Are you looking for Love?
Does it surprise you that 10 Ways a Mother’s Love Can Damage a Child is the most read blog post? It gets views every single day.
I’m curious. What are people are searching for? Are people questioning love?
This blog post clears that up. It also explains the very simple, yet powerful concept of love languages. A game changer when it comes to happy relationships.
There is a lack of healthy Love in the world
It also highlights the deep pain of the mother wound – a taboo topic which is very common. It takes hard work and commitment to transcend the legacy of a toxic family, otherwise history repeats itself.
I think you question love when it’s mixed with trauma and pain.
What is Love?
I hope my clients feel seen and known (loved) by me within the confines of our professional relationship. I know that my therapist was able to be this person for me in a way that I had never experienced before. She defrosted my frozen feelings and welcomed the hidden and fragmented parts of me, so I could feel like more of a whole person.
Love gave me …
- security and reassurance as I walked the unknown path to heal from childhood trauma
- hope when I felt lost and overwhelmed during the cut off from my family
- faith that love is possible after heartbreak and trauma
- space and time to know myself (not what other people said I was)
- back myself and empowered me to be all that I was capable of being
Love is why we are all here
My love language is words, so of course, I have a lot to say about it! Mostly because I believe healthy love is the solid foundation from which happy humans grow. Besides, it fascinates me. I even had magical healing from horses who showed me how a lack of love can manifest as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, over functioning, perfectionism and codependency.
What Love is not
There are some strange and dysfunctional ideas about love. I wrote about how Pretty Woman taught us to tolerate toxic relationships. Lots of us grew up believing that this romantic love exists. Worse still: that it’s healthy. As if your knight in shining armour, or anybody else, holds the key to your happiness. Lots of parents and children I work with feel responsible for one another’s happiness and that’s not only messy, but unhealthy and totally unachievable.
The brainwashing started young. Disney taught us that you have to be special and chosen for love (Cinderella). Love can fix you (Beauty and the Beast) and love saves you from your toxic family (Rapunzel). I hate to be a party pooper, but if you have children — I feel compelled to tell you the truth. You don’t want to pass that legacy on to them, do you?
Richard Curtis’ Love Actually is slightly more balanced in that love is depicted in all its different guises:
- parental love
- sibling love
- young love
- unrequited or forbidden love
- love that breaks barriers
- and love after death (grief is the risk and flipside of love).
Love does not hurt
The most moving scene is the one where Emma Thompson silently cries in her bedroom after discovering that her husband is very likely cheating on her. She adopts a very British stiff upper lip and gathers herself together for the sake of her children. Not something I recommend – children are very perceptive and have a habit of internalising everything to be their fault.
Betrayal is not love. Neither is deceit.
Love does not ask us to sacrifice who we are, but lets us be ourselves.
Open your heart to Love
Recovering from heartbreak and remaining open to love is not impossible, but requires patience, curiosity, courage and grit. I found it helped having the right sort of people around me. Tissues and chocolate were a godsend too.
Here, I will offer you expressions of love, in the hope that you’ll pass them on to children you love. Or if like me, perhaps your wounded inner child needs a gentle reminder of how cherished they are.
💕 Fill your home with expressions of Love
My love language is words and that is how I like to express what’s in my heart to those that I care about. I would rather hear words of encouragement and compassion over gifts, hugs and food! That’s really saying something, cos I love me some macaroni cheese and millionaire’s shortbread.
During the first lockdown, I created what I call my ‘Wall of Love’. It’s what you’ll see when we’re on a coaching call together. I collect hearts.
I also have a ‘Cupboard of Love’ which are china mugs adorned with hearts and words of love. A cup of tea for us Brits does feel like a warm cuddle on a rainy day.
💕 Love is found in small unexpected ways
Grand gestures of love for special occasions don’t come close to the daily acts of love we show ourselves and the people around us. In fact, often when parents overcompensate for what they didn’t have, and wanted as a child, can do more harm than good. Children are overwhelmed with so much stuff and so many choices.
It’s the simplest, most natural expressions of love that count most.
Why might this be hard?
You can only love others as deeply as you know and love yourself.
What about simple rituals for saying hello and goodbye. Stopping what you’re doing and giving full attention to show they are welcome and you’re pleased to see them. Having the courage to properly say goodbye, even when it’s teary and hard.
Then there are micro expressions of love. A quick kiss on the cheek, a squeeze of the hand, a warm smile, a cheeky wink, a ruffle of the hair, or a reassuring hug. It’s hard to leave the people we love – even if it’s simply for a morning meeting or a day at school. We miss them and look forward to coming back together again.
💕 Love is the antidote to fear, worry + criticism
Kids get corrected daily as they learn and grow. Plus we tend to notice and nag about the things they don’t do, instead of notice their efforts or well-intentioned intent. According to The Gottman Institute, Criticism is one of the 4 breakers of relationships (the other three being defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling).
💕 Ideas to express your Love as often as possible
1 – Stick MAGNETS on the fridge. I have this one and this one on my fridge. I visit the fridge countless times a day. Those words become etched onto my retina and felt in my heart. The I am not alone one magnet is very popular.
2 – Get one of these GREETING CARDS and write inside the small things you’ve noticed them trying, remembering and making effort with. School focuses so much on outcomes and achievement, it’s powerful if these are about their character. Leave it in their school bag or lunchbox as a lovely surprise.
3 – Send one of these POSTCARDS – yes, in this digital age, actually let real mail come through your letterbox. It’s so much nicer than bills or pizza leaflets.
5 – Decorate scrapbooks with photos to create memories. These capsules of time cannot be brought or recreated. They are precious and will mean so much now and in the future. I like the idea they are between the two of you and not for public consumption on social media.
6 – Start a private conversation journal in an empty NOTEBOOK, I like this one. Keep the conversation strictly between you and your child. Leave it in a drawer and tell your child it’s there if they want to ask you any questions or tell you things that are uncomfortable or hard to talk about face to face.
7- Read all 10 Love messages from the SMILEY THOUGHT CARDS to one another as reading practice, before bed or just for fun! Or pick a card for your child and leave it under their pillow to read before they go to sleep. There are also 10 messages to build confidence, 10 messages of encouragement and 10 messages of positivity.
For my non-UK lovely peeps, I’ve made these stickers as another way for you to enjoy the cards because I know the postage to the US and Oz is more expensive. Or Alexa can give you messages of love.
Simply say ‘Alexa! Play Happy Thoughts!’ and see what happens. It’s a great way to infuse your child’s brain with positivity before they go to school or sleep at night.
8 – Watch the way you talk to yourself. Love starts within. People who are unaware of their inner critic, project it outwards. They get all judgey and find fault with others. Similarly, perfectionists or those of us with low self-esteem would benefit from more self love, kindness and compassion.
My course, Confident & Free to Be Me is 10 quick and easy, positive self-talk exercises which was inspired by the Fairy Godmother of Self Love, Affirmations and Mirror Work, Louise Hay. It works just as well for adults (think inner child work), as it does for children.
The world needs more Love right now
The pandemic seems to have created more fear and division. To mask or not to mask. To jab or not to jab? That is the question, or is it? Is love just about letting people make their choices and letting them be who they are?