When someone says “I’m sad.” Do you ever wonder if they are really feeling the same emotion you call ‘sad?’ Or if someone says they love you, are they loving you the way you love? During my time counseling victims of domestic violence the one thing I heard repeatedly was, “how can (s)he say (s)he loves me yet treat me this way?” My response was always, “(s)he loved you the best way they knew how.” I wasn’t offering a platitude or trying to make excuses for the abuser. I was in fact pointing out to the victim that love and every other emotion known in life comes in many shapes and forms. We label emotions based upon our usage of language. The truth is no two people are experiencing the same emotional sensation when the names of our feelings are verbalized.
I’m not implying that when your husband/boyfriend/significant other says “I love you” they are being dishonest. If the relationship is working and you both feel safe and happy, then you’re loving each other in a way that works for both of you.Don’t over think a great situation. Be grateful for what you have here.
All emotions, feelings, internal sensations, even physical sensations which arise from our emotions are based upon perception. We feel based upon expectations, expectations are based upon experiences and the resulting emotions/feelings are the results of how the experiences affected us, i.e. our perception. The same is true for every emotion positive and negative. No two people are actually feeling the exact same sensation when they name it. Every sensation is unique to each person. Over time as language developed we named these extreme internal sensations for convenience.
The closest to an example I can give you is this: there are different styles of love. We each show love and feel love based on how we process the emotion. For example, I’m a hands on, have to show you kind of girl. I show love, I may look at you and say “bite me” while I’m making you a seven course dinner for your birthday. My mom is the total opposite. She will tell you twenty times in an hour how much she loves you, but if you ask her for a cup of coffee, she’ll tell you to get up off your butt and go get it. My mom and I have an agreement, we never give each other sweet, sensitive, sappy cards for any holiday. We always poke fun and make jokes for every occasion.
Just like sounds, smells, things we see or even basic feelings of hot and cold vary between individuals, so too, do emotions and the names we apply to them. What I believe we all should work toward is allowing this knowledge to bring about more understanding, tolerance, acceptance and closeness between us, not just as people of varying cultures, but as inhabitants of the Universe.