You can be “right” or you can be in a “relationship”.
I didn’t start out thinking I would someday become a specialist in communication and relationships. Yet somehow that is what my family, friends and clients tell me is the best skill I have to offer: the skill of teaching others to imagine, communicate and create what it looks like to relate, connect and understand another human being.
In the years I have been living, working and learning, I have witnessed how judgment and competition impairs the ability to communicate and connect to others. All too often people try to control themselves and others by pushing, bullying, coercing the people they claim to love, believing they know best. They allow their fear and need to be right about the future to control what “might be”, to obfuscate the human necessity of self-exploration, learning, and knowledge.
Without exploration we cannot learn who we are, what our true potential is, what we are capable of, and what we love, and uncertainty and second-guessing delays individual human competency. Can we expect anyone, lacking intimate self-knowledge to have the skills to communicate, successfully connect with, and to understand love?
When we predict disaster we undermine our own and other’s confidence. Rudolf Dreikurs taught us that mistakes are how we grow, and he asked that we not deny those we love with the “courage to be imperfect”. When we are able to accept another person’s decisions, good or bad, right or wrong, we maintain our connection and that special place beside them, whatever the out come. That is what love looks like, being there, being with and accepting without judgment. This acceptance, this non-judgment is hard to do, but so very vital to human connection.
Weather we are working on a relationship with ourselves or a partner, parent, sibling or child, love and acceptance has the power to transform, organize, and build a foundation for exploration and growth as human beings. The pioneer of human attachment, of human connection, John Bowlby called it a “Secure Base”.
All of us, from the cradle to the grave, are happiest when life is organised as a series of excursions, long or short, from the secure base provided by our attachment figures. (Bowlby 1988)
Are you willing to compassionately confront the judgmental “should” disguised as fear for ones or another’s well-being? Would you be willing to encourage an exploration of options, a curiosity for new ideas, new approaches; to bear witness to the development of confidence, competence, and resilience? Are you willing to connect, to give and to receive love?
Love looks like:
- Letting go
- Making room
Love does not look like: