As I Was Saying…   4 comments

Given the India diversion in blog postings, I will need to recap the story of my re-education that I was sharing.

1)      I thought people and circumstances outside of myself were the reason for my feelings in a direct cause and effect dynamic.  In order for me to feel better, I needed them to change.  In other words, I was trying to “fix” my feelings instead of learning from them, and I was doing this by pressuring the other person to change.

2)      I divided feelings into good and bad, legitimate and illegitimate.  If the person “causing” my feelings were at fault, then my negative feelings were justified, and they should stop doing what they were doing so as to relieve my bad feelings.  If the person “causing” my feelings were not at fault, then my feelings were illegitimate (wrong), and I had to talk myself out of those feelings.


3)      If I can manage okay with the other person’s irritating behavior, then I should say nothing and just endure.  If I could not handle it, I should tell them how their behavior was affecting me and ask them to stop.  Again, my feelings were being controlled by the other person, which put me in bondage to them emotionally, and required them to change to maintain a good relationship with me.

4)      Kimberly insisted that I had a right to my feelings, all my feelings, and that all my feelings were legitimate and true… not a true reflection of the guilt of others, but a true reflection of my own perspective and experience of life.  My “bad” emotions were telling me something valuable about myself, not about the other person.  If I listened to this emotional message empathically instead of with shame (accepting rather than rejecting the feeling), I could discover important things about my own woundedness.

5)      Kimberly encouraged me not to hide my unhappy feelings from those I love, because sharing them is an avenue into deeper relationship.  But if I shared my feelings as a means of getting her to change, it would push us farther apart and ground our relationship more on legalism, encouraging her to believe that my love is conditionally based on how she behaves.

6)      I thought genuine care always led to accommodating behavior.  If the other person cared about me, they would change what they were doing.  If they didn’t change, it proved they didn’t care.  Since these two were inextricably connected in my mind, when the person did not change, it proved they didn’t care.  I didn’t realize my real need was for her to care about my feelings, not for her to take responsibility for my feelings by changing.  As I thought, “My need + your love = your accommodation (and vice versa).  How could you possibly say you care if you make no effort to ‘improve’?”

Each step of learning came with a great deal of pain for both Kimberly and me.  Kimberly kept insisting that she was not responsible for my feelings, that regardless of how I felt towards her, this was not an indication of her guilt or responsibility.  She felt deeply hurt when I blamed and shamed her, even if it were simply a sideways glance, pause, or lifted eyebrow to suggest that she was failing to meet my expectations.  I kept believing that if she did not change, she did not care, and that hurt me deeply.  This whole perspective of hers blasted my mind with questions.  Are all expectations in a relationship unhealthy?  Is accommodation or compromise a bad idea?  Can a person truly care and still not change something that is hurtful to another?  Are my emotions really completely independent of your behavior towards me?  It still did not make sense.



Posted August 31, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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4 responses to “As I Was Saying…

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  1. Ths Jus a comment :
    Many people tend to thing that Love is a adjective , but it is not . Love is a verb . Its an action word .

  2. David, I have heard this statement often. In fact, I believe my father preaches and writes that love is primarily an action. I confess that I am not certain what this means. Someone might mean that the proof of love is in action or that loving feelings are fickle or false. I understand why we would want to ground love in the will (choice to act) rather than in the emotions, since the will seems more reliable, safe, controllable. Still I have some real concerns with this perspective since “loving” acts can spring from motives other than love (such as kind acts inspired by the selfishness of wanting others to like me or by the fear of what others might think). My own view is that love is primarily a perspective and a motivation. (One may substitute “attitude” for “perspective” if it clarifies things, but I think that puts too much emphasis on choice and too little on understanding and accepting grace to shape one’s worldview). Just some thoughts.

  3. erLately I’ve been reading a series of books that suggest love is a decision. I think this is a similar concept to love as perspective or motivation. I think this means that every moment of every day you get to choose if you are going to love regardless of what the other has done or said or how they have hurt you or loved you. It’s like loving the person the morning after they said something hurtful instead being mad or angry. I’m still working on what this means for me and my life. It’s a tough concept to wrap my brain around sometimes, but its making me realize that I am in control of my feelings whether they are good or bad. The other person’s actions don’t control me if I am the one making the decision. It’s a topic heavy on my mind now that we’re just 65 days away from “vow” day.

  4. Erin, it is certainly possible to make choices to act in ways that are supportive and kind, and it is often important to do this even when we don’t feel like it. I think I am referring to something different. The word “choice” relates to an act of the will, it is the “what” of behavior. Motivation relates to the inspiration behind the act, it is the “why” of behavior. I can choose to act kindly for many wrong reasons (and I regularly do!). For me, one of the most common substitutes for the motivation of love is the motivation of obligation. I do it because I “should” do it, which really undermines my genuine love. I may easily suppose that when I choose to serve someone whom I don’t want to serve, then I am acting from love. I believed this about my service to God for 40 years and was completely blind to my true motivations, which were a desperate attempt to win God’s approval.
    I think the confusion comes in because folks want to act out of their immediate feelings, and deep inside they feel this would be somehow false to who they truly are (and I think it would be). My feelings of love fluctuate just like all my other feelings, and it may have nothing to do with the other person or my relationship with them. I may be tired, afraid, distracted, or confused and all of these can reduce my feelings of love for a time. But I find for my own health I must keep a close eye on why I choose to do what I do in a loving relationship. If I choose to do the dishes is it from an overflow of grace or am I “shoulding” myself into doing it. At least in my life, a certain amount of “shoulding” on myself eventually leads to my resentment of the other person, a resentment which I may “overcome”, but it is a strong clue that something is out of whack with my motivation and perspective. Anyway, those are my thoughts.

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