This conversation delves into the profound impact of love on personal well-being and its potential to create a more loving world.
In this episode I chat with Paul Zolman, a speaker, educator, veteran, entrepreneur, and author of the book "Role of Love: The most effective way to demonstrate love every day." Paul shares his inspiring journey from a childhood filled with abuse to adopting a mindset that allows him to love freely in any circumstance.
· Our past profoundly impacts our future – are you going to repeat family patterns or be intentional about changing them?
· Dr. Gary Chapman’s five love languages can serve as a foundation for understanding how you give and receive love
· Practicing the five love languages (service, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, and physical touch) expands our understanding and experience of love
· Using the love language cube/dice is one way to bring an element of play and fun into exercising your expression of love
· Ask yourself: Are you willing to send love out without expecting it to come back?
· Need ideas for expressing love in a language that isn’t your preference? Get Paul’s free download (see below)
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I'm your host, Dr. Heather Frederick, and today I'm hanging out with Paul Zolman. Paul is a speaker, educator, veteran, entrepreneur, and author of the bookRole of Love:
The most effective way to demonstrate love every day. But Paul wasn't always a love language linguist. He candidly describes his childhood experience as the opposite of love. And today we are going to talk about how he went from a childhood boot camp of abuse, to adopting a mindset where he can love freely and find good about anyone in any Circumstance. Paul, welcome to the show. It's just a pleasure to be with you today Why don't we start out with you spending just a few minutes introducing yourself to the audience? by way of sharing your backstory. Sure. Thank you, Heather. Um, I'm number 10 of 11 children. My grandfather actually had 19 children. My father only had 11. I only had eight, and my children are only having three children. I don't know what this generational thing is, Heather, but I want more grandchildren. I just don't know how to facilitate that. As number 10 of 11, though, I didn't have much say of what was, what went on. In the day, I was the human remote control, that my legs were shorter. That's what my brothers told me. You go up and change the channel on the TV. So I had to walk up to the TV, turn the knob and change the channel for my siblings. You have to do what your siblings say when you're number 10 of 11 or else there's consequences. Mostly it was physical abuse, many times verbal abuse. And, and any type of social abuse. It was all that type of abuse in my childhood. It was an angry household. And so I've learned the angry culture first. And I realized that at age 17 that I did not want, I make that, I made that declaration that all 17 or 18 year olds make, I don't want to be like my parents., I'm going to do something different. And you make that promise to yourself and to everybody else that will listen, that you're not going to be like your parents. But then you just kind of fall back. I found that my father had this, this habit, and my brother had it too, that we'd be annoyed, annoyed, annoyed, annoyed, annoyed, and then there'd be a flash of anger. And that, those flashes of anger would happen in public, it happened in private, and I did not want that type of atmosphere in my childhood or in my adulthood. Did not want it any time. So I started saying things like, like a negative person would. I don't want to be angry. It's a double negative statement, so it's like two negative numbers multiplied together make a positive. It wasn't working in relationships. I think it wasn't getting that positive number by having that negative statement. It wasn't manifesting itself. More negativity actually was manifesting itself. So I try to figure out, how do I get out of this culture? How do you make a leap from an angry culture to a more loving culture? And I just kept working at it, but unfortunately after 23 and a half years and the eight children, you know, this anger was contributory to the demise of my first marriage. So, I'm finding myself single. About 15 years ago, my older sister said she had a neighbor that she wanted to introduce to me. She was living seven hours away, and in that interim between being divorced and being single , I had, , done some destination dating. Gone all over the United States and into Mexico. for these destination dates. I find somebody online and we pick a city to meet in, have a date, and then go back to our respective cities. Went to Jacksonville, Florida, Daytona Beach, Atlanta, Georgia, Columbia, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, New York City, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Nashville, Las Vegas, Snowflake, Arizona, Phoenix, and Cabo San Lucas. All these places and a few more that I didn't name and just had a great time. But I realized, Heather, that I was looking for love, just like the song, in all the wrong places. Wasn't finding anything. So when my sister says she has this neighbor seven hours away where she lives, I said, Oh, I'm done with that. I don't want to do that. An older sister, she says, Oh, come on. Like I said, number 10 of 11, you've got to do what your older siblings tell you to do. And so I said, Okay. And I thought, well, I'll email this lady. What kind of relationship can you develop with an email? I didn't think that anything would happen from it, but I started emailing, and actually she was a very good writer, and I thought, this is kind of fun. So I got really brave after about the fourth or