Have you ever found yourself in a caring relationship where there is some noticeable inappropriate thinking and/or behaviour from the other person/partner. Opportunity arises to draw it to their attention and, even with permission to speak frankly, your advice either isn’t received, the person exits, it hits a wall of defense or you even receive a counter-attack.
I found myself in such a conversation just yesterday as I write. It was a phone call with my Mum.
So, What Happened?
I love my Mum and she loves me. We love each other but our own imperfections surface from time to time when we are not on the same page, seeing things eye to eye, strongly hanging on to our own beliefs and lacking extravagant love in the moment.
As my imperfections surface, they send feedback, either as unresourceful emotions within myself or the other person.
For me, they are a reminder that I am on a journey. Reflection, truth gathering and tweaking all contribute to my progression in caring relationships and extravagant love.
Mum had caringly written to me with some of her personal concerns about the work I do and the powerful significance of belief change I get for my clients.
This was not the first time I have received her input on the matter. Conversations in the past around the theme had not enabled Mum to add to her understanding of my training or what I do. She held tight to her beliefs, interpretations and own understandings of things I had said.
The content of Mum’s address was tangential to my training and what I do. Her perceptions, driven by a network of personal beliefs created from her past experiences operating in her unconscious mind, engendered her loving concern for me that I might be off the rails.
This time, Mum concluded her mail with wanting to talk to me about it. Out of her beliefs and loving concern, she wanted to get me back on ‘track’.
I took the initiative and rang Mum up the next day to discuss the matter rather than wait a few weeks until my next visit. Conversation quickly got to the letter.
Optimistically, I had sought a number of avenues to assist in a breakthrough in understanding for Mum. Two hours later, no progress was made. In fact, there was the opposite; a breach in relationship.
What Did I Learn?
On reflection, I have some tweaking to do to engender caring relationships and to love extravagantly.
- Make the caring relationship paramount above any good advice I might have.
- It’s my loving kindness that invites a depth of relationship where the other person will open up on a touchy topic at the right time. Stephen, be patient!
- It is healthy to communicate a disagreement if it negatively impacts a good relationship. Keep the conversation focused on how it impacts yourself only. Give no advice or tell the other person what they should be doing.
- Listen well enough to hear and understand what the other person is saying. I’ve heard it said that a good balance with two ears and one mouth is to listen 2/3 of the time and speak 1/3 of the time.
- Placing one’s self in the other person’s shoes allows me to free up my unconscious mind to assimilate their meaning and understanding better.
- Be alert to the signals of crossing the ‘love’ and rapport boundary. They will be subtle at first – body language or change of voice tonality.
- Caring relationships are like trees. They take years to grow into majestic scenery but can be cut down in a day if not nurtured.
- No matter how good, wise or appropriate my advice may be, if I am outside the ‘space’ of love, rapport or permission, zip the lip. My words will not have any positive impact, but most possibly a negative impact.
I recall a verse from the Bible that mirrors this principle well.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (1Corinthians 13:1 NKJV)
- How do I know when I am outside the ‘space’ of love? When the feedback, immediate or subsequent, is not one of enhancing the relationship.
- Timing. There is a time to share something and a time to wait. When I’m not sure, err on the side of waiting or offer a ‘taste-test’ and assess the feedback before continuing.
“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is.” (Proverbs 15:23 NKJV)
- No matter how good my advice, be quick to apologize if I am losing rapport.
- I don’t have to prove that I am right. If pictures say a thousand words, then my actions say a thousand pictures.
Some Final Thoughts?
I can appreciate that my example with my relationship with Mum is very different to your relationship with your partner for example. You effectively become a team with your spouse or partner. The principles apply even more so. Hopefully, you and your partner are keeping each other’s ‘love-tank’ full.
Selfish and emotional love can be blind to qualities of relationship when you’re dating. Look for and pursue growth together in qualities that build extravagant love and a caring relationship. They are the things that strengthen you individually and as a couple.
How flexible to change is your partner? Rigidity and inflexibility to listen and take on board suggestions may be a sign of a self-defensive mechanism created from being abused during their formative years. Such mechanisms, though needed for self-preservation at the time, do not assist caring and loving relationships.
Set time aside to discuss these things with your partner early in your relationship if you can. And it’s never too late to start.