With the insanity of terrorism, with the fear-mongering in the newspapers and on television taking up so much space in my head, I turned to the Style section of the paper for some distraction.
What I found was a little piece about love. Remember the old Huey Lewis and the News song? The Power of Love? I heard it the other day watching Back To The Future. That’s what I’m talking about. God this piece is drivel so far, but stick with me, we’ll get there. Need coffee…
What can we do about the pandemic of violence?
What I mean is this. Feeling completely powerless to change what appears to be a pandemic of violence in the world is itself horrible. But what can any of us do about it? I know this is going to sound like drivel and really hippy-dippy: We can love one another. Really I do believe this with all my heart.
We can love one another. But that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Isolation keeps us away from each other. Technology, designed to improve communication, isolates us even further unless we’re really, really careful. Sometimes it seems to me like the fabric of our society is breaking down, not because of a few violent individuals but because of the lack of love that would make them want to be Good instead of happy to unleash their most primitive selves.
The antidote: Love one another. How? This New York Times article in Modern Love talks about an experiment designed by someone with the hypothesis that it isn’t that you fall in love involuntarily. You make a choice. One of the most interesting aspects of this experiment is the build-up to intimacy. That which would usually take weeks, months even years in the wild, are collapsed down to a few hours. And it’s all verbal, without touch. Words, body language and eyes seeing into eyes.
Why don’t we compliment each other more? That’s one way we can make a better world right now. Today. Smile and look at the person across from you and say out loud what you’re thinking because you know sometimes you are thinking something nice and don’t say it out loud. “I really appreciate how you want to know what’s going on in your kids’ lives.” “I love how you try to tell me how you feel about being so far away from your mom at the end of her life.” “I appreciate you, even when you are confused and scared about how you feel. Maybe especially because you’re confused and scared.” OK, maybe I wouldn’t say all of that out loud. And I think it’s just as important to say nice, kind things to ourselves.
Falling In Love & Staying In Love
Being married more than thirty years, one of the most salient memories I have of my entire marriage is a time when I was very upset over an argument I was having with my sisters. I was being accused of being deliberately self-centered and mean when the truth was I was oblivious and disorganized. I was crushed that people whom I loved could think me mean. That demon, Self-Doubt, was creeping in, causing me to question myself, Was I mean? My husband comforted me and said, “The main reason I love you is that you are Good. You are Good in the Aristotelian sense. Good to the core.” That compliment ran so deep, was so meaningful to me that I remember it every time the Self-Doubt demon turns up.
When was the last time I complimented my husband?
I can’t say. I know I compliment my daughter all the time, my son less frequently but still I can remember when I said to him not long ago how I loved the way he thinks.
I’m in love with my husband but I don’t compliment him enough. I don’t say out loud enough how great he is, how I appreciate his taking out the garbage even when it’s five or 85 degrees outside. I love how responsible and reliable he is. How he continues to look after our kids’ interests. How I can totally count on him when something goes wrong or even if I just need to talk over an idea. How cute he is when he laughs and his eyes crinkle up.
“It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires about you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.” ~Mandy Len Catron, To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This
The woman who wrote this article said that the feeling of complimenting another person and hearing them compliment you back is so enthralling it’s a wonder we don’t go around doing it all the time. So let’s start. I’m going downstairs right now to tell my husband how much I appreciate how he makes the best coffee every morning before I’m even out of bed so that I wake up to the smell of it. He’ll probably shake his head like, “Where did that come from?” He’ll smile at me. I’ll smile back..
And that’s how you fight terrorism.
Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO
Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.
Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.
Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.
Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.
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