Some time back someone sent me an ex’s picture for laughs. A few days later, I caught myself consumed by the sentiments surrounding our break-up. And I know this was not about that ex specifically because I also caught myself thinking about my other exes scolding myself for some repetitive commonality in these unrelated relationships.
I wondered. Did these relationships end, or did I end them? Did I run away? Perhaps I added 1 and 1 and got 3. Did my logic fail to translate well with my emotions?
This is very plausible because whenever I encounter a love interest, I think of every considerable factor that may affect forging a relationship. And if my calculations do not give me 2, I am out before we even begin.
Now, I wondered if as much as I always know what I want when I see it, do I know how to translate and receive it? Do I know how to open up to receive love?
You can’t live what you don’t know.
The wildly accepted discourse is that your childhood has a ripple effect on your entire life. The good and the bad you experience in your childhood influences what you grow to become.
“Unfortunately, you will grow to embody and even repeat your parents’ worst traits. Especially traits you hated in them the most. This is a subconscious way of attempting to be close to them, love them and perhaps even accept them as they are”.– Twitter
What the actual fuck, right? Keeping that mouthful in mind, I’d like you to take a moment and take in the following quote.
“The problem with a person with a lack of love is that they don’t know what it looks like, so it’s easy for them to get tricked, to see things that aren’t there. But then I guess we all lie to ourselves all the time.”– End of the Fuck***g World
My chat here is that love as an adult reenacts your childhood experiences. And the experiences factor into the unconscious biasness you hold about love regardless of your pure intentions.
So, if you did not receive adequate love or at least in an affirming way as a child, it naturally becomes difficult to almost impossible to translate love as an adult. Because how are you to translate a language you were never spoken to with? How are you to understand it? How are you to open up to receive love?
What is love?
There are countless love definitions. Each one is more profound than the next, but never a definite one that’s widely accepted and applicable to everyone. But even with that, we seem to just know when we love someone. Loving seems to not need a definition in order to make sense. It just does.
We seem to understand and are usually okay with the length we will go for someone in the name of love. We are capable of feeling out this emotion without defining it to the core.
Attachment theory asserts that how we attached to our parents, which ultimately translates into our attachment styles, determines how we express love.
Some people know no bounds and some people take is easy. Whatever your courting style, the ultimate hope is for your love to be reciprocated. This is where the disparity may come in.
Imagine that a parent who rarely expressed love or was inconsistent with affection or showed love based on met conditions influenced your attachment style. Marked by an attachment style moulded by this, your good intentions have little impact. The glitch comes about when you have to receive back the love you give out.
Suddenly, things no longer depend on you simply acting out how you feel about your person. You now have to make sense of the love being given to you using a brain that has a traumatic and limited understanding of love.
Without an innate and healthy instilled idea of love, it makes sense for you to go through life making up your own understanding and expectations (sometimes false) of what love should look and feel like.
So you see, the problem is not other people. The problem is not knowing how to be open up to receive love from others. The disparity lies in making sense of something you don’t know and understand.
Fortunately, love has no definite meaning. This means you can redefine it for yourself to no end. For as long as you are open to receiving it, you can go from chaotic love to affirming love. The following are 6 ways of how to be open to receiving love to get you started on your journey.
How to open up to receive love
Pay attention to your instinctive reactions
The irony of something we crave so much being one of the most anxiety inducing things is baffling. But it is so. Being loved, inlove, and loving others can arouse anxiety. You become helpless to the vulnerable position you are in and that is usually okay. But if your first instinct is to distance yourself, push away and maintain a defensive distance, then it’s time to look into why positive actions cause a negative reaction in you. Usually, these reactions are an unconscious enactment of a deep-rooted cycle that goes back to childhood. Being mindful of your reactions can help you catch them when they are happening.
Practice focusing on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. Take it in without judging yourself or reacting before you are calm.
Go after some platonic love
Love is wonderful. In whatever form, it does wonders. Out of all kinds of love, romantic love seems to be the one we crave the most, and also the one that induces anxiety the most. This anxiety can make you lose out before you even start. Which is unfortunate because love is affirming. Similar to how the way your parents loved you in your childhood has ripple effects in your adulthood, being loved right as an adult can have ripple effects that heal. So, before you get into romantic relationships that can be hard, invest into and nurture your platonic love. Take advantage of the less complexity. Lean on it and heal from it.
Give people the benefit of the doubt
Because we judge relationships through our childhood relationships with parents, it’s not unlikely that a partner suffers a wrath that has nothing to do with them. You can’t go into a new relationship with misconceptions about how someone will do you wrong because history suggests so. Give them a clean slate to do right by you. Learn to trust that people mean well and not everyone is out to get you.
Be intentional with your space
Whether we learn to love ourselves and others will depend on the presence of a loving environment. Self-love cannot flourish in isolation.Bell Hooks
Nurture, nature. They both apply in how you grow to be open to receiving love. Love does not flourish in isolation. It flourishes where it is watered, reciprocated and simply lived out. As a child, you may not have had much say in who gets to impact you and who you keep around. But as an adult, you have a say over your life. You can clean out anything that does not bring you peace. You can turn away from toxic spaces and go where love is lived out. Loving environments filled with nurturing actions will rewire your mindset and affirm a new way of seeing love.
Go to therapy
It’s not for crazy people. It is a professional and safe place to practice one of the most healing actions for humans: talking. At its best, therapy helps you make sense of things you know are there but can’t pinpoint how they interplay into your everyday behaviour. Therapy helps you cross bridges that seem impossible. It is a space to learn healthy and useful ways to navigate the source of your conception of love.
Fight the identity crisis
Our childhood experiences create self-concepts we hold out ourselves. A tumultuous childhood will instil the perception that life and love are chaotic, unpredictable and hurtful. In the end, you will grow to identify and gravitate to situations that reflect a chaotic love. Understandably, a love that is peaceful, predictable, and affirming will not make sense to you. Hence, it may induce some identity crisis. With the perception you hold about the world challenged, you can be conflicted about how to act being in this unfamiliar experience. Sit through the discomfort and condition yourself to appreciate a love like this.
Learn your love language and communicate it
Developed by Gary Chapman in 1992, the five love languages are popular than ever because they make sense to many people. Even though they are not an all in one aiding catalyst for relationship problems, there is no harm in knowing yours and practicing it for yourself. By consistently committing to giving yourself what you desire, you will rewire your mind to open up to receive love. It starts with some self-love.
I hope this post made some difference in your life.