Tough Love Doesn’t Exist, Part 1

It isn’t a thing. It isn’t even a logical statement. Depriving someone of affection isn’t loving. Depriving someone of physical proximity isn’t loving.

Depriving someone of their physical possessions isn’t loving. Isolating someone isn’t loving. Judgment and blame are not loving. Withholding adequate food, water or other necessary items is definitely not loving. Depriving someone of what others around them are freely given is not loving. American culture tends to not be loving. It tends to be aggressive, competitive, blaming and cold. It tends to reward harsh and unloving behavior toward those who are acting out.

Be willing to take the risk of going against mainstream thought when you have a loved one who acts out in some way. Focus on actual love, strengthen your relationship with the person, be loving and kind even if the other person cannot reciprocate. Consider how you would feel if you were never going to see the person again; would you fee good about how you’re treating them? This really is an important question to consider when things get tough, and even when things are going more smoothly.

This doesn’t mean to operate from a place of guilt, but rather a place of love. Proactively avoid the need for regret and self blame by allowing love to guide your behavior and your reactions to others.

Love the person first. Look for underlying reasons for their acting out and know that human behavior is exceedingly complex. Behavior generally has many possible explanations and not all of them are obvious. Mainstream explanations are often based on assumptions, negativity about motivation, blame and judgment, and assignment of negative intent. However, most acting out behavior, whether it is active or passive, is based on survival and this is a complex concept. To understand another’s motivation requires careful thought and consideration, challenging our own assumptions and an open mind. If you automatically think you know what is driving someone’s behavior, there is a good chance that you are mistaken.

This is not a judgmental statement, it is simply a statement. Be willing to question your beliefs, be willing to challenge your logic, be willing to consider alternative explanations. Know that acting out is generally driven by fear, underlying physical problems that may not be obvious, disclosed or undisclosed trauma, and other factors.

Please be actually loving to your loved ones. Love heals. Love is protective. Love seeks to understand. Love is looking past our own needs. Lovingly set limits and boundaries. It is possible and some loving boundaries may look very similar to unloving or cold boundaries, but they feel very different.

People who act out are often quite sensitive so they are more tuned in to the way something feels. When a sensitive person feels rejection, abandonment, judgment, or criticism, they are at risk for further acting out. If you are the source of these things then you now bear some responsibility in the situation escalating. It does not mean that the other person’s acting out is your fault; it simply means that you are responsible for helping to escalate the situation.

Kind love is genuine love.

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