If you haven’t read the book the The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I strongly suggest it. It’s a must read. This book helps you identify your primary way of receiving love. The 5 love languages discussed in the book are gifts, quality time, affirmations, acts of service, and physical touch.
And through identifying your specific love language, you are then able to communicate and understand the ways you give and receive love. And how others are wanting to be love back.
For example, my primary love language is quality time. So, when a friend asks me out to dinner, I feel really loved knowing she is making time for me, and we get to spend a meal together talking and laughing. If she instead had chosen to give me a gift, it wouldn’t have meant as much to me.
Hemal, my husband, has a different love language. He responds to acts of service, so if I pick up his dry cleaning, he’s over the moon grateful and feels supported and taken care of. If he were to pick up my dry cleaning, I wouldn’t have the same reaction.
The reason I’m bringing up this topic is because I think this book is brilliant, and I want to add something to it.
Through my work over the last 10 years in love and relationships, I have identified that many of us are no longer allowing ourselves to feel the love from people that are closest to us – simply because those people don’t express love in the way we like to receive it (or think it should be given).
Along the way, we have lost our ability to feel the intention from which people are talking to us. We hear their words and see their actions, and make it mean all kinds of other things instead of accepting them as gestures of love.
Just the other day I was talking to a client, let’s call her Kelley, and she expressed how she was so annoyed with her Mom. She said, “I’m ready to stop talking to her because she just doesn’t listen to me. I’ve told her so many times how something makes me feel, and I’ve told her what I need, and she won’t do it.”
I asked what her mom was doing.
Kelley said, “I was going through a really hard break up and I explained to my mom that there was a lot missing for me in that relationship, but my mom would say things like ‘are you sure you aren’t being too hard on him? Maybe you should reconsider.’ And all I could think is OMG she can’t even support me in this! She has to criticise me and make me feel like I can’t trust my decisions. So, I said ‘Mom, I need to hear that you support me in this. I just need you to trust me.’ And even after telling her all of that, we had the same exact conversation several more times.”
I could tell Kelley was really frustrated, but I could see what her Mom was trying to convey to her, and Kelley just couldn’t see it.
Her mom was just loving her, but it didn’t look the way Kelley wanted it to look. Even though Kelley explained to her how she wanted her to support her, that wasn’t going to totally sink in for her mom, because for Kelley’s mom to react in the way that Kelley wanted her to, would require her to throw out a whole bunch of beliefs that she had.
Kelley’s mom believed in pushing her children and guiding them, and that’s how she expressed her love (probably because she felt she didn’t get that from her parents and wished she had). But to Kelley, over time, her Mom’s constant advice giving translated into a belief of “Mom doesn’t trust me”.
You can see how both of their ways of expressing and receiving love were not matching up. And this happens a lot for all of us.
So, I asked her to close her eyes and go back to that last chat she had with her mom. I walked her through a visualization where she took out all of the words from the conversation and just felt her mom’s intentions.
Kelley, while in the visualization, started to say things like “I feel she wants me to be taken care of, she doesn’t want me to be alone, she wants me to be loved and cherished, she loves me so much, and she wants me to have the best.”
After opening her eyes, I asked her how that same situation felt now?
She said, “I’m stunned. I didn’t expect to feel that from her, and yet it was so strong, and I do see that she wants the best for me. She isn’t expressing it exactly the way I would like, but her intentions are exactly want I want to feel.”
I said, jokingly, “and you were going to cut your mom off because you felt she didn’t get you.”
She said, “I know. I can see that I wasn’t allowing myself to feel where she was coming from.”
And in reality, we all do this. I just did it the other day when my Dad asked me if I had eaten anything that day. My first inclination was to be like, “Dad, I am 38 years old and you are still asking me what I ate today!?”.
But what I get now more than ever, is that this is his way of loving me. So, I have been practicing hearing it as love. Simply saying, “thanks Dad yes I ate pasta today” is indulging his love, understanding that this is HIS love language, and letting it in. I also know there will be a time when he is no longer here, and I will fiercely wish that I could hear him asking me what I ate that day.
Imagine if each of us started to FEEL the intentions of people in our lives everyday instead of being in our heads or taking someone’s words as the full truth of how they feel. Think how much more love we would be able to receive, how much more filled up we would be, how connected we would feel to one another, if we stopped listening to someone’s words and let ourselves feel their intentions–if we let ourselves hear the ways the people we love are telling us they love us, every day.
So, let’s bring this back to you.
How have you been unknowingly blocking yourself from receiving the love from parents, siblings, friends, even co-workers because they aren’t showing it the way you would like them too?
Tell me in the comments below, who this person is in your life and how haven’t you allowed yourself to take in their love? How you will do that now?