Deep down, we all want to be treated with respect, to feel cared for and appreciated. None of us wants to feel criticized, rejected, or manipulated. To reduce it to its simplest terms, we each want to feel loved. I don’t mean loved in a romantic sense, or some outpouring of emotion; but simple caring. This is the universal bottom line of every human relationship. We want to feel cared for.
If we ourselves want to be treated this way, we should do the same for others. But, if we aren’t careful, we easily end up doing the exact opposite. Instead of trying to ensure someone feels cared for and appreciated, we can unwittingly descend into a vicious circle of recrimination and attack.
A sad game is played out in which each person is effectively saying to the other: “You’re not treating me as I would like. Therefore, I’m going withhold some love, or get at you in some way, so that you realize the error of your ways, and treat me better.”
It’s a lose-lose game. Little wonder many relationships—personal, social, and professional—find themselves on rocky ground
The vicious circle can be broken when we remember that, just as we want to feel loved and appreciated, so do they. Our intention then becomes: How can I communicate so they don’t feel attacked or rejected; but cared for and respected? When two people share this intention, everything changes. A deeper quality of love imbues the relationship.
What is true for personal relationships is true for international relations. If we attack the other—whether physically, psychologically, or verbally—they will very likely attack back in some way. Once again leading to vicious spirals, whose tragic consequences are, painfully, all too plain to see. What if—and I know it’s a very tall order given the entrenched hostility between some nations—but what if we gave the other what they really want? If our intent was to help them feel safe and respected? If we treated them with kindness and compassion? It would almost certainly soften their responses. And if the other party had the same intent, we’d be on a path to peace.