“Love” is a word easily spoken—but actions speak louder than words.
Not a monetary tithe tossed in the name of giving—nurturing is love in action. Whether it is for oneself, family or community—nurturing is an experiential undertaking. It’s real, it shows dedication, and it gives results.
Nurturing has no expectation of return—it doesn’t demand that a person should act or be a certain way to be nurtured. To be nurturing demands taking care of oneself—one cannot give from any empty cup. Self-love can be confusing while, self-nurturing provides tangible growth.
These are some simple ways to be nurturing:
1. Presence with Awareness.
Awareness is the ability to be present with someone’s absent assumption, judgments or criticisms. Presence means being in the moment—focused on what is unfolding, rather than being distracted by thoughts, expectations, stories, anxieties or anything.
Presence shows up. Without being present in body and mind, relationships fall apart. When present, what is really going on for a person and who they are is revealed (through awareness).
Being present with someone, and responding with awareness, enables a trusting relationship to develop. When we are able to dialogue about life—and its difficulties, differences and perspectives—in emotionally safe ways, a secure relationship dynamic is built. Rather than the accustomed, habitual manipulation control and fear dynamics—common among the broken-hearted—an opportunity presents itself to live and relate in a different way, through nurturing experiences.
Trusting relationships thrive because there is no defensive mechanism to overcome for communication, validation and love.
2. Listening with Awareness.
Hearing a person share their perspective or experiences can be painful and not easy to work with. Listening is difficult, because people are quick to defend themselves. They justify, rationalize and try to be understood. This happens most often with people closest to us. Patterns of communication can quickly develop, and real messages get lost in buried emotions and distortions.
Rather than being understood—listen.
Give the person space to express. Stop any need to justify or defend—vocally, mentally or physically, through body language. Simply listen—feel the breathing, feel the heartbeat—and in these moments recognize the humanity and vulnerability of the person who has brought something with trust.
Sharing and listening are vulnerable times. Being able to remain present is a nurturing opportunity—giving those who participate an opportunity to transform relationship dynamics.
3. Cooking with Love.
Saving the best for last—cooking is a pure way to show people you care for them.
Knowing who the person is, and the kinds of food they appreciate, is a guaranteed to nurture anyone. This is not my secret, it’s what every family knows.
Pure foods, fresh ingredients and a personal touch, when taking the time to prepare food and set a table, demonstrates caring and nurturing. It’s a real opportunity to express one’s heart and take care of people. Whether it is for the homeless, for friends who are traveling, for someone who is sick or just for the daily meal—genuine cooking, even if simple, demonstrates love.
There are many ways to be nurturing, and these are just three examples.
How do you put nurturing into action?
Author: Keith Artisan
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina