Love someone for their imperfections, not in spite of them

Love someone for their imperfections, not in spite of them

Fears about being imperfect hold us back from living an authentic life.

Maybe it’s fears around your skills in applying for a job, fears around trying something new or checking off a bucket list item, fears around moving to another city or country. We don’t want to fail so we don’t take a chance.

We also let fear of imperfection hold us back from being vulnerable in relationships.

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How do you show love to others in your life?

About a year ago I took in a stray cat that had been visiting my yard.  She was small with a sleek black coat, little smooshy face, and very affectionate; I named her Panther. Within six hours of being brought into my house she gave birth to four kittens. While my initial plans were to find adoptive homes for her and all the kittens, she and two of the kittens have become permanent parts of my family.

Panther has some adorable ways of showing love. To her kittens, she is an affectionate mama cat, grooming, feeding and playing with her babies. She chases them around the house, pouncing on them from a hiding space before aggressively licking their faces. 

Almost every day she greets me by bringing me her favorite mouse toy and laying it next to me. She licks my hand and arm, rubs her face against me, and purrs loudly whenever I pet her.

For Panther, this is how she shows me love and gratitude and appreciation.

Cats and dogs express love pretty easy. They are clear and upfront with how they feel, and they show affection in ways that we can pretty easily recognize is love.

With humans, however, it’s not always so easy. Sometimes we’re pretty good at hiding our feelings of love. Or we think we are clearly expressing love through our actions, but our partner doesn’t always recognize it in the same way.

 

How do you show love to the people in your life that you care for?

What ways do you recognize people in your life show you love?

 

One difficulty is that we most likely recognize and express love in different ways from others in our life.  For some people, the most powerful way to express love is through direct expressions… telling your partner “You mean the world to me” or “I can’t imagine my life without you.”

But this may not be how your partner recognizes love. They may have a different style that lights up their heart.  They may recognize love through affectionate touch (holding hands or cuddling while watching a movie) or kind actions (like when you do the dishes or get the car tuned up for them) or gifts (bringing home flowers or a thoughtful card).

The book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman really brought this concept of different ways to express and recognize love to light.

 

When was the last time you talked with your loved one about how to meet their needs, or how they can meet yours, around feeling loved?

 

A friend of mine who recently starting dating someone new shared with me that they have been openly communicating around how they recognize and show affection, love, and romance.  They each made a list of things they believe are romantic and shared with each other. What an amazing way to share your needs with your partner!

 

My challenge to you this week is to open up a conversation with a loved one in your life the ways you show and recognize love. 

  • Try telling your someone special: “I love it when you do _____ for me.” Or: “I really feel your love for me when you take the time to ____.”
  • Ask them directly “How can I show you that I love you?”
  • Or you can make it more playful by each making a list and trading with your partner about how you recognize their love and affection. Then, try putting into action the items on their list.

 However it comes about, either direct or playful, the conversation around how you show and recognize love will strengthen your connection with your loved ones. Find the courage to be vulnerable in love, it’s worth it.

Adriana

 

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento area therapist specializing in helping people lead authentic lives.  Adriana is most passionate about supporting individuals explore their gender and sexuality, and advocating for the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway ‪50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call ‪(916) 547-3997 or email adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.

The Power of Spreading Love and Choosing Joy

A few weeks ago I posted this picture on my social media accounts:

I believe in my heart that we create intention for our emotional experience. We choose how we see the world, and how we interpret experiences, and how we assimilate information into our life. It harkens back to the “glass half full/half empty” argument. It’s the same glass, but you choose your perspective.

However, last weekend I read an article on the myth of choosing happiness, which got me thinking. The premise was that people can’t “choose” happiness; that sometimes things are out of their control. The article noted that people have different outlooks on life and telling someone with a more pessimistic outlook to choose happiness is impossible for them because we as humans don’t have the ability to control our feelings, thoughts, beliefs.

Hmmm …. Was I wrong in how I was promoting choosing the mindset you want? Is my approach to life a farce?

And then today happened. And once again I feel settled that there is power in spreading love and choosing joy.  But first, let me back up a bit.

Last week a fellow parent and friend of mine, Suzanne, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. Within 24 hours of diagnosis she was undergoing invasive, painful treatments and will be hospitalized for several weeks during treatments.

Today I awoke to read this Facebook post from her:

“You know what’s cool about this whole cancer trip? Nothing, right?  Nah, not true. And no, I’m not delirious…yet.  Maybe next week.  I’ve had the precious benefit and unique all encompassing joy to see how my life has mattered! How unbelievably amazing is that?
With all of the love and prayers and messages and thoughtful gifts, I’m surrounded by a tempest, a tangible torrent of life all the way from friends back in my childhood up to people I interact with every day! How many of us go through life wondering who we may have affected or if we’re affecting anyone at all?
Telling someone why they matter to you is huge! Not just to them, either! My hope is each of you reaching out to me realize you are equally worth the investment of love and time and friendship!  Everything you have said to me, I pray and hope touches your own soul and reflects on your very own life, rushing out in waves to affect others even more deeply because you do have an effect on people!
So grab someone out of the blue and intentionally hug the heck out of them, love them out loud, embarrass them with your unabashed praise and compassion and genuine enjoyment out of having them in your life! If they think you’re crazy, blame it on me, they’ll completely understand!”

She is choosing joy.  Yes, even while hospitalized and away from her family, experiencing intensive painful treatments, she is choosing joy.  She is choosing love.  Choosing connection and faith, vulnerability and trust.

She’s not giving cancer the power to take away her vitality, humor, smile, or love. She’s not focusing her energy on being angry or sad or confused or devastated (although I’m sure these emotions have popped up over the last week).  But she is choosing her focus, setting her intention, and choosing something bigger.

This is mindset. Having known Suzanne for nine years now, I know this mindset is just who she is. I know she has experienced her share of pain, difficulty and challenges in life, but she doesn’t let that define her or her outlook.

Believe it or not, we all have this choice. Shifting the spotlight of our perspective can be difficult, but it is possible. When we start to recognize that our focus, however small or large, is in our control we can redirect our attention. We can shift that focus to something that is more adaptive to our life.

We will all have days and moments, or even months and years, of adversity in our lives. Times where we have trouble being positive. Times when we are pissy and angry and sad and lonely. However, if you’re able to settle into the moment and broaden your perspective, I wonder what else you will see.  Is there also beauty and love and delight and curiosity and joy?  If you look, I bet you will find it.

So for today, and tomorrow, and the rest of our lives, let’s follow Suzanne’s advice…. spread love like wildfire.

Be bold in life and love,

Adriana

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway ‪50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call ‪(916) 547-3997 or email adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.