fifth email, and I said, well, how many times have you been married? She writes back and she says, counting the five that are buried in the backyard. And I thought, I've got a live wire here. I've got someone with a sense of humor. I've got someone with personality. This might be worth pursuing. So we started corresponding and calling and getting a little closer that way. I started visiting and then I ended up moving up to that area and we became serious. So as we're serious, it's time now to take her to my brother's house for big brother approval. Number 10 of 11, you've got to have that big brother approval. First thing that happened when I went in, Heather, is that my sister in law pulls her aside and says, the only emotion that the Zolman family learned growing up was anger. At first I said, uh uh, and it made me mad. And I thought, oh, I'm busted. I just proved her point. And I realized at that point, Heather, that I can break this generational perception of the Zolman family right here and now. So I started reading on the five love languages, read through it four or five times, and that's kind of how I got introduced to the love languages. So that's a little bit of backstory there. There were so many things you said there that I would love to comment on. I think the first is that you're wanting more grandkids. I think that's beautiful because that says to me you're optimistic about the future and with things that are going on here today, sometimes that's difficult for people to grasp. I love that. And you also brought up this Wanting to break a cycle of anger and so some of my listeners may be thinking what does this have to do with being a doctoral student and we are operating in environments right now where there's a lot of anger, not just within higher education. There are terrible things that happen on college campuses every single day, but there are terrible things happening all over the world right now. And I am finding guests who are willing to come on the podcast at this point in time, who I believe are going to help people figure out how can I be part of the solution to this problem I see of humans hurting other humans, usually coming from places of anger. So that said, I would love for you to talk a little bit about the love languages because I know We're going to have some listeners who are going, well, now that's interesting. I've never heard of that. What are the love languages? Great question, Heather. The love language is actually a theory that was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, who is a pastor, and he said that the love language is actually reconcile, well, are all reconciled to, to the life of Jesus Christ. And with that, I thought, you know, I was Christian and I'm still Christian. I thought, you know, that's kind of a good direction. I wanted to be more like that. And so I thought that if I could incorporate it into my life, that'd be an awesome thing to do. But I didn't get it. I read the book four or five times. Remember, I came from an, an angry culture. And to, uh, Say that this was love, you know, it just didn't work for me. You mean, Dr. Chapman, if I guess what Heather's love language is and cater to it, you're calling that love? I mean, we might be buddies, but that doesn't sound like love to me. And it wasn't working, and I'm a bad guesser. So I was badly guessing about people and just wasn't connecting. It wasn't working for me. So the second thing that Dr. Chapman says, well, if you take this survey, you can find out what your love language is. Well, what do I do with that? Well, I advertise. Hello, Heather, I'm "gifts". What do you have for me today? I could put a little button on, say, this is my Venmo account, I'm "gifts" what do you have for me today? Send it. And it just, I could do that, but it's just awkward. Just so awkward. I was done with the awkward, blowing up and having those, , angry fits in, in public or in private was, that was already awkward. Didn't need more awkward in my life. So I had an idea. Even as dysfunctional, Heather, as our family was growing up, I thought, you know, playing games, brought our family together. Yeah. There was still all the smack talk, there was still all the put downs. You put somebody down, it elevates you, right? No, it doesn't really work. And that's just part of that angry culture. And then there was aggressive competition. But it brought our family together and I thought, what if I could make this a game? So I actually contacted Dr. Chapman and asked him, are you licensing those little icons, those little pictures that you have for the love languages? And his attorney wrote back and said, no, we're not doing that at this time. So I had a friend that was a copywriter, an intellectual property attorney in my neighborhood, and I, , talked to him and he said this. He said theory, like the love language theory, is not copyrightable. application is. So I said, well, that means that I could probably make my own icons and make it into a game and I'd be okay. And he said, yes, that would work. So that's what I did. So I created a cube that I'm holding in my hand for the listeners that are just listening. I've got a cube. It looks like a waiter that's holding a platter that represents "service". So all these are pictures. There's no, um, no words on this. So when you talk about the love languages, service looks like this. Someone that likes service likes their car washed. They like the trash taken out. They like the dishes washed. They like the carpet vacuumed. They, they like their car gassed up. They like to be served. They like serve dinner, serve it on time, serve it hot, serve it, , delicious. They want all that to be done. They really light up when that happens. That's, uh, all about service. The