How to Really Love and Be Loved
As a clinical therapist and energy healer, a lot of time and energy during my sessions are spent exploring the healthy practices, behaviors and boundaries of love. During the therapy and healing process we break down what healthy love is, how it might be implemented and how having an intimate and personal knowing of love without judgment or expectations can change our lives. The author, Louise Hay, has written quite eloquently how love of yourself can heal the body and help manifest abundance and peace in your life. I’ve been privileged in the work I do, to see how feeling loved and expressing love to others in healthy ways can change someone’s life. Simply put, love is the seed that grows into joy, peace, happiness, abundance or what some call, 'a miraculous life'.
Following are some of the discrepancies or distortions I have seen during therapy and energy healing sessions that interfere with expressing and feeling love in healthy ways.
Love has no judgments
So many people feel that love has parameters or “shoulds" and “should nots”. Meaning, people feel others should be a certain way to be loved. We especially think this way about ourselves. We have thoughts such as, “I’m not smart enough," “I didn’t work hard enough,” or “I don’t give enough.” This ultimately supports a belief system within ourselves that we don’t deserve love.
Most of these belief systems become a part of our thinking by the influence and programming from our parents, church, school, friends, the media and other outside forces. Psychologically, these differing belief systems compete for control within our psyche to rein as the “shoulds” or judgments of how we and others should behave. Based on these judgments and belief systems about love, measurements are created to determine how much love is doled out to ourself and others. And these judgments and shoulds confine us to a life without love because, too often, these negative belief systems are reinforced and rarely challenged without some form of intervention.
When beginning to change judgments into positive belief systems, I like my clients to imagine themselves and others like a two-year old, because we have very few judgments about toddlers. When a two-year old is learning to walk and they fall, too many times to count, do parents yell or criticize them? Do they think how stupid the two-year old is or how he or she should know better than to tip over? No. Of course not. Why then do we think this way with ourselves and others. Too often I see people criticize themselves. Especially when they are trying new things, interacting with strangers or simply having a difficult day.
Imagine if you heard/said to yourself and those around you, “You're doing an amazing job!” every day and in every situation (like you would give to a two-year old). And if you said to yourself and others, “I notice the effort you’re putting into…” Too often we give energy and attention to negative things and this is like water to the plants of our feelings and thoughts. When we spend conscious energy on feeding the positive within ourselves and others, we see the most amazing growth!
You can also spend time replacing judgments or unhealthy belief systems into loving thoughts and feelings. By filtering through and removing negative judgments about ourselves, others and even life in general, we can begin to replace them with positive, joyful, supportive and loving thoughts. This is not a fast process and requires a lot of reflection to determine what our judgments are. Once you know or recognize your judgments, conscious effort or energy is needed to change those negative beliefs into positive loving ones about one’s self and others.
Love is free and a choice we can make in every moment
I could put this topic in with the discussion of judgments but I wanted to give it its own section because I see so many belief systems or thoughts within my clients, that love costs. They feel love takes work or must be earned; they’ve forgotten that love is simply a choice and available every moment of every day. Love can be chosen even when feeling angry, hurt, sad, stressed or resentful. I’m going to say this again because I feel it’s really important. Feeling love is a choice in every single moment. I understand the last thing you might be thinking when you are angry is how much you love yourself or life, but imagine if you could choose love in that moment. I’m not saying don’t feel anger or anxiety, I’m saying choose to feel love along with every emotion you have.
Our emotions are so important to learning about the self and need to be honored and loved for their abilities to teach us important things like our boundaries. Emotions also teach and help us accept the process of growth and change in our lives. Fear, anger and resentment are the three emotions I see my clients stuck in the most. By allowing yourself to love even those emotions can help you evolve past them. For example, in Louise Hay style, when I feel anxious or nervous (afraid of life) I say to my fear, “Hello fear. Thank you for showing me what I am not. I love you.” I immediately feel better, but it’s not that my fear goes away. It’s that I’ve allowed both feelings to exist with honor and integrity, which helps me identify the positive aspect of the situation and love all parts of myself. By doing all of this, I’m able to manifest the fearful situation into a positive loving one.
A healthy love does include boundaries
I want to make clear that it is healthy to set limits or boundaries for yourself, to have a loving relationship with yourself. For example, saying 'no' to going out when tired is healthy. You might need to set limits on how others can communicate to you. Setting boundaries does not mean you love others less; it means you're creating a stronger force of love within yourself because you are taking responsibility for yourself in ways that others simply cannot. Just as important, you need to recognize your own “stuff” or belief systems that lead you to feel rejected or judged by others when they set their own boundaries or limits. This leads to the next section of loving in healthy ways.
Healthy love includes taking responsibly for yourself
Knowing what you think and what you feel in every moment is important to loving the self and others, because that’s the only way to know the self and to consciously love the self. This skill of taking responsibility for yourself is not reinforced or supported in many cultures or systems of our society. In over simplified terms, there is a lot of blaming, gossiping and thinking we know best for everyone else within our society. Taking responsibility that everything in your life is a reflection of your beliefs or expectations is an advanced skill and is essential to self love and healthy love of others.
Love in its healthiest form comes from within and spreads out everywhere, to every experience we have, every human being we interact with, and even every space we enter. I believe to be psychologically and spiritually healthy we must learn to love the self unconditionally. I think of this as being in love with yourself, like you would a child or a partner. When first falling in love with someone we feel the person is amazing, or even perfect, and we feel stronger, more vibrant and alive being loved by this person. Imagine feeling that for yourself; loving every aspect of yourself. Yes, even your faults. What if you knew you could do no wrong. Every experience becomes exciting and joyful! Others want to be around you because they feel how open, accepting, and loving you are.
About the writer: Brenda Tringali
Brenda Tringali BA, MA, MSW, RM, QTP Brenda is a co-founder of The Indigo Doors: A center for the whole being. She has 20 years experience with hands on healing . She is a counselor helping couples, families and individuals create the life they want. She combines the healing arts with her knowledge of psychotherapy to create a unique and effective healing experience. Please feel free to contact (586) 359-2959 and [email protected]