“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Love is frequently confused with other aspects of life. In relationships where there is deep attachment, love can often get mixed up with needs the other person is trying to meet or undifferentiated from hurt that we may also experience. Love is not the same as lust or self-sacrifice. Being physically involved or giving of yourself may follow from love, but these outcomes also occur from other desires and attachments.
Relationships frequently present problems when we have not developed the tools to deal with negative emotions. You can diffuse and limit being swept away by the strength of feeling by honoring pain and finding the positive. With calming techniques that keep your attention objective, you can be proactive as opposed to reactive with a difficult person.
This exercise is about discovering when give and take comes from a place of deep caring and what you can do to further develop emotional intelligence and loving behaviors yourself.
1) How do you define Love?
Having inspiring relationships takes effort and commitment on our part. On occasion this means being assertive and expressing negative emotions, or having the ability to share intimate emotions in close partnerships. It may even mean being okay with increasing the distance between you. Take some time to write down your personal definition of love and what it means to you.
2) Give yourself a score from 0 to 10 (where 0 is no ability and 10 is fully capable) for each of these main components of Emotional Intelligence:
a. The ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
b. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
c. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.
3) Identify a relationship(s) in your life that gets you down.
a. How is the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others missing from exchanges with this person?
b. How is the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving missing from exchanges with this person?
c. How is the ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person missing from exchanges with this person?
d. What could you do to introduce greater emotional intelligence (identifying emotions, using emotions as cues for action, and mediating emotions) to these exchanges?
4) List the relationships in your life where you feel cherished.
a. How is emotional intelligence (identifying emotions, using emotions as cues for action, and mediating emotions) expressed in interactions that allow you to thrive?
b. What does each of you gain from the exchange?
c. What challenges do you face in honestly working towards the well-being of those you are close to?
5) M. Scott Peck, M.D. (author of ‘The Road Less Traveled’) defines love as follows: “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” Refer back to your definition of Love – is there anything you wish to add or change after your consideration of emotional intelligence?
This exercise brings awareness to what it means to actively manage your emotions and your responses to the emotions of others. This outlook, that you have choice in the emotions you express and give precedence to, gives you direct control over your level of happiness. These questions also provide the benefit of connecting with experiences of being cherished. Similarities in these experiences demonstrate how you can implement greater use of these mindful emotional responses over time.