can learn the most important things about love in your life.
VII. Expose Yourself to Other Love Knowledge Sources
All around the world and down through the ages people, and other higher-order creatures, have been doing things with and about love. You may learn from them all. A Dakota medicine woman once told me “dogs were put in the world to teach humans love” and I believe her. So for learning about love, study your pets and especially dogs. Surviving more than one broken heart also taught me a lot. I really do not tend to recommend that danger-filled route unless you already are very good at healthy self-love. Spiritual and religious sources are plentiful and sometimes superb but also sometimes are rather questionable and even at other times are downright unhealthy. Psychological sources also abound but sometimes they can be quite shallow or meaningless. Loving grandparents often exhibit the best features of love so watching them might be a good learning experience. There are lots and lots of good, bad and time-wasting books on love.
As you read our mini-love-lessons, occasionally you will come across books I recommend. Different books suit different people in different ways, so you have to discover the ones that speak best to you. Also you can pick love-related topics, like jealousy or forgiveness for example, and use our site’s search feature often to find mini-love-lessons concerning the topic you are interested in. Even though we have over 200 mini-love-lessons, there are lots of topics we have not covered yet so you may have to use Google or some other search engine to see what you can find on your topic of interest. Generally concerning love, I am not very impressed with about 4/5's of what search engines turn up. However, the other 1/5 occasionally can be quite excellent.
Your job is to search for resources that speak to you and involve yourself with them. As you search, you probably will have to sort through a lot of nonsense, stupidity, ignorance, misinformation, sick, totally wrong stuff along with downright anti-real love and even evil, supposed love information. So, it is important to be very discriminating and discerning as you search for other sources. Nevertheless, it is very worthwhile to seek out both the wisdom of the ancients and the most modern scientific discoveries concerning love, plus everything in between. Searches like this frequently can become inspiring, strengthening, healing, growthful, useful, empowering, enriching, fulfilling and fun. That is part of the plan.
ConclusionRemember, it is okay to adapt, alter and add to this plan. Do what works for you. If you are working a learning plan with another person, or with several people, be sure to work at synthesizing what works for all who are involved. As I see it, to really learn love, it takes a combination of reading, writing, pondering, talking, then doing and redoing, along with lots of practicing love oriented actions. Someone said “love without action is dead”. So, make love live in your life as you study it.
There you have it, my seven step action plan for learning to put more healthy, real love in your life and into the lives of those you care most about.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
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