Two concepts that have not been perfectly defined in a dictionary. Two things that absolutely change lives and relationships. Two values that inspire poets, and build families. Two ideas that allow us to have that much coveted happiness, contentment and peace.
For without these we would always be at war with one another. This world we know would be vastly different if all relationships ended the moment someone crossed another, and without these societal disintegration would not take long at all.
Two concepts we take for granted on a daily basis. Two concepts that are grossly misunderstood when regarded as feelings that may come and go, rather than principles that require action.
It has been said that one can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving.
Love is mostly thought of as a feeling. To regard in high esteem, the dictionary says. We say "I love…" so flippantly that the blank can filled with objects. I've done it myself, I love hamburgers. I don't love hamburgers, hamburgers make me feel good, and that's about the general equivalent of what most people mean when they say "I love you". We reduce the relationship to our feelings for an object. "You make me feel good" would be more accurate in most cases.
We don't say "I choose you." or "I commit to you" or "I will sacrifice myself to make sure your needs are met.''
Because when they stop making us feel good, we don't "love" them any more. We change the relationship. The choosing ends, as does the commitment, as does the provision.
Here's the thing, love requires forgiveness.
Forgiveness, too, is misunderstood. It is thought of as a free pass, earned simply by saying the words "I'm sorry".
Most people believe that to forgive means the injury was justifiable; that it was acceptable to treat us in a manner that caused us damage, emotional, physical, financial or otherwise. "I can't forgive" that person, that group, that fill in the blank, because they did me wrong.
Just as an aside, I won't discuss the physical ramifications of holding a grudge against another, but that mentality only causes trouble in every other relationship a person will have. That's not puffery, either. Holding a grudge against another person literally rewires the brain to look for personal injury as kind of a watchdog against the perceived wrong. Whether it has happened or not. The brain looks for every possible warning sign against a repeated offense which causes negative emotional reaction to the smallest perceived behavior. In other words, we create problems where there are none.
Here's the other thing, forgiveness requires love. Not the "you make me feel good" kind either.
Forgiveness is the putting away of the deed in order to preserve the relationship. It's not admitting fault or right. Forgiveness means we care more about the person than what they've done. It means continuing to choose, keeping that commitment, and maintaining the provision of needs. It requires action.
Love is selfless and sacrificial. In order for us to love, we must be vulnerable, accepting and forgiving. In order for us to forgive, we must be understanding, compassionate and loving.
The two are different sides of the same proverbial coin. One requires the other.
The question, then, is when does loving and forgiving turn into being walked on and taken for granted?
When we allow it.
People will only treat us the way we let them treat us.
There's a certain amount of self respect that must be in place, just like any other healthy boundary, from day one. If not, we can almost certainly guarantee welcoming disrespect.
This was a lesson I had to learn as well. A difficult lesson at that, because I used to feel very guilty for telling people "No". It came from being a people pleaser, and a desire to be liked.
While there are no antibiotics for nice guy syndrome, there are some axioms that helped me tremendously.
You don't need anyone's approval. Nobody signs a permission slip for you to be you. And no one, absolutely no one, has the right to treat you like an object. You don't need permission to love and respect yourself.
You don't need permission to love or forgive other people. You can very easily love them, forgive them, want the best for them and turn around and walk away.
Because sometimes the best thing we can do is give toxic people the space they need to realize that they need to change their behavior.
It's tough love, and it's completely healthy.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to forgive toxic people… to accept an apology that was never given. It frees us from allowing their behavior to affect our thoughts, emotions and actions. It frees us from bitterness. It gives us the space we need to grow, and continue to love others without expectation.
Jon Newton is TheRapportCoach. He teaches how to use the neuroscience behind relationships to create extraordinary experiences between humans. From personal to business relationships, Jon helps humans navigate humanity.