Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unconditional love. What is it?

We all want to be loved, but what does that mean? Contrary to popular belief, we cannot control how or what another person feels or thinks about us. So isn't the better question, how may I love others better?

Our primal need is to feel love. When you can never be too sure what anyone else is thinking, let alone feeling about you--what about focusing on what you can control. You. Your emotions, your thoughts, and your behaviors.

In fact, when we think we are "in love" or "falling in love," the only thing we are really sure of are the surge of emotions in our body. And, when we are in the act of being loved, do we know the difference between accepting this nebulous thing called love with or without conditions?

You see, unconditional love, it is something much bigger than love. Unconditional love means exactly what it states, love without conditions. Meaning, giving love to others without requiring anything in return. Often we do this with babies and pets. We think we know what this unconditional love thing requires. However, it seems like the minute a recipient is able to mutter a syllable, we begin heaping requirements on them about how they need to fulfill our needs.

In healthy relationships, learning to love unconditionally is of utmost importance. Often, we're able to do this with babies, little children, pets, even our best friends, but sometimes we run into snags when it comes to other family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers when whatever they are saying or doing doesn't jive with our own outlook on life.

Instead of choosing how we think and act, based on what our internal barometer (i.e. our emotions) is telling us--we often find ourselves reacting to situations. If you understand how to identify fear-based thoughts and actions..., then you are able to be in control of the one thing you can control--yourself. If you can just pause to identify if your feeling is fear or love based, then you are able to get out of the cycle of reacting to situations, and into a pattern of making mindful decisions. Anything you think or do, first came on to your radar through an emotion. When you are able to identify and really name the emotions you are feeling, then you can get to the more important question of why you are feeling said emotion, and then you can decide what you'd like to do about it. If you identify a fear-based emotion such as anger (by the way anger is ALWAYS a secondary emotion with another emotion lying underneath), fear, rage, guilt, apathy, remorse, sorrow..., then you are able to switch out of this downward-spiral. In fact, if you are to give unconditional love, it requires that you snap out of the funk, and choose a love-based emotion to feel instead.

You see with unconditional love, in order to give and receive it freely, the more your emotions, thoughts, and actions are coming from a place of love, the more you are able to do both--giving and receiving of unconditional love. It really is as simple as figuring out whether what you are feeling, thinking, and doing is fear or love-based. If you want the love that has conditions, guess what? It is fear-based. The only way you can flip to unconditional love, is if you are able to come at life from a love-based perspective. It is the only way you are able to empower yourself to grow into the person you are meant to be, and to allow others to do the same. If not, then you run the risk of putting conditions on people on what they have to do to earn or buy your love, approval, etc.

Where we get trapped is our penchant to slip into self-preservation mode. I will do this, if only you....notice me, like me, take care of me, don't say mean things, thank me for what I do for you, help me, love me back. That's a lot of conditions isn't it? If you go back to that experience of loving a baby or a pet--and you think about where your feelings were, what you thought during, and what you did while you were loving that innocent baby or pet...that is what you can have with not just one other person in your life, not just two, but with everyone you are able to let go of controlling, as you let them be themselves.

When you give unconditional love, you do just that. You relinquish the demands that the other person loves or gives you something back. It is a different way of interacting once you learn how to do this with all your relations. When you give love freely, you become empowered. You no longer will be attached to the anger, victim, fearful attachments of abandonment or worrying about being noticed or useful. In fact, if you understand this concept of unconditional love, then you will be able to build better boundaries about yourself so you are not misused by ANYONE. Including, your partner, your family, your children, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, and (yup) strangers.

I thanked my mom a few days ago. I knew I knew what "it" was, and that I practice "it" daily with my husband, my son and my best friend. I know how to flip it, so when I'm interacting with strangers, and they are upset or fearful about something, I can help re-direct them..., but what I thanked my mom for was the gift she gave me of giving me unconditional love so I could grow and become me. And that was the key for me to help write about how you can simply understand unconditional love. Once you have been a recipient of this type of pure, higher, empowering, freeing love. You have the key--you know how to give it as well. It takes a leap of faith away from the self-centered feeling of being hurt by exposing yourself. But the rewards on the other Joy against all odds.

Unconditional love, loving without conditions.

How do you love unconditionally, and how did you learn it? How is it different from the kind of love that is the rage right now in our society that is resulting in divorces, single family homes, fatherless children?

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The Basic Ways We Change

There are three ways in which we can actively monitor ourselves so that we may change how we interact with our surroundings:

(1) Thoughts (cognitions)
(2) Feelings (emotions)
(3) Actions (behaviors)

When you are in traditional counseling sessions--the counselor uses a variety of theories that typically focus on one of these areas to help you make changes in your life. In the best case scenario the theory that the counselor is using is based on their training background/when they received their masters degree, as well as what the current trend is based upon research on the effectiveness of the theories in actual practice. However, we won't delve too deeply into theories and understanding methodology, because this site is educational and for you to understand more of how you work.

The activities that are posted and linked on this blog are to help give you immediate tools to begin actively reorganizing how you interact with your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

People that are aware that they can use their feelings and thoughts to influence their actions are able to control what happens to them. Novel idea? This is because they recognize that they can influence their outcomes based on identifying the emotions they are feeling, then choosing what thoughts they would like to focus on, and then putting it in to action.

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