What is Love?

“Love is not what you say, it is what you do”

The question of “What is love?”, has recently been a question circling around in my head. We have all most likely experienced the lose of a loved one and many of us have dated, been married, had a heart break, and even divorced, or hell maybe even all of the above.

Love is one of the most profound emotions we experience as humans. It’s bigger than us, we do not have the control over the how, when and where love starts to express itself and we can find ourselves loving people we don’t like at all. Love does not come with conditions, stipulations, agendas, or codes. We can choose to surrender to love or not, but in the end, love strikes like lightning: unpredictable and irrefutable.

Since love is inherently free, we spend nights tossing and turning in an attempt to understand what it is, and how to know if we have it. How do you define something so uncontrollable and versatile?

That’s the tricky thing about love, we can feel it in a variety of different states–when we’re happy, sad, angry, confused or excited–and our attitudes about love can range from affectionate love, to infatuation and pleasure. We even use love as an action, as a force to keep our relationships with partners, or friends and family, together.

As a daughter and Mom I have learned what unconditional love is. I love my children no matter their mistakes, successes or at times treatment towards me. I was shown this unconditional love from my own mom. There are no stipulations and no matter a mistake, a bad day, an argument, you know as a mom/parent or as a child your mom is still going to love you. Sadly for some, they don’t feel this unconditional love.

I still to this day watch my children sleep. The warm, fuzzy feelings I get in my heart is a love only felt when I stand at the doorway staring at them innocently sleeping. It is one of my favorite things to do. I hold these memories deep inside my heart. Sometimes this is the only time they are innocent in this world today.

So in my crazy thoughts beyond being a mom and a daughter, why is it so hard for many to find a partner that can love unconditionally. There seems to be this word of red flags, or if a mistake is made a step is taken backwards, there is little room for forgiveness or growth as people are all human and not one person is perfect. There is always room for the fun, the love and memories, but when something goes wrong, it is very easy for many to feel the grass is greener on the other side.

Love cannot be turned on as a reward. It cannot be turned off as a punishment. Only something else pretending to be love can be used as a lure, as a hook, for bait and switch, imitated, insinuated, but the real deal can never be delivered if it doesn’t spring freely from the heart.

I have loved and I have felt love. I have also questioned loved, and I have also had my heart broken and sadly I have broken hearts. I have had questionable love and I am pretty sure I have had those afraid to love in my life. I am not talking all dating relationships, this all falls under friendships and family as well.

“Am I Loved?” Vs. “Do I Love?”

The two scenarios that usually cause us to contemplate “What is love?” give meaning to the question. Either we wonder, “Am I loved?” or we ask, “Do I love?”

It is easier to first address the “What is love?” question in terms of the love we feel coming toward us. If we understand how to recognize when we are being loved, we can also learn to recognize our love for another. It is also important to feel this love by action as words are not always followed by action.

When we are loved, we tend to feel it intuitively in our guts. But how does it work? Is there an extrasensory perception in the heart that is able to read the feelings in another person’s heart?

In fact, it’s really not that ethereal or supernatural. On the contrary, it’s pretty practical and down-to-earth. Our hearts take cues from our senses. Everything we see, hear, taste, touch or smell teaches us about our universe. Take a second and think about that. It is pretty deep. We don’t need to contemplate or ask questions. Our sensory organs report to our brains, and our brains interpret the data and send the report to our hearts. So, if we see a loving smile, hear loving words, or feel a loving touch, the brain processes this information and concludes, “Hey, we are being loved right now!”

In short, when we are loved, there is tangible proof. It’s not an abstract thought or feeling, it’s concrete and evidenced. This means, when you are treated with love, your heart feels that love.

Love is an Action

Now we can address the second part of the “What is love” quandary—how to know if we love someone else? The answer is straightforward. When we behave lovingly towards someone, it means we love that person. Again, Action, not always words.

When we ask a question like “What is love?” we assume that we’re trying to define an abstract concept similar to “What is freedom?” or “What is good fortune?” But truthfully, love is not a concept. It’s an action.

To ask, “What is love?” is like asking, “What is running?” or “What is swimming?” If you’ve ever seen someone run or swim, you know exactly what running and swimming entail.

Feelings can be deceptive. Sometimes, what we perceive as love may in fact be another emotion. But actions cannot be mistaken. So, rather than ask, “What is love?” we must ask, “Do I perform acts of love for my beloved?” and “Does my beloved perform acts of love for me?” Am I apart of them and their family and are they apart of mine? It is blending together and making/building memories together.

Becky Shaffer/Life Coach/Educator/Author

Published by beckyshafferliveinconfidence

I did the crazy and left my career teaching job after 19 years to work on and build my coaching business. I took a year off to follow my dream of being a life coach and using my skills, life lessons and training to help others find meaning in their life. While I do this, I am always growing, learning and finding more purpose and meaning in my life as well. Currently, I am life coaching and fitness coaching part-time , I continue to blog, meet with clients and I am back to teaching full time in Columbus City Schools, working with gifted students, teaching. U.S. History.

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