All of us want to be seen and loved for who we are. To open our hearts and reveal our true selves—vulnerabilities and all, we need to feel safe with another person. It can be scary stuff, baring your soul; almost impossible in a cold, harshly judgmental or hostile environment.
“Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.” (John O’Donohue)
So, how can you create a safe container for love to grow in your relationships? Here are five keys, which, if you put into practice, will help you cultivate love in your life.
- ATTENTION. Just like a plant needs sunshine, a relationship needs attention (focused energy) to grow and remain healthy and strong. Relationships are an energy exchange between two people. Relationships wither from lack of attention. So, spend quality time with your relations. Do your best to be fully present and free from distractions (Yes, that means turning off your cell phone).
- ACCEPTANCE. If there’s a something about your loved one, or something they have done, that you don’t like, but it is not a deal breaker or a boundary breaker for you, then accept it. Don’t nag, judge or nit pick about it. Let it be.
- APPRECIATION. Celebrate your loved one’s good qualities. Tell her specifically what you like or love about her. Tell her often. When you do this, your loved one receives the heartfelt gift of being seen, loved and appreciated for who she is.
- AFFECTION. Be affectionate. Show your love, warmth and caring for your relations through touch. A warm hug, a pat on the back, standing arm in arm, or holding hands communicates positive emotions. Many studies have demonstrated physical and emotional benefits of touch. Research has also shown that touch is the primary language of compassion. Touch can even boost love hormone (oxytocin) levels.
- ALLOWING. Allow your family, friends and lover(s) the space to be themselves. Enjoy your relations for who they are. Don’t try to change them to fit your expectations. “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” (Thich Nhat Hahn)
Practicing these 5 keys will help you to develop self-love, too. “Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person.”( Thich Nhat Hahn) Use these 5 keys to cultivate a more loving relationship with your self and with others.