“What’s love got to do with this?” was his retort after her heartfelt request: “I just want to know that you love me.”
This is not an unusual scenario to unfold in my office. While our focus is on the pandemic of Covid, there’s another pandemic going … and that is withholding or denying love.
There was a time in my office when the majority of people who came in regarding the topic of love, it was about falling in love, premarital counseling, etc. But over the past couple of years, it has turned to people starving for love.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be focusing in on the topic of love. Although I will be speaking largely to love relationships/marriage, it applies to all relationships.
Although it’s been over 37 years since Tina Turner’s song, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” took radio by storm; the question is still relevant today!
This week I’ll respond to “what’s love got to do with your life”, followed by additional information about love. Such as things spoken by Oprah Winfrey:
“Each of us, at our core, longs to be loved, needed, understood, affirmed – to have intimate connections that leave us feeling more alive and human. The yearning to feel heard, needed, and important is so strong in al of us that we seek that validation in whatever form we can get it. We all want to feel like we matter to somebody. To know that people care about how you’re doing when the doing isn’t so good – that’s what love is!”
Here’s what love’s go to do with it:
1. It’s a core, basic need.
At our core, 100% of us have the need to give and receive love. Far too often, we consider love a “want.“ The truth is, love is one of four basic needs:
A. Love and connection
C. Safety and security
D. Surprise and Variety
I am often asked, “What about the people who just refuse to love? Or seem to not need it?” Great question! There are those who have been so desperately starved of love at a young age, and/or hurt so deeply by love, that they have turned their love toward accomplishments and/or other things.
Interestingly enough, this is often where we see addictions come in. Wine, gambling, pornography, or even great achievements and accomplishments. Those things never “seem” to hurt them. (Although they are capable of destroying their lives if left unmanaged). It seems to them to be a safe place for their love.
Research shows the basic neuro response and activity in two parts of the brain (the striatum and the insula) to be the same with addiction and with love. Therefore, those who have been hurt, feel unlovable, or have no true experience with love often get that need met through addiction. (No, your friend or loved one who is struggling with addiction is not a “loser,” they need love!)
But whether we get the need for love met through relationships, which is the richest experience, or through substances, processes, or achievements … It is a basic need.
How are you getting your need for love met?
2. It’s a survival need.
Not only is love a basic need, but it is a survival need. In order to survive, we all need love in our lives. How we go about getting that need met is critical. By design, we were created to get the need met through connection with other people.
Tony Robbins says it well: “Love is oxygen to the soul. Without it, it is hard to breathe!”
As I mentioned above, some people turn to addiction to get the need met.
Since all four of the needs mentioned above are survival needs, we all must be very aware, and very cautious to make sure we get the need for love met in a healthy way.
Not getting our needs met in a healthy way endangers us to giving up our goals, sacrificing our dreams, and violating our values. Why is that true? Because it is a survival need.
I was once in a relationship where I poured love in year after year. The love, however, was not returned. In word or in deed. I commented to my Mentor after a number of years that I felt my very life was slipping away. She then informed me that it was because love is a survival need, and I had longed for it for years.
How are you getting your need for love met? There is no question to it being a survival need; the only question is how are you getting it met?
Addiction is certainly not a healthy way to get the need met. Neither is becoming a victim, manipulating, or trying to convince someone to love you.
You deserve to have your need for love met, and to have it met in a healthy way. Make sure your need is met, and make sure it’s in a healthy way. If you are in a relationship, make sure that not only is your need met, but that your partner’s need for love is met as well.
Learn what makes them feel loved, and flood them with loving on a daily basis! (The same is true for your children and other family members!)
3. Increases your life expectancy.
Research suggests that those also involved in healthy relationships typically live longer. One of the ways these relationship increase your life expectancy is by lowering your risk of heart attack and by lowering your risk of developing certain types of cancer. In addition, it boosts your immune system.
Study after study over the years have indicated that not only does love increase your life expectancy, but the extension of it increases with the quality and quantity of love you give and receive.
This was illustrated to me vividly in my visit to Fiji. It has some of the world’s longest living folks, and centenarians are common.
If you had the opportunity to sit in the villages and watch the unconditional love bubbling forth upon one another, the study results would be demonstrated before your eyes. In quite a delightful manner!
I made the decision on that trip 20 years ago to love more fully, more frequently, and more fanatically than ever. After all, if I’m going to release my version of “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” and dance to it with the energy that Tina Turner does at age 80, I’m going to need a very long life!
What about you? How can you love more deeply, more sincerely, more devotedly than ever … to increase your life expectancy?
4. Reduces depression.
Falling in love, getting married and maintaining healthy relationships, and friendships, have been shown to depression in males and females. In addition, love and relationships also increases a person’s sense of belonging, and increases their happiness.
