Unconditional love is the love everyone craves, but few actually understand what it is much less practice it. This is the love that goes to the depths of oceans, to limitless skies and even beyond death. It is more than affection, it is devotion set on making the life of the other person better.
One of the few people ever documented as having complete unconditional love is Jesus. He knew people were in sin, but welcomed them to dinner. He knew Judas would betray him and the rest would desert him, but he loved them anyway. If you believe the Bible, Jesus died for everyone individually. He said no greater love is this than a man lay down his life for his brother. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for love.
While most of us are not called to die for someone else, there is a deep need to both give and receive unconditional love. The problem with today’s modern society is that no one really knows how to do that. We are so ego driven that we have lost the ability to love.
The first thing to do is understand what unconditional love is and isn’t. It is loving someone without placing any restrictions on that love. You love them in spite of their actions and behaviors. This can also be applied to creatures like pets as well as humans. Most importantly, it can be applied to yourself. Being able to love yourself just as you are, without making any changes, is an important step in providing that love to someone else.
Unconditional is the complete opposite of conditional love. Conditional love always has an “if” behind it. I will love you if you lose weight. I will love you if you have money. I will love you if you agree with me on beliefs or politics. You get the idea. People with conditional love threaten to withhold love if you don’t meet their demands. That can be stressful for you because you will fail people at times. All humans do.
Many times, people put shallow, conditional love on themselves, their partners and their children. They likely don’t mean to do this, but subconsciously let it infiltrate in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. It is time to stop it.
Unconditional love is within every person. The Bible refers to the heart as “the wellspring of life.” So, you have the ability to love and bring life to others. The secret is how to access this wellspring and let it flow.
There are eight tips on how to do that:
- Don’t push away negative emotions.
While you shouldn’t dwell on negativity, you shouldn’t repress it either. Pushing away negative emotions is like letting a piece of meat rot in a dark corner. It doesn’t go away and soon it begins to stink. Accept feeling negative and identify why you feel this way. Set boundaries for your feelings so you don’t lose control of them. That includes deciding to journal them out instead of letting your emotions tumble out on social media. It may include setting a time limit for feeling this way or vowing to be honest when people ask how you are doing. The grocery store clerks are often surprised when this tactic is used.
- Connect your mindfulness to your body.
It is okay to feel all of your body’s sensations, whether they are more flexibility or tired muscles. Don’t judge it or yourself but take it for what it is. Take some deep breaths and relax. Really feel everything going on within you.
- Don’t judge your negative traits.
Everyone has them. Everyone experiences negative thoughts or has a bad habit they hate. Don’t judge yourself for them. Sure, you want to change, but didn’t this time. This is a good opportunity to practice forgiveness on yourself. This will bring you more peace and unconditional self-love.
- Look at how you love others. It’s time to really ask if you put conditions on relationships. That doesn’t mean you never get angry or never have hurt feelings. It does mean that you don’t run if they don’t meet your expectations in some way.
- Practice unconditional love. You can start small by giving something to someone without expecting anything in return. This doesn’t need to be a material gift. It can be giving a smile, your time, a listening ear, or a courtesy like holding a door open or letting them go in front of you in line. You can give the person who is short a quarter for their purchase the extra change. Some people at the drive through pay for meal of the next person in line. In one case, this habit lasted for two hours at one fast-food restaurant as people kept passing the kindness down the line!
Practicing this with strangers is a good way to start developing unconditional love habits because you will likely not see them again, so you can’t put a condition on it. Some may not react to your gesture. They will not say thank you or smile back. That only helps you remember there are no conditions as you continue to practice with the next person.
- Notice your triggers. There are wounds deep within us that haven’t healed and sometimes interactions or events make those things bubble to the top. Being aware of this helps you put your forgiveness plan in place before the trigger occurs.
- Forgive and ask for forgiveness. This is one of the hardest things to do in our ego-driven world. Forgiving, especially if the other person doesn’t have remorse, can be difficult. Likewise, admitting you are wrong and asking for forgiveness is hard. Both means you must let go of your pride and humble yourself to empathize with the other person.
This society doesn’t allow for a lot of this. People criticize those who forgive because they feel the other person doesn’t deserve it. That’s the point. They don’t. However, forgiving and being forgiven frees you from bitterness, resentment. It gives you peace so you can go on and live your life without reliving this painful experience.
Those who want to experience unconditional love need to know it isn’t allowing yourself to be abused or be continually sacrificing for someone who is incapable of love. It is allowing yourself to love authentically without restriction, which is the most freeing experience you will ever have.