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The Battle You Can’t Win
For some reason, my mother has this unrelenting desire to stuff me with food. Growing up, there are always requests to “eat more”. When I leave home, there’ll always be packages of food stuffed away in my luggage somewhere. Whenever I receive a present, half the package is guaranteed to be some sort of food. When she comes to visit, the cupboards are definitely fuller after she leaves than before she arrived. And it seems like no matter what I do, I can’t stop it!
I’ve tried firmly stating that I don’t want it, but it just keeps coming. I’ve tried telling her that sending despite my objections shows me disrespect, but it keeps coming. I’ve even tried throwing the food out in front of her when she came to visit to set some boundaries, but they somehow reappeared in my home after she left.
There seems to be an entire books of tactics that she has to get food to me! When you’re little, it’s “just one more bite and you can stop”! However, there is inevitably another bite after it. Having learned quickly from such mistakes, that particular one no longer works. My mother has since then resorted to other strategies though. When I’m not looking, she would secretly stuff food into my luggage and/or drawers. When I tell her not to send me food since I can buy my own, she somehow gets hold of food that I can’t easily purchase, from like a little town in China or something and sends it to me. When I tell her not to send food just because I don’t like it, she insists that it’s necessary as a packing material for my other items. No matter what I do, the food just keeps coming!
Interestingly enough, the girl I am in love with has the same issue with her mom. It’s scary to think what would happen if we got married. Each of our moms would think that two people would require twice the amount of food, so we would receive FOUR times as much food! And since there seems to be some unwritten rule that says you’re not supposed throw perfectly good food, I can already see the huge piles of food in the kitchen.
At some point, you realize that this chain of food is never going to stop coming, no matter what you do. For any solution you come up with to block the food, they will find some way around it. Our moms would never give that up, no matter what we do!
This has some very interesting implications. First, it means that we can’t win! No matter what we do, they will always send food to us. The best we can do is tie, perhaps by always sending the food back.
However, if you think about it, this life long fight isn’t really worth it. After all, the food is pretty good sometimes
A Battle Of The Wills
The story above is an excellent example of how thought creates reality. Our mothers wanted to express their love by sending food to us and that is exactly what it became, despite a decade or two of resistance. Because they have absolutely no intention of giving up no matter what we did, they put themselves in a position where they cannot lose. Winning someone’s heart is no different in the application of this principle.
In a way, winning someone’s heart is a battle of your will to be with them vs. that person’s will to not want to be with you, just like the food situation above is a battle of my will to not get food from my mom vs. my mom’s will to express love through sending food. As long as she intends on sending more food, there is nothing I can do to “win”. Similarly, if you always express that you care for that person and do everything in your power to express that care, there is really nothing they can do to “win” either.
Let’s examine the two parts of this “battle” more closely.
Your Will To Be With Them
First, make sure that your will be with the person is genuine. Let’s say you want to win the heart of your friend. Is he/she really very important to you? Can you see your life without him/her? How badly do you want his/her loyalty and trust? Why? The key here is to access just how strong your motivation is.
For example, if your motivation is only to get some attention, that might be a strong temporary motivation. However, after a while, if you don’t get any attention from your friend, then you might start seeking it elsewhere. When this happens, it would be obvious to your friend that your desire to be with him/her isn’t really a genuine long term thing. Even if you do manage to gain his/her trust, it’ll go away as he/she realize that your care is fake. What you care about in this case isn’t him/her, but the attention that he/she gives you.
It is very important that your desire to be with that someone stems from respect, admiration, and love for that person. That is the only way he/she will feel genuine care. For example, if my mom was only interested in something superficial like getting attention, I would have no problem simply throwing the stuff she send to me out, or maybe even get a court order to get her to stop. However, because she genuinely cares about me, I know each little package of food is a piece of her heart and she really wants me to have something unique to eat.
These positive motives have several very important advantages:
Every time you express your care for the other person, you get a feeling of satisfaction. Because you actually care about that person enough to want them to be happy, increasing their happiness makes you happier as well. You’ll feel no regrets at sending your gifts and not getting a response. You won’t be angry at the other person for not giving you what you want in return. In other words, your care is not conditional!
