What is it about words. We can use the same word with the same 4 letters in many different contexts and the meaning is different. It’s the same 4 letters in the same order. It’s even still spoken the same. Yet it can have a completely different meaning depending on who you are, what you’ve experienced, or even how you were raised. I watched a great YouTube video the other day from a comedian discussing the word sh*t. He has a foreign accent. It’s funny. I’ve included a link here. https://youtu.be/QPTYc3L-ohg
But back to love.
This word has come to mean so much more than just these 4 letters. L O V E
To me… . It’s a heartfelt way I express how I’m feeling. In the moment. Or on the day. Or as a general overall feeling. I feel and express love.
And the love I feel or express for different people is different. We all have different depths of love, different ways of expressing it depending on who we are communicating that to.
I love and adore my children, my parents, my extended family of siblings and their partners and their children. I tell them that I love them. Frequently.
I say it to girlfriends because truly i have an amazing group of women around me that I do simply love. I love their contribution to my live, I love their company, i love they include me in their lives. I love these gals. From my heart to theirs and I tell them. Regularly.
Then there is the lovely man I’m dating. I love the fun we have, the intimate space we share, the laughs, the giggles, the goofy selfies, the conversations, his support. I love so many facets to my relationship with him. However for him, the word love has a very different meaning. He likes to use other 4 letter words but that’s for another time.
What is it about words and language? How can one person have a different meaning to a word than another person? How can one person find a word offensive yet other people use the same word with regularity?
We all have an internal filter system in our brain that we pass what we hear through. It’s how we make sense of our own world. From this filtering system we determine what’s good and what’s bad. We decide what fits our internal perceptions and beliefs. We also use our past memories and experiences in this filtering system too. As an example, say you have a negative experience or event happen to you. Your brain tags the memory of this event or experience as perhaps painful, upsetting or bothersome. In your brain, this event has been given some sort of meaning to make sense of it. The brain remembers this event by this tagging. If we have specific words attached or tagged to these memories, then these words are given meaning too.
I had a friend share recently that even when he feels love for a person, he sees no need to have to say it. He says they will feel his love.
Another friend said that if his girlfriend started saying she loved him, he’d feel like he’d have to say it back. So, he doesn’t want her to say it to him.
A close girlfriend thought that perhaps too many people use the word love, without really ever meaning it.
Given all this, perhaps its not so surprising that people avoid the word love. There are so many emotions that can get attached to this word and so many opportunities to feel pain around love. Pain of feeling love. Pain of losing love. The pain of unrequited love. Pain of being hurt when we open up to love. Broken hearts from relationship breakdowns, family or friends who have died, people we trusted who hurt or betrayed us.
But what if we could take a step back and see this word for what it is. A 4 letter word that expresses an emotion. Just like so many other 4 letter words that express emotion. I’m not trying to downplay the power of the word love. Afterall, love can move mountains. It has the power to make people do the craziest things. But perhaps if we could spend time working on untagging the negative emotions that have been attached to the word love – we could be more open to expressing love without the fear. The fear of it being taken from us again. The fear of it not being reciprocated or returned. The fear of what someone using the word love may want in return, because we give it so many meanings.
I enjoy feeling love. I enjoy expressing love and showing my love and I’m not about to stop it any time soon.
After all, the Beatles did sing “all you need is love”