By: David Lee, Life / Health / Executive Coach
Valentine’s Day can be amazing day as we celebrate the people we love most in this world, particularly our significant others. This day can also be very painful for many of us who are in broken relationships, or are wanting to be in a relationship but currently aren’t.
I have an amazing life! Why is that? It has nothing to do with success in career, business, money, education, athletic achievements, or anything like that. My life is amazing because I have amazing relationships. I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart and have been with her for 30 years. I have beautiful relationships with my daughter, extended family, friends, colleagues, patients and clients. I can honestly say that there is no one on this earth that I hate, and hope that everyone can say the same about me. I am so blessed that I know at any given time I have at least a dozen people who I can call if I were ever in trouble, and they would drop whatever they had going on and would be there for me. I of course would do the same for any of them as well.
The quality of your life is directly correlated to the quality of your relationships. I find it so unfortunate that so many people have so many broken relationships in their lives. Divorce rates alone are over 50%, and that number keeps creeping up. Of those that remain married, the majority of them aren’t living a fully loving and passionate one. Family members cut each other out of their lives, best friends can become best enemies, and business partners can stab each other in the back. The unfortunate reality is many of us have these broken relationships which negatively affect our lives.
How can we improve this? I know that many of us would say that it’s because of everyone else, and I need to just find better people in my life! While this may be true in some cases, it always takes two to tango. Before you go looking for new relationships, analyze the broken ones you’re currently in. To do this I want to give you a road map of the different levels of love, and where you currently are.
Level 1: What’s in it for me
This level is analogous to a crying baby. What does a crying baby really give you? Other than it being really cute, nothing! The baby says feed me, clothe me, change me, put me to bed. It does nothing but take, as that’s all it really can do. While this is excusable for a baby, it’s not for us adults. Yet many of us love at this level, if not long term, we have all had moments where we exhibited this level.
Level 2: An Exchange
This next level is where most of us tend to live. I will do something for you, if you do something for me. While many of us don’t think we live here, if you are secretly keeping track thinking I did the dishes, yet my partner never took out the trash, then you live here. There are also many conditions at this level. I will stay in this relationship as long as… or only if…. You get the point, and you fill in the blanks.
Level 3: Your needs are my needs!
Three is where true love lives, and where your relationships and life become amazing. It’s a selfless love, a love that is always seeking to give, and always looking to put the other persons interest first. Many people have a huge issue with this level as you can be perceived as a door mat! What if I give everything and get nothing in return? Then you are back to a level 2 love. If you are really living a level 3 love, and the other person is clearly exploiting or taking advantage of it, then for sure, maybe it’s best that you don’t continue to stay in this relationship. However, if you act guarded, protect yourself, and always keep tabs (ie level 2 love), then you may block out pain, but you will also block out a true fulfilling love that you must become vulnerable in order to receive. The only thing you will truly lose in a relationship, is what you fail to give.
Level 4: Although you persecute me, I will still love you
This level is so profound that I don’t even think it should be a level 4 love, I think it should be a level 20! This is the Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela kind of love. Most of us have all had moments of level 4 love at times. I definitely have, and am hoping to have more, but as you can see, this is an extremely tough level to love at, and it takings being a door mat to a whole new level. However, if you can truly live here, you become one of the super hero’s mentioned above that truly change the world for the better.
Which level of love are you mainly operating at? The higher the level your home base is, the better your relationships and your life become. When analyzing current or past broken relationships, what level did you operate at? If you are operating at a level lower than 3, then you are truly missing out on a deep level of love and relationship that is the foundation of living a beautiful life. Can living at a level 3 or higher love cause you pain? Absolutely, however I would argue that living at a level 1 or 2, will long term cause you even more pain, loneliness, anger, and depression that will plague you your whole life.
I currently coach many couples. I have had many of my clients initially talking to divorce lawyers who now can’t keep their hands off of each other (in a positive way!) If you are struggling in any relationship, get help. It’s worth fighting for as failed relationships can cause you more pain than just about anything in life.
Make sure this is the best Valentine’s Day you have ever had. If you already have great relationships, take it to another level and try to love at an even higher level. If you have broken relationships, pick up the phone, extend an olive branch, and start operating at a level 3 love.
If you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comment section below.
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