One of the reasons that love reduces depression is that the connection that occurs between two people releases large amounts of oxytocin into our systems. Oxytocin washes over and conquers the neurochemicals that create depression.
I am often asked why women or men who have been used and abused continue to return to those relationships? Usually when I’m asked, it is because of someone’s disgust about a friend or a relative doing so.
The truth is, they have love and connection attributed to only that person. They are in deep survival mode for the love they once felt there. So they return, only to get hurt again and again.
Deep depression almost always ensues. When people ask me how to help them, they expect for me to tell them to tell their friend or family meeting to read this book, go to that counseling … or to tell them to just stop it!
But they are surprised to hear my response: “They are in a deep depression. If you will spend time with them and love on them; then ask other friends and family members to do so. They will come out of survival mode for love, and make better decisions!“
If you are struggling with depression for any reason whatsoever, surround yourself by people who will love and connect with you. If you are alone and isolated, start with an online support group. As soon as you’re up to coming out of isolation, go to an in-person support group, a celebrate recovery group, a church group or someplace where love abounds!
You deserve to be free of that depression, and oxytocin is your ticket.
5. Decreases anxiety.
MRI scans have shown that those who are involved in loving relationships have great activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for the reward/pleasure response and less activity in the region of the brain associated with anxiety.
Anxiety is a horrible thing. Some people cannot think straight, some people cannot breathe, some people tremble, and some people get swept away with thoughts of the worst thing that could possibly happen.
No one desires to be anxious. It’s a terrible feeling, sometimes debilitating. One of the things that we know from research is that love activates neurochemicals that calm anxiety.
By the way, the withdrawal of love from someone we love is like setting fire to anxiety and setting it ablaze! Don’t get caught in the trap going back to situations where you are either used or abuse.
I believe in saving hopeless relationships. I do it regularly in my office. I do it by facilitating the couple beginning to pour love out upon one another again.
You can do the same in your relationship, unless it’s one where you are being used and/or abused. In that case, turn to family and friends for love. Don’t allow yourself to fall prey to addictions and the cycle of destruction.
You deserve a life free of anxiety, and love will take you there!
6. It advances career and finances.
Many studies have been done through the years of people who reported feeling very loved and giving maximum love to others.
One of the newer revelations is how people who rate their love quotient high have a 70% greater chance of getting career promotions, or being scouted for better jobs. Further research reveals that income increases exponentially as scores of love quotient increase.
Although we’re not exactly sure how or why that occurs at this point, I have my own thoughts. As I’ve done my own observation of thousands of couples through my practice and workshops over 25+ years, I’ve noted two very important things:
- One is the significantly higher level of energy in relationships where both people feel loved
- The second is the increased ability to access more creative strategies and solutions when having a high love quotientß
Crank up the love and watch your energy, and your creative thinking, skyrocket!
7. Heals trauma and builds trust.
One of the most beautiful things that I see confirmed in my practice is how love truly does heal trauma. I find that well over 70% of people I know and work with have been traumatize to one degree or another. We get stuck in that trauma, even those who think they have tucked it safely away in the overhead bin.
I have spent years bringing spouses, partners, and family into sessions of those who have any degree of trauma. They are usually a little bit confused about why I would want them there, particularly when they had nothing to do with the trauma.
They are often surprised to find out that love washers over, soothes and heals trauma.
The couple I opened this blog with was a great example of that. She had been traumatized as a child when her mother would often forget to pick her up at school. Teachers at first were frustrated because they had to stay late. Finally the principal was brought in; and eventually she was taken away for from her family while they worked through some things. And to add to her trauma, her family blamed her.
The day he asked “What’s love got to do with it?“, I facilitated an exercise with her, sharing with him what it was like as a scared, hurting little girl to wring her hands at the end of the school day, knowing that her mom was likely in an alcohol induced sleep, unaware of the time. And how it felt for teachers to be frustrated with her. And then what the pain, confusion and fear that she was drowning in was like when she was taken from her home.
I looked up at him at the end of the exercise. We all three were in tears. I leaned forward and said to him quietly, “You asked what’s love got to do with it? I’ll tell you what love’s got to do with it. Love will heal this deep pain.”
Without a word, he moved close to her, put his arms around her, and whispered, “I do love you. We can wash this pain away together!”
Love also rebuilds trust. We know what part of the brain activates when trust is being built. Love sets the activation on fire in that part of the brain.
If you’ve lost trust with someone, don’t distance yourself in shame. Pour love out on the one with whom you broke trust, and watch that trust rebuild quickly!
What’s love got to do with it? EVERYTHING!
If you already love … love more!
If you are afraid to love … love anyway!
If you are pouring your love into addictions or accomplishments … get help!
If you are afraid to allow someone to love you … open your heart once again! You will see depression and anxiety dissipate. You will be healthier. You will be wealthier. You will have a long and healthy life! That’s what love’