by: Joanne Goldman
Loving people can be particularly tricky when important relationships are unhealthy. It’s easier to love those you’re in healthy relationships with. If you’re up for changing and deepening all of the relationships around you, then I invite you to master the art of unconditional love. Unconditional love means that you love people with no agenda to your love. You love them because — you love them. You don’t love them so they’ll “do” something. You have no expectations in return for your love. Sound like a challenge? If you’re reading this then there’s a good chance you’re ready for raising your awareness around unconditional love!
Here are some tips on how to practice unconditional love:
1. Experience being love, free from anything else. It’s important to remember that unconditional love is a way of being, not a way of doing. That means it is more a feeling than a task. This can take some practice, as our society is filled with action-oriented activities. Practice unconditional love by sitting quietly, in your home or out in nature, or lying in bed at night, and just experience a state of love through your breathing. Let go of thoughts other than those about love. Bring someone to mind whom you love, or a place you love. If you practice this on a subway or bus, watch the faces of the strangers around you become alive and beautiful!
2. Take care of yourself first! Practicing unconditional love doesn’t necessarily mean to visit your family for Thanksgiving, leaving you wrecked for days and weeks. It doesn’t mean putting yourself in harm’s way physically, sexually or emotionally. You may practice from afar, if need be. There are no rules in what practicing unconditional love looks like.
3. Unconditional love starts with – you! If you’re focused on mastering unconditional love, there’s no better place to start than with yourself! You’ll experience compassion, acceptance and understanding as well as a greater sense of intimacy when you love yourself unconditionally. What we put out in the world we get back, so loving yourself unconditionally will be “mirrored” back to you by other people! It will seem as though they’ve miraculously changed, but you’ll know they’re responding to the unconditional love you’re exuding!
4. Unconditional love is meant to be shared and practiced with others – in your immediate family, in your community and with the world. There’s a saying that says, “Love isn’t love unless you give it away!” Imagine the world we’d be living in if unconditional love were practiced everywhere 24/7?
Just like any area of mastery, it may be best to start with small, attainable “wins” such as going above and beyond for people you have healthy friendships with. These are safe environments in which to experience giving and receiving unconditional love. Remember to be open to receiving unconditional love as well as giving it. However, if you expect to receive it from your actions, you’re putting a condition on the love you’re giving. Regardless of whether love happens to come back to you from others, the satisfaction of loving with no strings attached can put you on a different relationship level. The rewards will be sweeter than you ever imagined, as can only be experienced after putting unconditional love into play in your life!
As you learn the lessons of what it takes to build increasing intimacy, loving support and unprecedented relationships, your ability to unconditionally love those who are, let’s say, more difficult to find it in your heart to love, will improve. See, it’s not about the other person – it’s about YOU – practicing mastery in the area of unconditional love. It doesn’t matter if the other person doesn’t get it. It doesn’t matter if they do or don’t change. It doesn’t matter if they understand your actions or take in the love you have toward them. True mastery of unconditional love is greatly tested in unhealthy situations. The perfection in dealing with unhealthy relationships is that you can practice unconditional love full on. Not because you “should” love everyone, but because it is the way you want to live your life.