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Love is a Secondary Emotion
Primary emotions have been characterized by emotions that give you an immediate physiologic response that tends to be evolutionary advantageous—in other words, primary emotions ask for an immediate response, and you don't have much control over it. Primary emotions from people who study this, might say that there are eight primary emotions.
Love is an emotion that combines often two of the primary emotions. So love is an emotion, but you often have to figure out what its manifestation is. So love might make you feel trust. I hope it does. Love of a child might make you feel joy. Love might help you feel anticipation of being with or seeing your loved one. Love in its anger form might lead to sadness or fear or anger. Love is a secondary emotion.
Love, or Lack-thereof, Can Make You Physically Sick
The opposite of love is hate, and that gets right into fear and anger. And certainly hate can make you sick. We have many, many reasons to believe that forgiveness . . . If you hate someone, it makes your blood pressure go up. It makes your cortisol level go up. It makes all kinds of things that make you sick and make you at increased risk of getting infections and cancer be more activated in your body. So the alternative of love you can say is hate. But hate or fear, hate might be part of fear which is a primary emotion, is really bad for you.
Also, love is something that, when it's expressed in a way that you can receive, makes your blood pressure go down. It makes your heartbeat go down. It makes your immune system work better, and it makes you feel better all over. It makes you feel warm and tingly, love does, when it's expressed in a way that you can appreciate.
Love in its manifestations can make you feel much better. Erotic love makes you kind of high. And it can be disrupting when it's part of your or all of your life. The absence of love or hate can make you sick. And something happening to a loved one can make you so distressed it can make you sick.
The Meaning of 'Love'
I think it's important to have the words for your feelings so that you can actually begin to talk to people about them. This is particularly important with children, as they begin to work on their feelings and helping children come to some realization, give a word to how they're feeling so that you can talk to them about it.
We use the word "love" as an emotional word all the time. "I love pizza" and "I love the color blue" and "I love my husband" and "I love my kid." Needless to say, those love that we're using the same word as an active verb, but they all really mean something different. And we are primarily pretty crippled in English by not having enough words for the different kinds of emotions.
When I was growing up, my parents told us that we shouldn't use the word "love" lightly. So when I love pizza or I love that color, I was reminded that "like" was the better word, not "love" because "love" was such a powerful word. And it's the only word we had that we should save it. But people use "love" all the time. "I love that you said that" comes as an automatic response to a text. Do you really feel love? Do you really feel a combination? Do you feel the combination of trust and joy, or is it just this little thing? So the word "love" has been cheapened.
Committing Financial Infidelity
Financial infidelity is where you are pair-bonded with somebody, and you make the assumptions that you share your life with them and you discuss important financial decisions with them.
So once upon a time, about 13 and a half years ago, I went looking for a new car and I knew what I wanted. I pull out my checkbook and I am ready to write a check for the entire amount, and he's looking at me and he says, "Mrs. Jones, what does Mr. Jones think about your choice?"
I was really upset because I thought maybe he was dissing my ability as a woman to buy a car on my own. And now I think maybe he was thinking I was committing financial adultery. I was making decisions without my partner. And it turns out that I think we do that all the time. All my cars I have bought without consulting my husband. And in fact, a lot of things I do . . . for women who have their very own checkbook and their bank account, they may do a lot of things that they don't discuss with their partner in life, their love partner. This has been called financial infidelity.
Love of Place Can Make You Feel 'At Home'
We don't really think that much about how love and the environment might work together. But in fact, we have often a very powerful attachment to place. And there is a neologism, a new word that's called solastalgia, S-O-L-A-S-T-A-L-G-I-A, solastalgia. And it's meaning being homesick for a place or the way the place was in the past.
We can have an emotional relationship with place. It could be our forest. It could be our garden. It could be the home that we grew up in. It might be a place that we vacation. But when that place changes and it isn't what it used to be anymore, we are homesick. We could be there, but we're homesick for the place it used to be.
The love of place can be a very powerful place. The kind of sanctuary that one feels when they're in a place or a home, or a garden or a park. It's often a place in nature where people feel just particularly calm. But when that changes, permanently often, then one feels homesick for a place where you are, but it can't be that place anymore.
Having the words for love so that you can express them becomes particularly important. Some people just don't use that word "love" very often. So if you don't necessarily use the word "love" in your family, there must be other ways of expressing love.
"The Five Love Languages" is a very famous book by Dr. Gary Chapman.
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Giving gifts
- Physical touch
In some cultures, some of these will be more prominent in showing love if you're not using words than others. And in some persons they might do one or the other. It's important if you have a relationship that's critical to you, whether it's your spouse or whether it's a brother or the sister, it's an important exercise to let them know what your love language is. And so an exercise that someone could try is, "I feel loved when you do this."
- Write down on a card or a piece of paper things that make you feel loved.
- Swap cards with the other person.
It's very helpful if you're going to be living with someone or someone's emotional language is important to you that you know how they feel loved. Because we really don't know what's inside someone's head. And the assumption that you do leads to a lot of sadness and doesn't ripen the sense of love that might happen in a relationship over time, or particularly if it's a new relationship. If people need to feel loved and they're not getting it in a way that they can use, it leads for dismay that leads for a sense of loneliness in a relationship, and that can be really hard.
The Inability to Feel or Recognize Love
For kids... your mom shows you that she loves you by cooking for you. And of course, as you raise your kids, you say, "I wouldn't yell at you if I didn't love you." So that's a similar kinds of things because kids want affirmation. They want to feel love. And that gets to be a point, particularly in adolescent, where they don't want physical touch anymore, where that's embarrassing for them. So to be able to help your adolescent understand that you do love them and this is the way that you show that.
What happens for people who cannot feel or recognize love? This is actually a relatively common problem and it's part of the spectrum called autism. Severely autistic children have a very difficult time, if not impossible for them to read love and the cues of love from their parents. They don't know how to express love to their parents.
On the spectrum of autism disorder is this inability to read other's emotions and express emotions appropriately on their own. They do feel the primary emotion. But it's the subtle secondary emotions, which are often difficult for them to read. They don't know when someone's expressing love. They are uncomfortable with closeness. They don't know how to express love for another. And raising an autistic child becomes very hard for a parent who really needs the love language from their child to continue the extremely demanding work of child-rearing.
When you love someone like a child who can't express that love in return, one seeks perhaps a higher kind of love or another reason, perhaps, to try to find love for this person who can't love you back. And that's where the powerful nature of spiritual love can be so helpful in people who are experiencing difficult circumstances, loss of love, loss of a person, loss of a place.
That concept of being able to call in your own heart to a higher kind of love becomes very important. Your spiritual life is one which you can carry with you. You can't always carry with you the person of your love, the place of your love, the child of your love, but that powerful sense of belonging to something bigger, the love of a God, love of your God, or the love of a higher power or knowing that you are part of a much larger consciousness or purpose that creates a sense of love and being, of love and belonging is something that's very important for your well-being.
The sense of love that one can create from a higher being or from a cosmic togetherness is something that also can lower your blood pressure. It can improve your sense of well-being. It can lower your chances of cancer and help your immune system.
What is in a word?
Sleepless nights with a babe in arms
Love is the answer
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