At the end of life, most people regret not loving more. Our relationships are the most important thing in our lives, yet we take them for granted. If there’s one thing we can do better, it is to love much. While there is still time.
1. Love yourself first: you cannot run on empty
You cannot give what you do not have. Most of us need love from a source outside ourselves. In childhood, our parents are the most likely source. Some of us believe in a God who loves us unconditionally. You have a spouse who loves you, and this is your source of strength. Return to this source often until the love in you spills out to others.
2. Show it with words and actions
When wives ask their husbands “Do you love me?”, he will reply “Of course” and wonder why she isn’t satisfied. Parents will discipline their children, sometimes severely, and expect the child to understand that “It’s for your own good”. We expect our parents to know how grateful we are for all they’ve done for us, even if we don’t explicitly tell them.
Tell them. We are all starving for affection, and can never get enough. And learn to speak their language. We usually show love in the way we feel it ourselves. The problem is, the other person may speak a different love language. Learn the 5 love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, and gifts.
3. Ask for feedback
Instead of assuming that our actions mean the same to others as we intended, why not ask? That’s why companies spend millions of dollars on market surveys and customer feedback. They know the importance of improving based on real feedback. Some questions you can ask:
- -“How did you feel when I did… (or said…)?”
- “What makes you feel most loved?”
- “I want to do something for you – what would you like it to be?”
4. Go easy on yourself
Some of the feedback you get may make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t even need feedback to know when we’ve messed up. Understand that nobody’s perfect, that the best of us crash and burn sometimes. Forgive yourself and move on.
There will be days when you just don’t have it in you to be loving. That’s ok. If you can’t love much, at least try to love a little. If you can’t love even a little, at least try. And if you won’t even try, that’s fine too. There’s always tomorrow.
Well, there’s usually tomorrow. Someday tomorrow will not come, and we’ll wish we had the chance to show those we love how much we love them. You have that chance today.