For most of my life, I have chased ghosts; or allowed them to chase me. What are these ghosts? These ghost are comprised of people from my past, my dad, my step dad, mother, teachers, ministers, friends, and any other figure that may have entered my life with whom I shared some sort of bond or connection.
These ghosts left an imprint; some positive, some not so much. How did they become a ghost? This was based on the story I told about the relationship the ghost and I shared. I wanted some of these ghosts to say they were proud of me, say I was good, say I was loved, or just say anything! In other cases I wanted to tell them to go take a long run off a short pier.
I have also found this same situation with clients; the story they created about being unworthy may have started with an unkind word. Or, it may have started when they needed to hear words that were never spoken. (Some of the words they needed spoken were in another form but unrecognizable, but they were spoken.) They attached stories to theses people, they had expectations from some people; expectations that were realistic in some cases and in some cases were not. The unrealistic expectation of a person depended on if that person could actually meet them, if they had the knowledge or the skill to meet them.
A common ghost for people surrounds love. I have a theory; this theory can be applied to anything that was needed as a child. The words I love you, I am proud of you, you are safe, you are secure, or any other thing that was needed. I do not think the situation really matters, so far from my own experience and the experiences with my clients.
Let’s look at one of the biggest words we use everyday, ‘LOVE’. The lyrics of the song ‘Chasing Cars’ has this line, “these three words are said too much and not enough.” So for today we are going to use my theory with the word ‘LOVE’ where it was not allegedly said or shown enough. I am applying this to parents and children, but it really works in any relationship.
Think of it this way, each person has a love requirement but each person has a different love requirement. As children did we have a deep understanding of self-love? If we did, our need for love from others would be lower. Yet, if we were totally dependent on the validation of others for love, our need would be higher.
So on the love scale (sounds like a carnival game) there is a low number of 1; this means that the person is able to understand that all people do their best. That the love for themselves is fully sufficient to sustain them and anything they get from others is a bonus. At the top of the scale is the number of 20. Having a love scale of 20 means that we get 100% of our validation, worthiness, or love from an outside source. When a person leaves our life and we are in the high end of this scale, it may cause the appearance of devastation. The extremes we would go to keep them around may be seen as criminal. (It’s possible to think of this as a stalker-style relationship. Or, these people have an endless need for love and likely have lots of people pull away.)
So each child is born with an idea of self-love, passed down through the genes of the parents and the collective unconscious, so to speak. But dependencies of food, changing of diapers, and life needs have this idea of helplessness. Parents may even equate this care to love. ‘Look how much I love my child by the way I care for them.’ Another factor is that the parents may also look to the child to fill their love needs. This would also show the child that the requirement to get love from an external source is required. So the first part is the need for love from outside sources, 1 being minimal need because they understand self-love at its core and 20 being they need all their love from outside sources.
The last part of the equation of this scale is the person’s ability to give love. This scale is also 1-20, however, the factors are slightly different. If there is a low love need, a person understands that loving themselves is truly the most important thing, and they want relationships with meaningful love but don’t need a relationship to feel complete. Or you are able to see those that will suck you dry, or try and control you with love, and you have the ability to place boundaries. Your ability to give love is extremely high, but you also teach self-love through your words and actions.
Now lets set up the family, we have two parents and three children. Child “A” has a love requirement of an 8, Child “B” has a love requirement of a 14, and Child “C” has a love requirement of 11. Now the parents also have a love requirement, however, they have all that they have been taught about love and what it looks like and feels like. Maybe parent “1” was from a abusive, addictive family so their idea of love is not only skewed but it is limited to only what they know and were taught. But, if we combine both parents they have the ability to give Love at a level of 10.
Now if we look at this family child “A” needs 8 and since the parents can give love at a 10, they look and feel like love is limitless and abundant they have all that they need and more. Now, child “B” has a requirement of 14 so that means they need, at their core, way more than the parents even have the ability to give. Child “B” runs a deficit of -4. Please trust me, I think if the parents understood they could move to a 14 to meet the needs of child “B”, I think they would! Let’s not forget child “C”, they are also running a slight deficit at a -1.
The discrepancy has many outcomes, child “B” and “C” may feel that child “A” is the favourite. Maybe child “B” starts to see that negative attention is better than no attention so they act out, parents then focus the attention on them, but they can only give a 10 so it’s never really enough no matter what they do. Child “C”, well they may get lost in the shuffle never knowing why they don’t feel like they belong, they are close to having their fill of love, but something is missing. And, they do not have the same issues as child “B”, so maybe it’s all in their head.
Someone told me recently that their parents had a favourite child and it was not them. ‘Their sister got all the love and attention that she was the perfect child and well I was not.’ I asked, did you express this to your parents did you ask for more? Their response was ‘I told them how I felt and they just dismissed me, said they love my sister and me the same, later they said I was being high maintenance and full of drama.’
After this I explained my love levels theory. They started to tear up, the exact words were: ‘they did love me as much as my sister, it was truly all they could give. I resented my sister and them; I let it be the reason for so much anger in my life. They gave me everything they knew how.’
I explained there is good news; you can learn to give yourself the difference. Actually you were always capable of loving yourself to a 20 on the scale, but even you were only learning to give love at a 10. Now you have the ability to truly love you, truly be proud of you it is just going to take a little work.
Are you willing to do the work?
Keep chasing those cars.
With Love, Respect and Admiration