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The Responsibility of Loving
To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I remember when I first read the above quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, I was floored. I had this instant recognition that comes when truth is delivered in words that cut right through the psyche and straight into the soul. Not gentle. Not filled with colourful words. Words that are written to wake us up, not make us feel good. Words that maybe we don’t want to hear, but desperately need to hear to stop us from inevitable destruction. I recognized through Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, that for me to knowingly continue having unhealthy relational dynamics is to consciously choose to continue to wound myself and those l love.
Damn. That’s a big reality and a high level of responsibility.
But it’s true, isn’t it?! And it’s also normal to love without knowing how to love… And it’s also normal to witness dysfunctional relationships and unhealthy communication patterns. Unhealthy relationships are normal. How effed is that?! It takes work, humility, curiosity, passion, and most of all, courage, to face our pains. It is abnormal to take 100% responsibility for our behaviour and see our wounds as being the source of our greatest wisdom and growth.
I’m here for abnormal. And I know you are too.
"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."
~ John Chapman
*quote is often misattributed to Jack Kerouac
The hardest part to me is the first step — choosing to do it differently… to move towards healing and growth, and to commit to no longer participating in unhealthy relational dynamics. This is what it truly means to choose love.
It is a powerful and liberating place to be when you say, “I’m done living with low standards for how I communicate and the quality of relationships I’ve been conditioned to tolerate, and I’m ready to create the magic that comes when I take 100% responsibility for what I will allow in my life, from this moment forward.”
Say it. Choose it. Repeat it. Get it tattooed on your butt cheek.
What is on the other side of you drawing a line in the sand and declaring “NO MORE,” is a love and a life you’ve always desired. To achieve it, you must let go of the patterns, choices and behaviours that will never get you there.
This isn’t about never hurting anyone ever again. It’s about recognizing what we do and what we tolerate that hurts ourselves and others. It’s about no longer pretending you don’t know the impact of the things you do relationally out of fear, pain, hurt, and a lack of taking adult responsibility for how and who you choose to direct your love towards.
You might feel shame for the recognition of how you’ve shown up (or not). Or maybe you feel guilty because you’ve made choices and done things that have hurt people and yourself (welcome to the club!). Sit with those feelings and use them to change your life. Let this awareness be the material you work with to alchemize the love you desire.
My final thought is this:
If we can’t acknowledge that we know how to hurt people, or that our behaviours do hurt people, we can’t step into the innate knowledge that we know how to love people. We must accept the shadow to get to the light.
Until you take responsibility for the role you play in the outcomes you get in your life and your relationships, you won’t be able to change them. Why? Because you can’t change something you don’t believe you have an impact on.
You are not a passenger in your life. You are the driver. Grab the damn wheel and take charge of the direction you’re choosing to go.
And for God’s sake, stop driving like an inconsiderate A-hole. 😘