How to Give It and How to Know When It’s Real
by Lisa Pool
On the occasion you are fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of such an act of thoughtfulness, the experience can be both endearing and a bit awkward — what do you do for someone who gives to you unconditionally of themselves and asks for nothing in return? Recently I had such an experience and it has given me a sense of value that is very treasured. Genuine unconditional love is a little strange to receive in our world of expectations and reactions, and yet if you allow yourself to be the receiver, I can tell you it’s pretty terrific.
So how do we love unconditionally?
- Loving unconditionally is more a behavior versus a feeling. Loving is the act of extending ourselves, vulnerabilities and all, into uncharted emotional territory with the belief that regardless of the outcome, we want to benefit another person. Imagine love as a behavior in and of itself, with the satisfaction being that feeling you get when you act a certain way for them, not when someone else acts a certain way to you. This becomes a pure act of generosity.
- Ask yourself “Am I truly acting with the most love I can for this person at this moment?” I know for myself I can come to a situation with my ego too big and in the way of my unconditional responses… this stuff has to be a conscious act for most of us, so check yourself. Unconditional love is a entirely new process for us in every situation, and we want to convey sincerity with each person we extend that love to so that it is genuine and not conditional.
- I have a situation in my life right now that’s uncomfortable to accept and my behaviors and reactions, while not harmful to me or others, are not necessarily in the best interest of my personal growth. To love someone unconditionally does not mean that the act of that love is always going to be easy or feel comfortable. To be there for someone when they have challenges and need to foster growth, even those individuals in the fog of confusion know that there is going to be pain and some serious discomfort — if you choose to protect them from these feelings and emotions you’re not loving them unconditionally. Unconditional love means you tell them the truth with gentle, kind communication and you are there, without judgement, to see them to the other side.
- What does it mean if you are someone who only loves others, giving of yourself freely without any boundaries? That is you being a “people pleaser” which means you’re not being unconditional or loving to yourself first. Let me tell you, playing the martyr is not rewarding or validating and only leaves you and the other person resentful. Work to recognize when doing what is best for you first might sometimes have you prioritizing your needs and desires above someone else’s. This is a healthy part of defining who we are as individuals and crucial to know your own gauge for self-love. Remember, only when we know intrinsically that we have value to be loved, can we give love cleanly.
- Forgiveness is so important. Again, this is a behavior I like to think I have mastered but I haven’t. It’s probably the most difficult and truly unconditional act we perform. In any circumstance where we feel we have been wronged, neglected or taken advantage of, if someone doesn’t apologize, it’s inherently the most loving to them and to yourself to choose to let go of any anger and resentment. Harboring that energy is hurtful to you spiritually, and over time, physically. The noted author and philosopher Piero Ferrucci shares in his book, Beauty and Soul, that forgiving “is not something we do, but something we are.” Granting forgiveness unconditionally isn’t communicating you’ll allow someone to be hurtful or discounting. The act of practicing unconditional love will be tainted and not at all healing if you choose to hold onto negative stuff. I’m preaching to my own choir here, again. This is something we consciously work on every day. There is no perfect, simple way to love without conditions.
source Mind Body Green