I don’t know even when, but I heard about the concept of loving people for who they are instead of what they do a long time ago. In my mind, it was definitely a worthy ideal, but yet seemed to be so impractical …
In fact I remember myself watching the first Spiderman movie … the one that came out in early 2000’s with Toby Maguire … where one of the characters talked about giving up things for the person they loved … I thought to myself … ok .. Whatever … hurry up to action scenes already!
At the time, I thought sacrifice would be a moot point, because you’d want to choose the person who likes what you do … or at least appreciates it, because it gets them what they want.
Where the problem comes into play then is … life happens … people lose jobs, get sick, have mid-life crises etc. As it turns out, even positive events can become game changers … for example, lottery winners have tremendous relationship problems, because your husband/wife/friends were fine when you were making an average salary … with millions of dollars in your bank account that perspective suddenly changes…
I spoke at a retreat last weekend, and one of the participants came over and asked me how do you know if you love the person for who they are, rather than what they do … since what they do is all that is visible?
I was surprised. In my mind, I almost considered it self-explanatory and so I wanted to use this entry to define it for myself. Interestingly enough, the answer I gave to the retreat participant is fully compatible with what you’re about to read … looks like I’m getting better with thinking on the spot💪
So let’s start with what’s visible. I’d say I love the person for who they are, when the things that they do that I don’t like, end up bringing us closer rather than tearing us apart.
This is easiest to explain in terms of romantic relationships. In the past, when my partner did something I disapproved of, it would start building a wedge between us until such time that I felt alone in their presence.
In my current relationship, though talking about issues is always a bit uncomfortable at first, I am amazed how the seeming deal breakers … when subjected to an open conversation, regardless of how unfruitful that conversation may initially seem, become a plaster that brings us even closer together.
So how does that work out in non-romantic relationships? Say people at work who don’t seem to like me as an example?
I think it still applies.
Whereas before I’d direct my anger at them for not liking me, now it helps me to understand what it is about ME that gets triggered by their behavior.
It’s just so much harder not to love a person who gifts me insight about myself.
How do you know that you love people for who they are and not what they do?
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