Five Building Blocks to Healthy LovingAnja van Kralingen
How do you love?
Can one define the concept of love? Love is an abstract word which elicits complex emotions and feelings in all of us, expressing many things. But what does it mean to you? That is the real question.
How the question came about
I see a wonderful healer who calls herself a kinesiologist, but really she is so much more. In any case, I took my daughter there a while ago and during the session, she asked Margaret how she can help a fellow student. So Margaret gave her some blessed candles and told her to find a picture of the student and place the candle on it and light it and send healing and compassion to that person.
‘What about love,’ asked Kiva?
To which Margaret answered ‘Oh gosh no! Chances are that their definition of love is not the same as yours and you do more damage that way.’
Well, this took me by surprise! And got me thinking. What is my definition of love?
The Core of love
Well, I can only think of it in terms of my family ‘ my partner and my children. How do I love them? I am a pragmatic person and love is a practical issue for me. I thought long and hard about it and I this is what my approach to love is.
1. Respect to allow the other space to be themselves
This is probably the most important thing to me. I do not want to suffocate or control the people I love. Ultimately, my purpose in loving is to help the other become the best they can be. And that can’t be achieved if I try to control and pre-describe what I expect them to do, and how I expect them to behave.
2. Accept their shadow.
Being a Jungian, I believe that that the other’s shadow needs made conscious and accepted. It does not make for a healthy individual, if the people that love them, only love them if they are a certain way. Also, unless I accept my children’s shadows, how can I help them to contain or oppose it? Ultimately, I am their first teacher and I feel that this is my responsibility as parent.
3. Practice restraint.
We often don’t restrain ourselves and say things that are totally unnecessary, meant only to cut the other down and hurt them. Also often, we project onto what the other is saying or doing, and believe so strongly that they should not be doing it, that we just stop them in their tracks. This is not respectful or loving. How do you know that it is not right for them? It may not be right for you, but your child and partner is not you, they are someone else.
Sure, you can tell them what your concerns are, but you can never make the decision for them and certainly can’t punish them for not listening to you. And of course, how does your child go out into the world and be an individual who respects others, unless you teach them how to respect the other at home and this can only be done by example. Its pointless teaching about respect when you are not showing them respect, naturally a child learns far more from what you do than what you say.
4. Be careful of the word ‘no’.
Personally, I use the tools of bribery and distraction with great success!
I went to a nursery school parents meeting with Ruarc’s teacher, Mrs. Martin. And she said to us that you never say no to a child, unless they are harming themselves or another (or about to break a windowJ). Instead, if the child is drawing on a wall, you take them gently, give them paper and tell them to draw on that instead. Because, when you say no, it must carry weight. It must not be overused.
This way the child grows up and becomes a teenager and later an adult who uses no and means it. It will be a word of strength and will. I think this is an essential life skill in a world full of distractions and dangers! The word no is also often used as a weapon to yield power over the other. I believe that if your relationships with your children or your partner is healthy, then you don’t need to use this word, because when there is respect and consideration, there does not need to be a power struggle.
5. Be kind and considerate.
Often, one of my children wants my attention when I am really focussed on something else, but I force myself to smile and look with great interest at what they want to show me. I feel that this is essential when you love someone. Love is not selfish or self centred, and attention is one of the clearest expressions of love you can give someone. Especially small children, but this includes my teenager and my partner too. Restraint also comes in here again, for being kind and considerate, is definitely something that is honed by practicing restraint in your reactions towards those you love. Don’t laugh at your teenagers dreams, or dismiss your toddler’s anquish over the lost toy.
Of course, these are only my thoughts and intentions when it comes to love. There may be many more things which you feel are important when it comes to love and please do add them here in the comments section.