Authentic Love in Mid-Life-Interpersonal-Relationship Concerns
In your mid-life interpersonal relationship concerns instigate authentic love...discover its characteristics...seven characteristics one for every day of the week...
Authentic love calls us to reach out to the other. In other words, authentic love is a journey, a life-long journey in which we are called to live up to its predominant characteristics you are about to rediscover.
In this entire encounter as well as in our next one we will point out how the following characteristics of authentic love enhance the beauty of our soul and brings about renewal in our interpersonal relationships – whether they are among siblings and relatives, parents, at work or among intimate partners.
Gary Chapman, the author of the book: “The Five Love Languages – How to express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” is my inspiration to help you awaken the following gifts of: I. Patience II. Courtesy III. Honesty IV. Humility V. Generosity VI. Integrity VII. Forgiveness
A whole encounter will be dedicated to this characteristic of authentic love as just like in
the bereavement process
there are stages of growth in forgiveness that we must learn to understand and respect in order to instigate mid-life-renewal in our difficult relationship concerns.
Introducing the characteristics
In all relationships there are uppers and downers as we deal with different people and we must adjust to different personalities and characters. According to Gary Chapman, patience is the ability to tame our pride. Why do we reach harshly to others sometimes? If you pay close attention to your motivations, you will realize that your impatience boils down to:
a) your need to be right and to let people know and feel our anger;
b) your fear of having to give-in; you believe you don’t deserve that!
c) you want to show people that you are better than anybody else.
Patience is the ability to focus on the problem rather than the person holding a problem. I quote Gary Chapman:
“We can express impatience with negative words and behaviour, but when all is said and done, the situation remains unchanged...It only causes embarrassment and hurting.”
Go to the root and attack the source of conflict. Consider this metaphoric example to illustrate the impact of this negative behaviour: “For as churning, the milk produces butter and as twisting, the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”
The first steps to overcome impatience:
a) Before you speak up try putting your frustration in writing. The effort of writing will calm the emotional energy; this will allow you to vent and give some time to think the problem objectively; you will avoid saying or doing things you regret. If the source of the problem is in front of you, give polite warning to the person about your need to cool off and promise to reschedule time for discussion; change physical area.
Ex.: Excuse-me, I need to cool off; we will deal with this later... and fix another time period if you can.
b) Clap your hand on your mouth when you realize that you’re about to say something judgemental.
c) Count to fifty or longer before saying or responding to a situation.
d) Picture the person you love and respect the most and see this person rather than the person that irritates you. In my case, I like to see Jesus suffering on the cross or insulted or hurting...
e) Take a deep breath to calm the emotion and express a motive of gratitude...I am grateful to God for...the gift of life, the gift of health, of intelligence... or anything positive that will boost your self-esteem. Whatever method, use it to cool down off before speaking or behaving harshly...this is the first step in living an authentic-love-life... As you learn to practice patience, you will also learn to rediscover people around you for whom they are. You will learn to great them as a gift that life offers to you. You will become a person practicing courtesy.
“Often we call a man cold when he is only sad.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As we just mentioned, each individual is valuable... Courtesy is the ability to love people in small ways ex.: opening the door for a senior or an handicapped person, sharing a bus seat to a woman, a mother with children, a senior, an handicapped...In our fast-paced world, courtesy requires us to slow down and open our eyes and ears.
Whether at the office, in a store or waiting in line, we might sense people to be cold or irritating; think, deep inside, these people are either hurting in their relationship, financially, professionally or health wise... “Rather than to respond with anger and arrogance, take a minute and consider what might be the cause and express it with empathy.” In a conflicting situation - among family or siblings, focus your attention on the problem not on the person. For example: Don’t control your partner or any other person. Don’t make decisions on behalf of your partner etc... God gave him/her intelligence and a will of decision; let him/her use it! If a failure is to be confessed, do it with respect than burry it six feet into the ground and leave it there; don’t bring it up again! Learn from your hurting experience. Respect other people’s opinion; if you disagree express it politely without judgment. Practice
skills: listening, paraphrasing,attention focusing etc...(put aside cell phones) Let the person feel that (s) he’s the most important person for you at the moment. (particularly in public spaces where distractions are enormous) In very simple words, to practice courtesy means to place the other person FIRST.
Let us take a break… Click on this YouTube Video clip link and hear the message.
You Tube Video Clip Message around Courtesy and our Busyness
Don’t we all recognize ourselves in this behaviour? I know I can! This case represents Joshua Bell - a great violinist playing classical music on a 1713 Stradivarius violin.