next icon on the, on the cube, I've got two hands. put together forming a heart. From that heart, there's a little conversation fly out. So those would be the words from the heart. So that would represent "words", the love language of words. People like to hear the words. They like to know how beautiful they are. They like , all the compliments that you can give them. They like to hear, I love you. Those people light up when, when they have the words. The next one is a hand holding an hourglass. Hourglass represents "time". Time , could be anything. You could just sit down and watch a Hallmark movie. Just sit here. We don't even have to talk. Let's just enjoy this Hallmark movie. My wife just hates Hallmark movies. So for her to sit down with me to watch a Hallmark movie, I can tell she absolutely loves me when that happens. But it doesn't happen very often. Thank goodness that's not my primary love language. The next one is "gifts". And gifts is, kind of self explanatory. People really light up when they receive a gift. And then the last one is "touch". Two hands that are touching one another represents the love language of touch. Five love languages. Six sides on the cube. The last one is surprise me. It's a hand holding a question mark. So Heather, there's just two instructions. You roll the cube every day. Whatever it lands on, that is the love language you practice giving away all day that day. In this journey that I've had, I've realized that I absolutely have no control over what someone else does, or even what love, if they're sending me love or not, that's a boundary I did not learn growing up. And in the angry culture, there are no boundaries, absolutely none. So I had to draw that boundary that says, I should not be annoyed at what they're doing because I have zero control over that. So I sighed a big sigh of relief, Wow, you mean I don't have the burden to monitor those guys? Wow! It was, it was just fabulous to find out I did not have to do that. And then, well, what, what do I have control over as it relates to love? And then I realized, oh, I have control of sending it out and responding when it comes my way. But I can't bid it to come to me. Just, I can't. And nobody can. So, so I thought, well, I'll just send this out all day, every day. And the way I send it out is without any regard of it ever coming back, but trusting the laws of the universe that were in place before, Heather, you and I were ever born. Or ever even thought of. So, the laws of the universe I'm talking about are the law of the harvest, Karma, Law of Attraction, whatever you want to call it, it's when you send something out, it comes back to you eventually. So sending love out without any regard of it ever coming back, you trusting those laws that someday it'll come back, it may not come back immediately. What you're watching for, though, is when people light up. When they light up, you've made their day. When you make someone's day, there's great satisfaction there, and it's like you're getting paid for what you just did. That satisfaction is enough love that'll sustain you until the next person. While you're practicing that particular genre all day that day, you're going to have four or five or six or eight people that you're going to light up that particular day., They're going to record that day, maybe in their journal, that that's been one of the best days of their life because of what Heather did for them, or what Paul did for them, what John or Susie or whoever did for that person, they record that for that day. That's what you're watching for. I found that over a course of the 30 day period of rolling the dice , that I learned all five love languages backwards and forwards. That's the whole idea, to get that foundation, to learn them backwards and forwards, so that you can see it when it comes your way. I've missed so many opportunities, Heather, in my life, now that I look back, that people were loving on me, but I couldn't see it, because it wasn't my primary love language. Dr. Chapman's theory further says that everybody has the primary love language, the way they like to receive love. And most people will give that love away in hopes of reciprocity. To me, that's a transaction. That's not love. That's business. This is not a reality show. This is not let's make a deal. This is sending it out without any regard of it coming back. And what this does is it gives you that peripheral vision to say, Oh, they're loving on me. It's not my primary love language, but I can see that, I can respond to that. That's basically the explanation of the Love Languages. You gave the overview of what the Love Languages are. There are five, and they appear on your dice that you roll like a game, which I love. I love this element of play. I remember when I was first introduced to the five Love Languages, my first thought was, well wait, can't I have all of them? I want service, I want words, I want quality time, I want gifts, I want physical touch, but then you take the test and it helps you understand that you have primary ones and what I found was mine had seasons as well. So when I was a single mom with young twins, service was really high on my list. I needed people to help me with laundry and grocery shopping. And then as they matured and my life changed, you know, other ones became more to the forefront, but this idea of understanding how people give and receive love really helps you make sense of the world and then empowers you to have a little bit of a, an intention maybe, or a blueprint for the day., before I got your dice, which I love and sits on our kitchen counter, and I didn't ask my kids, hey, every day, why don't you roll this? I explained what it was, my twins are 19 now, but I see them every