Archives for posts with tag: mindful loving

This morning I woke rested, comfortable, and generally contented. Problem moments of yesterday remain just that; moments, that were yesterday. Small things stayed small. My Traveling Partner and I had a great afternoon and evening together, enjoying each other’s company without reservations, or lingering baggage or bullshit, after the morning’s one sour note in an otherwise harmonious experience.

…Even great musicians occasionally play a wrong note, why would love – great or otherwise – be exempt? 🙂

I keep working on my ability to communicate skillfully and gently. One book, one practice, one experience at a time, I keep at it. Study. Practice. Learn. Repeat. Resilience takes time and practice to build. (And possibly more than one genre of music… 😉 )

Back to the office today, after a restful and pleasant weekend. I touch the small elephant pendant my love gave me at the holidays this year, and smile. There’s more in life to deal with, more to do, more to savor, more to enjoy, and more to grow and learn from. This moment, though? Quite enough just as it is.

I finish my coffee, and begin again. 🙂

Sipping my coffee on a routine workday morning, the answer seems pretty clear; wherever I choose to go, is the “where” that answers the question “where do I go from here?” No guarantee of an easy journey, obviously (isn’t that obvious? It is obvious, right? I mean… seriously?),  but generally speaking, we chart our own course, as individuals, so long as we have the will to do so. I mean… the choices are ours (even the choice to refrain from actively choosing, which is, nonetheless, a choice). Getting hung up on outcomes and destinations is a lot of what makes the journey so fucking complicated, and often difficult. 🙂

Here’s a video my Traveling Partner shared with me the other day. It continues to resonate with me. It seems a timely share so soon after the New Year, particularly if you are prone to “resolutions”. 🙂

Today is a different day than yesterday. My Traveling Partner and I got past my bad moment. The connection and intimacy we followed it with resulted in some deeper conversations, about things troubling him, about things that continue to cause me unexpected distress and uneasiness. We are each so very human. We each do our best to soothe and support the other. We gently align on some basic ideas for the coming year (primarily the need to focus our attention, financially, on some specific things important to a comfortable future). The evening ended pleasantly. I slept fairly well, waking once or twice, briefly, but getting the rest I need. I woke in the wee hours, shortly before the alarm, just as he came to bed. We cuddled a while, until it was time for me to acknowledge the new day, and get on with things. I silently wish him “sleep well and rest deeply” as I rise from the bed, gently, to avoid waking him, hoping that thoughts he wrestled with through the evening and night give him some peace, at last.

How did we get past our rough moments in the morning, though? It was a small thing. He approached me so gently, checking in with me, and as he walked away, he said “I love you”. I didn’t expect it. I still felt so raw, so disrupted, so disappointed with life. Those simple words, in a dark moment of doubt, of feeling uncertain of being worthy of love at all… they turned my head, and reminded me more clearly to be kind to myself, too, and to give myself a break. Clearly, my partner was not rejecting me as a human being; once I could see that, once I allowed myself to see that, it was easier to let my own bullshit go.

Still… I’ll point out what looks obvious from the perspective of a new day; I get more “bang for my buck” resilience-wise, when I “work from within”, instead of allowing any measure of my sense of self, or sense of personal worthiness, to rest on the impression of me someone else may have. That may not be 100% realistic, as goals go. Love can complicate things a bit. We want the affection of those we love, so very much. Our individual baggage about love and relationships can twist our heads and hold us back. Yesterday’s challenge is a good reminder, too, that we can hold a lot of power over how someone else may feel, and without intending to wield that power at all a poorly chosen phrase, a careless word, a moment of anger, any of these can topple a lovely experience. It’s important to continue to choose to be the person I most want to be, and to continue to practice loving kindness, deep listening, and, yes, non-attachment (because so often, it is my attachment to “being right” or “being heard” or “being understood” that stop me from making room to really listen, and to make the wisest choices in my relationships).

This morning is a new day, a new opportunity to be the person I most want to be, a new set of choices, and a new moment to be present for. I’m good with that. I like a new beginning. 🙂

 

It’s been a wonderful weekend with much to celebrate and very little stress. 🙂 Life doesn’t always hand out such lovely weekends, uninterrupted by bullshit and drama, characterized by laughter and love; warmth and affection saturated each welcome moment. It was beautiful. I’m sipping my coffee and smiling, and taking time for gratitude. I can even pin-point what made this particular weekend so incredibly delightful; kind words.