You can see how busyness keeps us from seeing the value of people; let’s conclude the presentations of this authentically loving characteristic with a quote of Joshua Bell himself:
“Courtesy gives us the opportunity to notice the beauty and giftedness of the people we encounter on a daily basis. It reminds us the joy we find when we put our agendas for a moment and simply stop to listen.”
It is rewarding to the heart to know that “Courtesy makes the life of another person much brighter and in return he wants to do the same to others.”
3. Honesty(revealing who you really are)
“We lose respect for the person who chooses falsehood continuously, and likewise we respect the person who speaks honestly.” Gary Chapman
Honesty is one of the most important characteristics of authentic love not to forget humility – these two characteristics work hand in hand. All others rotate (like the earth around the sun) around these two.
An honest and humble person frees him/herself and “creates the space for someone else to love him/her”. All other characteristics are incomplete without these two. Why?
A loving person tells the truth in a tactful manner (or non judgmental or criticizing manner) even when the other person doesn’t want to hear it. For example:
If a partner sees things in your life that needs to be changed, out of love he will discuss the problem - with constructive criticism - for the sake of helping the other person in becoming a better individual.
Being honest doesn’t release you of the responsibility of being courteous and merciful or compassionate. You must respect your partner or sibling’s feelings. “We want to build a relationship up, not down” says Gary Chapman. The whole question of trust is understood here.
Honesty is the inner attitude you have when you approach another person – whether it would be kindness, compassion, generosity etc...
“Dishonesty is like a plaque that builds up in a friendship, marriage, family, or work relationship. If we are to be loving people, we must speak and act out of the truth. Only then are we free to love others for who they really are.”
What does dishonesty look like? (According to a survey by Reader’s Digest) Here some statistics to illustrate this: 13% of respondents admitted shifting blame to a co-worker for something they did.91% of men and 61% of women admitted in pilfering office supplies.63% have taken sick days when they were feeling just fine.71% of respondents had lied to friends or family members about the other’s appearances in order to avoid hurting their feelings.50% Kept money that didn’t belong to them when they where undercharged or received too much change.28% had lied to a spouse or partner to cover up an illicit romantic relationship.
Can we trust people with this kind of behaviour?
To be honest is refusing to participate or cooperate in any kind of activity that stimulates lies... “Do my words and actions encompass all the traits of a loving person? Will speaking truth in this situation show kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility and generosity? If not, what could be said that is true-filled and still loving?”
Gary Chapman illustrates some situations of unacceptable motivations for telling the truth? You will notice that the behavioural intent of telling the truth is not justified in these cases; the motivational intention must be changed.
a) Telling secrets for personal gain
Truth telling should not be used as an excuse to tell the secrets of your business operations to a competitor for personal gain, or to break trust of co-worker so you can look good with your supervisor.
b) Making an excuse to be unloving
Let your emotions control your behaviour and then express them under the guise of honesty. These emotions become a barrier indicating that something is amiss in the relationship.
c) Jeopardizing justice
Truth telling doesn’t mean giving away information when doing so can put someone at risk of being unfairly treated.
Ex.: holding the truth to save someone’s life (ex. Families that have hidden Jews in their family during Nazi deportation of World War II.
In every one - deep within us, there’s awareness, a voice, a conscience that warns us of the difference between truth and falsehood. This voice wants us to be known as a person who speaks truth.
d) Honesty and integrity – (becoming an authentic and truthful person)
“The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” George Bernard Shaw
This is more than putting on the practice of truth telling. Honesty goes beyond what we say to we are – we live truthfully. We call this being authentic. In relationships, says M. Chapman, people will be aware of your love for them whenever they sense that you act with integrity – even in the smallest circumstance. Living with integrity:
i) Being open about your weaknesses
Be who you are, not what you want to appear to be. Don’t try to act differently. When you learn to be yourself, you will feel free and will not be afraid to show or talk about your weaknesses, through vulnerability you can love others and still be loved and respected.
ii) Being consistent in our behaviour, words, tone and meaning. (no white lies)
“The only way others will receive the love we want to give them is when they can trust us – not just for what we say and for who we are... as we strive to be honest in our relationships, we need to speak truth and speak it in love.
A loving person is willing is someone who is truthful yet nonjudgmental. (S)he is willing to help you in tough decisions, comfort you when you are hurting, love you when you are needy, celebrate with you when you have accomplished something little or big. S(he) will be honest with you when s(he) sees things in your life that need to be changed and is willing to give advice and be critical when necessary in order to help you be a better person...honest, yet sensitive.”
