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What Does Love Mean To You?

Love is thrown around as a word. Yet, we’re not taught to define it


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Peter Middleton

4 months ago | 7 min read
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The more you define it, the better it gets.

Love is thrown around as a word. Yet, we’re not taught to define it.

What does love mean to you?

The truth is, it means so many different things to different people.

In this article, we’ll explore the different ways that you can interpret love; starting with the love languages, and moving onto integrity, authenticity, and a sense of purpose. Love is an individual perception of the world.

Love is both connected and personal.

Some people aren’t our people. There are nearly eight billion people on this planet, they won’t all have meaningful lessons for us, and this is because the energetic resonance is more potent in some than in others.

What do I mean by energetic resonance?

Have you ever met a complete stranger and known that they will be essential and intricate to your life story?

It’s a common thing that we play off as weird or a chance. The idea behind this is simple: if someone has an experience in their life that is closely related to yours, then you’ll feel that resonance in your body. They’ll help you to understand your life story by mirroring it for you.

Some people do this fleetingly; who maybe mirror some aspect of pain; something that you can’t fully sit with. Have you noticed these people stay in your memory and feeling, even if they don’t remain physically in your life?

On the life journey, where we each unfold our true nature, or our spirit, into the world, we come across people who naturally resonant with our interests, vibrancy around certain aspects of life; social dynamics including shared joys, social justice, and issues, sports, habits, values, purpose.

This shared resonance allows us to access belonging, connectedness and hope.

These things allow us to understand that we’re not alone, that someone out there cares, thinks we’re unique and valuable and honours our process.

Having others interest and curiosity in our lives is so vital to a healthy life. It’s part of love. You feel love.

Let’s start with the five love languages:

Love Languages

Words of Affirmation

  • Saying supportive things to your partner.

Acts of Service

  • Doing helpful things for your partner.

Receiving Gifts

  • Giving your partner gifts that tell them you were thinking about them.

Quality Time

  • Spending meaningful time with your partner.

Physical Touch

  • Being close to and caressed by your partner.

People receive love predominantly in one of these ways, perhaps two. That was a revelation to me when I learned it. If I’m not speaking someone’s love language, then they won’t feel love. Their love well will run dry.

It gets interesting as typically the love languages are things that you lacked in your conditioning as a child. That’s not to say you cannot go on a healing journey and change that. That’s generally how it starts.

The conditioning in western culture told me that my love language was acts of service, however, when I did some more in-depth work I found that this was me trying to fulfil the cultural narrative of being the provider combined with the conditioning of needing to show someone how to love me by demonstrating it.

I found that my love language is physical touch, closely followed by quality time.

Connection

Connection is essential for all human beings; we’re wired that way. We all need our closest people to care and actively engage in our lives. That’s why trauma can be so painful and isolating because it dislocates you from being able to receive and give connecting actions.

Your life will be a representation of the five people that you spend the most time with [link]. Not only because of the words that those people use and the shared values that you hold. It’s also the somatic imprint that you share.

Mirror neurones in the brain activate strongly with sound, and we’re also closely scanning our environments at all times to work out if we’re safe and secure, and whether we’re in a relationship with our environment in the right way.

A great example of this is a relationship dynamic that you can’t get out of. There is inherent and implicit information in that dynamic, based on the routine and habitual things that you somatically and verbally.

Connection is essential to a feeling of belonging, and deep relational space breeds hope.

Reciprocal and shared love is born in this area. When you share with someone you love, within the sharing, is appreciated and recognised that you will receive love back at some point in time, in the way that you appreciate.

The constant goal of relating.

Being seen, heard, and belonging

The triad of love. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’re right. Being seen, heard, and having a sense of belonging allows you to make mistakes and develop; grow; fail forward.

Feeling safe in relationship fosters a trust that it doesn’t matter what you say or do. Alignment to your values; if you’re intentions are right, then you will get there eventually, and the path doesn’t have to look perfect as you do that.

