Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dangerous Emotions

Being human makes us susceptible to the onset of feelings. The role of these emotions varies. Some of them are useful while others may be harmful.

The use of social media for self-expression has reached a point that it makes us feel we can say anything. This begins when we see people expressing anything and everything that come to mind. When we see everyone else voicing their likes and dislikes, their irritations and desires we tend to imitate what they do. And because many engage in this, we think that it is normal and healthy. However, when we get used to unbridled self-expression, we come to believe that all feelings are valid. We become convinced that in real life, we should also act on our emotions and our impulses. Using social media this way erodes our ability to regulate our actions and reactions.

To illustrate, when something small irritates us we think that it’s okay to feel this way. But isn’t it better to foster one’s patience and resilience instead of immediately complaining? Or when we develop an attraction to someone despite that person being in a relationship, and because social media has conditioned us that all feelings can be expressed, we tend to think that acting on this attraction is okay.  Not all feelings deserve expression  

We find ourselves creating our own problems when we let our present emotions control our actions. This should not be the case. We should be in control of our emotions and not the other way around. Self-control is far healthier than wanton self-expression. It is our lack of self-limitation that leads us to act on dangerous feelings. Emotional self-regulation is lost when we believe that all our feelings should always be expressed. Doing so not only harms us, but it harms others as well. 

Biblical passages support the argument that we should control what we say and do. The timeless message of a Proverb (16:32) concerning emotions tells us that it is better to have self-control. And it is what we speak which comes from the heart that defiles us (Matthew 15:11). Emotions should help us appreciate life in a responsible manner that allows us to not only respect others but also ourselves.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Selfless and Constant Love

A relationship begins to exist when two people willingly decide to enter it. But once they do so, they are transformed from being separate individuals into integral elements of a romantic union. They lose their individualities and surrender themselves to this partnership of hearts. Decision-making becomes shared in order that mutual respect is nurtured and harmony is maintained. Relationships depend on the couple’s constancy of affection, their appreciation of it being a priority and the reliability of each other’s commitment and their pacts.

Relationships falter because people sometimes fail to appreciate this. When a partner continues to hold on to his individuality and expects his freedoms to remain as they were prior to the relationship, this is when difficulties for the couple arise. When a partner continues to do things his way without the knowledge of the other or when agreements between them are not followed, the relationship begins to disintegrate.

Relationships are not about a partner limiting what he is willing to give. Relationships are not the same as business partnerships wherein people only invest what they want and hold back the rest.  When a couple treats the relationship as a business deal, the underlying premise is that they are also preparing for the possibility of bankruptcy. They do not expect the relationship to last.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Measure of Fidelity

Couples often agonize about each other’s faithfulness. Being secure in the relationship can be a source of much anxiety for both of them. And sometimes demanding total exclusivity from one another is the only way for them to obtain this reassurance.

But how are we able to ensure the loyalty of our partner? What observable behavior or visible guarantee can we rely on? What actions of our partner can we regard as definite signs of faithfulness? Is it enough that the person declares his exclusive love for us? Are words sufficient? Is it being able to check the person’s cellular phone to see if there are no flirtatious exchanges of messages with someone else?

Signs of infidelity are easy to spot, but we often engage in denial and refuse to believe that our partner is being unfaithful. This is perhaps due to our inability to accept the possibility of being betrayed and regard it as impossible, unthinkable or too painful to contemplate. And because of this, we eagerly turn a blind eye or easily believe the reassurances that our partner gives us.

What are the possible signs of infidelity? When the person changes his routine, such as the sudden absence of a morning greeting, or when saying ‘I love you’ becomes scarce, or when there is no more time for each other, perhaps the reason is that his affections and time are being directed toward someone else. And when our partner begins accusing us of being unfaithful even though there is no reason to do so, he may just be engaging in projection because in truth he is the guilty one. Sadly, there are people who even treat courtship as a contest and regard the relationship as a trophy to be flaunted for bragging rights. In such cases, we simply cannot expect these relationships to last.

