Thursday, April 18, 2013

an experiment in love

My ability to love is one of my greatest strengths. In the past I viewed it like a superpower and saved my love for when it’s needed (making sure I Used My Power For Good). But I didn’t allow myself to goof off with it and just have a good time. Think about it: Wonderwoman must have flown her invisible jet to the Caribbean for a weekend, and when no one was looking, I guarantee you Spiderman made trampolines out of his webs. So instead of over-focusing on Finding The One or Getting The Love I Need or Calling In Mr. Right, I decided it was time to be as loving as I can on a regular basis. You know, for kicks.

Luckily, I think I’m on the right path. I was recently told how incredibly loving I am – from someone who wasn’t even in love with me! So this is good.

The difference between how I see it now and how I’ve seen it in the past is the result. I’ve been afraid to love if there’s even the slightest chance I won’t be loved in return. But that’s just a game of chicken. Why wait for the other person to dive first? Why not just practice loving and see what happens?

I came across a couple of articles recently that really spoke to being loving instead of being loved. Robert Holden posted a lovely piece on The Daily Love that talked about what happens when two people looking for love find each other: nothing. They may find infatuation and be tempted to think it’s love, but it falls apart. “If, however,” he says, “you are committed to being the most loving person you know, you will attract someone who is committed to living on that wavelength too. And, when two people – who are committed to being the love they are looking for – finally meet, they will find love.”


Another piece that caught my eye was by Margaret Paul, Ph.D., an author who specializes in relationships. She posted ten signs that you’re really in love (and not just infatuated) and the one that stood out to me was number four:

You receive deep joy in giving to your beloved.

Her focus is more on being supportive and not begrudging your partner any of the work you do on his or her behalf, but I see it as the same thing – you get great pleasure out of loving your partner (not out of being loved by your partner).

It’s a new perspective and a new experiment, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

the power (and agony) of silence

Due to a knock-you-down-drag-you-out-and-just-when-you-think-it-can't-be-worse-spit-on-your-feverishly-clammy-and-achy-body sickness, I've been unable to speak above a whisper for eight days. Eight days!  This is my new definition of hell.

I've discovered some interesting things, though.

The pros of silence

  • Turns out that many things I find myself wanting to say, if I just give others a little more time, they'll figure out for themselves.  So not all of my comments are as urgent as I've thought them to be.  
  • It wasn't until this experience that I remembered what it was like not to know the answers to questions.  (Was there life before the internet?)
  • I can observe others a great deal more.  
  • Texting becomes a more viable means of communication.
  • I can hear myself think.
  • Not speaking up has made me realize how easy it is for others (especially introverts) to feel trampled by those, like me, who speak easily and all the time.
  • I've realized there are more means of communication than speech.  Acts of service, performed by my loved ones, have reminded me that, even though I miss it desperately, talk is cheap.
  • I've seen the value of choosing what I say and being as succinct as possible.
  • There are specific people I actively miss speaking to.  (This is a nice feeling, strangely.)
The cons of silence
  • I'm a very, very social animal.  Not being able to express my thoughts has made me feel sad, lonely, isolated, and irrelevant.  
  • It's not as if my thoughts have been stilled, they've just been trapped.  And I think this was how my first attempt at meditation looked -- I was trying not to have thoughts, or to regulate them, or somehow master them.  Leaving me feeling isolated and unhappy.  
  • I haven't been able to coach, work, or follow up with people beyond emailing.
  • Did I mention it's lonely?  It's lonely.
  • There are specific people I actively miss speaking to.  (This also a not-so-nice feeling, it turns out.)
I've often wondered if I could do one of those retreats where you don't speak for ten days.  Turns out, I probably could.  The question is, would I want to?