Thursday, July 25, 2013

Encouraging Spiritual Growth for Another as a Form of Giving Love

Unconditional love is the only kind of love that is truly love. There are many other modes of feeling and being that may disguise themselves as love, but the only true form of love is the love that remains no matter what. This kind of love always wants what's best for the other, and this isn't always what is comfortable for them, or even what they desire for themselves. Love helps others to grow into the best possible version of themselves and the act of loving assists in this. 
I understand this best when I think of a parent's love for his or her children. When children are young, it is the parent's job to assist in their development. This means that they lovingly guide the child, encourage him or her to explore, allow them to be as they are. If the actions the child took cause unwanted consequences, the wise parent knows that the child must experiences this in order to learn. 
It's easy to see why this kind of love that encourages learning and growth is important for a parent to do with a child. However, it may not be as easy to understand that this kind of loving is important in other relationships as well. Partners that encourage the growth of the other partner are looking out for their well being. They want what is best for the other and they understand that getting to a better place or developing as a person is not always going to be comfortable or easy. 
This is not to say that you assume the role of teacher or that you give advice. Although to do this with a child is appropriate, when interacting with your partner, it's not only inappropriate, it's demeaning. So, how do you go about encouraging the spiritual, mental and emotional development of your partner?
The first step in this process is to accept your partner the way that he/she is. Anything that you resist will persist. If you are resisting something about your partner that you aren't crazy about, you are actually drawing more of that behavior out in him or her. Acceptance is not the same as tolerance. When you accept something, you aren't saying that you're going to put up with it and not like it. What you are saying is that you understand that they are where they are in life, they do what they do and for whatever reason it is best for them in this stage of their life. Acceptance is understanding that the your partner's behaviors aren't within your control to change and that this is their place right now in their own development. 
Wanting what is best for them and knowing that they are perfectly capable of having it is step number two. This means that you want what they want for themselves as much as they want it (as long as it truly is good for them). You hold space for them, you see them as the person they want to be right now and treat them as such and allow them to do whatever it is that they need to do with your full support. You don't necessarily have to do anything or give them anything. Support can mean just being there as a positive force in their life. 
The tough part is allowing them to experience difficult consequences. It is so tempting to try to protect or save a loved one when you have that feeling of knowing that something will not turn out well, or will lead to something not so great. However, as much as you think this is helpful and giving love, bailing someone out or not allowing them to make their own mistakes is detrimental to them and to you. It may feel like it's what's vest in the short term, but nothing is learned. Everyone has their own path and must go through their own lessons. Not offering advice when you see someone about to do something you feel isn't good for them is so difficult when you care about them. Be there to listen, offer encouragement when you see them taking steps in a direction that will lead to well being and treat them as if they are the person they want to be. You are no lesser, or greater a person than they and you have no room to say what is wrong or right for them. You can only love and act from your own side. Struggle to change them or "improve" them and you will be met with resentment and more struggle. Allow them to grow on their own with your gentle, loving support and they will have the space to be the best that they can be and you will become closer in the process. 

“It amazes me that people think their soul mate is going to show up in their life at this predestined time and be this flawless person. A true soul mate is a mirror of yourself, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. Sure, they have a common upbringing, similar interests but they have the one thing you don’t have which is the introspection to help you become great. What use is a soul mate if they can’t help free you from yourself so you can live your life mission?”
Shannon L. Alder

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