Most of the Western World has the wrong idea about love. We think it is a feeling. Like is a feeling. Hate is a feeling. Love is a decision followed by action. When we are children, our pre-frontal cortex is not yet developed. When we have a feeling, we have to express it. We go with our impulses, just like an animal.
Once we are adults the trick is to use the observing part of our brain to stop and check things out.
When my partner says something to me, am I in mortal danger?
Do I need to react by lashing out or shutting down?
As adults we can grow the capacity to stop and reflect. If the person I am with is someone I have decided to love, I need to become aware of the impact of my behavior and become intentional.
What does intentional mean?
It means if I want you to be close to me, I have to behave in a way that would make it safe for you to do so. If I want you to listen to me, I have to speak in a way that invites you to listen. If I want you to speak to me I have to listen in a way that would invite you to speak to me. Sounds obvious and easy, right?
Unfortunately not. Most of us did not have parents that taught us to be non-reactive. Becoming conscious of our impact and intentional requires us to slow down and breathe. We have to develop the container and the discipline to notice our feelings, but not react to them. This discipline begins with being curious about what makes your partner feel safe in your presence. When they feel safe, then you will be safe because they will let down their defenses.
The discipline of using the Intentional Imago Dialogue is the best way to grow the capacity to manage our feelings and respond rather than react. This process slows things down so both people can feel heard, seen and valued. And all humans need this. When we are seen, heard and valued our nervous system calms down.
We need to work as a team to grow our observing part of our brain so we can calm the reptilian part of our brain down.
Receive the tools needed for Imago Dialogue at a Getting the Love You Want Workshop