Furthermore, being seen, heard, and feeling that you belong gives you a sense of certainty that the other person can and will challenge you to be your best self in a loving way.

Some of the most connected and meaningful times, to me, are when my friends, colleagues, and intimate partners have shown me where I am acting outside of alignment to my purpose and values. Especially in my men’s group.

Shame & love

Shame and love? Those two don’t interconnect surely?

They are part of our world and so they must. I’m not talking about toxic shame, that is a disconnecting and disempowering thing, I’m talking about healthy shame.

Healthy shame, let’s you know your finiteness in the world. It’s akin to a community bringing a young man who is full of hubris back into the community’s embrace before he does something destructive.

Shame is the natural way of that; he needs to recognise his finiteness; his part in the wider whole.

Healthy shame is a force to pushes and pulls us integrate with others; it lets us know that we need others, that we cannot exist without them. It’s integral to the realisation of spirituality that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Ever stood at the edge of a cliff and marvelled at the vastness of it all? That wonder is partially born from a healthy shame.

“Our healthy shame is essential as the foundation of our spirituality. By reminding us of our essential limitations, our healthy shame lets us know that we are not God. Our healthy shame points us in the direction of some larger meaning. Our healthy shame is the psychological ground of our humility.” ~ John Bradshaw ~

Nature’s love

We inherit the relationship with the earth, the sky, the Universe. We are born from it, and when we die, we will return to it.

Death is the only constant in life, and it is the force that pushes us to live viscerally; pulsing, pushing, pulling at life, squeezing all the juice we can from the fruit’s nectar.

Life works for you because you are life. It moves through you just as much as it is the very fabric of your being. What I find fascinating is that all the elements of the Universe are born from huge explosive acts in space. Physical elements are born in the oven of a dying star. It can’t be any other way.

Death always sows the seeds of life.

It’s impossible to be disconnected, even from the massiveness of a dying star, because we are the elements that it spews forth.

The only thing that can disconnect us from life is a refusal, in our minds, that this is so.

Recognise that you are life; interconnected to all things. You can start to remember that life works for you; with signs and signals that you were missing; how you react to something, what your intuition tells you, how you feel about a situation, aligning to your values and purpose.

All of these things can and will guide you to a more profound connection to your life; help you build the right security, and embrace things in your life that will bring you abundance.

The upper set limit is a concept that comes into play here. Both Dr. Ron Seigel and Gay Hendricks describe this.

If you cannot imagine yourself transcending a boundary, then you won’t be able to, or you’ll do it briefly, then sabotage yourself so you can return to a place where you feel safe.

The body-mind is weighted for comfort, not change. It’s an active process.

Once you are connected to the Universe, and you recognise that all life and possibility flow through you, you enter a new space of belonging; a deeper space. Where the trees, plants, animals and rocks, and all other sentience for that matter, become a part of your connected world.

Integrating thoughts

O.K., don’t get overwhelmed; this is a long process of awareness. You can start with one of these concepts; journal, meditate, safety practice. You are exactly where you need to be, and everything is unfolding as it needs to be.

What is one aspect of love that you could deepen? What is one action that you could take today to do that?

We start to see that the Hollywood idea of love; the shadow hero that rides in on his steed, slays the inner or outer dragons, bursts open the door to find the princess before returning to Happy Ever After land, is so narrow.

Love is a deep-rooted and rich experience.

The story that we’re told doesn’t include five years later when the prince and princess need to co-inhabit a space in reverence, respect, and empowered safety.

Love unfolds over many concentric layers; it is fractal in its opening.

You must have self-love to start, then intimate friends, family, a life partner, a community, a nation, humanity, part of Gaia and the natural world, the Universe.

All these things are interwoven with the golden web of one’s individuality and uniqueness.

What does love mean to you, and how do you define it?

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Created by

Peter Middleton

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Peter is a creative coach working to unblock people's authentic creative essence and expression. Using transformational life coaching, meditation and embodiment techniques. He is passionate about mental health, trauma informed practice, spirituality and how to create sustainable cultures that empower in equity.


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