IT’S 2013-BEGAN WITH LOVE (Part 1 of 4)
Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about building trusting relationships. I believe that we are all created for relationships and what gives our lives meaning and purpose is to know that we are loved and accepted. When we have happy, purposeful, and meaningful relationships, then our lives become meaningful because we are loved and accepted by someone. Meaningful relationships really do bring hope to our lives.
So it’s 2013! Have you made your resolutions yet? Do you have your goals all written out? Are you looking forward to 2013 and what you want out of this year? Do you have a plan for this year? If not, then let me ask you to focus on twelve areas that you might consider when it comes to having a meaningful life in 2013. Don’t allow yourself to just drift through 2013 with an attitude of snoozing through the year. Why not build some momentum with some smart and practical building blocks for your life and your relationships so that at the end of this year, 2013 really has been a meaningful year. Don’t give up, have some hope, and consider reading my post throughout the year as a way to find direction and integrate meaning into your life.
So, it is 2013 and I suggest you began your year with love. Learn to build a great foundation for the rest of the year by learning how to love and be loved. Build a reputation for 2013 of becoming a loving person and learn how to love people so that you are investing in the most important topic for your life: Loving People. Think about it—by the end of 2013 if you have become a more loving person and people really have benefited from the way you have loved them, then you will have a meaningful life and you will not see 2013 as a waste of time, but you have become a person who loved.
So, what do I mean when I say love? Sure, there are many different definitions of how to describe love. But for the purpose of this writing, I would like to invite you to consider this definition: Love is seeking and doing the best for another. When we love someone, we bend our heart, mind, and energies toward the betterment of someone else. That is what loving people do. (Special thanks to John Townsend’s book, “Loving People.”)
So, love is a verb, an action, it is something we do for another person. To love is not for our sake but it really is thinking and doing for someone else. Think about God. God is love and His love is all about giving and doing many things for us. He is our father and we are his children and as a father, he views and defines his role as a father to love us because we are his children, and he really does want to do many acts of love for our life.
CONNECTION AND BONDING LOVE
The first aspect of doing love is about pursuing and seeking a deep bond and connection with another person. Let me explain. Bonding and connection revolves around one word: knowing. To know someone is to really actually know them versus the tendency to know things about them. For example, think of someone in your life that you like. When you think about what you like about that person, you probably will consider some of these words: funny, sports fan, likes Mexican food, drives a Ford, a spendthrift, goes to church, or owns a home. We all falsely think that when we have been with another person, engaging in activities and interests of this person, then we are bonding and connecting. So if you meet with someone at church, catch a ride with them in their Ford Prius, go out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant while watching a sporting event, you think after this time with that person that you have bonded. You walk away from your time with that person thinking you’ve bonded when really what you did was participate with that person in interests and activities. You walk away knowing you had a good time centered around these activities, but you only know something about that person because of their interests. Sure, you spent five hours with that person and know their likes, but do you really know that person?
For example, let’s say you had a bad day and have been feeling depressed and you get together with someone for lunch and they ask you how you have been feeling. Sure, you give the classic answer ‘I’m fine.’ But what if this person hears from others that you have been sad and depressed and you really want to know about them, not things about them. And let’s say this friend does want to have a close bond with you wanting to know you, why you have been hurting, and desires to think of ways to respond to your needs. Connecting and bonding involves becoming vulnerable and allowing someone to know you heart and not just your interests and activities.
You see, when your heart and mind are intentional focusing on really wanting to love by connecting, then you are participating by giving your heart and your focus, really wanting to know how someone is. Because when your heart connects, then you move out of isolation and loneliness. We are truly alive when we are connecting. We are only surviving when we conclude we don’t have to tell anyone about our heart. But loving and living are intertwined and have to go hand in hand in order to participate in a bonding and connecting relationship. One does not exist without the other.
So let me encourage you to consider some of the traits or ingredients of how to connect with someone. To connect is to know someone, not just things you know about that person. To know someone is to allow someone to know you when it comes to the words and activities listed on the following page. So grade yourself on a scale of 1-10 when it comes to your willingness to participate in the following ways:
Feelings: Think of an experience you had this last week and then describe your emotions you felt associated with that experience.
Dream and Desires: Can you inform people about what you want, dream and expect for yourself when you think about your future?
Fears: We are all afraid of something and to tell someone what you are afraid of, whether it is big or little, is a good thing to do.
Failures: We all make mistakes or do things wrong, so to share your failures and disappointments is part of connecting.
Past: We all have losses and hurts from our past and to share this with someone is to inform them of how we processed those hurts and past events.
Empathy and Trust: To share your empathy and validate what someone else shares with you builds trust and connection as you are saying to this other person how much you value them.
So how would you grade yourself when it comes to these ingredients of connection. If you are low in some of these areas, then maybe you need to start practicing with someone and sharing some of these traits as a way for you to began to bond and connect. Surely you have a good friend in your life that you can began to talk with and practice sharing your fears, feelings, dreams and so forth. Take some baby steps. Take some risks. Don’t just inform people about your interests and activities, but go deeper. Because when you do this, then you are engaging in a giving and participating love relationship that is real and meaningful. Always be reminded that connecting people are connected people.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your feedback and reaction.
Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.