It is not an exaggeration to observe that when most people talk about giving “feedback”, they are talking about negative feedback. Let’s be real about that; negative feedback can also, generally, be called “criticism”, and being criticized, especially if it is a regular thing, is not pleasant. It’s quite difficult to give negative feedback in an encouraging way that lifts someone up, and promotes improvement and positive change. It fairly commonly feels like a beat-down, discouraging, punishing, and devaluing. Yes, even when well-intentioned, and particularly if there is no balancing positive feedback or encouragement offered. Negative feedback is hard to do skillfully, and can be damaging.

You know what isn’t all that difficult? Positive feedback – encouragement. You know what is also fairly easy to do skillfully, and rarely causes damage? Kind words. Yep. Negative feedback isn’t nearly as effective, but it does provide a certain something for the giver-of-feedback (that isn’t at all needed by the person receiving it); the satisfaction of insisting on being heard. Many people avoid clearly understanding what the negative feedback experience feels like for the recipient – until they are, themselves, receiving it. It’s a shame, because positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words, given honestly, and from an authentic place, work in the most remarkable way to actually change behavior over time. Seriously.

(No one is talking about “white lies” here! Or lies at all.)

The key to both positive and negative feedback is the honesty and authenticity, but without kindness and encouragement, negative feedback is often just… mean. Whether we intend it that way or not. It’s just that no one likes being criticized. Feeling rejected actually causes an experience similar to physical pain. It does not matter in the least whether we are “right”; negative feedback stings a little every time, and if it comes as a barrage of nagging and complaints, all the positive intentions in the world won’t ensure the person we are speaking to thinks of it as “helpful” or “welcome” or will recognize that we are well-intentioned, at all. It’s often what comes to our attention most commonly, and most quickly, though – all those things we see as “could have been done better”. We notice that immediately. We are irritated by things that aren’t “right”. We speak up quickly to offer “feedback” – or feel like we’re not being “heard”.

Kindness does take a bit more effort; it’s important to actually notice real things that please, impress, or support us, or which we want to acknowledge and reinforce. That means actually actively paying attention to that person we care enough about to give feedback to. It also means understanding what is important to us, and being very aware of words and actions that support what we see as something that “matters”. Where negative feedback has it’s own notification system in place to let us know when something isn’t quite right, positive reinforcement doesn’t seem to do that, and puts the burden of awareness in our relationships where it belongs; it our here and now, a practice we practice. Can you even count the number of kind things, encouraging words, that you’ve said to your partner or a dear friend in the past 24 hours? If you’re like most people, that number is pretty low, most of the time, and the number of criticisms, “negative feedback”, and back-handed compliments are probably pretty high. It’s a pretty sad state of things considering that there is science to support the need for healthy relationships to have a high ration of positive to negative interactions. Just saying. Do better. Be kind. Be present. Be encouraging. 😉 Have pleasant weekends. 😀

…Now, having said that, it’s also a real thing that if we’re not playing the game of life by the same rules, within our relationships, it can get weird and unpleasant very quickly when we make a change in our behavior of this sort. If a person living in the context of a very negative, sarcastic, gas-lighting relationship starts trying to embrace positive feedback and kindness, it’s not going to “fix” the other person, or the relationship. It’s just not. (I’m not saying negative feedback and criticism are therefore the way to go; sometimes the way ahead isn’t easy, and a few small changes just aren’t adequate to put things right, generally.) What I am saying is that otherwise generally emotionally healthy people do well to treat each other truly well, placing more emphasis and priority on positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words, than on negative feedback.

This past weekend really proved that idea for me. The once or twice I was offered any sort of negative feedback in the moment completely fades from my recollection. I remember the points being made, and the suggestions, but not the negative words or moments. What I remember most about the weekend was the kindness, the compliments, the encouragement, the supportiveness, the listening, the connectedness, the shared humor… it was a wonderful weekend. I felt valued, appreciated, and loved. Words do matter. Assumptions do matter. How we approach each other as human beings does matter. All weekend long I’ve felt the heartbeat of this partnership in a warm, positive way, wrapped in love and held in high regard. So much kindness and tenderness. 🙂

There are subtleties to consider. The difference between “a helpful suggestion” and “unwelcome criticism” is in things like tone, context, and intention; it’s super hard to make useful “rules” about how to do that skillfully, that I could share and someone else could make use of. I am painfully aware of the complexities and required nuance – I’m learning as I go, myself. (Sorry for the extra “homework”!)

