Programs

 How To Be A Burden to              Your Kids

      The Gift of Years

    Thank God, We're              Miserable

 The "Oy" and Joy of Caregiving

   Didn't My Skin                 Used To Fit?

          Aging with Humor

I've Survived Damn   Near Everything

Strong At the Broken Places

 When the Heart                 Weeps

     Making Loss Matter

 Too Soon Old, Too              Late Smart

   When am I Old Enough to Know    Better?

Quotes for Meshuganas

Bring Me a Sane Man and I will cure him for you. Carl Jung

A sane response to an insane situation is insane. R.D. Laing

God is a comedian playing to an audience that is afraid to laugh -Voltaire

The only fool bigger than one who knows it all is the one who argues with him

 The only people I know who are happy are those I don't know well.

The monkey may be off your back, but the circus never leaves town. Anne Lamott


Tools for "Suffering In Style."

Resign As General Manager of the Universe

Live in the Moment

Schedule Joy in Your Life

Think Like an Optimist

Think about Thinking

                                    Life Changing Books

A Gift from the Sea - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

If You Meet the Buddha On the Road, Kill Him- Sheldon Kopp, MD

Man's Search for Meaning -Viktor Frankl, MD

The Road Less Travelled - M. Scott Peck, MD

When Bad Things Happen To Good People - Rabbi Harold J Kushner

Less is More the Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz

The Search for Momma and the Meaning of Life- Irvin Yalom, MD

Flying Without Wings Personal Reflections on Being Disabled - Arnold Beisser, MD



Main | My Year Of Living Imperfectly »
Wednesday
Feb162011

The Greatest Love of All

“To love is to suffer, therefore, in order not to suffer one must not love, but then one suffers from not loving, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer...” once again, Woody Allen captures a universal paradox. Our most important need is connection and, yet, it is the source of most of our pain. We often pick partners because they have qualities or a quality that we don’t have. I remember in graduate school the professor saying we “marry our worst nightmare.” So we try to change the very characteristic that attracted us in the first place.  “If only you were more like me we wouldn’t have this problem.”

Every time I write an article about love and relationships I feel that I have add the disclaimer that my longest relationship has been with my bearded collies. In fact, I wrote my Masters’ Thesis on the psychological benefits of growing up with a dog. I found that having a dog gave you more confidence in your own ability to cope with life’s challenges - it’s called ego strength. It’s not just the unconditional love (which you can only get from a pet or before age 4), I think,  it’s the feeling of being listened to - I’m important enough! 

M. Scott Peck in his book “The Road Less Traveled” says the work of love is attention and listening is one of the main ways we show attention. Sadly, often what passes for communication is not talking and listening but talking and waiting. Waiting to make your point or dispute the other’s so we don’t really hear what’s being said and until someone feels heard they will continue to try to make their point. Virginia Satir, one of the icons of family therapy, said all communication are “validate me” messages. Do you see the world I see? Not possible, but what is vital is “do you see that I see the world the way I do? 

Our only hope for connection can come if we feel safe enough to be our authentic selves.  If we live for the approval of others we always need to be somebody’s something so we get our identity from others. With age we lose so many of our roles that we must learn to enjoy our own company or we experience loneliness rather than solitude. Enjoying solitude requires the belief that we are loveable and positive self-talk for reinforcement. Once again we are reminded that the most important communication, outside of prayer, is the conversations we have with ourselves.



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Reader Comments (3)

Love what you say about listening - that it's sadly about talking and waiting, waiting to make our own point. And until we feel heard we continue to try to make our point. It is just sooo important to feel heard and understood. It's what soothes the soul and helps make the connection between people.
I wrote a posting on Tiny Buddha on listening at :
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-help-someone-without-saying-a-thing/

February 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHarriet Cabelly

What I learned in America is : "What is your point". In France we still learn philosophy at school and people have long conversations around a table. It feels so good to listen and exchange ideas, thoughts and feelings. I learned how to make a point because I had too but I realize that I will now be passing my culture to my grand children and my desire is for them to open their minds to the world around them. It is my duty to teach them how to listen, respect others and at the same time be philosophers.

August 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranne marie whalley

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December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterswobay swobay

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