Love and Limits

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(Lose the Net by Rasmus Faber Courtesy of Epidemic Music)

How amazing it is that good questions lead us so naturally to good answers, and that beautiful questions lead to even better answers! When we open ourselves to the things we don’t know, we’ve opened the doors to discovery and wonder and greater understanding.

I’m Scott Lennox and you’re listening to The Beautiful Question, a consideration of things that matter every day.

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It’s been said that unconditional love is impossible in the human world, but I disagree. There’s quite a difference between openly loving someone and accepting hurtful or inappropriate behaviors. In fact, we don’t even have to like someone to love them or show them compassion.

Join me this week as we consider how to set realistic limits while we love without holding back. Stay with me. I think you’ll be glad you did.

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In the past few weeks, several people have told me about feeling emotionally and mentally and financially worn out by their grown children (or other relatives) who continue to be dependent on them. One mother recently said, “We love our son, but we’ve almost drained our savings taking care of things that should be his responsibility, not ours. He’s in his fifties. When does this end?”

My answer was and is quite simple.

It ends when they put clear and immovable limits in place. It ends when they decide they’ve had enough. It ends when they stop saying “Yes” when it would be far healthier for everyone involved to say “No.”

As I’ve written in the past, we teach people how to treat us. When the parents I just mentioned are constantly giving money to their son when he could easily get a job and support himself, they’re teaching him that he doesn’t have to work. Consciously or unconsciously, they’ve taught him that when he needs something, he can go to them instead of earning it.

I’m sure they didn’t mean to teach him that, but they certainly didn’t mean not to. And all three of them are paying the price for it.


 photo: lensandshutter

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I’m also thinking about couples I’ve counseled where one of them has silently held a grudge against the other for years over some harshness or mistreatment or misdeed in the past. Among the most frequent comments I hear are, “How can I openly love someone who treated me that way?” And, “I can’t just let them get away with it. That would be giving them a free pass.”

Would it?

When we look a little deeper, we find that the one who is judging and withholding love has been acting in ways that run counter to their own nature. We can’t measure the impact on either party, but it’s clear that holding a grudge is a two-way operation causing damage on both sides of the issue.

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On the other hand, what happens when we look at the person who hurt us and at the very least, tell ourselves that we’re going to be true to who we are and continue to show compassion to the other person and treat them with kindness instead of constantly judging them and constantly keeping our hearts closed?

The answer is pretty obvious.

Our hearts stay open. At the very least, we don’t add additional pain to the original offense. That sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

Having held some pretty serious grudges in the past, I have learned to stop and ask myself what it is that I really want. Not so much about the hurt that happened in the past, but about what I want to happen right now in the present. Do I want to continue behaving in ways that are harsh and unkind, or do I want to see what happened for what it was—exactly as it was—and then choose to treat myself and the other person with love and acceptance and compassion. Do I want to be continually angry and frustrated, or do I choose to allow myself greater freedom and greater room to move around in my life as I stop judging?

In every moment, that choice belongs to us.

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This week’s Beautiful Questions are crafted to help you consider what unconditional love is in the very real world. I look forward to hearing your responses.

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Question One: Can you think of ways you have stayed in judgment instead of acting with simple kindness and accepting another person for who they are?

Question Two: Does loving someone mean that you have to allow them keep treating you harshly, or can you step back from the harsh behavior as you continue to love the person?

Question Three: When you establish healthy and realistic limits to what love is in a relationship, what becomes true for you?

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As always, it you’re willing to share it with me, write and tell me what you discover as you sit with these questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

As I say each week,
My Light with Your Light!

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I’m happy we can engage this way as we consider things that matter and what to do about them. If nothing else, I hope you feel inspired to look more deeply at ways of caring for yourself.

You can be further inspired by visiting my friends at Kosmos Journal. That’s K O S M O S Journal. Their mission is to inform, inspire, and engage global transformation in harmony with all life. You can easily find them online at Kosmos Journal dot O R G.

And at, you can read the illustrated transcript of each podcast as you listen. We’ve also included an archive of all previous podcasts, including guided relaxation audios that can help you practice letting go on a daily basis.

If you find these podcasts useful, I encourage you to share them and tell others about them. That’s a great way of helping me get a voice of calm and collaboration and balance and encouragement out into the world. It’s a great way of spreading peace.

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I’m Scott Lennox, and this has been The Beautiful Question.

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The Beautiful Question is a One Light production, written, produced, and engineered by Scott Lennox at HeartRock Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, as a way of paying forward to life, being fully present, becoming better engaged with things that truly matter in a complex world, and committing to a healthier future for all of us.

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