It took me a while to start writing this post because I don't think ANYONE can call themselves an expert in love. Love is so subjective, and dependent on a gazillion number of personal circumstances and experiences, so how could a life coach give a road map or manual or even general advice about it? Love is something that, in its very essence, is sustained throughout the length of the relationship. It is more than the euphoria of a wedding day. Hopefully, this post will give you more of an insight of a different way to understand love.
Well, the difference between me giving you tips as myself, or as a positive psychology life coach comes from that very fact that love means different things in different places. For the purposes of this post, I have put my wife/mother/friend hat down and put on the positive psychology hat and now love looks very different.
Recently, on my Flourish by Sarah FB group (join here), I asked group members to name a song about love. This comes so easily to anyone! I bet you can come up with at least 3 songs about love right now, in fact. And that is because for most of us, the feeling of love is so familiar. As children, it was the loving care of a parent or guardian. As we grew up, it was the love of our friends. As adults, it is the love of our co-workers, and/or romantic partners. And if you have been unfortunate enough in your life that the feeling of love from another is not so familiar, you yearn for it. It is almost like a subconscious urge. Because love is a basic need - to feel empathy, genuine warmth, and unconditional care from another human being is to feel alive.
Love as a strength is different. Love as a strength is an act. In order to be developing love as a character strength, you need to be doing something. For me, love is one of my signature strengths. (Discover your unique strengths profile here). This means that it is quite prominent in my life and I have more opportunities to foster it, whether I create these opportunities or they are present in my environment. But what else?
Well, as I explain in my latest Instagram video (@sarahbabiker_lifecoach), love is a 2-way street (you can watch that video below). The most common understanding of this phrase is that in order to give love, you also need to receive love. This - is - wrong. You can be beyond capable of giving love to somebody and fostering your warm relationships, but the question of whether or not somebody else is loving you back is one that is simply out of your control. If the emphasis becomes on comparing how much love you put out to how much love you receive, the very act of giving love becomes marred and can become impure. I give love because it elevates me to do so, and yes of course it feels validating and blissful to receive love back. But you have to, have to, have to, keep your focus on the things within your control. So when we talk about a 2-way street of love, what we are looking at is your ability to receive love as well as to give it. Do you find it easy to accept warmth, empathy, and nurture from others in your close relationships? If not, perhaps you need to sit with a journal or an unbiased party and explore what that blockage is about.
Ultimately, love is complicated when we start trying to control how others give it to us, or whether they do at all. That is when the feelings of lack of self-worth start to creep in. If you can shift your mindset so that you are finding ways to carry on fostering warmth in your relationships, and open your heart to receiving it you will be well on your way to developing your love as a character strength. This does not have to be a labouring task. There are 4 types of love. So if it is not present in one area of your life, you will most likely be able to identify potential for close relationships in other areas.
The 4 types of love are:
1) Attachment love between a child and parent
2) Companionate love between friends
3) Compassionate love - kindness
4) Romantic love between partners
Are you able to identify one of those that you feel it would be possible to develop, foster, and maintain 2-way love within yourself?
If you would like to talk through your story of love and obstacles you are facing there, do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer a complimentary exploration session, and my coaching sessions can happen in-person and/or online.
I am a positive psychology life coach, co-founder of Soul Space, and children's yoga and meditation instructor. Find about more about my life coaching:
At Soul Space, we also offer yoga, reiki, and a huge variety of events and workshops for all ages: