A Winter Practice Of Intentionality

By Bonnie Brinkman and Darcy Jack - February 2016

Valentine’s Day in Cincinnati tends to be a cold day to celebrate love. Perhaps the winter chill gives us an opportunity to reflect on the warmth generated by giving and receiving love. There’s nothing cold about that.

With open minds and hearts, we find wisdom in some unusual places. For Clint Black, the country western singer, Love is not something that we feel; it’s something that we do. Many wisdom traditions tend to agree. So, it follows that we need to DO something to keep experiencing love.

Here’s something we can do that comes from Making Marriage Simple, by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelley Hunt. No need to bundle up and brave the last of winter’s chill.  The only materials needed are: a hot beverage, a laptop or paper and pen, and curiosity. Ready to go?

Pick a person you love and cherish.

Give them the following guidelines to write individual sentences about you:

      1)   Start each sentence with the words “I feel loved and cared about when you…”
      2)   Use only words that are stated in the positive
      3)   Write the sentence in the present tense    
      4)   Pick topics that have nothing to do with any frustrations they have about you e.g.       
            “…when you finally pick up your clothes” (!) Don’t go there.
      5)   Choose behaviors that are specific and repeatable

A few examples:

  • I feel loved and cared about when you bring me coffee in the morning
  • I feel loved and cared about when you call my mom just to talk
  • I feel loved and cared about when you brag about me in front of others
  • I feel loved and cared about when you plan special time for the two of us

When they’re finished, ask them to give it to you.  For double benefit, do the same for them. Intentionally doing the behaviors on our lists sends the message, “I see you, and what you like is important to me.”  

It is not uncommon for us to demonstrate our caring in a way that we would like. So we hit the bulls-eye when we give behaviors that are specifically identified by the other person.  Many of us didn’t get this type of respectful loving as kids, so when we do, we also experience emotional healing, and the relationship deepens.

As is often the case, children embrace this powerful, yet simple activity with gusto. Ask your children what you do that makes them feel especially loved and cared about. Write their list as you listen. Then set an intention to do these behaviors often.

One four year old answered his father’s inquiry with the following rapid-fire response:

            I like it when you make Mickey Mouse pancakes ask me to help you fix stuff
            wake me up in the morning singing and when you read to me before I go to
            sleep

See what it feels like to be more intentionally loving, and intentionally loved. You will find that your on-purpose loving and caring behaviors will warm your relationships, even during these cold months.

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