Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” Our brains are set up to make things in life routine and a phrase many of us unfortunately habituate to is “I love you.” Think about how many times you say goodbye, get off the phone, or leave for work in the morning with a cursory, “I love you.” What was once a meaningful phrase has now become a habit stripped of its intent. So I’m going to propose something to practice that your mind will likely try and dismiss because of some underlying fear or discomfort. Here it is…
What would it be like to start your phone call or conversation with the people or person you are closest to with intentionally sharing, “I love you.”
Notice what the next thought is that arises in your mind. Is it a judgment or a thought that you can’t do this for some reason or another? Just check on that.
Ask yourself why? What’s so dangerous or uncomfortable about starting a conversation with a phrase which is likely the phrase you would have wished you said more of later on in life when there is greater wisdom from life’s experiences.
It may be that saying “I love you” to start off a conversation leaves you vulnerable in some way, so the judgment that arise are trying to keep you safe.
This isn’t some Pollyanna, let’s all dress up and pretend everything is roses. You would only say this if you really felt that way about the person you were talking to.
The effect I’ve found with people who do this in relationships is that it immediately sets a different and more caring tone for the conversation. If you’re used to having arguments or conflicts and you start the conversation out this way, it creates a different ground for the relationship to be more resilient. The negative thoughts aren’t quite as sticky.
You might consider trying this out as an experiment so you can let your experience be your teacher instead of the automatic judgments that arise out of fear. It’s just worth being curious what the obstacle to love is in our lives as it truly is a major natural healing source.
Share this with your partner or close friend, try it out as an experiment, without expectations of any miracles and see what unfolds. You might just be surprised.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interactions create a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is in private practice in West Los Angeles and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook,Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn (New Harbinger, February 2010). He synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing. He contends that we have the power to transform our traumas and habitual patterns that keep us stuck in perpetual stress, anxiety, depression, or addiction and step into greater freedom and peace. He offers practical strategies to calm our anxious minds, transform negative emotions and facilitate greater self acceptance, freedom and inner peace. Dr. Goldstein, who comes from a family of psychologists, advocates that mental health comes from an approach that looks at all aspects of the self – physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.