morning, they roll and they share, what did you get? Mom, what did you get today? You know, and we share throughout the day what that looked like for us. So you, you roll the dice. And I was thinking, I don't know how much this is going to change my life. I consider myself pretty positive, pretty kind, pretty outgoing. I'm going to chat to the person in line with me at the, at the post office. But what I found was that it really did emphasize and help me find opportunities. So today I got gifts and gifts can be buying something which will become very convenient because we're going holiday shopping today, but it could be something like cooking someone's favorite meal as a gift or a little letter. I will usually do like a sticky note or a card, or maybe I'll do my daughter's laundry or, you know, the, the dishes, which is service, but my kids definitely see that as a gift as well, but you go out about your day. And as you're having these interactions, maybe opening the door for someone or saying a kind word to someone, it's not small, , making a positive impact on a stranger's life or someone in your, in your close network. In a world where things aren't looking very great right now, In terms of what the media would have us believe or is showing us, things look terrible at a macro level. Making a difference in one person's life absolutely has a ripple effect. It does, absolutely does, Heather, and you're great to recognize. I love what you've recognized about gifts. Gifts is kind of what I like to call the umbrella of all the love languages. A hug could be a gift. Service or giving a dinner would be a gift, or doing laundry for someone would be a gift. Spending time watching that Hallmark movie could be a gift. Or, just sending them a note. You know, I had a, uh, tested this with a couple and, and he knew that she liked words, but , gifts was on the very bottom of the list for her, ,so, he rolled gifts one day, he says, what am I going to do? And then the thought occurred to him, I'll just write her a note, wrap it up in a package. She was absolutely delighted to get a gift like that, that was the words in the package, and it was just, just fun for her. So you can just work with it, I think there's a lot of overlap between the love languages like that. Just watch for those opportunities. And the more you watch, it's just like anything. If you're going to learn how to run and you're going to be a marathon runner, you've got to just keep doing it for a little while. You can't do it overnight. It's going to happen over a period of time that you'll get that, that resistance training, that strengthening training, and then you'll develop. I love how your twins ask you what, what you rolled. What my wife does, she doesn't , roll the cube herself, but what, what she does is she tries to guess. by what I'm doing, what I rolled that day. And I was just in church this last Sunday, and I had my arm around my wife and there's several people in the congregation that know that I have written a book and, and have the die and everything. And so we get out after the service and, one guy comes, comes up to me and says, I think I know what you rolled today. And then he said, I saw you have your arm around your wife, and I put my arms out like this, said, Come on, Bo, bring it in. And I gave him a big, big hug. He was laughing uncontrollably because he had nailed it for me, and it was just fun. Just fun to have people guess, what did you roll today? And it's just that guessing game. And I absolutely love the variety of it too. You know, Dr. Chapman almost would put people in a box that said, this is your love language. If you only delivered that every day, it'd be like eating tacos every day of the rest of your life. The same food every day of your life could get boring from time to time. This provides that variety for you that, you know, on, Christmas Day, you're not opening up to a present that says, I have a hug for you. And that's all I've got. That is your present this week, cause you're a physical touch, and that's all you get. You don't get any gifts, you get the hug. we want to have that variety in our life. We want to be able to, uh, to have fun with this and really bring the fun of love back into, really to , stave off the negativity that's in the world. We don't need that negativity. The media really focuses on it and I really feel like they're responsible for, for making us negative. They're looking, focusing on what's wrong with people. And that was my problem, too, Heather. I focused on what's wrong with people. Realize that maybe 10 to 20 percent of a person might have faults or weaknesses or failings. And then the other 80 to 90 percent is really, really good. I was focusing on that 10 to 20%, and I realized that rolling the die was an about face paradigm shift for me, that now I'm focusing on what's right with that person, what can I love about that person? That shift that I made really kept me so busy, focusing on that 80 to 90 percent what's right about them that I forgot to be annoyed. I forgot about what's wrong with them. And, and it's just like a magnifying glass. What you focus on actually becomes bigger. Who wants the faults of another person to get bigger? Especially if you're talking to children, or you're talking to a co worker, or you're talking to anybody. Why would you want their faults to grow bigger? And why would you want to emphasize that? Because that's a boomerang. You send that out, that's coming right back. It's coming back 10 times worse because the velocity and the gravity that brings it back quickly right back to you. You don't want that negativity in your own life and you don't want people looking at your faults. Look at their positive things and it'll be a whole lot happier