If you're like me, you've struggled with knowing how to love people - truly and deeply love people - without getting hurt. You may be the kind of person who cares a lot about people, but you don't know how to do that without leaving your heart open to being abused by others.
Me being the emotional person that I am who likes to care for people, in the past I didn’t know how to handle it and found myself in situations where I got hurt. Before I properly understood my emotions and myself, I was a very needy person. The same way I cared is the same way I wanted to be cared for, and my insecurities resulted in me being hurt and disappointed by people.
So I decided to share some tips on this. These five things are what I live by, and I can definitely say that they work!
1. Stop searching for how to fix yourself.
I tried changing that part of me. I tried pretending I wasn’t emotional, or I didn’t care, but of course that didn’t work. You can’t change who you are. My greatest aspiration in life, before my career or anything else, is to love and be loved. I take my relationships very seriously, they’re more important to me than anything else in the world. And I’m sure you can say the same about yourself.
Don’t suppress your desire to care and be cared for. There’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s a very beautiful thing. Recognise it and use it to bless others.
2. Love from a place of wholeness.
Ask yourself why you seem to be giving so much of yourself and getting hurt and disappointed. It’s not your love towards others that’s the problem, it’s your love towards yourself. Loving yourself is knowing when to walk away from a toxic situation. Seek God as your ultimate source of love and fulfilment, so you can give freely to others. Through Christ you can learn to love sacrificially. Don’t show love to someone because you want that same love returned. Granted, we are human and we need love. God has designed us to need each other, he said himself it’s not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). But you shouldn’t try to love people from a place of brokenness.
3. Know the role each person plays in your life.
We can’t live life giving love to people and not receiving anything back, it’s simply not practical. As great as it is to love people, you need to know the purpose of everyone in your life. Different levels of relation require different levels of love. The way I desire love from my best friends is different to the way I desire love from a casual friend. And for some people, all I want to do is show them love, I don’t desire anything in return. Be able to differentiate the people you need love from, from the people you're simply meant to give love to.
Additionally, you need to know the kind of people that should be in each category. You know yourself, you know your love languages and the kind of love you need. Not everyone’s personality is able to fill that need (I say “fill that need” for lack of a better phrase; nobody should become God in your life). Person A may be better off being a casual friend than a best friend, not because they’re a bad person, but because they’re not the right type of person for you in that way.
4. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Despite everything I’ve said so far, remember that life is all about taking risks. We may be so focused on guarding our hearts to the point where we’re no longer guarding it, we’re putting an entire wall up because we’re afraid of anyone hurting us. Set boundaries, yes. But don’t build walls. Life is about risks, and we can never be certain that people won’t hurt us. As a matter of fact, one thing we’re certain of is that people will hurt us. They’re bound to, we’re all imperfect. But we shouldn’t ever be afraid. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love (2 Timothy 1:7). Similar to everything in life, there’s a risk to loving people. Which is why my second point is very important; be as whole and complete as you can be in Jesus.
5. Don’t stop putting others before yourself.
We live in a world where it’s all about “me” and “put yourself first” and “nobody owes you anything”. Whilst I agree that you should never put someone before yourself to the point where it’s detrimental to you, I do believe in being a giver. God says it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Serve others, give to others. Be that person that does the most for people, that’s my motto.
And when you do get hurt, be sure to be kind to yourself. It’s okay if people have disappointed you. Don’t beat yourself up, but show yourself compassion.
I hope you’ve been blessed by this post! Comment if you’ve ever struggled with this, and how you’ve dealt with it in the past.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up-to-date with me. Till next time!
Peace, love and blessings,