This post is part of a continuing series. You can find the first post about Dreaming Deeper instead of Bigger here and the second post about moving closer to the life you dream of by starting where you are here.
One of the most healing experiences I have ever had during my marriage was a day that I was very hurt and upset with the Hubs. I was both angry and hurt which is the worst combination to get any kind of clarity or calm resolution, but he was steadfast. He did not enter my little circle of drama. He acted as if he knew he loved me, he knew we would find a solution and all my emotion would subside eventually.
It’s possible that at the time I didn’t appreciate fully how his peacefulness contributed to my healing but thinking on it now, several years and life coach trainings later, I can see that it was so important.
His theory is that as we walk through life and experience emotional wounds, they become part of a larger “pain body” so to speak. So that if someone cuts you off in traffic, your level of annoyance is not just determined by that one moment, but by every other time someone has cut you off. This is why the response is often not proportional to the miniscule experience when compared to the totality of one’s life.
Well on this day, many years ago, I was having a huge activation of my pain body as whatever was happening was nowhere near as serious as my reaction to it.
Finally I remember him trying to soothe and comfort me and when he finally got through to me I said (through tears) something like, “Well that’s all fine now, but what happens when this wound re-opens and I get angry like this again?”
And he said the most magical words that have ever come out of his mouth. He said, “Well then we will just have to pour some love into it. The wound may not go away, but we will keep pouring love into it until it gets smaller and smaller.”
Oh Dear Readers, that was one of those moments when if I wasn’t already married, I would have slapped a ring on that man’s finger faster than you can say Las Vegas!
I calmed down. I started breathing. I started pondering the idea that we could never avoid hurts, being human after all. And having grown up watching Star Trek, the Vulcan idea of suppressing all emotion did not agree with my passionate Latin DNA. So I kept turning the thought over in my head: we accept that pain will happen and when it does, we will pour love into it.
I think that may have been what the Founding Fathers felt like when they signed the Declaration of Independence. I suddenly felt free. I suddenly felt like the prison of past pain could no longer have a hold on me. I didn’t have to be scared of it, or try to avoid it or pretend it wasn’t happening if and when it did. All I had to do was be ready to pour love into it when it came.
Freedom. Liberation. Calm. And a strange peace came over me. Somehow the act of declaring our plan, made the plan almost unnecessary. I can’t remember ever having gotten as deeply upset as I was that day. The wound was getting smaller and smaller with every kind word, nice gesture, act of love, word of encouragement and hug. As the wound got smaller, the pain body got smaller too. I might have a reaction, but it wasn’t as extreme.
I was free.
That day, that moment is forever etched in my heart as a turning point in my life.
I know I won’t be in your living room for your turning point, but I can offer you my map.
What Loving Bigger Looks Like (for me)
- Assume the person has your best interest at heart. What they are saying may not make sense to you. Ask questions until you understand why it makes sense *to them.*
- Breathe. When you feel inclined to cry out or raise your voice, stop and breathe. This gives you just enough time to remember at least one reason you married this person. One virtue you admire above all others can thaw the ice of a painful moment.
- Whenever in doubt as to what course to take, choose love over fear. This means trust him when he has to go on a trip for work. Give her space when she is having a bad day and needs to write instead of talk. Don’t assume it means she loves you any less, (fear) remember that she is a whole person living a whole life that you are an integral part of (love).
- When there is a breakdown – stand in your love for your partner and from that place of love, speak or be silent. Listen or offer to take a break from the conversation, take yourself out of it for a moment and listen for their pain and when you hear it, answer with compassion.
- Stay present. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is just be there for the person as they work out whatever is happening in their head (or their heart).
- Ask questions like, “what would love do?” “what would generosity in this moment look like?” “what is the highest, most loving thing I can do right now?” Make a up a question that resonates for you, that you can pull out and use whenever you are having an emotional moment.
Now it’s your turn: This weeks’ LoveWork is to decide what “Loving Bigger” looks like for you. It may be a short list – holding hands, talking for 20 minutes every night, date nights on Fridays, done. It could also be a long list of how you treat yourself first and then your partner. Think about it during your commute to work or your next walk in the park. Name one way you “Love Bigger,” please share in the comments.