Empty compliments are hollow, and don’t work as positive feedback. Content, authenticity, honesty, these things matter. The moment matters. The choice of words matters. Tone of voice matters. Sincerity matters (we can all hear a passive-aggressive “tone”, or sarcasm.) It does take some practice, particularly if we’ve tended to be very negative in our life (possibly framing our choice to be so as “taking care of myself” “expressing my needs” or “setting boundaries”). If you find yourself reading these words thinking “well, except for so-and-so, because I literally have nothing good to say to them”, well, now you’re in “if you can’t say something nice…” territory. Seems unlikely that any one individual could be someone with literally no redeeming qualities of any kind worth reinforcing or encouraging… certainly seems unlikely you’d have chosen to marry such a person, or build a life with them, or develop a deep friendship with someone like that, right? So, start where that positive feedback and those encouraging kind words will make the most profound difference; at home. This holiday season, don’t be a dick. 🙂 Tell the people who matter to you that they do matter. Say nice things more often than you criticize or “correct” them. Trust me; it’s painless to be nice. 😉

…And if you just have to offer up a “correction” or “criticism”, definitely try to at least soften your tone! Sounding angry or irritable is real communication of emotions. It’s helpful to be at least aware that the emotional experience we’re having is our own, and to acknowledge that honestly and not try to put it on the person we’re talking to in some kind of blame-laying way. 🙂

Are you afraid of fucking this up? Are you worried about “being wrong” or “taken the wrong way”? I get it. Change – however necessary, or desirable, can be hard. Fortunately, there are a ton of opportunities to begin again. Go ahead – take a chance on being kind to people you care about. Hell, it’s the holiday season, be kind to everyone, as though each person you meet is human, and really matters. (They are, and do.) If you don’t like who you become, the new year is here, soon enough, and you can begin again, again. 😀

Time doesn’t wait on us to set our priorities. Reality does not take a compassionate approach toward whether or not we have a realistic perspective on our choices, timing, or whether our opinions are tied to real life. We do get to choose, though, we get to choose so much! There’s a lot of promise in that. 🙂

This weekend I chose sleep, and I chose Love, and I mostly did not choose writing. lol Sometimes it’s hard to fit all of the things into a single short period of time. 🙂 It was a lovely weekend. For the moment, I don’t at all recall what we did with it… just joyful snapshots: a breakfast out, a dinner at home, shared satisfaction tidying up this-n-that together, love, affection, and connection… certainly it’s enough. 🙂

Now I’ve got my stuff ready for the new work week. I’m dressed for it. Sipping coffee. Waking up. Nothing much on my mind. My neck, for the time being, doesn’t hurt. I pause to really notice and even celebrate that; doing so builds an adjusted implicit awareness that makes room for the recollection that I am not literally always in pain – that’s unhealthy hyperbole. I sit appreciating the pain I don’t have… or… I mean to say, that I don’t have it. 🙂 It’s a good starting point to the day, and the week.

…How is it already time to begin again? 😀

It’s just a thought, on a Monday morning; communication is a pretty big deal. It changes the map, changes the journey, and changes the experience – shared or individual. The magical thing about communication is that it does not have to be weaponized and hurled down range as a hurtful salvo of toxic waste – ever. It can be shared gently, with great care, and received with great tenderness. Ideally… it is useful, enlightening, and promising of a better future moment once considered.

The flip side of using words, of communicating with consideration, is listening – deeply, fully present. I’ll note this is the greater challenge for me, personally, although making considered, authentic, use of communication opportunities does require some verbs, itself. Listening seems to require a few more.

Communication is useful for analyzing patterns – and breaking them. (image credit to my Traveling Partner)

It began simply as a weekend at home, ill. It ended feeling re-connected, deeply involved, wholly committed, and very much in love. The power of words should not be underestimated, Friends. The conversations that walk that mile, however, are not necessarily the “easy” ones; small talk isn’t going to get it done. I’m sipping my coffee and appreciating my Traveling Partner’s willingness to talk and listen, to “go deep”, to share intimate details of that most private personal space within each of us; thoughts and feelings. Wow. It got real, and it got deep, and things were shared that perhaps would have benefited from being shared sooner, together, and a few that presented profound healing opportunities to be shared at all. It was powerful.

…It still is. 🙂

…Worth it. 😀

So… here it is Monday. I’d so much rather stay home with my Love than go anywhere else, right now, but there’s a job to be done, and I’m being paid to do that. So… coffee at hand, dressed for work, and smiling, I prepare to begin again.

…Really, though? I’m sitting here sipping my coffee thinking about love, and how much I enjoy this partnership. How much I’ve grown – and feel that growth supported. How much he’s grown, and how much I enjoy supporting his growth, too. I even feel, fairly literally, wrapped in love; most of my selections for work wear today were suggested by, or gifted to me by, my partner. There’s something magical to that. My smile deepens. I think that I smell his cologne in my studio… I think, too, that it makes my coffee taste better. lol Love is a hell of a flavor enhancer. 🙂

I smile, and finish my coffee, and let a new day begin untouched by old troubles. Use your words. (So worth it.) Then…? Begin again. 🙂