OK, so perhaps this isn’t the subject you expected from me, but keep in mind that relationships are core to wellbeing, and our ability to communicate and express our affection is core to relationships, perhaps the idea of love is worth exploring.
Recently reading about the psychological construct of love I was interested in a research project that looked into what individuals actually meant when they uttered those three little words ‘I love you.’ I was astounded that I’d never really considered before what it means and also that I’ve never fully explained to the people I’m close to what I mean, or just how widely our interpretation of love is. How we define love is profoundly influenced by our upbringing, our culture and our environment.
So, rather than describe the research, I thought I’d just jump in a write out what I personally mean when I say I love you to my kids. Last night, giving them a kiss before bed I sat with each of them separately and began explaining what I actually meant. But upon reflection, it didn’t even touch the surface, so here are some of the things I mean when I tell Laura & Dylan that I love them:
- I care about you deeply
- I respect your dreams, your fears and your emotions
- I absolutely want the best for you
- I’ll always be here and ready to support you
- I want you to love learning as much as I do
- I’ll help you embrace challenges when things are difficult
- I accept you for who you are, the good, the bad and the utterly ridiculous
- I don’t mind weather you come last, first or just don’t race, I’ll love you anyway
- I appreciate your strengths and adore you as a human being
- I hurt when you hurt, and I laugh when you laugh, you are my mirror to the world
- Your smile lights up my entire world
- Your laughter sets things right, regardless of how bad they are
- I enjoy spending my time with you and I love learning new things together
- You are important to me
- I get that we’re going to argue, but I’m going to love you despite the outcome
- I will always keep your secrets and trust you to keep mind
- I will show you my weakness and failings and trust that you’ll love me anyway
- You are often in my thoughts as I always hope for the best for you
- I will always try my best to be kind to you in thoughts, deeds and words
It’s been a really beautiful exercise to think over what ‘I love you’ means to me, and I’m going to read this to them tomorrow night. Perhaps I’ll even print it out on beautiful paper and place it in a fancy envelope that they can keep in their drawer. So, whenever they are sad, lonely, cranky or just down, they can read over it and remember just what those three little words mean.
Who will you give the gift of love to this week? I encourage you to try writing it out, it’s made me reassess love, and I think… I’m better for it.