The Opposite of Love

Ever since we have taken a weekend course called “Loving Yourself and Others”, my husband and I are both “evolved” in theory, meaning that we accept that we choose how we feel. Nobody can hurt us without our permission, and no one is making us feel a certain way. It’s all in our control. We choose to not say things like “you hurt my feelings” anymore. We both decided to adopt the philosophy that one does not have that much power over the other. If I say “I am hurt by what you said”, what I really mean is “I am choosing to feel hurt by what you said”.

loveIt’s a philosophy that is great in theory, but can be challenging to practice at times. Last Sunday, I had an argument with my husband. Just like a normal spousal mini-fight, it started out with a silly stuff about father’s day gift, and it sort of led to something more serious. Now, one thing about my husband is that he is very analytical type, and he actually enjoys having a conversation with me after we had an argument as to what had happened. He even takes notes on what I say during the “recap”. I don’t enjoy this process as much as he does – he thinks it’s great that we can have this conversation like grown ups, instead of just screaming at each other or not talk about it at all. While I agree with him at an intellectual level that we should clear up any unresolved issues by talking it over, it is a process that is not fun for me to go through. Last Sunday, when we had the argument I mentioned, he asked me why I didn’t enjoy discussing about it, and I said something like “because I feel like I am loved less (when we have that after-fight talk)”. It may sound corny and even silly, but that was how I chose to feel that time. I suppose that the reason why I don’t particularly enjoy the after-argument-recap is because when we go back and take a closer look at what triggered certain emotions in me, I have to face certain things about myself that are hard to admit or accept. While I am keenly aware of the fact that I am not perfect, I do not have a good acceptance of that fact and therefore suffer from the gap between the level of self-awareness and self-acceptance. It’s really not a good place to be, because I know what I did wrong, and I judge myself negatively for it . Having someone I love point out some of my flaws makes me feel (or rather, I chose to feel) like “he now loves me less, and that must be why he is pointing out how imperfect I am”.

That’s when he said the quote “The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference”. In his mind, he is expressing his love for me when he takes the time to go through step by step, trying to understand what went wrong, by clarifying the words we used, even by looking them up on-line (this time we looked up the word “honor” in wikipedia) because our mother tongue are different and we sometimes have a communication breakdown due to different interpretations of a word. He gently reminded me that if he did not love me, he would not even care to go through this process so we can do better next time. As much as I hated to say “You are right” at that time, I had to admit that he is. I used to work for the United Nations, and I firmly believe that indifferent is the cause of many problems in the world; Ignorance coming from indifference, and vice versa. That’s why I make the point of doing a volunteer work for the San Diego Women’s Foundation and try to contribute in making positive changes to others’ lives, because in the end, it’s not all about me. I can still be happy because my happiness is not depending on other people, but I will be happier if I can make a positive contribution to the world. Making a positive contribution always starts with being curious about what is going on and getting to know the cause of the issue.  If you break down the process of all the movements for social justice, it starts with getting to know what a person in front of you is feeling. What my husband was displaying is nothing but genuine curiosity and love for me. I assume that it will probably continue to be a challenge for me to truly enjoy the argument caused by a difference of opinions. Just because something is true, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. But this quote will help me remind myself how much I am loved.

4 comments on “The Opposite of Love

  1. Wow Etsuko I never thought about it that way. Its hard to face ourselves and I struggle everyday to realize that I choose the way I feel. It is a concept that i have yet to grasp. I admire you and Peter and your relationship. I hope that one day I will find someone and have a great realationship like you and Peter do. Its hard because I am not a type to argue and i am not a very confrentational person, but my family is always yelling and arguing and i wish that they would talk things out more and not run away from arguements and learn from them. Like i told you before I really enjoy you blogs and they do help me try to transform myself into a better person. thank you so much.

  2. Etsuko,
    Thank you so much for sending me the emails when you update your blog. I love to read what you have to say and your insights, but I don’t remember to check your blog unless you send the reminders. I loved what you had to say about the self awareness and self acceptance not being at the same level. I am so looking forward to the Self Acceptance Mastery class on July 17th at the Village. Hope all is well with you. Let me know if you can do a lunch on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

  3. Great post again Etsuko.
    A great story of keeping open to how others like to do things. But also letting them know how you feel about it too.

    Those ‘recaps’ I tend to call having a ‘post mortem’, like when the website crashes, after we get everything back online, we do a post mortem to figure out what went wrong and determine how to prevent it from happening again. Kind of like when a plane crashes, it is important to know the ‘why’ of the crash, or there will be nothing to stop it from happening again.

    And these are attributes of the ‘pursuit of excellence’; the desire to improve. You don’t achieve excellence, you just keep on trying to improve on your current state. After every shift in hockey, or every point in tennis, I review in my head how I could’ve improved my play. After ‘running the tape’ in my head, I expect my subconscious system to take it as advice and incorporate it.

    I freak people out because I don’t appear to get angry (lol), however I do get upset just like anyone else does except that I don’t act out my emotions, I hear out my emotions. Dialog in head is, “Oh look, that ignited my anger emotion, isn’t that interesting. I guess it’s a natural human instinct to feel anger in this type of case.”

    Either your emotions control you or you control them, that’s the battle with many of us humans, and it ultimately determines our degree of free-will.

    See you on your next post next week!

  4. Thank you for sharing this wonderful blog post.

    I fear that I share some of your husband’s traits and my wife and I have come across issues similar to the ones you wrote. (We also have different mother tongues.)

    It was great to read this somewhere else 🙂