Magic Sentences of Love

"I love to watch you..."

I was moved by Special Ed teacher Rachel Macy Stafford's writings on the impact of these words on her family as she began to sprinkle her conversations with them. She herself had been inspired by an article, "What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One," by Bruce Brown and Rob Miller. In the article, college athletes shared that the one thing that their parents told them that made them feel the best and enhanced their joy of playing was: "I love to watch you play."

"I love to watch you play." That's it. Just loving seeing that person in front of you doing what they're doing. Not changing a thing. Not loving their success, their good sportsmanship, not loving anything but their beingness in the moment.

This is kind of rare, is it not? So much pressure to "succeed" these days, yes?. And it's not just in the arena of sports that kids (or us) can end up feeling like success objects.

As a Creative Arts therapist, I see so very many people who have written off huge parts of their creative selves. They have only cramped access to their spontenaity, fresh-idea-making capacity, freedom and sense of play and possibility. Why is this?

I believe that many have had their creative spark snuffed out somewhere along the line by well-meaning adults who praised, interpreted, judged or made "helpful suggestions" about their creations. The child then adapts their our own visions to get more approval or avoid criticism, which effectively squelches their natural access to creativity on many levels. This is a serious loss.

What would it be like to have a practice of simply saying "I love to 'watch' you?" to the people in your life?

I love to watch you draw.

I love to hear you sing in the house.

I love to watch you dance.

I love to watch you cut and paste so carefully.

And not just in the arts, but everywhere...

I love to watch your eyes shine when you swing on the swings.

I love to watch your kindness to your grandmother.

I love to watch how you turn the pages of your book.

I love to watch how you paid attention to your little brother's tears this afternoon.

I love to hear you laugh.

And not just with children but with adults...

I love watching you in the kitchen cooking soup for us.

I love to watch how you care for our family.

I love to watch how kindly you talked to staff at the meeting today.

I love to watch you pack my groceries so carefully.

What would it be like to be on the lookout for what you truly, honestly loved to see in the people in your life?

I can tell you that for me, this has been a new quiet joy. I have seen people be surprised, saying, "really?" with such tender amazement. Then they look really happy, which makes me happy. It is like a loop of love that goes out and circles back. It is really heart opening. It is one of the sweetnesses that create relationships that are a true refuge.

Why not give it a try? "I love to watch you...."

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