Giving and Receiving Love
I remember as a newlywed thinking I knew so much about love. However, the older I get, the more I realize how little I actually knew. When I think of love, my first thought would be a significant other. However, as many of us have discovered as we get older, this would come to possibly include children and grandchildren. When in reality, this would also include anyone that we care a great deal for. This could be friends, siblings, parents, neighbors, etc. What I didn’t understand was that we show our love to each person we interact with. So I ask, as you read this post to ponder the following question:
How do you receive love as well as give it?
How do you feel love?
What is your interpretation of someone showing love for you? Would they buy you something? Do an act of service for you? Give you a hug? Each of us interpret love in different ways. So what you may think is showing love may be different than what I would. Now this doesn’t mean that we only feel love in one way. Each circumstance may make you feel love in a different way. For example, one time a hug may show you the most love. Yet another time it may be an act of service that means the most to you. For myself, I find that when someone does something for me, I interpret that as love. While I do enjoy getting hugs, or even being given gifts, the act of service would touch my heart more deeply. My husband on the other hand may not interpret the service I render as love. On most days, he would much prefer a hug, or even just spending time together.
How do you show love?
The interesting thing is that the way we prefer to be shown love is also the way we tend to show love to others. For me this would be service. I find it interesting that as I have those thoughts of “What is something I can do to show ‘so and so’ that I love them?”, I turn straight to acts of service (the majority of the time). The question you need to ask yourself then is: How do you show those that you love that you care for them? Do they then interpret that as an act of love? A lot of misunderstanding comes with the giving and receiving of love, simply because we don’t all give and receive this love in the same way.
As a mother of 5 daughters, I am finding how difficult it can be to show love to each child individually. I didn’t realize until I had my 2nd how different each child was. This meant I had to discipline differently, but also to show love differently. Each one of my 5 girls is so different in how they interpret love. So while making one of their beds may work for one, I may need to be sure to give a hug to another. All the while trying to be sure that each child feels loved. Feeling loved is so important to each of us.
What does feeling love drive you to do?
What happens when we show love to someone else? There are a few things that happen. We forget ourselves and the struggles we may be facing. When we take the time to help someone else out, it gives us a proper perspective.
When someone does an act of service for me, I can feel their love. This in turn makes me want to share this love with others and I begin to look for opportunities to do the same. When we feel loved, we want others to feel the same and we find ourselves looking for opportunities to share this love that we feel.
The science behind it
Scientific research has shown the connection between love and compassion and the chemicals the body produces when feeling those emotions. As individuals experience such emotions, MRI scans can detect the production of dopamine, oxytocin and other chemicals the brain releases. These chemicals affect the entire body in a positive way including balancing the stress hormone, cortisol,regulating metabolism and energy distribution as well as creating elevating emotions. This creates the optimal internal environment for the body’s repairing and regeneration functions.
How does this process occur? As you feel love, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins and gaba along with other neurotransmitters relay information by nerves and through hormones to all the cells in the body. This communication is used to express genes that make the production of proteins and enzymes which promote healing, regeneration and detoxification. This process promotes health, creates a sense of well being and internal peace.
As you give love, your body will maintain the chemistry of homeostasis, producing a perfect balance. The same is also true for the person receiving love. Something that should be called to attention is that receiving love is not a necessary condition in order to give love. If someone feels they need to receive love in order to give love, they have created this personal belief and have reinforced that belief by conditioning the brain to withhold love. By withholding love, the chemicals normally produced by feelings of love is hindered. This can result in feelings of resentment, jealousy or control. Remember, giving love is not contingent upon receiving it.
As you give and receive love, not only do you feel happy but you also create an environment of health for yourself and your loved ones. Love is an emotion with wonderful physical and mental benefits and at the end of the day it has very little to do with what was said or the kiss that you received, but it has everything to do with the meaning you have previously given about the person speaking the words or giving the kiss. The meaning you have assigned to that person (mom, dad, spouse, etc.) is what triggers the physiological response of love. If you have been harboring negative thoughts about an individual, the brain will reject the acts of love from that person and there will not be feelings of love or connection. Understanding how the brain works and responds to love tells us that the most important thing you can do to strengthen your relationship with loved ones is to let go of negative feelings, labels, or beliefs about that person. These negative belief act as a brick wall, making it very difficult to receive love. How can you increase the love you give to your loved ones this week?