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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The power of Love over Infatuation and Depression

Written by: Nwabudike Ngozi Elizabeth

Love is the best antidepressant – but many of our ideas about it are wrong. The less love you have, the more depressed you are likely to feel. Love is as critical for your mind and body as oxygen. It is not negotiable. The more connected you are, the healthier you will be both physically and emotionally. The less connected you are, the more you are at risk.

It is also true that the less love you have, the more depression you are likely to experience in your life. Love is probably the best anti-depressant, one of the most common sources of depression is feeling unloved.

Most depressed people do not love themselves and they do not feel loved by others. They also are very self-focused, making them less attractive to others and depriving them of opportunities to learn the skills of love.

There is a mythology in our culture that love just happens. As a result, the depressed often sit around passively waiting for someone to love them, but love does not work that way. To get love and keep love, you have to go out and be active and learn a variety of specific skills.

Most of us get our ideas of love from popular culture. We come to believe that love is something that sweeps us off our feet. However, the pop-culture idea of love consists of unrealistic images created for entertainment, which is one reason so many of us are set up to be depressed.

It is part of our national vulnerability, like eating junk food, constantly stimulated by images of instant gratification. We think it is love when it is simply distraction and infatuation. One consequence is that when we hit real love we become upset and disappointed because there are many things that do not fit the cultural ideal.

Some of us get demanding and controlling, wanting someone else to do what we think our ideal of romance should be, without realizing our ideal is misplaced. It is not only possible but also necessary to change one's approach to love, to ward off depression.

Follow these action strategies to get more of what you want out of life – to love and be loved.

Recognize the difference between Limerence and Love.

Limerence (psychology) is an involuntary romantic infatuation with another person, especially combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated. Limerence is the psychological state of deep infatuation. It feels good but rarely lasts. Limerence is that first stage of mad attraction whereby all the hormones are flowing and things feel so right.

Limerence lasts on average of six months. It can progress to love. Love mostly starts out as limerence, but limerence does not always evolve into love. Know that love is a learned skill, not something that comes from hormones or emotion particularly. Erich Fromm called it “the act of will”.

If you do not learn the skills of love, you virtually guarantee that you will be depressed, not only because you will not be connected enough but because you will have many failure experiences. Learn good communication skills. They are a means by which you develop trust and intensify connection.

The more you can communicate the less depressed you will be because you will feel known and understood. There are always core differences between two people, no matter how good or close you are, and if the relationship is going right those differences surface. The issue then is to identify the differences and negotiate them so that they do not distance you or kill the relationship.

You do that by understanding where the other person is coming from, who that person is, and by being able to represent yourself. When the differences are known, you must be able to negotiate and compromise with them until you find a common ground that works for both.

Focus on the other person, rather than focus on what you are getting and how you are being treated, read your partners need. What does this person really need for his/her own well-being? This is a very tough skill for people to learn in our narcissistic culture.

Of course, you do not lose yourself in the process; you make sure you are also doing enough self-care. The more you can focus on others and learn to respond and meet their needs, the better you are going to do in love.

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