Decoding the Purpose of Love
Love, the most abstract, ambiguous, vague and vastly misunderstood term ever known. Although the dictionaries have managed to capture a few definitions, each one of us have found our own meanings and we have been constantly redefining it time and again. But, what does it really mean to love someone? Does the kind of love differ between different relationships? Is the love between a parent and a child different from the love between friends or the love between a husband and wife? How do we decide who deserves our love and who doesn't? Is it a special privilege you give only to a particular person or can everyone access your love? What makes me lovable? The questions go on…
I often hear phrases like “he/she doesn’t love me anymore”, “My mom or dad won’t love me if I do this”, “I hate myself for doing this”, makes me wonder if, to be loved is some kind of a reward we receive for meeting certain exceptions just like being employed for a job. Is love a kind of incentive we earn for consistently meeting the expectations of the one’s who love us and if ever we fail to prove ourselves, the love is withdrawn. Let me give you an example, A child’s ability to meet his/her parent’s expectations decides how much love the child receives or a husband’s ability to keep everyone in the family satisfied decides how much love he receives or the mother’s ability to mold her child according to societies standards decides how much love she receives and so on. I would like you to take a moment and imagine yourself in these roles, would you enjoy being that child or that husband or that mother or friend who is constantly required to prove their worth to be loved. Or would you like to be loved for who you are with all your quirks and flaws, without any conditions? (Also, do you in the first place love yourself for all that you are and you are not?)
I recently came across these lines from a book called The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik which read "Love doesn't have goals or benchmarks or blueprints, but it does have a purpose. The purpose is not to change the people we love, but to give them what they need to thrive. Love’s purpose is not to shape our beloved’s destiny, but to help them shape their own. It isn’t to show them the way, but to help them find the path themselves, even if the path they take isn’t one that we choose ourselves, or even one we would choose for them.” Although this book talks particularly about loving a child, I strongly believe that this is the kind of love everybody deserves. What do you think?
That brings me to wonder, how do we put this into practice? how do we create the kind of love that’s empowering in every way rather than burdening? 1. Ensure yourself the love that you are willing to provide others
Today, Ask yourself “Why do I love myself?” Hear yourself out, you could write it down too without any filters, pay attention to the words that flow in your mind just write them down as they are. You would be surprised to see your own answers (these are all the things you were conditioned to believe). Acknowledge them.
Now tell your yourself why you actually love yourself, that you love yourself for all that you were, all that you are and all that you are ever going to be. That you love yourself with all your flaws, the mistakes you’ve made, the experiences you’ve had. And that you’ll continue to love yourself as you grow from there.
Do this everyday until it becomes a part of you, until you completely feel safe and loved within yourself.
When you begin to love yourself unconditionally, you are allowing others to love you unconditionally.
2. Ensure others the love that you are willing to provide.
Ask the ones you love “Why do you think I love you?”. (This could be anybody your child, a friend, husband, wife, parents, anybody) Hear them out completely.
Keep a check on your emotions as you hear them reason out (you might hear reasons like “because I’m smart”, “Because I listen to you”, Because I cook well and take care of the family”, “you don’t love me”). They are speaking their truth, be prepared to listen and acknowledge it. Ask them “What if you stop doing that, what do you think will happen to my love?”. Hear them out.
Now present them with your perspective, tell them that you love them NO MATTER WHAT AND FOR WHOEVER THEY ARE and that they don’t need to do anything to earn it, it’s given. You might want them to grow or become better but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them or you love them less.
When you tell someone that you love them, some might push you away, this could be because they feel pressurized to return that love (Understand that they too are conditioned to see love as transnational). Having clarity of your definition can help you communicate better.
Remind them of your unconditional love every time you see them caught in a rut to prove themselves to earn your love (especially your children).
We all grew up feeling insecure, unworthy, insufficient, self-loathe and self-doubt, it’s time for us to change the way we look at things and create a world for ourselves and others that’s filled with love, the kind of love that’s empowering, liberating and free of conditions. Where each one is loved and celebrated for who they are and not for what we want them to be.