Choosing Love

Posted on Mar 10, 2015 in Featured

Our culture teaches us that romantic love just “happens”. We believe that love is a choice you live, a daily commitment and a discipline. It involves claiming the upward trend instead of giving in to the downward pull. It means expressing gratitude, learning to embrace repair opportunities and living our insights and our passions.

Claim the Upward Trend rather than indulging in the downward pull. We are routinely faced with a choice to live our highest ideals and intentions or be pulled back into the past and the habits that keep us stuck in reactivity and conflict. Some of this is limbic hijacking. At other times it’s a more subtle habit. Rick Hanson says we have to remember that the brain is teflon for the positive and velcro for the negative. ( See Rick’s YouTube page for more )

Express Gratitude & Positivity. The marital researcher John Gottman found that in stable relationships there are 5 times as many positive interactions as negative. It’s not the absence of negativity. Positivity is what nourishes love. And expressing appreciation is one essential activity in choosing love. (see article)

Embrace disconnections as opportunities for intimacy. Making time for the challenging work of emotional repair is a significant development task for couples who are evolving their relational maturity. As we develop the capacity to be curious to our reactive dance, we can practice bringing an emotionally regulated presence to “the other” during repair. Pausing to repair hurt and misunderstanding is another way to choose love.

Reclaim a life of play & rest. In this fast paced modern life, technology has become a dominant force. This era of gadgets and distractions can easily pull us away from the simply pleasures of enjoying the natural world, arts and music and all manner of play. Be bold and make time for fun together. Take time to just relax and connect. Figure out what your passions are and support each other in living them; not in the future, now.

Cooperate with your brains’ capacity to change. We know from modern brain science that epiphanies and insights do not by themselves lead to sustained behavioral change. Neuroscientists tell us that our brains more “neuro-plastic”, or capable of change, than previously believed. Set an intention by making a plan together to do something different when you are “triggered” by each others behavior. Then notice and appreciate what you were able to do that was different, then do it again. Set an Intent. Do it differently. Notice. Appreciate. Repeat.

Accept that relationships take work. In relationships, we simply cannot expect to press the autopilot button and hope it’s going to go well. The primary adult love relationship is the place where most of us experience what Harville Hendrix, the founder of IMAGO, calls the “unfinished business of childhood”. When we know each other’s vulnerabilities and unmet yearnings, we can actually cooperate in relationship as a healing journey.

Stop trying to solve your perpetual problems. Gottman’s research makes it clear that we have 2 kinds of problems; solvable problems and perpetual problems. The latter are the kinds of differences in personality or preference that are unlikely to go away; we have to learn to make friends with these differences by engaging in a respectful and ongoing dialogue and learning to navigate the challenges of our conflicting needs and opinions. That is why it is essential to interrupt the hijacking process as early as possible.