When love feels far-fetched and unattainable, how can we find it in life’s simple acts of kindness?
“How can I love you even more?” is a question I ask myself and others every day. Often, as a healing trauma specialist, I hear a version of “I feel unloved” or “I just want to be loved.” This has become even more prominent during this time of COVID-19 and isolation. There is nothing more natural than the need to be loved and yet the majority of people I talk to just aren’t feeling it.
Look to the past
Many people I work with have overcome traumatic experiences in life. In many cases, they were left unprotected by primary caregivers growing up, leading to dangerous and abusive situations. This leads to a very distorted idea of what love is, as the people who were supposed to love them the most hurt them the most.
While today they may be surrounded by people who love them in safe and healthy ways, they will still, from time to time, express a deep desire to feel loved.
So, when someone says to me that they just want to be loved, the issue is rarely related to their current situation, but rather to past traumatic experiences that are now triggered by current events. This is causing deeply-buried feelings to arise.
My healing approach
So, what do I do if this happens to me? Let me walk you through a quick way to shift this in your own life. I will ask the person I’m working with about all the different ways he or she receives love. I follow this up by enquiring how others may feel they are giving love to him or her. We all show love in different ways. The problem with that? We often don’t attach love to someone’s actions or behaviours.
As a society, we have decided that love is giving flowers, or receiving a kiss from an amazing partner that lifts us up. And, while those things are wonderful, believing that love is just that is a mistake.
It takes many ingredients to make a perfect recipe. We are often given love in so many different ways, but we frequently overlook them. Time and again, love is shown through simple acts of kindness.
Simple acts of kindness
When the need to feel loved bubbles up, I often look to everyday acts of kindness to realize that I am surrounded by love.
Love is the random text you receive from someone, letting you know they are thinking of you. It’s someone taking the time to comment on your Facebook post. It’s your partner starting a fire in the fireplace for you before they leave on a cold winter day. It’s the stranger at the store asking how your day is going.
It’s in the little things. But often, it’s easy to forget about these little things. My suggestion to you is that the next time you find yourself in one of those situations, put your hand on your chest, close your eyes, and feel all of your other senses while saying to yourself: “This is love.” And feel it, really, truly, in your body. This will imprint the feeling of love in your physical body, and help you learn how to both feel it and remember that feeling.
Before you go to bed tonight…
Ask yourself, how were you shown love today? And how can you show it to others?