Hale Dwoskin has this thought experiment where he suggests you try loving people because they are whatever way they are that is currently driving you to the brink of insanity. I find this idea seriously annoying. I thought about it a lot on my long hikes this past weekend.
If I’m not already doing this, then what am I doing? I guess I’m only loving the parts of people that don’t upset me. I might, for a time, love people despite their annoyances. But that only lasts until their annoyances get too pervasive, and then I’m hardly loving them at all because I’m focused like a heat seeking missile on their flaws.
But how can I love someone because they’ve screwed up. Isn’t that condoning bad behavior? Actually, the experiment isn’t asking you to love people for what they do, but for who they are. A person who makes mistakes. You can love a person who makes mistakes and still decide not to put yourself in the path of their tornado.
At this point, Hale would ask me if I’m needing to figure it out, and I would say, Yes. He would ask me if I could give up trying to understand, and I would say, No. He would laugh that obnoxious laugh and ask me if maybe, just for this one moment, could I give up needing to figure it out. I would say Yes, just to keep him from laughing again. Besides, it’s just one moment; I stop trying to figure things out for many moments at a time, when I get distracted.
But I think his point is that it’s easier to understand if you just try it empirically, rather than trying to reason it all out theoretically. So I decided I would give it a try, and start with myself, because I’m really annoyed that I’ve gained weight again. I could say to myself, I love you despite the few extra pounds. But this statement would be more accurate: I love you but I’m very disappointed in you and I’ll love you more if you lose that weight again, and for the sake of all that’s good and human, please keep it off this time, and actually I’m not really loving you much at all because I’m so focused on how you have totally screwed up your life by gaining weight.
For some reason, the above inner dialogue makes me want to eat.
Okay, I’ll try the Sedona Method experiment.
Julie, I love you because you ate everything in sight for the past 3 months. I love you because I can understand why you did this. I know about the emotional stressors in your life, and how hard you’ve been working to overcome barriers to your dreams. In fact, I’m so proud of you for all the hard work you’ve been doing and amazed that the only fall out is a few pounds. You are really amazing, you know it? I’ve totally got your back as you work through all the current trials in your life. I’m not going to harass you about a few pounds. I’d like to help you find better ways to relieve your anxieties. Let’s focus on that instead of pants size?
Hmm. Interesting. Well, I feel like bawling. I feel a bit like I’ve finally been understood. I kind of feel that maybe I can take a deep breath and just love myself where I am at right now, at least for the next few moments.
I wonder what would happen if I put that loving statement on an index card and put that index card on my fridge/snack drawers, and read it every time I got something to eat…