Let’s talk about taking responsibility for love. Like money, it’s one of those topics that lurks beneath the surface, yet remains uncomfortable for so many to discuss in a full, honest manner. Love is one of the greatest sources of joy, pain, and just about everything in between. In and of itself, it has many meanings. When we use the word love, we can be speaking to many different things. Where do we even begin? We can look to other languages for an understanding of what love “means.” For example, in Greek, there are different words for love, ranging from the love we harbor for a friend, to erotic love, and even a love that encompasses all, including “God,” in the form of Agapi. For the sake of this post, let’s assume the love we’re referring to is that which is held and expressed between people, but if that also falls into a category that is more spiritual or macrocosmic, feel free to interpret it and apply it as such!
Why return to love?
Knowing and rewriting our stories around love is a blessing. As a therapist, coach, and human being living my own experience on this planet I’ve had the opportunity to witness what life is without love. At the end of the day, our material gains on the planet only bring us but so much, and it’s always fleeting. What I see as the root of so much deep sadness and lack of belonging is the lack of true love and connection between humans. For many of us, this was inflicted unfairly upon us in childhood, causing lifelong wounding that, if left unattended to, replays in destructive patterns and self-worth issues galore. If you fall into this category, which is likely more people than not, trust you’re not broken or wounded, you just need to learn to stand up for your worthiness as a lovable person. There is more joy from knowing love than in any “Keeping up with the Jones” status symbols you’ll accrue, I promise. If it sounds trite, so be it! Opening to love is actually far braver than accruing material things, which brings me to my next point….
Connection! Love allows us the opportunity to not just connect with others, but return to deeper, buried parts of ourselves. Through loving experiences, we’re asked to open up and nurture our inner child… and that of others. At the end of the day, to know and be open to love is to open to raw human connection. We live in a society that values our accomplishments, and love often gets ticked off as one in the form of perfectly curated wedding photos on Instagram. That’s not what I’m talking about here – though photos and expressions of happiness are your right and are oh so wonderful if that’s you! I’m speaking to wanting love in the way we have always craved it and needed it to survive in the human form. Remember: your desire for love does not make you weak, it makes you human and vulnerable. In our darkest cracks and deepest vulnerabilities lie the salves for big, next-level healing. It’s often scary to connect so deeply with someone, especially when it immediately brings up the fear of past hurt. But if you don’t allow yourself to know it, you’ll never grow from it. Worse yet, you’ll never experience it in the first place.
Growth and alignment. Love and the act of loving (more on that below) will help you expand your heart and grow more than you can imagine. No, this isn’t Hallmark talking, and yes, I’m looking at even the most cynical and guarded folks reading this. If you’re cynical, you can learn so much about where you haven’t received love and can soften into immeasurable compassion through the mere act of showering someone you love with affection. Love – both receiving and giving it – asks many us to push past our comfort zones. When we talk about pushing beyond our comfort zones, you may be more likely to think of professional milestones, taking an exotic trip, or doing something new and difficult in your workout. But opening to love itself asks us to be brave in a way none of these actions ever will because you have to get real with yourself on so many levels. Love and the act of loving are excellent ways to integrate your past with the present. When we are able to act IN SPITE of past hurt and love anyways, we step into a richer, fuller, more compassionate present.
Ready to show and spread the love? Below are some simple ways to get right to it. If you’re looking to open your heart, and especially if that idea scares or disgusts you, I’d love to hear from you!
- GESTURE: Return to love, practically. Show it. Don’t be afraid to send flowers, make the surprise reservation, and do all the things that can get something of a bad or “cheesy” reputation.
- EXPRESS AND COMMUNICATE: Express love in ways you both do and don’t know how. Many of us struggle with intimacy or grew up in families where love wasn’t shown. Hugging, telling you someone you love them, and generally making your feelings known (scary for so many of us!!!) will have a greater impact on someone than you could ever imagine.
- LOVE YOURSELF: Ok ok, maybe you knew this part was coming – I couldn’t get through a whole “love” centered blog without mentioning self-love. If you’re overwhelmed in showing love to someone else, start with the most important relationship: the one with yourself. Show yourself some love through gesture, communication with self, and any other small acts that make you feel held. Allow yourself to feel into what love is for you so you can eventually share it with someone else. This is the practice that keeps on giving.