Healing with Love

heart with plaster on greenI had a lovely phone conversation with Eva M. Selhub, MD, a former staff member of Harvard Medical School and author of The Love Response. We began talking about the healing effects on the body that feelings of love can have. Healing with love is a thing. It can actually change one’s biochemistry. Some say that love is the best natural drug we have.  But, eventually fell on the topic of narcissism, those who have trouble finding love.

“It is impossible for narcissists to love because as children they were not loved,” she said.

I agree with the good doctor. A true narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by a grandiose exterior personality that belies an underside of shame, is a tragic, often perpetual  diagnosis. But short of NPD, there are plenty of people who simply feel unlovable.  Even occasional childhood neglect and abuse can create a current of mistrust in an adult mind. Mistrust of love itself when it finally shines on us in an authentic form.

Three Healing Relationships

Psychologists have identified three relationships that have the power to heal the damaged child within us. The most obvious, of course, is a therapeutic relationship. In the safety of a private and confidential dyad, a therapist can become a container for our most shameful memories and thoughts, and a presence whose consistency can help rewire our brain. The infant inside can imagine that “mommy” will always be wise, stalwart and compassionate — every Tuesday at 3 pm. Consistency is one mechanism for healing.

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Another valuable relationship is the one we can have with our own children. If we are able to break the family cycle of family dysfunction and parent our children the way we wished we had been, both parent and child can benefit. Freud called this psychic defense from pain, sublimation. He felt sublimation was one of the most functional ways to deal with emotional injury —  redirecting pain and helping others avoid a similar fate. But the secret mechanism here the very words parents use. Every time a parent encourages, soothes, and assures a young child, words echo in the adult’s head like a long lost parent. Through our ability to give love, we are soothing and consoling ourselves at the same time. It’s really amazing.

Finally, Psychologists give credit to the marital relationship as a powerful healer. If we are fortunate enough to choose a partner who has an ability to fill in some of the gaps of our childhood, we can be fortified. Too often, though, people have a “compulsion to repeat” and we choose the very pattern that injured us in the first place. At other times, even a relatively happy adult relationship can feel absolutely terrifying, especially if happiness and caring is something foreign to the child within us. I encourage you to take some emotional risks in your relationships. To look closely at your tendency to recoil from care or withhold affection — because authentic love can feel scary. Authentic love is not a perpetual happy place, but it is a home for the heart, one that creaks with age, and burns with an internal fire. Love is the thing that makes us whole.

mindfulAdGet the love life you deserve in my new online workshop, 10 Secrets of Mindful Relationships! I’m excited to share the steps you need to incorporate mindfulness in your current or future relationships. Sign up now on popexpert.com: http://bit.ly/1GOwq3v


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