I am really excited to welcome my friend and guest blogger Carla Dippel. Today Carla is writing about a coaching session we recently did. This post is an excellent example of how to dig down and discover your belief system about a specific concept; in this case “love”. As always please feel free to contribute to this wonderful post by leaving your feedback and comments. ~ Darlene Ouimet, founder of Emerging from Broken
Cocahing with Darlene on my Definition of Love by Carla Dippel
A few weeks ago, I was freaking out about love. I felt anxious, confused, and stuck. I had this sense that I was missing something, that I was scrambling in the surface of myself while there was much deeper stuff going on beneath that I couldn’t get at. I described this “freaking out”-ness to Darlene. In her masterful way, she asked me a couple simple questions that changed everything. I really cared about working through this struggle because I really cared about the part of my life that it was affecting. So I decided to be open and reveal the truth as honestly as possible. I had hope that in doing this I would find better answers than the ones I was working with at the time.
First Darlene asked me to reveal my definition of love. She added, “Don’t worry about sounding silly or trying to have the RIGHT answer. Just write what naturally comes out, what you believe off the top of your head.” I had this sense of taking my focus off the leaves of the tree that were sick and shifting it to the soil. What was really down there?… I felt afraid to be so honest. I don’t like feeling vulnerable or sounding stupid (especially). But I went to work. Here is what came out, un-edited and un-analzyed:
“Okay, off the top of my head with little thinking, love is… Always wanting to be with the person. Life long commitment (aka- I want to be with you forever). Feeling all fluttery inside whenever we see each other. Knowing I will never be hurt by the other person (that’s weird…) Perfect loyalty. Security. Liking everything about each other. Never having doubts. Always being nice (ew). Major physical attraction all the time. Feeling empty if we’re not together (woa). High emotional intensity when we are together. Being perfect.”
Darlene’s response was: “Your definition of love could not be more wrong.” But she didn’t try and fix it. She asked me a couple more question to go even deeper: “What is your definition of love between you and your mother/ you and your father, you and your brother? (do them separately for the best results).”
Again, I did my best to be totally honest. This is what I revealed to myself:
“Dad and I: Love is NOT ROCKING THE BOAT. Love is making him feel good about himself. Love is being protected.
Mom and I: Love is never abandoning her. Love is pleasing her. Love is pleasant and cozy. Love is helping her. Love is being helped by her.
Brother and I: Love is enjoying being with each other. Love is looking out for each other. Love is taking care of him. Love is sacrificing what I want for what he wants and arranging my life to work around his life. Love is trying to make sure he won’t abandon me.”
I finished writing this out, read it over and cried. I immediately and deeply understood why I was freaking out about love. I was terrified of being trapped in these kinds of definitions, definitions that had formed within my earliest relationships with the most important people in my life. Definitions I had had no control over until that particular moment of seeing them. Powerful beliefs that were hurting me and that I had coped with and tried to escape from in all kinds of ways. Beliefs that made me unnecessarily suspicious and untrusting in current situations. I felt this new compassion for myself. I wasn’t struggling because I was messed up. I was struggling because of a legitimate problem. And I was fixing the problem.
We moved on to “re-building” questions. Darlene asked, “How do you define love now? How do you define love in the friendship you and I have?” I know love differently now. Love is many things, but at its deepest core it is acting in ways that are best for myself and for the other person. It challenges and encourages growth. It fosters freedom and choice and individuality. It is honesty with good intention and being real. It is fun… It is enjoyment, attraction, caring. It is not control, manipulation, or lessening myself. It is not constantly adjusting for the other person.
I have had the new definition of love in my head for some time now. I tried to apply it and felt like a failure when I started struggling. I felt helpless and didn’t understand my confusion and angst. Having the new truth in my head wasn’t enough. As long as I didn’t see my deeper beliefs (unique to me based on my own story) going on underneath, they still had the power to tug me down and backwards. Going through this process took their power away. I saw them and where they had come from. I empathized with myself for the pain they had brought me and I started working to change them in those deep places. This made all the difference. I felt free to move ahead. I felt excited… and empowered. I realized that I had been working very hard in the wrong direction by trying to cope with them. I had tried hard to change my thinking and my feelings on a surface level but was getting nowhere. There is faster freedom in working things out on the deepest level of my belief system. Though the struggle to reveal the truth wasn’t easy, the process was simple and invaluable to me. A literal process of digging deep “recovery.”
Carla Dippel lives in beautiful Alberta Canada. She loves to cook, dance, write and grow in knowing what is good and true about this life. As Carla has emerged from broken, she delights in being a distinct and adventurous woman, living her life to the full, exploring new possibilities and making her dreams a reality. Carla loves to share reflections of her journey with others and to hear the stories of others in return.