We teach people what love is by showing them what it feels like to be loved.
When we tell people what to do, often times we are met with defensiveness. Think about, if someone says that you are wrong, what you’ve been doing is not right and this is how it should be done, how would you feel?
The visceral reaction to conversation like that is stonewalling, shutting down, shrinking into our being. Our biological reaction is to protect ourselves, and when you tell me I’m wrong, and this is what I should do – you attack my sense of self.
So what should we do? What should we do to help others, and perhaps ourselves increase our understanding?
We lower a person’s defensiveness when we find ways to encourage learning.
Because learning requires people to acknowledge their intentions and their reality. Learning requires suspending our desire to be right and prove our competence. Learning requires looking at the situation from the perspective of: what else is there?
For a moment, we transcend from having it all figured out, to being curious about what do I understand? What do I not?
And that is where the magic begins.
Curiosity opens doors of exploration. We engage in curiosity when we pause, connect and question. When we look at world from the perspective of “wonder” we encourage exploration without judgement into the terrains of thoughts that perhaps otherwise would have permanently remained untraversed.
And yet, there are times when curious inquisition isn’t enough, in those moments we have two choices: either we look for inspiration in examples, or we become the inspiration and lead by example.
Because sometimes when it comes to complex concepts like communication, love, trust, honesty, belonging, happiness – to talk about their importance will only create an understanding of what it means to live by those concepts.
To construct a reality in which we live with love, trust, honesty: we must feel what it is like to be loved, to be heard, to belong.
And that is where it becomes our responsibility to do both: seek out spaces where we can understand what this feels like, and create such spaces for those around us to do the same.
“Become what you respect, mirror what you admire.
Attract what you expect, reflect what you desire.” – Unknown