Feeling love (part one)
It’s that four letter word - LOVE! What? You are actually sitting here reading a whole article about LOVE, possibly dedicating some important time to that four letter word. Does anyone else know your doing this?
What you actually love, seriously?
Love makes us feel, it makes us feel, then maybe think. Love makes us feel, think, and then possibly act upon those feelings. Are we possessed by, maybe even controlled by, that thing called love? Quick, call in the control force, the love control force, this is crazy mad stuff, that feeling of love.
If love is a difficult feeling, what about its counterpart on the dark side, fear and shame that can lead to hate or disgust? Those feelings of fear and shame are also feelings that can make you think, then maybe act, irrationally too. We all have these feelings, we can’t just turn them off. Feelings of love, fear, shame or disgust are all natural in the life of being human. However looking at all love, fear, shame and disgust, which of these feelings feels best, most nurturing to you? And which feeling do you find yourself giving space for or put away in the closet?
Love can take many forms, maybe in love with another person or maybe a place or a hobby. Maybe love can even be just solely in love with yourself. Whatever form it takes it is a feeling and the feeling can be encouraged and nurtured. If you develop that capacity to love then it can develop that side of you that can experience love for other things too. When we are little we come to love ourselves first then, as we mature, we gain a greater need to share that love. Sometimes that love, as a child, does not get a space to move forward if there is not the right environment to be loved or to love others. People can get stuck in a place where they don’t know how to love or are only able to love themselves or not able to love themselves. However, giving yourself the capacity to love can facilitate further feelings of love. On its own, love is a good positive feeling.
So, can you identify who or what you love in your life now? And can you identify how you now feel, maybe have a desire to act, in relation to that feeling of love? Do you want to keep quiet about it, control it or totally indulge in it if you have the chance? Maybe there are different aspects of love in your life and you sit somewhere in the middle.
Can I invite you to take a little journey now to speak to your love. In your minds eye, its sitting on the chair in front of you, whether a person, a place, another you, a stamp collection... whatever! You acknowledge that whatever that love is, it’s still stirring a feeling in you now. Now can you look that love in the eye and say, in your own way, how you feel about it, maybe with a serious dewy eye or maybe a cheeky twinkle in your eye, but can you express it? Maybe it’s possible to sit with that feeling now, acknowledging it, even just for a moment. After doing this it may help to checkin with yourself to see how it feels just to acknowledge that love.
Ok, so maybe that was not so tricky, maybe that love that was sitting on the chair in front of you was your favourite soap opera on the telly, an easy love to acknowledge. Maybe it was the love of a clean kitchen or a big fat bar of chocolate or more deeply a lovely family that you openly cherish.
However, love is not always as clear cut as this. Lets take things onto a slightly more awkward level. It could be you have mixed feelings about a love you have, maybe those feelings involve both love and fear, or maybe even love, fear and shame. Here is a possible example. You are in your own home with your family (we can call this love F), who you do love, and you know you are in love also with another love, other than F, someone or something else; we can call this love O. This love O can take your mind away from love F. This brings with the feelings of love some other complex and difficult feelings that are not easy or pleasant. Often this mix can bring love, fear and shame, a bit like mixing sugar and marmite or ice cream and vinegar. The sugar or ice cream does not taste the same when mixed up with those other ingredients. The same for love mixed with fear and shame.
If you interested in finding out more please also read the follow up article, 'Love (part two)', which looks at complex love, with the mix of other feelings such as guilt, shame and fear. In this follow up article, helpful ways to disentangle these complex feelings that come into the mix are explored further.