Welcome to stren #58, The Skills of Mature Lovers. Unlike erotic love, which nature pre-wires in each of us, mature love is an acquired skill that must be learned, like reading or playing a musical instrument. This stren considers the specific skills we acquire to create mature love.
- Treat others as I want to be treated.
- Love myself so that I may love my neighbor.
A large number of individuals understand and practice the skills of mature love but they have yet to sufficiently unite to educate our global population. We have some pretty good ideas but so far we lack the will to proceed to succeed. Perhaps this is because we must first identify the specific skills that contribute to making ourselves mature lovers. This stren is my attempt to do so. These skills are all readily taught and learned, and can be mastered with study and practice. The collection of strens in this series is a beginning curriculum.
1. Self-endorsement, becoming your own best friend: If you were to take several random “tape recordings” of the conversation that goes on within your mind and replay them, would it sound like two good friends talking? Does it seem more like there is a terrorist(s) within your self-conversations? Skill in self-endorsement enables you to become a marvelous lifelong companion to yourself.
2. Using the “magical problem-solving sentence”: This stren encourages universal common sense to create wise solutions to life’s challenges using current knowledge. This sentence replaces earlier action pathways that are prone to result in blaming, avoiding, anxiety, depression, and the like. Given this situation, what is most likely to make things better for me and you (us and them), for now and in the future?
3. Dealing with blaming: Our natural tendency to hold someone or something as the cause of our discomforts (often our self) usually leads to a desire to hurt or punish. Blaming others or blaming yourself wastes energy that could be used more productively. The blaming mental response is one of the easiest to identify and convert to beneficial problem-solving.
4. The skill of forgiving: Resentments and jealousy are natural and common, but are rarely productive. Forgiveness is the advanced expression of love that reclaims the energy wasted by resentment and jealousy.
5. Strengthening faith – the “yes I can” skill: Until you have some belief that you can make a real difference, you aren’t likely to call on the energy to make a change. When this innate skill has been squashed through learned helplessness, you can “borrow” enough of a spark to rekindle your own and get back on track.
6. Patience: One of the five basic ingredients in acquiring a new skill, patience needs to be acquired. We all enter life with the motto “I want what I want when I want it.” Frequent self-endorsement for your efforts and each small step along the way create patience without the need, as one person requested, for a “crash course.” There are multiple techniques to strengthen patience, especially emotional self-endorsement and secondary endorsement.
7. Learning from mistakes: When we learn to walk, we need to overdo it, lean too far “this way,” then “that way,” and fall quite a few times. Children usually tolerate their mistakes better than adults - a “fall” while learning to walk leads to more effort and “success.” Energy is directed to learn from mistakes and make them a source of growth rather than the guilt, putdowns, blaming, etc. so common in early education.
8. The “reasonable best” measure of your self-worth (avoiding perfectionism): Unrealistic expectations are a major source of unhappiness and depression. The perfectionist can be quite effective and productive but is usually among the most miserable, depressed people. This “input” measure of self-worth is within your control 100% of the time to evaluate your efforts and preserve your self-worth.
9. Your value system: Since most decisions we make are based on our beliefs and assumptions rather than scientific fact, we make more informed use of our resources when we are able to clearly identify our values. The stren, My (your) Assumptive World, among others in this collection, encourages you to increase awareness of your own values.
10. A newer way of thinking (ANWOT): We are born immature and dependent. Achieving maturity, what some researchers have described as “becoming our own person” requires newer ways of thinking that often are quite contradictory to our earliest ways. The mental skills that create mature love are the components of a newer way of thinking (ANWOT). They represent my attempt to develop a systemic method of teaching the skills needed for becoming your own person.
11. Acquiring the vocabulary of mature thinking: Words trigger patterns of thinking and action. Some simple changes in your vocabulary, trigger-words, can turn on the mature thinking that was not possible during your early years of development.
12. Dealing with anxiety: Excessive anxiety, panic, and phobias are far more common than most realize. The common tendency to “what if” and anticipate the worst, usually most unlikely, possibilities rather than think “most likely” is often the source of excessive anxiety.
13. Ultimately strengthen your skill in creating your own original strens: The mental strengths here offered are only a fragment of the multitude of possible strengths that add value and meaning to your life. An important goal in developing basic skills in making your life more meaningful is to develop your capacity to create your own teaching/learning skills, ones that fit your unique life’s situation. Hopefully you will create some worthy of sharing with others, adding to the general pool of strens.