life for you And I think it really lays the foundation for being able to find solutions to bigger problems that are out in the world, right, so we're not ignoring that there's things that can change but we're saying we're gonna come to the table with a foundation of love and with a focus on what is working. What is right. How can we get better as humans loving other humans? And what I love about your cube is that it absolutely was like cross training. You, you talk in your book about this practice of love being an exercise and that it's something we need to be intentional about. And I, I love also that you acknowledge it can be challenging. It can be challenging, but that challenge, you can turn that into a game and make it fun. Again, I love this element of play. I think as adults, I think as graduate students, we don't play as much as we can and we get weighted down in the drudgery of life. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what if you roll something and it's a challenge, how you can turn that into a game and make it fun. I think that's a great question, Heather, and I think that, um, I think for the learning curve that everyone has when they're learning something brand new, especially graduate students, as they're having that learning curve of maybe a new subject that they've not had previously, that that learning curve is steep. This is going to be steep for a little bit for the love language that you're not used to sending away, but as you continue to do it, I've, I've got a lot of help out there. I've got a website that has a lot of suggestions.. I think that if you explore that a little bit, it's just going to make that a lot easier for you to do. It won't be so daunting. Um, I had a son that, um, you know, one day he rolled gifts and he said, Oh, I don't want to do that. I don't want to go buy something for somebody. And he said, I'm going to roll the die again. And he rolled it again. It was gifts. And he says, I'm not going to do that. Rolled it again. It was gifts. Finally rolled it the fourth time, it's gifts. He says, okay, I'm going to do gifts today. And then I just tend to kindly explain to him that it could, you know, how I explained to you that it's the umbrella could involve a lot of different things, a lot of things that don't cost money. In fact, the very best gifts are things that don't cost money. It could be that hug. It could be that, um, just being with that person, spending that time with that person, that that's what that person needed more than anything else. That was the best gift that you could ever give to them. So don't be daunted by something that you may not be familiar with, but just become more familiar with it. That's the whole task. What we're trying to do, Heather, is develop this as a basic. Just as I was stacking annoyance over annoyance over annoyance over annoyance and getting to anger, now it's different, but it's still stacking. You're stacking kindness, on top of kindness, on top of kindness, on top of kindness, to get to higher laws of love. These are basic. Higher laws of love that I'm talking about are charity, compassion, intimacy, forgiveness, empathy, sympathy, mercy. Any of those are higher laws of love. These are the basic steps, stair steps, so to speak, that will get you to those higher laws of love. And when we think of it in that manner, it may be even more daunting, and I didn't want to make it more daunting that way, but learn these basics. And practice these basics every single day. That will naturally, it will be a natural progression to get you to those higher laws of love. Can you imagine somebody insulting, insulting, insulting, insulting, and then asking for forgiveness and then going back and insulting, insulting, insulting, and doing it again? It's not going to work. It's really just not going to work. It's better to stack those kindnesses and then get to those higher laws of love. And . Those higher laws of love are what I believe the world needs right now and it's really an honor to talk to you and have this mechanism where you mentioned in your book, it's a small investment, right? It's a two second investment of rolling this cube that pays off huge dividends, not just throughout your day, but they will be cumulative like exercise, and lead to these higher laws of love. You mentioned there's lots of ways if people are feeling challenged, like your son who kept rolling gifts, you've got a free download of an eBook called 101 Ways to Express Love. And if listeners would like this, all they need to do is email you, and I will have your email in the show notes below. As well as all the other ways that they can connect with you and say, yes, I want to be part of this movement. Of learning to love without judgment. Um, Paul, before we wrap up today's episode, I'm wondering if you have a favorite quote you'd like to share with the audience. Heather, I have several favorite quotes, but I'm going to give you one that is one of my very favorite. It's from a classic movie called The Sound of Music, and in that Sound of Music, Rolf is the little delivery boy, and he rides his bike everywhere on his deliveries, and he has his bike parked. He's on the lawn of the Von Trapp family home, and Maria's on the second floor with her window open, and he's singing a song. And part of the lyrics of that song say, Love in the heart wasn't put there to stay. Love isn't love till it's given away. I love that movie anyway, but that just gave me chills. The perfect way to end today's episode. Again, Paul, thank you so much. And listeners, I'll have all the information below in the show notes, including how to get the book that comes with the cube. So thank you for your time today. Thank you, Heather. It's a pleasure to be with you.