I always knew that I was loved by both my parents. The evidence through various doings was overwhelming. Mom woke me every morning with a mug of tea. We always had sandwiches for school and home cooked meals every evening.

Dad served on the school’s parents association and later chaired the governing body. He also often attended my Saturday rugby matches. So much support. So much provision. So much doing.

Why then did I not feel loved? What’s the difference between knowing that you are loved and feeling loved? Especially as a child?

What’s the difference between knowing and feeling loved?

To the rational brain evidence equals proof. Subject closed. But how does it work before the rational brain has properly developed? And is rationality enough?

It probably varies from child to child, but for me, I have significant needs for love to be demonstrated through affection and words. I suspect many people do.

My parents grew up in an era so different from my current reality. Both of them born towards the end of the Great Depression. It was a time when praising was withheld for fear of making the child too full of themselves. The era of love and connection through provision, through doing.

In those times words of love were not encouraged because people could use them to deceive, flatter, and manipulate. We are pretty sure my dad never received any praise from my grandpa – not once in his life.

Can you love yourself too much?

The message I got was that the ultimate disgrace was to love yourself too much. This may have contributed to my many bouts of self-loathing. It took until my late forties before I realised it was impossible to love yourself too much. Simply because that would no longer be love.

I woke up to the idea that pure love could never be superior or righteous. Pure love is nurtured in ourselves to overflow to others. And nurturing love will require prioritising and loving self! This has been a difficult journey for me…

Love your neighbour as yourself

Most of us would never tolerate a friend who treated us the way we treat ourselves. Especially the way we talk to ourselves. Brené Brown says she is convinced that we cannot truly love others more than we love ourselves. Initially, with my family and religious upbringing, I could not accept this. After years of growing self-awareness, I now believe it to be true.

I realise that so much of my loving others was born from my need to feel loved. Wanting something in return. Love. Acceptance. Compassion. Warmth. Affection. Loving as a transaction! That isn’t really love at all!

Nurturing love

My journey for the past few years has been about nurturing love within me. Where else can it come from for me to give to others? Because cannot give that which we do not have to give! This is about owning my needs. Self-compassion. Meditation and mindfulness. Self-awareness. Forgiveness. Liberty. See my post on belonging to self first.

What makes you feel loved? Do you know how to ask for it? Do you love yourself enough to prioritise getting your needs met? Join the conversation below…