We don’t love other people because they deserve it, we love others because love feels amazing. It’s a gift we give ourselves.
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So what is unconditional love? It is caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. It is loving them under any circumstance or situation. It is loving them without expectations. It is loving them despite how we are treated in return. It is choosing to love someone even when others might say it isn’t “deserved.” It is love without any conditions.
We are programmed to be conditional, to expect something in return for our love. We are conditioned to only give love when it is reciprocated and most often according to what we think is worthy of our love.
Choosing to feel love
I want you to think about your marriage, or maybe another relationship where you are struggling to love that person unconditionally.
We know that our feelings come from our thoughts. And while our brain may offer us thoughts that don’t bring loving feelings, we can purposely CHOOSE to think thoughts that will bring us back to love if we want that.
Unfortunately most of us are believing the thoughts that our brain offers us when things don’t go like we would want in our relationship. These thoughts generate emotions like frustration, anger, and resentment.
A lot of times when I have a client who is in a really difficult situation in their marriage I ask them how they want to feel about the situation. The most common response is “well I don’t want to feel happy about what they are doing, so I guess I just want to feel neutral. I want to feel indifferent.” Of all the emotions available to them on the planet, indifference is what they want? Indifferent and neutral does feel better than anger or irritation, and it’s definitely an emotion that can help you get out of a severely negative space, but is that the emotion you truly WANT to feel? Most people if they are going to CHOOSE an emotion they want to feel amazing, excited, or at peace. We want to feel LOVE.
Love is one of the best emotions any of us can feel. It feels absolutely amazing. So knowing that you can CHOOSE your emotions, why would you choose something else? Why would you deny yourself that feeling?
We are the only ones that get to feel our emotions. Remember, when you think thoughts your brain sends chemicals and hormones that create a vibration in your body and that is what our emotions are. We are the ONLY one that can feel our emotions. When we love someone, our emotion doesn’t jump from our body into theirs. You are the only one feeling it.
A lot of times we are choosing not to feel love as a way of trying to punish another person who we feel isn’t deserving of our love. But they don’t actually FEEL our emotions. We do. So we are actually punishing ourselves when we choose to feel negative emotions. So your choice not to feel love is really only hurting you.
Now, if you ACT hateful, the other person is going to experience that. But if you FEEL hate, you truly are experience that all by yourself. A lot of times we blame others for how we feel, but you are still the one feeling it. And, you are believing that they are powerful enough to create that emotion in you and it’s their fault. But it’s not – it’s your choice.
But if you choose to feel love (which feels amazing) you can feel it whenever you want to. There is nothing that anyone does or doesn’t do that can deny you that feeling.
So why would we want to love unconditionally?
So, we can choose to love people unconditionally because it feels good to US. We don’t do it for them. Choosing to love someone unconditionally is a choice we make for our own benefit.
“Unconditional love allows you to love yourself first so that you have the strength of heart and mind to give the same to another person.” – Lisa Pool
Loving someone that is hard
You can love someone and not want to be with them.
“I’ve fallen out of love with my husband” what you are really saying is that you don’t want to put any effort in to loving them anymore. You liked it when it took no effort, but now that it takes effort it’s not worth it to you anymore.
Love isn’t always easy. Many times we resist it because we wrongly think that loving someone benefits the other person and “they don’t deserve it.” But it feels so much better to love someone than it does to hate them.
Sometimes people say they don’t want to love because they are afraid of getting hurt. What they are really saying is that “I don’t want to feel a positive emotion because I may end up feeling a negative one.” So they just start with the negative emotion… that makes no sense. Not loving will not save you from being hurt. You can’t pre-hurt yourself so you won’t be hurt. Love doesn’t hurt – the absence of love hurts.
How do we love unconditionally?
- We are vulnerable. When we love people we are willing to show our insecurities with the belief that no matter the outcome, it will better the other person.
This is especially true in relationships. We have to be open and vulnerable to build the intimacy and trust. We can not truly love someone if we are hiding parts of ourselves.
- Ask yourself “Am I being my best self in this moment?” If the answer is yes, you are probably acting out of love. Love for yourself, and love for them.
Sometimes we come to a situation with our too big ego’s or an agenda. But instead we want to come to any situation with humility and try to gain understanding of where the other person is. I think these is a really good point for communication with our spouses. When we are loving unconditionally we can be much more empathetic because we want what is best for everyone in the situation.
- Unconditional love means you tell people the truth, with gentle, kind communication and you are there, without judgement, to see them to the other side. Acting out of love doesn’t always mean that it’s easy or feels comfortable. A lot of times loving someone in the way that they need most, does feel uncomfortable for us. This requires us to feel uncomfortable so that we can grow.
I know I’ve had to have several “uncomfortable” conversations with my children. But I do it because I love them and I want them to know that I am there for them. But we also need to have those uncomfortable conversations with the other people in our lives too.
- Loving people also means setting boundaries. If you give everything to others without boundaries you are just being a “people pleaser” which means you aren’t loving yourself first. Playing the martyr is not rewarding or validating and only leave you resentful. You need to love yourself first. Only when we know intrinsically that we have value to be loved, can we give love cleanly.
The second commandment is to Love thy neighbor as thy self. You need to love yourself first, unconditionally before you can fully love others unconditionally.
- Loving unconditionally means you must forgive. Forgiveness is 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. 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 mistreat you in any way. It isn’t unconditionally approving of bad behavior. It doesn’t mean you don’t take action to protect yourself. It just means that when you think about that particular person you choose to feel love, because love feels better.
Elder W. Craig Zwick said – “Truly loving others requires the ongoing practice of accepting the best efforts of people whose life experiences and limitation we may never full know.”
Your feelings are your responsibility. So if all of the feelings are available to you, how do you WANT to feel? If love is always an option, do you want to feel love most of the time? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you loved everyone you met every day? Think about the person you love the most, if you felt that about everyone all day, how amazing would your life be?
This is about loving people for your own sake. You can feel love all the time and love feels amazing.
If you are having trouble loving someone, ask yourself why you are choosing not too. Are you blaming them for your feelings? You don’t have to love everyone, but ultimately loving others is the gift you give yourself.
When you are feeling love, you probably act kinder to yourself and others. You are probably seeing yourself and others how Christ sees them. We love others because it is the closest emotion we have to our Heavenly Father. God is love. And loving others brings us closer to Him.