I was thinking about my parents the other day – that’s them in the pic.
How much they loved me and how much they didn’t.
It’s a fascinating thing how we all want to be loved but for most of us, however much we get, it’s not enough.
If it was enough, we would never be irritable or hurt by the ways in which people close to us behave.
No one can love us in all of the ways that we long for, they can only love us from who they are.
Every personality loves from the way they are set up.
Some people love by cooking or doing things for those close to them. Some love by giving advice, some by listening and giving empathy, some by providing financially, some by solving problems or fixing things, some by creating fun things to do, places to go, some people simply love by shopping and giving gifts or by being funny or clever!
The point is that no-one can love us in all of these ways. Mostly it’s one or two or three ways, but not much more.
The problem is that our wanting minds, want love our way!
When we don’t get it the way we want it, in our particular style in this particular moment, we have a tantrum.
It’s a two year old tantrum. Sometimes very visible, sometimes subterranean, but it’s there nevertheless.
My parents couldn’t do feelings.
They couldn’t do empathy.
They couldn’t listen deeply to what we as kids wanted and needed.
This hurt me deeply.
But the fact that they didn’t know how to do this, was not their fault. They didn’t consciously create their personalities. They didn’t choose their personality traits from a rack on a supermarket shelf.
They were just born the way they were. They were pretty much helpless in the face of how their personalities were set up.
And so am I.
And so are you.
So this last week, I started to ask myself what did my parents give me?
A beautiful home to protect me from the elements. Wonderful, nourishing food and clothing and books, oh the beauty of books and learning. They sent me to school, which I hated, but which gave me the fundamentals that enabled me to do the amazingly gratifying work I do and to write these weekly blogs.
My mother stimulated my desire for knowledge and learning through books and science magazine subscriptions. She took me to cricket and hockey games, athletics and gym practice and then treated me afterwards with milkshakes and Chelsea buns and chocolate cake and roast beef and the best lemon meringue pie south of the equator and parties and friends and movies and she tended to me when I was sick.
And what did I do, the ungrateful child that I was, I noticed, that she couldn’t listen and understand my feelings and express empathy for me. (please note, I am not judging myself here, simply making a statement of fact. After all I was about as much in control of my need for empathy as my mother was in her inability to give it.)
The point is I spent so many years wishing they could do the empathy-feelings-listening-thing but it was beyond them and it wasn’t their fault.
I didn’t immerse myself in the gratitude for all that they did give me. If I had, I would have felt differently about my life and about them and I absolutely bet that this would have brought out the best in them.
My final observation in this matter is that we all do what I did in our relationships with others.
We notice what is missing rather than what is here.
It’s Xmas time and most of us are going to spend it with family and most of us are likely to have some resentment toward what they don’t give us.
We marry or move in with someone and we think they will give us everything we want because at the beginning it feels like that.
But they are just like our parents, they can only love us from the way in which their personalities are set up.
You may just possibly be liking what I’m saying.
The tricky part is, what to do about it.
You’re really excited about some business achievement and your partner treats your success like the weather report.
You’re wounded and angry.
Noticing the ways in which they do love and appreciate you seems useless.
I’m afraid that the best you can then do is heal the wound from which this hurt originates.
As you begin to heal, you might then ask the question again, “Can I really feel the ways in which she/he loves me?”
Take your energy down into your heart, picture everything they do for you that is loving and rest gently there, in this love, as best you can.
If you would like to meet face to face or via Skype to discuss any issues raised by this blog, please drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.