Recently I was using EFT with a client I'll call Marie while she was exploring stress about some serious problems in her family. Thoughts and feelings about family members came up as she tapped, and tearfully she said, "I want love." She told me that she didn't feel loved by her mother and in the next breath explained that she and her mom spoke on the phone every day. Although she couldn’t' remember her mother hugging and kissing her as a child, she knew that her mom loved her, but it wasn't enough. She explained, "We talk about the weather, what we are making for dinner and the grandchildren. But that's not the kind of love I mean,"

I asked Marie what kind of family her mom came from. It was a large family where not much affection was displayed physically or through words. Since her mom wasn't used to a display of warmth it was difficult for her to act touchy feely. Marie craved that and later gave her daughter the kind of warm contact that she missed, however she still felt a void and yearned for her fantasy of what love feels like.

I explained to Marie that different people show love in different ways because, like her mother, not everyone learned how to demonstrate love the way Marie demanded it should be. Some people show love by giving gifts. Others write notes or send cards and others do helpful deeds. Not everyone is comfortable with physical touch or saying "I love you.". Marie's mother keeps in constant touch with her and shares everyday events. That is her way of being loving.

Working with Marie reminded me of a wound I have carried all my life. My mother never said, "I love you" to me. I remember sitting at her hospital bed just before she died, hoping that in her last moments she would remember to tell me. She never did and I have always grieved about that. My mother never hugged or kissed me except when saying goodbye before a trip.

As I explained to Marie how her mom's way of relating to her through phone calls was her attempt to say, "I love you," I realized that my mother also said "I love you" through behaviors that I discounted, since I too wanted love to come in a different form. My mother's main expression of love was through food. She was famous for making different meals for each person at the table and was a wonderful baker. Her attempt at soothing was to say, "Don't cry honey, have a cookie." Unfortunately cookies became a mother surrogate for me when I needed love.

Like Marie, I had my own definition of what love should look like. Our mothers didn't fit the picture so we decided that they didn't love us. Perhaps they really did but they never had the kind of love they wanted either so they never learned how to show it to others. If you also want love that has to be "your way" and are not getting it, think about the person you resent. What kind of background influenced them? If they don't show you the kind of warmth you yearn for can you think of any acts of generosity or caring from this person that could be interpreted as an act of love such as Marie's mother's phone calls or a friend's emails or texts instead of a visit?

Take a moment and picture the person you are thinking of and surround both of you with light. In your imagination tell this person that you appreciate the ways that he or she acts out of caring even though you never saw it as a way to express love before. Tell your friend or relative what you value about him. And tell him or her how you have been showing your love even if it has not been received the way you would

Author's Bio: 

Gloria Arenson, licensed psychotherapist is the author of Desserts Is Stressed Spelled Backwards, How to Stop Playing the Weighting Game, Born to Spend, Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing, Freedom At Your Fingertips, and EFT For Procrastination. She is in private practice in Southern California. Find more at www.GloriaArenson.com