Wired For Love

Phylis Clay Sparks

By Phylis Clay Sparks

This comment was once made by self-help author, Tony Robbins: “I never fail to be amazed at the overwhelming number of people whose rules wire them for pain.” When it comes to relationships, how are you wired? Can you think of some rules you have made for yourself and your relationships that cause you pain when a rule is broken?

We all have to set our boundaries and follow personal guidelines with respect to healthy relationships, but many rules with which we’re wired are disempowering. They give us only a few ways to feel good and lots of ways to feel bad. They can be filled with unreasonable expectations, addictive demands and cruel judgments. But rather than look at the rules that wire us for pain, let’s think about some rules that wire us for love and compassion.

Wiring yourself for love begins with you. If you can’t feel love and compassion toward yourself, how can you feel it for someone else? If you’re a perfectionist, for instance, then you will expect perfection from other people. When that rule is broken, you feel the pain of imperfection. So learn to embrace and accept the imperfections in yourself so that you can accept them in others. This will greatly expand the field from which to choose your friendships.

Ask yourself if you are wired with the need to be right. If so, you will suffer the pain of pushing people away from you. Being right, or being defensive, isolates and alienates you from other people. The need to be right means that you need the other person to be wrong. Instead, follow the age-old advice about walking in the other person’s shoes; see things from their point of view; imagine what it’s like to be in the other person’s position. Practice honoring the differences between you and others. This can end quarrels and create harmony and relaxation instead of tension and stress. If you have something to correct them about, then begin with praise for that which they do well.

You might ask yourself how good you are at taking an interest in another person. I mean genuine interest by being present with them when they’re talking. This means not interrupting them or finishing their sentences for them. If you learn to truly listen, the people you communicate with will feel more relaxed around you because they will have felt heard and listened to. And you will learn to enjoy your conversations more.

When someone tells a story, or tells you something about themselves, do you have a tendency to respond by telling something similar about yourself? Break the habit! Just respond by saying “That’s wonderful,” or “Tell me more about it.” In other words, stop waiting your turn. Relax and let someone else have the floor.

Another question to ask yourself is, “Am I wired to constantly keep score?” In Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s All Small Stuff, he suggests that “When in doubt about whose turn it is to take out the trash, go ahead and take it out.” Avoid becoming resentful by constantly keeping score.

My point is that we all need to examine our internal rules. Keep the good ones and toss out the bad ones. Wire yourself for love by moving into understanding and compassion. If you do, you will never feel alone.

Phylis Clay Sparks is a professional speaker, teacher, workshop facilitator and author of SOUL-ESTEEM: The Power of Spiritual Confidence. A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and the Ernest Holmes College School of Ministry in Orlando, Florida, Phylis is an ordained minister. She is the founder and Spiritual Director of The Soul-Esteem Center in Maryland Heights, Missouri, now in its eighteenth year. Visit www.Soul-Esteem.com for more information.