Your care will always come across as genuine. Because your gifts have no strings attached to them, you won’t hold a grudge. In the long run, this will show through in your actions so that you would not feel manipulative to the other person. In the “getting attention” example above, you might become pushier and pushier as you don’t get what you want. The other person would start to feel this neediness and wonder what you want from them so badly. Whereas respecting that person would be more along the lines of “Here’s something to help you, don’t trouble yourself to respond”.
Only a positive view on someone else would really give you enough motivation to care about them for the long term. If you don’t actually respect or admire a person, then why would you even want to be near him/her? The only conclusion is that you want something, which means your motivation isn’t genuine care, but something else. This’ll make you go away fairly quickly if the person doesn’t give you what you want as you have no other reason to be around him/her. However, if you actually respect and admire the person, then you would be glad to be around, regardless of the circumstances.
Their Will To Be Apart From You
After you’ve established that you really, truly want to be with that person because you respect and admire him/her, you have already “won” in a sense. You’ve gone into my mother’s caring and supportive role, always offering your care no matter what the other person does. Because you will keep trying forever, you can’t “fail”. Any “failure” would be just be a temporary thing on your road to success.
However, that doesn’t mean you’ll gain that person’s trust and loyalty – they can “fight” you forever.
For example, my mother’s constant stream of food was annoying to me for a long time. Every time she sent it, I felt like I wasn’t respected and the “gift” lost all sense of the spirit of care for which its intended. By forcing it on me, each “gift” felt like another insult. The gift was more to satisfy her need so it brought into question what her true motivations for sending them to me were.
Therefore, it is important to express your care in ways that the other person understands and appreciates. You need to offer him/her something of value, as perceived by that person, not by you! In the example of the food, it was perceived as an insult for many years, and did a lot of harm in that regard. Had my mom sent me something of sentimental value that showed she understood me, it would have been of much greater value. You want to make it easy for the other person to be with you.
This is not to say that the continual stream of food was a bad thing. There is a good part – it showed that my mother cared about me. That in itself is of value as it gives you the sense that the person has your best interest at heart. If all you want to do is help, but ask for nothing in return, who can refuse an offer like that?
While the above portrays this process as a “battle” of the wills, remember that the other person is not your enemy. What’s actually happening is that you are trying to express to the other person that you respect, admire, and care for him/her. If you interpreted this as forcing the other person on a consistent basis, that is very very wrong! I don’t want any stalkers or more moms sending me food on a regular basis!!!
The idea here is to offer the other person something of value, without encroaching on his/her freedoms or time. From time to time, you’re saying, “here’s something I thought you might want, feel free have it or not have it”. If you keep offering things that the other person wants but ask for nothing in return, why wouldn’t they want to be with you?
If that person continually rejects your offers, then take a hint that this is not something he/she wants. A big part of your will is to keep trying to find something despite these failures, because you feel that gaining this person’s trust and loyalty is worth the effort. Be very careful that you are not trying the same thing over and over again, especially if it bothers or angers the other person.
Remember that you are trying to continuously offer something the other person wants and to be open and honest with them, not trying to force that person to like what you’re giving!
Also, make sure that you actually do like doing the giving! If you truly feel the other person is worth the effort, then the giving should feel satisfying and sincere. Otherwise, you’re just entering into a very one sided relationship that is not in your favor! Just remember, give because you want to, not because you want something in return!
In the key to a healthy relationship, we know that relationships are formed based on a mutual exchange of value. You may be wondering just exactly what kind of value you receive when you offer unconditional care. After all, it seems to be a lot of giving, and not getting much back right? Well, what you’re going for is the foundations of a strong relationship by building an atmosphere of trust. Because you respect and admire this person, you know that they are capable of providing a lot of value. You keep trying because you feel that the possibility of having this other person in your life is worth the effort.
Additionally, from the bigger perspective, we’re only here for like 90 years. A rare connection with someone is a rewarding experience on its own.
Winning someone’s heart does not mean you’ll necessarily be together or do things together though. Its sole purpose is to convey to the other person that you care about them, which establishes an atmosphere of trust. Circumstances may still make it so that your lives don’t intertwine, so that’s all the more reason to make sure you actually enjoy the process!
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