~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #136
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“It’s never too late to learn anything for which you have a potential . . . and the limitless potential of love within each person [is] eager to be recognized, waiting to be developed, yearning to grow . . . If you want to learn to love, then you must start the process of finding out what it is, what qualities make up a loving person and how these are developed. Each person has the potential for love. But potential is never realized without work. This does not mean pain. Love, especially, is learned best in wonder, in joy, in peace, in living.” —Leo Buscaglia, in Love: What Life is All About
Nurture or nature. Acquired or known. A natural or skilled.
There are some capabilities we each have that come more naturally to us: the ability to sing like a songbird or swim like a fish. This is not to say that practice and expert coaching won’t help, but in each of these instances, there is an innate ability that advances the individuals that apply themselves to such great lengths others may not reach.
On the flip-side, there are skills that anyone can learn if they choose to, and here is the good news. One of these skills is how to love.
We are not born knowing how to love well. We learn by observing those who raise us, observing the world we are born into and by what we read, view and absorb. The catch is not all of us are watching how to love well. Some of us will have a distorted view, some of us will be limited by what we see while others will observe healthy, kind, thoughtful ways of loving. While there are many wonderful ways to express love, there are essential components, and that is what we’ll be discussing today. And if as an adult you have come to discover the models you observed were not healthy, you can absolutely change and become a student again learning how to love well, and thereby enriching your life moving forward.
Life, a well-lived and savored life, is a life asking of each of us to acquire skills to be successful. As I mentioned yesterday in the first post of 2017, often those of us who make mistakes along the way as we travel through life are not trying to make mistakes or incapable of improving. Instead, we are doing what we were taught, what we know. We are less skilled. But we can absolutely improve.
Take a look at 26 ways you can learn to love well:
~A more detailed discussion is shared on today’s episode of the podcast, so be sure to download and take a listen for further explanation on each point.
1.Experiment with your own life
“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.” —Herbert Otto
2. Forever be a student
One cannot give what they do not possess. To give love you must possess love.
One cannot know what they do not study. To study love you must live in love.
One cannot appreciate what they do not recognize. To recognize love you must be receptive to love.
One cannot have doubt about that which they wish to trust. To trust love you must be convinced of love.
One cannot admit what they do not yield to. To yield to love you must be vulnerable to love.
One cannot live what they do not dedicate themselves to. To dedicate yourself to love you must be forever growing in love.
—Leo F. Bascaglia
3. Cultivate your own contentment
“When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love.”
4. Find, unearth, your true self
“Be able to love, heal and accept yourself, so you can then offer these gifts to others.”
Many times we seek out love in order to alleviate our own suffering, and the suffering is due to a conscious or unconscious refusal to take the time to get to know ourselves.
5. Be mindful
Coming to understand how to create moments of joy for yourself enables you to give that joy, thus the love, to others.
6. Be kind
7. Practice love
One must live love. Take action.
8. Stop objectifying love
Love is not a thing to possess. You already have it, love, within you, now you just need to tap into it, foster it, practice it and then live in love.
9. Build within yourself trust, self-respect and confidence
10. Become a good listener
Learn your partner’s “love language“.
“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them” and that begins with listening well. —Thich Nhat Hanh
11. Stop labeling
Stop making assumptions, stop jumping to conclusions. Let go of stereotypes about cultures, groups, etc.
12. Let go of being perfect, and just be human
“A base for love and the potential for growth in love is also present in each man. Love is then a process of ‘building upon’ what is already there. Love is never complete in any person. There is always room for growth.”
“If you know, accept and appreciate yourself and your uniqueness, you will permit others to do so. If you value and appreciate the discovery of yourself, you will encourage others to engage in self-discovery.”
13. Be vulnerable
“Man may know that only by being vulnerable can he truly offer and accept love.” —Leo Buscaglia
14. Open your palm
“And then, the lover, to learn and to change and to become, also needs freedom. Thoreau said a wonderful thing: ‘Birds never sing in caves.’ And neither do people. You’ve got to be free in order to learn.” —Leo Buscaglia
15. Let go of expectations, but have clear boundaries
16. Cease placing conditions
“Others can and will only give what they are able, not what you desire they give. When you cease placing conditions on your love you have taken a giant step toward learning to love.”
17. Be patient
“The human seeking love will find that love is patient. The lover knows that each person can enhance [their] knowledge of love and bring them closer to themselves . . . each person will grow at their own rate, in their own manner, at their own time, by way of their unique self. Therefore, it’s helpless to berate, judge, predict, demand or assume. Love must be patient. Love waits. This doesn’t mean that love sits passively forever, if necessary, for the person to grow. Love is active, not passive. It is continually engaged in the process of opening new doors and windows so that fresh ideas and questions can be admitted.”
18. Learn how to communicate well
19. Become an expert of understanding your own emotions
20. Meet your emotional as well as your physical needs
“A human’s basic psychological needs are these. She requires to be seen, recognized, appreciated, heard, fondled, sexually satisfied. She must be allowed the freedom to choose her own way, to grow at her own rate and to make her own mistakes, to learn. She needs to accept himself and other human beings and be accepted by them. She desires to e an ‘I’ as well as a ‘we.’ She strives to grow into the unique individual that she is.”
21. Be present
“Love lives in the moment.”
22. Believe the world is good because it is
23. Help others reach their full potential
“As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, As soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead the other person to themselves, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, it is not true love.”
24. Create an everyday life to savor
“Another responsibility of love is to create joy. Joy is always an integral part of loving. There is joy in every act of live, no matter how menial or repetitive . . . you can make the day a chore; dull, nerve-wracking, frustrating, a waste of time. Or the same day can be taken on with energy, enthusiasm and a determination to make it one of the best days of your life, for yourself and those about you.”
25. Stand in your strength
“It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.” —Leo Rosten
26. Become love
“For to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the dedicated, the knowledge of the scholar, and the fortitude of the certain.”
Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, the allegory of true love”
~Books mentioned in the episode:
~Love: What Life Is All About by Leo F. Buscaglia
~How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
~Books for Living by Will Schwalbe