How do you keep your love alive?

October 2, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Posted in love | 1 Comment
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It’s one of the most dizzying and blissful feelings in the world, being in love. However, after the first few heart-pounding months whiz by, there generally comes a season for exploring deeper emotional sharing . . . a time for the practical and demanding process of learning to love another human being. This second phase of love can feel impossibly tough, especially if you have little idea how to step beyond trying just to get your own needs met.

In his book, “Here and Now,” the spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, comments on our human desire for love and connection, and the complexity that goes along with developing emotional closeness:

“The other, who for a while may have offered us an experience of wholeness and inner peace, soon proves incapable of giving us lasting happiness and instead of taking away our loneliness only reveals to us its depth. The stronger our expectation that another human being will fulfill our deepest desires, the greater the pain when we are confronted with the limitations of human relationships. And our need for intimacy easily turns into a demand.”

Loving someone often feels like incredibly hard work, doesn’t it? But choosing to engage in deep relationship is the most rewarding work we’ll ever do.

Quality work requires good tools, so here’s one that I believe is absolutely essential in nurturing lasting love. On a regular basis take the time to assess your needs and express them to your loved one. Then listen as the other person shares his/her needs with you. Finally, re-commit to try and meet one another’s needs as much as is humanly possible, not out of duty but out of a desire to care for each other.

What’s one of your most reliable ways to keep love alive?

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Good-Bye, Superwoman!

June 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Superwoman Complex | 1 Comment
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Many years ago I recall a wise friend asking me, “Why do you think you have to take care of the whole world?” At the time I wasn’t sure how to answer but now — after several decades of processing — I understand the roots of my Superwoman complex and consciously practice a few key techniques to decrease her influence in my life. You might find these helpful, too, if you’re beating your head against the wall, multi-tasking like crazy and trying to do everything yourself.

* Reflect on whether you’re playing the role of Superwoman. If you’re not sure or if you’re prone to minimizing how much you actually do, ask your closest family members and friends for their ruthlessly honest opinions. Decide ahead of time that when you ask them, you’re going to believe them

* Examine the reasons behind your Superwoman tendencies. You may want to consider engaging a counselor or coach to support this exploration.

* Recognize that there’s great strength in being able to rely on others who are trustworthy. Having needs is not necessarily the same as being needy and clingy. Understanding your needs and then expressing them to people who know you well lets them have an opportunity to care for you. Sharing your needs actually lets others feel valuable and gives them a chance to love you

* Accept that you are not all-knowing and all-powerful in every aspect of life. For example, your husband or partner may actually be a better bargain-shopper than you and, as a bonus, he may genuinely enjoy it! And in the professional world, even though team development may be part of your job description, your colleague may be infinitely more gifted than you in being the consensus-builder for your department

* Delegate some of your responsibilities to others. At home, ask other family members for help or hire out specific jobs. If possible, try to release a few tasks; stop doing them altogether or cut back on their frequency. On the job, dialogue with your colleagues about your strengths as well as their’s and determine if some projects can be reallocated.

* Plan the multiple ways you’re going to relish the added free time and peace of mind you discover when you kiss Superwoman good-bye!

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