The Difference Between Tough Love & Compassionate Love

Everyone has an opinion about you, your life and how you are living it. There are people who truly want the best for you and feel it’s their duty to impart a few words of wisdom whenever needed. We appreciate these people and we are happy that they are in our lives. Everyone needs a little push and surrounding yourself with people who give you just that is never a bad thing. Think of all the times you would’ve given up on something great if you didn’t have someone there to let you know that quitting is easy and that you are capable. I remember when I was in elementary school I hated waking up early for flute lessons. I had to take them before school started. My young mind thought it was torture. When I wanted to quit my teacher told my mom that I was too good to quit and as a result, I kept going to lessons because someone gave me that push. I know a few friends who have told me that they wish their parents had been tougher on them. That their parents didn’t let them quit that dance class, art class, a soccer team or music lessons just because time has shown them the value of sticking with something. The value of getting through the challenges that sometimes lead you to feel that you’re not good enough because practicing is the only thing that will lead to potential perfection. We can’t be great at everything but with dedication and hard work we can get close or all the way there. I know many of you can think of something you gave up on because it frustrated you. It didn’t come easy or perhaps the commitment needed meant you would miss on out time with friends. So you gave up. At the time this felt like a good idea, looking back you realize it wasn’t in your long-term best interests. A few of your friends stuck with it because, although, they wanted to give up, they had someone there pushing them and giving them that tough love.  I have heard many people as of late talk about tough love.

I have heard many people talk about tough love and the impact it has on the person on the receiving end. I have heard both positive and negative viewpoints and its true cultural differences also play a role where this is concerned. In certain cultures, tough love and compassionate love are one and the same. The idea that pushing your child, partner, family member, whomever by being honest and tough on them. Telling them how things really are and not taking no or excuses for an answer is an act of love. Where quitting is unacceptable and pushing through what challenges you and scares you is the only way. Loving someone doesn’t mean you cannot be tough on them. Loving someone doesn’t mean that the truth should be evaded. Instead, with love comes the responsibility of honesty, even if it hurts. Someone I once knew, lived by this ideal. They felt that it was their duty to share their honesty, whether insightful or not, even if it hurt. I was thinking about the idea of tough love and whether or not it’s effective or does it sometimes leave negative imprints on the people it’s intended to help. As you know there are a lot of successful people who can’t get over that one negative thing someone said to them. It may have made them work harder and achieve great things but the emotional burden of those cutting words or actions still painfully linger in their heart and soul.

Are compassionate love and tough love one and the same?

I don’t think so. Time has shown me through life experience the difference between those who mean well and those who shouldn’t say anything at all. I myself have learned the importance of understanding the power of intention and your responsibility to be aware of how the things you do and say can positively or negatively shape someones emotional outcome. They may make it, but the hope is that they feel good and can celebrate the journey as well as the destination. It’s important to encourage people, if you believe them, to believe in themselves. We all need a little push every now and then. We all need someone who can tell us the truth, even if it stings a little. It all comes down to intentions and delivery but then again the truth will sting whether it’s said harshly or gingerly. When we love compassionately we understand that the person on the receiving end may need more than just some harsh words and criticism. We often forget that words of encouragement can also be met with truth. We can dish out truths but at the same time lift their soul, their being to a higher level of self-recognition. Where they themselves can see the power within them and the ways in which they can change their lives if they make certain changes. Where they themselves can see the habits and behaviours that are preventing them from reaching their true potential. When we love with compassion we show them that we believe in their highest potential. We push them towards it, not through fear or admonishment since there is nothing worse than a victor who feels shameful. We push them to be inspired by the possibility of the life they can create for themselves and we do this with compassion. With words and actions that in turn will inspire them to do the same for someone else.

I have met a few successful people who will say, “no one ever helped me…I was told I wasn’t good enough..I guess it was tough love…I had to prove them wrong” and use this as their excuse as to why they choose not to help someone else make it in their field of work. They use this as their excuse, so they can get away with saying cruel things without regard for the impact it will have. A by-product of the tough love they experienced in their lives. I am all for criticism, constructive criticism. There’s always room for improvement and you don’t know what you don’t know. Therefore, I think it’s important to take it in and learn but with that said I think opinions and criticisms should be constructive and met with a potential solution or a piece of helpful advice.

For example, you can say something like this, you know what, this is difficult, I get it. It’s not meant to be easy. You are capable and don’t believe that you aren’t. If you quit today, you will definitely hate yourself for it at some point in your life. If you do A, B, C, and D, this will help you get there. Don’t let the struggle of it all take over that burning desire within you, the one that will keep you going and take you there. You have to work hard for the things you want in life. The truth is, this will never stop. It may not happen for you, but I really hope it does, because you are worthy of great things in your lifetime.



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Hanifa Sekandi

Founder & Editor-in-Chief Follow Me on Instagram @thethingsiwishiknew

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