by Angie Johnston
What does love really mean?
Before we define love it’s important that we first look at the two different aspects of ourselves because each aspect has a different view and need of love.
Let’s make this simple to understand by looking at ourselves as the child part and the adult part.
Some people refer to your child part as your ego or inner child. We all have one. It is still with you even after your body grows into an adult.
The child part tries to feel loved, gain love, deserve love, be worthy of love, and make sense of love because it desires a sense of connection in order to feel safe.
Many times we think we are looking for the feeling of love but what we are looking for is safety.
When a child feels safe, it can fully relax in the presence of another creating a feeling of connection. It then feels free to be it’s truest self without the burden of constantly trying to gain safety or love through altering its behavior. Our first priority as a child is obtaining a sense or feeling of safety…to know that we are ok and fully accepted and embraced, as is. If we don’t feel that, we begin the unending search of the right formula of behaviors that will give us that acceptance so we can know we are safe or loved.
The adult part is the part of you that emerges to continue the care of the child part. This is the part involved in self love and self acceptance. Your adult part tends to use the parenting techniques of it’s parents. If your parents or people in your life met your child self’s needs of connection and safety, you will know how to give yourself love and acceptance and keep your child self feeling calm and safe. If those people did not know how to meet those needs and wounded the child, you will need to learn reparenting skills.
If you have the burning question of “What does love really mean?”, it is your child part that wants to know. Therefore, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on your child self.
How important is the child to my life experience?
The child controls how you feel moment to moment, and how you react to things or how you behave. Your daily experience of life will depend on the stories the child is told and how well it is cared for and soothed by your adult self.
An abused child that doesn’t feel safe will act out. If you find yourself having moments of behavior that you regret later, your adult self has yet to learn how to properly care for the child and help it to feel embraced and fully accepted and therefore safe or loved.
If you are feeling any emotion other than peace and calm, this is a result of your child reacting to a scary story being told by your adult self.
What does the child need?
The way the child feels “love” is through being seen, heard, fully accepted, embraced, not judged, not shamed, not blamed, and not guilted.
So you could say, the child defines love as being fully embraced, seen, heard, understood, accepted which results in feeling fully connected to another person and therefore feels safe.
The short answer is what the child feels as love is the ability to feel completely safe with another person.
When these conditions are met, the child feels connected to another person and loved and safe. Since it is incapable of giving this to itself, an external source, another person must meet all of the conditions in order for it to feel loved.
What if the child was wounded?
What if no one in your child’s world was able to give it full acceptance and non judgement? What if it was met with constant blame, shame, guilt, judgement, never accepted, rarely seen, rarely heard, never understood, rarely embraced? What if it never felt safe?
If the child within you never received the feeling of connection which caused it to feel safe it will now search endlessly for this feeling.
Now your child has wounds and it’s stories of love are scary, confusing ones.
You will carry this child with it’s scary love stories into adulthood.
As an adult you may experience insecurity, anxiety, codependency, love obsession, and may constantly search for love in the same type of people involved in those past confusing, scary love stories.
You will encounter the same type of people who don’t know how to fulfill the child’s definition of love, mostly because the child of those people never experienced it either.
We can’t give what we have never received. We can't teach what we have never learned.
The child will tell itself to just be better, be different, do whatever it takes to be accepted, leaving you as an adult without a clue of who you truly are because who you truly are wasn’t accepted or good enough in the past.
This leaves the person with such an internal pain of feeling unsafe, disconnected, alone, and separate.
How do we get better?
In a perfect world where every child is shown the actions of love, no wounded children would exist. The child would receive love by the adults surrounding it and learn how to give these actions to itself in adulthood. The adult aspect would care for its child in the same loving way taught to it by the adults in it’s life. The adult self would show the child self full acceptance and non judgement.
Love to the part of you that is asking, is safety. Safety is found through full acceptance and non judgement. When your adult can give this to your child, the search for love can end and peace can begin.
Angie Johnsey is a speaker, author and world-renowned Mind expert. A hypnotherapist and psychiatric nurse by trade, Angie assists clients all over the world to become aware of their mental and emotional patterns, bring clarity and peace to lives that were once full of stress and suffering, and choose the feelings they would like to have to transform their lives.