“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own
or another’s spiritual growth.” ~ Scott Peck
We all wish to experience love; to be seen, deeply appreciated, and be held in the embrace of sincere acceptance. We may ask ourselves, however, “Are we doing this for others?”
I will say, most women are considerably better at this than men. Women, in general, have been assigned the nurturing and care-giving roles in society, while men have primarily taken on providing and protecting roles. Of course, there is overlap, but these tendencies have encouraged us to develop and prioritize certain skills, which while often helpful, don’t always lead to the experience of love.
We might ask ourselves, regarding our significant relationships, “Is this about meeting the other person’s needs or my needs?” With children the answer is usually, but not always, obvious, but with adults it is trickier. Are we extending ourselves for the purpose of another’s evolution and well-being as much as we are receiving from them, and how does this relate to our own self-love abilities (see last newsletter)?
There are many practices associated with love: respect, consideration, active listening, conscious awareness, empathy, compassion, physical and emotional support, enjoyment, and affection. There are practices which are not loving: abuse, neglect, coercion, manipulation, gaslighting, punishment, judgement. The positive aspects of love can be practiced and strengthened. The negative can be identified and curtailed.
Questions abound. Do we really want more loving relationships, or are we satisfied with negotiated settlements? Are we more interested in power than love? Are we willing to lean in, examine our tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, and grow for our own sake and for those we love?
We’ll explore more of this during our upcoming retreat to Costa Rica and beyond! I look forward to seeing you there.