But is the absence of such proofs of infidelity enough to reassure us that our partner is indeed faithful? Fidelity is not about outward manifestations or observable behaviors. We can impose all sorts of restrictions and hope that these will be enough to ensure that our partner will remain faithful. Faithfulness begins in the mind. If the person is serious about the relationship, he will do all that he can to guarantee that he does not create doubt in his partner. He will further ensure that he does not make his partner jealous. Fidelity is not about checking each other’s cellular phones, it’s about deciding each moment of each day to remain faithful to a person. It’s about a desire not to hurt one’s partner. And it’s about controlling our tendency to become attracted to others and not entertaining this attraction.

If we truly value the relationship, then we will do everything we can to guarantee that we do not destroy it.

The Pharisee Within

There lies inside all men the tendency to judge others. And this is the reason why no one has been spared from being victims of other people’s judgment. To judge is to evaluate based on preconceived criteria. It is a process by which one appraises another using a standard that he has adopted or created.

The curious thing is, people engage in it quite often. Everyone has an opinion about everything. Social media in fact encourages it, which is why self-expression is practically unbridled nowadays. We say anything that comes to mind about anyone and hide behind the convenient excuse that it is a right. Sadly, many do not fully appreciate what that right entails, which often becomes a source of conflict between people.

To judge others is to place oneself above them. Pride often moves people to believe in their own dominance over others. Some people may delude themselves into thinking that they are smarter or morally better than others. To judge others can sometimes be a product of bias and prejudice.  Judging others can also be a subtle form of projection because it may be a way of seeing in others, what one despises in one’s self. Judging others can be a mask behind which people hide. By pointing out the flaws in others, their own flaws remain unnoticed. Judging others may also be motivated by envy. Sometimes people downplay the good fortune that others receive by saying that it is undeserved or that it was obtained unfairly.

There are numerous reasons why people judge. However, doing so does not make one’s own life better or happier. Judging others only reveals one’s prejudice, pride, envy or insecurity.  It is an admission of the kind of pitiful mind one possesses. It is a sickness of those who have nothing better to do than to meddle in other people’s lives.

The words of the gospel should be a reminder that to judge others is to be like a Pharisee who sees only his own holiness and looks down upon sinners.  And having this pharisaical delusion may lead to one’s downfall in the end. People are meant to live their lives according to their own wishes. Accepting and respecting this fact allows peace and harmony not just between people but also within oneself.

Stealing Someone's Lover

There is some measure of satisfaction that comes from being able to steal someone else’s lover. This experience elevates your ego and fills you with the sense that you are more attractive, better and more desirable than the one your present partner left behind.

But you should not be too quick to rejoice when this happens. This should not in fact give you satisfaction. It should instead make you think. Perhaps you should first consider the possibility that there is an underlying reason why that person chose you over the other.

Because it is entirely conceivable that if your present partner left someone else for you, he may just do the same to you. In time, when an even better and more attractive person comes along, you just might find yourself the one being replaced.

You have to realize that a person who keeps changing his or her romantic partner may be always on the lookout for someone better. Or that person may just simply be having fun playing around so as to have had many different partners to brag about later.

Do not be happy when you steal someone from someone else. For what goes around comes around. The idea of karma applies even here. For if you steal someone, then maybe one day someone new may steal your partner from you.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

To be loved or to love

Every day we see another couple parting ways, another casualty of love. Two people now divided, both wandering lost, confused and alone. Two broken hearts seeking solace because of a dream shattered by foolishness, a couple fated to fail from the beginning. And yet this could have all been avoided.

Many of us fall prey to the impulse to seek self-serving love. But this motive often becomes the downfall of many romantic unions. We enter into relationships having only ourselves in mind.  The need to feel wanted, needed, appreciated and cared for becomes our reason for seeking romantic intimacy. 

But a romantic union is much more than the sum of two people. Once joined, they are transformed into a whole that surpasses their individualities. We enter into relationships desiring to be loved. But this is a self-centered objective. And it defeats the purpose of the relationship, because this union should be about sharing, giving and caring. 

For as long as we are driven by this need, we will never realize the fullness of a relationship. Rather, we should seek a romantic union because of the desire to love, and not just to be loved.

Those of us whose hearts have been broken may benefit from reflecting on our past relationships whether we sought romantic intimacy out of the need to be loved, because this may be the reason why these past relationships failed. Instead, when we do enter into a new relationship, we should seek to give rather than to receive. Only when we feel that we can love another person selflessly can we say that we are ready to enter into a new relationship. Only then can we truly claim that we are ready to love once more.