“Finding joy in having a generous spirit towards others, no matter the circumstances...”
4.Generosity (from the Greek word Χαρις – meaning grace or un- merited favour) is an act of gratuity – (from the Latin – caritas) or charity - generosity requesting no favour in return. Generosity is an attitude of the heart expressed in the form empathy, compassion, transparency.
The greatest gifts to share:
1. Our time and talents
To give your time is to give a portion of your life to others in order to get to know them, to discover their needs, their desires but more over to valorize them for whoever they are. Sharing some of your time with others can bring healing into people’s lives.
2. Sharing your talents is an expression of your love. You can make your job an expression of love...whether your vocation is in education - teaching children, in nursing – caring for the sick – or serving the community as a businessman...your time and skills could be an expression of caring love for those you assist - it all depends on your inner goals and motivational intentions.
The outcoming performance of your work will be different, whether you chose to work - creating a better world around you, or whether you simply work for the pay cheque at the end of the week. True generosity – practised with inner-freedom and without complaining is an offering - one of the highest expressions of caring love that teaches the world around us that an individual is more valuable than any earthly possession. says Chapman.
The highest characteristic of authentic love is mercy – the ability of forgiveness – the ability to practice unconditional love. This gift is beyond human practice as forgiving is divine. No matter what psychologists believe, forgiveness is the grace of divine love in mankind. Again, I will be sharing more on this subject in our next encounter, but for now we will explore one more characteristic of authentic love: humility. This is the most resented characteristic in our every day society.
Our ego cannot stand it! Gary Chapman supports this by saying:
“Humility is counter cultural in a sense that it goes against the go-for-it mentality of our culture and acknowledges that relationships are the most important part of living well.”
“Many of us think of humility as a weak character trait...very few will picture humility with terms such as success, good relationships, respect.
For example, picture yourself waiting in line for minutes...now see someone behind you sneaking right in front of you at the cash register. How do you react?
Impatient, irritated, you feel betrayed or cheated and frustrated. Out of pride, we feel the need to be first... we feel the need for self distinction.
Humility reminds us “that we are to place principles before personalities”, says Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholic Anonymous. Rather than spending our energy looking good, why don’t we canalize this energy building good relationships instead? To do so we must act all lovingly.
Have you ever thought of sharing your space in line with someone more in a hurry than you are, and to be saying:
“Go ahead, I am in no hurry; you have less articles than I do!” Humility forces its way to the heart. If you want to show true love to someone, sacrifice something of value for the sake of the relationship. Humility recognizes needs of others first by helping us to question what it would be like to be in the other person’s place rather than focusing on our own concerns.
“Showing our weaknesses is actually showing strength of character; it means admitting the need for help even when you want to prove yourself to your partner...Accepting help from others is one of the best and most difficult ways of fostering loving relationships.”
It is a characteristic of humility to do good things because we love, rather than to be doing them for personal recognition. Food for thought:
“I have nothing that I have not received.” “We might know something about one aspect of life; we might know hardly nothing about other aspects of the universe.”The little child is your perfect model of humility because: (Mk, 9: 36-37; Lk 9, 48)
Children are not hypocrites
They are opened and sincere
They trust spontaneously
Their contentment for what you give them
They have no malicious thoughts
They have a sense of wonder and awe...Mk 10: 15)
As you pay attention to the list above, you recognize the truthfulness, the simplicity and the spirit of wonder and awe of the child. We must learn to develop those characteristics.
The child also lives with complete trust and surrenders his needs to the loving care of his parents. The child recognizes his weaknesses and his not afraid to seek his parents’ help. When a disobedient child feels forgiven - he goes on playing with his toys and his friends as if nothing happened; he has no second thoughts once or ever about his parents’ continuous love for him.
We can now better understand the meaning of authentic love when the All Mighty calls us to love one another as our self. Does that mean to love selfishly? The first person we must care to love is our own self. Being hard on our self is not humility. Recognizing our needs, meeting them wisely without exaggerating them is also an expression of authentic love. Caring about yourself is a favour your offer the people you love – as you will present a person that is happy and free for the service of others.
This interpersonal relationship loving approach raises the best out of yourself and others. How can a partner not feel moved to the point of responding in the same way? There are seven characteristics of authentic love...Why not take the resolution of choosing one characteristic per day, to practice...by the end of the week, you will have been initiated to all of them...
The Five Love Languages – How to express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman.