I recently finished a book by Alexandra Solomon titled Loving Bravely.
I'm a sucker for non-fiction books that help me grow as a person, mother, partner or better yet, all of the above.
I first heard about it when Alexandra was a guest speaker on the Zen Parenting podcast.
Aside from ah-ha moments throughout, Alexandra offers multiple exercises to help you work through your position in love. As an audiobook user, that meant I was pausing often and giving myself time to really reflect on what she had me thinking about or doing.
In particular, one of her first exercises really resonated with me and I absolutely loved that she had made it an integral part of this book. She asked the reader to list the ways their parents had loved them. This meant both physically and verbally.
Some people might wonder how this might help you become more brave in love, but to me it made perfect sense.
As someone who has studied Attachment Parenting and what it means for a child to be securely attached, I loved that this was an activity from the start. Here's why.
To understand how we long to be loved and how we long to love others we first need to examine and reflect on our first true loves and what that relationship looked and sounded like. With none other than our parents.
It may feel a bit strange to think about your parents being your first true loves, but it couldn't be more accurate.
Our parents are our everything for the first few years of life and how they model and demonstrate love to/around us is exactly what creates our definition of love in the first place.
Think about this for a moment,
Were you snuggled and kissed often?
Was your family less about physical touch and more about loving words?
Did your parents not hug often or say I love you every night before bed, but you knew how they felt? How so?
These were the questions Alexandra had prompted her readers (and listeners) to examine.
I'm not writing about this topic to criticize how love was demonstrated in anyone's home. I am writing this to point out a side of yourself you might of never fully understood before now.
The realization of how love was defined to you in the beginning of your life could play a monumental role in your ability to love and be loved as both a parent and partner!
When going through this exercise myself I realized that my parents loved very differently. (I use past tense because my father has changed a lot from when I was a baby.)
Initially, when I was young, my dad had a hard time with words. I didn't hear the I love you's very often, but I could always feel the love in his hugs and cuddles.
My mother on the other hand spoke from her heart often, said she loved me all the time, gave me words of affirmation constantly and we snuggled, a lot.
So what does this say about me?
Well, it makes sense that when it comes to feeling loved, physical touch and words of affirmation are my love languages.
I feel loved when I'm held close, kissed often and told that I matter. This naturally is why when I try to make those around me feel loved, I hold them close, kiss them often and tell them how deeply they matter to me.
This is how I learned to love.
This has been the definition of love that I was raised to understand.
My first true loves loved me in this way.
To understand our position and comfort level with love, we must first examine these early years of how we were loved.
Now, if you're thinking, oh great! My parents never showed me or told me about love, I'm doomed! It's actually quite the opposite.
An awareness to the abundance or lack of love you may have experienced in the early years could be a groundbreaking starting point for you to further develop your capacity to love now.
As a parent, what do you wish for your child's expectations of love?
How do you hope your child is one day loved by their partner?
How do you hope they might one day love their children?
In understanding the importance of how we show and model love to/around our children we have a monumental opportunity. We have a chance to model a healthy love so that when our children leave the nest and look for love in this world, their expectations are healthy and high!
Loving Bravely is a great read for any self-help, non-fiction junkies out there or anyone looking to up their connections to themselves and their family.