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Love matters.

Psychotherapy — admin @ 1:32 pm

Here at Counselling connections this week our minds have turned to matters of the heart. The industry that surrounds Saint Valentine’s Day is well in motion with an array of cards and chocolates, not to mention flowers available to young lovers. Our sympathies are with the young men and women who are at the stage where these things are all important and where there is so much pressure to meet the expectations of peers. Love is not a new phenomenon and young lovers have always been expected to display the extent of their love for each other. In these times this may mean helium balloons and a slap up meal but in different times the challenge was the same only the manner of the display has changed.
So much of our work here is about love. So much of the difficulties which people can experience in life have to do with love. It strikes us, talking about it here this morning, that there are so many variations of love. How one kind of love can almost become a prison is in stark contrast to the freedom of a facilitating kind of love. Whereas we see the ill effects on someone’s life of growing up without love we also see the transformative effects that love can have.
It is probably fair to say that each of us has a slightly different way of loving, our own individual style of love. We learn to love and be loved from our first childhood experiences, initially mostly with mother and then with father too. Our levels of trust in the world are built up from our experiences and from how we are held and facilitated by our parents when we are infants. We feel free to experiment and test the world if our efforts, whether successful or not are met with understanding, patience and above all with love.
Love facilitates our becoming as a person; it is a life enhancing force as powerful and important perhaps as the sun is to plants. And it is complicated too because the love of a parent is not about always saying yes. Sometimes a loving mother or father has to say no to the demands of their child and maintain a loving understanding if their gentle admonishments are not met with acquiescence. Indeed they might be met with a tantrum and here again our adult way of loving is greatly influenced by how this is negotiated. Some adults may huff and brood if they don’t get their way just as they did as infants.
It is probably also fair to say that none of us is completely free from the effects of our childhood ways of loving. When we meet a new friend for the fist time we may feel a stirring of the heart; a hope for a future filled with our childhood expectations may emerge. This is probably a natural process learned with evolution. Then things will settle down and more realistic, adult expectations of a relationship will emerge. Here too we have to be careful to maintain a spark of the initial attraction. In all too many cases a marriage will begin to flounder when two people just take things too much for granted and fall into ways of behaving which are just about settling into a routine and are absent of any richness or real love.
On other occasions we find that someone has a poor ability to stop loving someone once they have started. I suppose we are all familiar with examples of a person maintaining a relationship when friends and family can plainly see that it may even be harmful for the person. This may be due to patterns around addiction or violence. We can learn about how our own style of love influences how we behave in these situations and we can learn to change the way we love. If we didn’t develop the ability to take risks with love, to get it wrong and start over or if fear stops us from loving to begin with we will find relationships and intimacy difficult. It is good to explore these things in ourselves and to learn about aspects of our selves which may serve to block love.
Love can be transformative; to learn how to receive the love of another can lead to a wonderful experience of growing into the potential of your own full self. And to give a facilitating love, free from jealousy or rivalry can fill the giver with a great deal of warmth and feelings of living a full and purposeful life. To be in a relationship, whether that is as a romantic partner, a parent or child or as a friend where real love is present is to facilitate seeing the flowering of the best of what is in us.
Dundalk, Counselling Connections.

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