I love you.
The words we long to hear.
The words we hear and don’t believe.
The words we say to another to express the depth of our feelings.
The words we hope there’s time to say to someone (and to hear) before passing.
The words we often toss off as mindlessly as “I’ll have fries with that.”
Words have energy. The sounds alone are energy. Words spoken from mind, from heart, from spirit, from body….all have different impacts. The speaking and hearing of words is a cycle of giving and receiving.
Earlier this year, I posted a practice I call “I love you,” which is to simply say out loud to ourselves those very words. Today, my focus is on saying I love you to another. I did not use quotations, because what I’m going to speak to is awareness of the impact of our words upon those we love and expressing appreciation.
Country singer-songwriter Hal Ketchum sings “It’s more than just I love you baby. It’s every little word.”
It all counts. You can’t whitewash a powerful shaming or belittling with “I love you.” There was a couple who attended a few dinner parties at which I was present. She noticeably made him the butt of every joke. She was cynical and ridiculed him at every opportunity. I laughed along with everyone else at first. Then, I had to wonder how it was that anyone could laugh at this cruelty. No matter how funny it was meant to be, it was at the cost of another human soul’s dignity. She was a teacher to me in that she made me aware of my own tendency to make jokes at the expense of another.
I teach my relationship clients to offer appreciations to one another at our first meeting and it is how we close every session. It’s a practice I learned in my training with both The Coaches Training Institute and Center for Right Relationship.
Because this is a practice, it is something I ask my clients to do every day, whether they feel like it or not. It’s easy enough to offer appreciation to someone, to say “I love you,” and to receive these words when we are feeling good. It’s near impossible when we are distressed and that may be when it is needed most. Practicing during the comfortable times makes it easier to use during the tough times.
Here are the steps:
1. Face each other and take an ample and easy clearing breath.
2. Keep your eyes on each other’s eyes, windows to your souls.
3. Energetically drop into your heart and allow yourself to connect with love. Love does not imply approval or even like. It is love from the Source and no matter what is going on, we are all capable of connecting with that Source when we are willing.
4. Begin by saying the other person’s name. Saying our names out loud is powerful. It is an announcement to the Universe that we ARE.
5. Then, say “I appreciate” and follow it with a quality about the other person that you want to acknowledge.
This is KEY – find something about who they are BEING rather than what they are DOING. We want to be loved for who we are as much as, if not more than, for what we do.
DOING – I appreciate you for helping John with his homework.
BEING – I appreciate your kindness, patience, willingness and love that is so evident when you are helping John.
DOING – I appreciate you for standing up to Jack.
BEING – I appreciate your courage.
If you are having trouble moving from doing to being, consider this. Take what it is that the person did that you appreciate. Then discover within your heart who that person had to be, what qualities of character they drew upon to create that action. Those qualities are your being words.
6. Finally, the recipient of the appreciation simply opens their heart and allows this gift of acknowledgment to sink in. “Thank you” or “I feel seen” is all that need be said.
Sometimes the more challenging of giving and receiving appreciations is receiving. We want to slough it off, make excuses for ourselves, hand off the credit to someone else. So, as the one hearing the appreciation given to us, the practice is to be with the unfamiliarity of opening our hearts to receive. It may be uncomfortable at first, like a first sip of water through sun-parched lips. If you are like me, you’ll get used to drinking it in pretty quickly.
If you practice this with another on a regular basis, you may find that you have a very small vocabulary for appreciative adjectives. It’s not surprising really. In my own search for a broader spectrum of words, I’ve looked through the dictionary. I’m certain there are many more negative words in the English language than there are positive. You can also build your positive vocabulary simply by looking into your heart and finding words that truly resonate with what you feel. Be patient with yourself and take time to let it come to you. And yes, there is always the dictionary or thesaurus.
Don’t be shy. Practice with the dog or the cat first, if you must. Then, invite your partner to practice with you. Soon enough, you’ll be offering your appreciations to sales clerks and postal workers in simple sentences creating smiles all around. Honestly, I’ve never met one that didn’t just beam with joy when offered an appreciation (sans hand-holding, of course, but looking them in the eyes is always good). By the way, have you ever noticed how little we actually make eye-to-eye contact with say, the grocery clerk?
More heart, smiles and positive words…soul to soul connections…I’m thinking the world can use a little more of this.
Closing note: The entire time I was writing this entry, two butterflies were dancing around outside my window. Symbols of beauty, aliveness and transformation….how might this practice enliven and transform your relationships?
If you need a little coaxing watch this: (Thanks to the soulful Lori Tuttle for finding this fun video)
Copyright (c) July 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved