Before we ever attend grade school, we have already started the school of Life. As far as we can remember, in that school our parents either teach us different ways of love, how to protect our love, how to hate or what to hate and why to hate it, also how to defend ourselves from the bad. Depending what your culture or ethnic background is, it can also add its own spice into the mix. Growing up and loving other people, is never easy. It’s one of the most confusing stages in our lives. So how can we show love in a healthy way and avoid being defensive?
For starters, I’m not a love doctor, I’m not a counselor, I’m not licensed to give advice on Love…then again – I’m sure Dr. Phil has his own issues with love. When it comes to love, no one can truly give you the right advice on what to do with a relationship or friendship because every situation is different. What I am going to share is that we all have an idea of what is healthy and unhealthy and if you don’t know, I hope you are reading this.
Growing up, I was blessed to have parents that were and are still very opposite. My mother embedded in us that love isn’t “greedy, jealous, possessive and is patient”. My father would tell us that if we ever fell in love “we could only give our heart 50% because if we got hurt, we still had the other half to help us get through the pain”. My mother has always been the prime example of healthy love. Whenever there were disagreements between them, she always mentioned that there needs to be a conversation to clear misunderstandings and never assume things. If my parents were to read this, I’m sure my dad would hate me for putting him on blast, but he’s always been the hot head. Anyway, mom always set the example of communication and respect. He’s always followed and calmed down.
Over the years, I’m sure many of you can agree on adapting some of your parents views or actions into your own personal love life. Sometimes, in certain situations we act a certain way and we wonder where did that come from. It’s only safe to say, but it’s been engraved into our hearts since infants. We forget that we are sponges and we absorb everything that our parents do or say. Many parents think about showing their kids role-models on TV or taking them to a community event, when in reality, our first role-models are our parents. We learn love, respect and compassion from them first. We grow up, we fall in love and whatever we learned in those first years of grade-school, is what tends to show when there’s miscommunication or when we feel threatened by an outsider. But also, keep in mind that as we grow up, we also come across other people that influence us and we have our own experiences with love and we tend to create certain beliefs or ‘culture’. This is when it gets tricky. The misconception that we have as humans is that when we are in a relationship with others, we feel that person belongs to us. We believe that no one else should look, talk, flirt or come close to them. Now, is this a way of ‘protecting that love’ or being ‘possessive’? How can we think we own someone else when we can’t even control our own thoughts or actions?
Coming across many friends and listening to their love stories and even going back to my own past relationships. I’ve seen a trend. There’s definitely a lot of doubt and pain when we enter relationships. Don’t deny it, we’ve all been guilty of it. Many believe that the pain we hold inside us from previous relationships can all disappear if we enter another relationship and think that this beautiful prince or heroine will make us forget about the past. But, that never happens does it? Why? Because, we can’t put that task on our future lover or partner. That change cannot happen even if there was a special wand to clear it. The change to our own pain, doubts, insecurities and even trauma from past loves, has to come from us. We are so desperate in need to be loved and accepted by others that we forget that the most important friendship or relationship that matters in our lives is the one with our own self.
But how do we start practicing healthy ways to love our self if maybe we haven’t had the opportunity to come across healthy love? For starters, take time to date yourself. One of the greatest things anyone can do after a breakup is take time to date your own self. How can you expect other people to understand you, when you don’t even know your own self? I believe this is a good way to discover a healthy love within you. Take the time to listen to your aching heart and let it breathe, feel what it’s telling you. Many people pick up an activity, biking, hiking or arts & crafts. I know everyone says “time heals”, but I believe “what you do in time, heals”, so keep busy doing positive things to help you grow.
Maybe you’re wondering, how can anyone know when the healing has started. Well, we are all different, we mature and grow at different times. I’m sure it’s the same when it comes to finding that peace within us. We will all know individually when our actions start making us feel more at ease and we feel happy with our own progress. A good first sign would be, when you start sleeping longer hours at night or when you realize the smallest things in life make you smile. Then again, who am I to tell you what’s going to make you smile. From here on out, breathe, listen, feel, let go and live! I’m sure while you’re dating yourself you will discover new things that interest you and make YOU feel good.
As you continue to learn about you, you will learn how to love and appreciate yourself more. If you can learn to accept and love yourself in a healthy way, regardless of your struggles and dark moments, I’m sure you will be loving not only your surroundings but eventually learning how to love others in a healthy way. Having the mentally that love is a possession is limiting your growth as a human being. Let us remember, Love is unselfish, patient and free.