Most people are cognizant of the impact of having received love from grandparents, parents, family members, siblings, friends and others as they grew up. In adulthood, romantic love added intense emotions that bolstered our self-view, increased our confidence, affirmed our worth and desirability and bonded us to those whom we love and cherish. Conversely, when others’ love for us faded, was altered or withheld it may have hurt and emotionally caused us deep pain and suffering, deflated our self-regard and may even have led us to question our worthiness and purpose for living. How does love, a mere emotion, possess such power over our psychological and physical wellbeing?
The experience of falling in love is often depicted as a magical event in one’s life. This overpowering attraction to another person that occurred beyond our planning, thought, or willful design seemed a compelling infatuation and felt like it occurred to us – not by us.
This depiction matches researchers’ findings of hormones’ role in propelling attraction, bonding and mating. Neuroscientist Thomas Insel, Director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, studied attachment in voles and discovered that the brain orchestrates heartfelt emotional attachments. He found that “Oxytocin and Vasopressin were two important hormones in mating but were only one link in a neurochemical chain needed for complex social behaviors.” He concluded, “Social attachment may be more biologic than soulful.”
As bound as humans may be by hormonal control, we still have great powers in directing our emotional energy to achieve and maintain fluid loving connections and extinguish undesired hormonal influences that may interfere with our comfort and our bonding with others.
In “the Love Response”, Dr. Eva M. Selhub, a physician at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Clinical Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School described our ability to “Neutralize the physical effects of stress, turn off anger, fear and anxiety and restore balance to our well-being.” She details the ways that during stressful times we can “neutralize adrenaline, cortisol and other detrimental substances in the blood and transform fear into trust, pain into joy and achieve the comfort of love and affection.”
Many techniques have been devised by scientists, researchers, psychologists, mental health professionals, teachers and clergy to guide us in becoming more respectful and loving toward our mates and others. Perhaps the best approach may be to solidly adhere to The Golden Rule, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, which stresses ethical reciprocity between humans advocated by all religions. If we were to stop and consider the impact of our words or actions on others prior to uttering or actualizing them, we are likely to reduce needless hurt and misunderstanding and create healthier relationships based on kindness, consideration, respect and love for all.
Practice and model loving behaviors:
- Select the kindest and most respectful words in delivering your message to others.
- Profess your appreciation, admiration and caring for your mate on a daily basis.