Lovingkindness


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Reminder:  My topic every day this month is “stressful relationships”— Please go to askevelynbrooks.com and tell me what your biggest stress is, especially if it’s related to a relationship (“relationship” can mean your marriage, dating, friendship, boss or coworker, your kids, family members, etc.). I’ll do my best to answer your questions here in a post! (And don’t worry, it’s confidential, so I won’t use your name or email address.)

This weekend we’re looking at reconnecting and being honest about our feelings… so let’s add “lovingkindness” to the mix and see how much you can reduce the stress level of your relationship.

Lovingkindness…

What does it mean, practically speaking? It sounds lofty and wonderful, but how do you put it into effect in a relationship that is highly stressed? If you’re in a long-term verbally abusive relationship, a codependent relationship, or anything of that “type” even if you haven’t headed into the darkest regions of abuse “yet” it may seem impossible to say something nice to your partner without choking on the words.

I’ll assume that if you’re in a stressed relationship, the other person is the one with the controlling temper, and you are the one who has gotten caught up in the merry-go-round of trying to figure out what to say and do to keep them from exploding or otherwise making life unpleasant. The reason I make this assumption is that the verbally abusive person is usually pretty content with the status quo, other than feeling that you don’t do enough for them (and that’s their perception: even if you tie yourself in knots to please them, it’s never “enough” to satisfy their demands – they simply raise the ante and accuse you of being selfish and cold).  In most cases, it is the hapless “victim” or target of all the crazymaking who ends up trying desperately to figure out what is wrong with them.

It’s beyond the scope of this blog to tell you whether you should go or stay, but since you are there right now, why not at least do things that build your own self-esteem? Stop the backbiting. Stop saying cruel things even if it is only muttered under your breath or thought silently in your head or whispered as you walk away, shaking at the latest verbal assault from them.

Here are a few things to try:

  • Make a list — yes another list, they really do help you focus your thinking — and memorize a few short phrases that are loving, kind and polite.
  • Build in a few “I am grateful” phrases as well, specifying something that the other person does for you or for the household that you are genuinely grateful about. It could be something minor such as “I am grateful you take out the trash. That’s really a treat for me that I don’t have to do it!”
  • Make a promise to yourself that each day you will say three nice “lovingkindness” phrases to your partner.
  • Don’t expect miracles. Don’t expect thanks. Don’t expect that the other person will suddenly awaken spiritually and shower you with compliments and loving remarks in return.
  • Do this for yourself. When you detach yourself from the cycle of saying/thinking unkind things about your partner, you open the door for loving thoughts to enter. You will be able to see the person for the damaged soul they are, and you’ll be able to treat them with more compassion while learning to protect yourself from the abuse and cruelty and crazymaking.

your happiness guru,

Evelyn

Comments (12)

Gitie House

June 13, 2010

Hi Evelyn,

Great points to help people through the strain and pain of a stressful relationship. Another method I've found useful is to make a list of what one needs for oneself from the other person in order for us to feel more supported and cared for during the crisis. We may not get it from the other person, but simply acknowledging our own needs gives us some relief and is also empowering.

Best Regards
Gitie

Gitie House

June 13, 2010

Hi Evelyn,

Great points to help people through the strain and pain of a stressful relationship. Another method I've found useful is to make a list of what one needs for oneself from the other person in order for us to feel more supported and cared for during the crisis. We may not get it from the other person, but simply acknowledging our own needs gives us some relief and is also empowering.

Best Regards
Gitie

Evelyn Brooks

June 13, 2010

A big part of the process is to stop looking at the other person so much and notice your own needs - thanks for the great comment! :-)

Evelyn Brooks

June 13, 2010

A big part of the process is to stop looking at the other person so much and notice your own needs - thanks for the great comment! :-)

Tony Denson

June 13, 2010

My heart goes out to those that have to deal with a stressed relationship. I have been in on the craziness. If I had done the things in this amazing list I may have had a different outcome for my own place in life. But now I am centered in a good church and my focus is good. Your words bring hope of better days thank you

Tony Denson

June 13, 2010

My heart goes out to those that have to deal with a stressed relationship. I have been in on the craziness. If I had done the things in this amazing list I may have had a different outcome for my own place in life. But now I am centered in a good church and my focus is good. Your words bring hope of better days thank you

Jeanne Kolenda

June 13, 2010

What a great subject - lovingkindness! As a student of Scripture, I see that love and kindness is always packaged in a context of patience. And, it's in gaining a true sense of our own identity that we are able to live IN a situation and not be consumed by it. There is actually a "law of kindness" that we used to talk about a lot when I was homeschooling my children (now 41 and 38 - so it's been many years now). The wise King Solomon, author of most of the Proverbs, said that every beautiful woman has "the law of kindness on her lips." I wrote a blog post many months ago on the subject of joy vs. happiness. It's here: http://jeannekolenda.com/i-just-wanna-be-happy-not

Thanks for a very thoughtful post! Have a wonderful Sunday.
Gratefully yours,
Jeanne

Jeanne Kolenda

June 13, 2010

What a great subject - lovingkindness! As a student of Scripture, I see that love and kindness is always packaged in a context of patience. And, it's in gaining a true sense of our own identity that we are able to live IN a situation and not be consumed by it. There is actually a "law of kindness" that we used to talk about a lot when I was homeschooling my children (now 41 and 38 - so it's been many years now). The wise King Solomon, author of most of the Proverbs, said that every beautiful woman has "the law of kindness on her lips." I wrote a blog post many months ago on the subject of joy vs. happiness. It's here: http://jeannekolenda.com/i-just-wanna-be-happy-not

Thanks for a very thoughtful post! Have a wonderful Sunday.
Gratefully yours,
Jeanne

Evelyn Brooks

June 13, 2010

Hi, thanks for sharing! We all can look back and have regrets, but I'm glad you've decided to focus on moving forward instead. Hope to see you back here again. :-) Evelyn

Evelyn Brooks

June 13, 2010

Hi, thanks for sharing! We all can look back and have regrets, but I'm glad you've decided to focus on moving forward instead. Hope to see you back here again. :-) Evelyn

Evelyn Brooks

June 13, 2010

Beautiful quote from King Solomon. And thank you for the link - I'm sure many of my readers will find your posts interesting too! Evelyn

Evelyn Brooks

June 13, 2010

Beautiful quote from King Solomon. And thank you for the link - I'm sure many of my readers will find your posts interesting too! Evelyn

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