The word “love” is one that is thrown around perhaps more often than it should be. We all want to share love with someone, to receive love, to feel loved. It’s a driving force in our lives. But, the term “love” has so many different versions that its meaning has become rather subjective. “If you do this, you love me…” So on and so forth.
We find ways to measure someone’s love – and our own – and use that to build a case for or against them. Love is used as a guise for fear, insecurities, voids and deep-seeded issues we have yet to resolve within ourselves. We have become so far removed from the actual meaning of love, do we really even know what it is?
Not to worry; it’s never too late to learn to love!
This scripture says it best:“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version).
Here are my top 5 ways to truly show and express your love for someone:
- Accept the whole. To love someone is to accept them fully for who they are, imperfections and all. Love does not seek to change. Love does not seek anything, actually. It’s selfless. Love celebrates the other person for who they are as a whole. Its job is not to judge; it’s to be a safe, warm and welcoming place (open arms, if you will) for the other person.If you are trying to change someone, or looking for ways to manipulate someone to get what you want, chances are that it’s not really love that you’re expressing or using to make decisions. Try to peel back the layers three times to figure out what’s really going on. Ask yourself, why do I want to change this person? Then, ask yourself again. And again. For example, if your answer is “I want to change him because I don’t like when he does XYZ,” then ask yourself, “Why don’t I like XYZ?” If your answer is, “Because it makes me feel embarrassed,” then ask yourself why it embarrasses you. It may turn out that you do not really want to change the other person, you just want to avoid rejection or feeling not good enough in general.
- Support and nurture. Part of loving someone is being supportive, encouraging them to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes, it means holding a mirror up for them to see what is, or isn’t, serving them. Love cradles, nurtures and fosters growth and development. If you’re having a hard time supporting or nurturing someone, ask yourself why? Peel back three layers, again. Relationships are a great way to learn about ourselves. Challenges are the perfect opportunity to find hidden fears, self-limiting beliefs, and characteristics needing some practice/work. So much of ourselves can be discovered by taking a look at the way we treat other people, especially those we love.
- Learn the language of Love. Love is the opposite of fear. Love is about giving, not taking. Love asks “what can I do for you?” where fear (or a lack of love) asks, “What do I get out of this?” Love can be described as receiving a gift. You cherish it, honor it, appreciate its beauty. That gift is the other person. Love honors the other person and always strives to serve, protect, nurture and build. Love speaks softly and gently. Love provides what the other needs.If you find yourself yelling, bullying, manipulating or acting aggressively towards someone you love, ask yourself how you can change this cycle of behavior When did this pattern begin? Is this something you learned growing up, or something you adapted along the way as a protective mechanism? Understanding that love means being vulnerable and open, what are some other ways you can handle the other person without making them feel badly?
- Know when loving means letting go. Often times when we love someone, we have to make very difficult decisions that are for the highest good of all involved. You’ve heard of “tough love,” and it’s simply that: being tough or standing strong even when it’s so difficult to do so, for the benefit of the person you love. There are situations that arise where letting go of someone is the most loving thing you can do for them. Whether it means giving them permission to leave this physical world, or leaving a relationship, it takes courage and real love to let go. Letting go of someone you love will certainly stir all sorts of emotions and fears within you. Find a way to make it easier by asking yourself what the root of this fear is. Is it attachment? If so, what meaning did you assign to this relationship that makes it so difficult to let go? What are some ways you can help yourself to heal, knowing that it’s the most loving thing you can do for the other person?
- True love begins at home. Self-love is a requirement if you want to love someone else. You need to nurture yourself, feed your body and soul, and feel good in order to have the space to love others. If you begin to break down, you can not be anything to anyone. Loving someone else means loving yourself to good health and spirits so you can be there for them!If you treated others the way you treat yourself, would they want to be around you? How you speak to yourself is so important to overall well-being. Loving yourself means honoring yourself and acting out in all the ways you would someone else that you love. Accept yourself for all parts of you, support and nurture yourself (be your own cheerleader!), speak and act gently to yourself, and learn to let go of people, places or things that are no longer serving you!
Boost yourself up. The bigger you are, the more of you there is to go around to others you love. The more love you have within yourself, the more you have to share!
This article was originally published by Camille on examiner.com.