How is Unconditional Love A Thing? (And How to Find It When You’ve Been Injusticed)

I used to think Unconditional Love was unreachable. Like, sure — that worked for Jesus and Gandhi but not for me.

Then, after a few self-help books and really trying to be a “nice” person, *cough cough* I shifted into thinking Unconditional Love was “Unconditional Acceptance of Inappropriate and Abusive Behavior.” 

Yeah, that wasn’t right either.

I’ve finally landed on a definition I can live with. To me, Unconditional Love says,

“You deserve to be happy. I hope you receive all that you desire and that you are able to live in your truth.” 

(This could work from any distance. I could wish that for you whether you are close enough to make out with or waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the fuck over there.)

Ok, so why? Why try and love everybody?

When I can figure out and implement Love of the Unconditional variety, I am relieved of the heavy, ugly, cumbersome, cancerous weight of resentment. It exhausts us, depletes us, and turns into horrific things like hatred and cruelty. I mean, seriously, what could you be doing with all your energy if it wasn’t going towards trying to get revenge, or proving someone wrong, or making people feel sorry for you? That’s pouty, petty drama and it will not change the world for the better. 

To put it simply, loving everybody (from near or far) is the antidote to what ails all of us.

How to get there? I’ve come up with a list of things to remind myself when I get sucked into the rabbit hole of feeling injusticed. I’ll leave it right here for you:

IMPORTANT LIFE REMINDERS:

  1. We’ve all done dumb, cruel, or dishonest things. When I remember that the very thing I’m pissed at someone else for doing is likely a variation of something I’ve done, am doing, or will do, the whole “we’re all the same” sentiment starts ringing truer than I’d like. And if I can look inside and discover how I happened to do those dumb, cruel, or dishonest things, I’m able to find grace for others and the bone-headed choices they (we) make.
  2. No one else is responsible for my well-being. It is not your job to make me happy. Or be my customer. Or read my blog. Or invite me to things. Or tell me I’m pretty. I put myself out into the world; some of you will connect with what I have to offer and some of you won’t. I don’t need to be liked by everyone.
  3. Those that hurt me worst have woken me up the most. They were my greatest teachers. I wouldn’t have broken open and started to find myself if it weren’t for all the pain. Dawn follows the darkness and ecstasy follows agony. I can find gratitude for everyone who has played a role in my life, whether they were antagonist or protagonist.
  4. We are all children. When I look behind arrogance, avoidance, disconnection, and dishonesty, I can see lost little boys and girls who were bullied, shamed, abused, and misunderstood. That doesn’t mean I need to accept their behavior and be their doormat; it means I don’t need to take them personally.
  5. My perspective is mine and mine alone. I don’t need you to agree with me to feel justified. I don’t need you to take my side in an argument. I don’t need you to have beef with someone just because I do. You have a right to your perspective and we can still get along even if it doesn’t look like mine.
  6. I can’t fix anyone. I can guide and support if they want it and I’m willing. But I need to drop the weight of feeling responsible for making others change their behavior.

If I had to sum up this list, I would say:

Own what’s yours. And that’s all. 

Would be nice if I could tell you I only needed this reminder once, but that would be a lie. I have to come back to these time and time again. (I feel injusticed easily. 🙄) This isn’t a one-time thing. It will probably be a life-long practice. But, IMO, a practice that is totally worth the effort.

Related Posts:

Love You. Goodbye.

If You’ve Ever Said, “I Just Don’t Understand Some People…”

When We Hurt

 

 

Secrets and Stuck-ness

The worst kind of secret is the kind you keep from yourself.

But we all do it. Because looking in the mirror can be the hardest thing. It’s painfully difficult to admit that we’re hurting someone. That we’re letting someone hurt us. That we do things we despise. That we have thoughts we aren’t proud of. 

Not all truths are happy truths.

But. All truths are good truths.

Because once we admit our shit, we are not  prisoners to it anymore.

See, it takes a whole lot of energy (and alcohol) to keep from facing the truth. But keeping secrets from yourself keeps you stuck. Only when you know what you’re up against can you finally go into battle. Yeah, monsters are scary to look at, but once you see them, you can strategize better.

This part of personal growth – finding the monsters – is raw and sensitive. It is a time for loads of gentleness and patience. Keep it close and personal for a while. Sit with it. Don’t shoo it away. Don’t go busying yourself, or pouring yourself another drink. (You’re realllllly gonna want to.) But stay firm and hold your newly-discovered truth out in the light. Watch it transform from being a secret to a guide. 

Eventually you may choose to confide in someone you trust. (Actually, I hope you do… Because there are many wise, empathetic, compassionate humans out there and being vulnerable with one of them can strengthen you like you wouldn’t believe.)

And later, once you’ve felt some victories in battle, you may choose to shout your stories from the mountaintops.

But that quiet moment when you first whisper to yourself those truths that have been right there all along, is where it all begins.

It will sting and ache and burn. But the pain that comes with these secrets is the most dangerous when stuffed down deep. So let it up and out. You’ll feel it on the way, yes you will. But you’ll be so much lighter once you let it go.

 

Related:

Babe, Your Eyelashes Look Fabulous. But How is Your Heart?

“But I Don’t Want to Be Fake”

The Truest Sentence That You Know

 

Egg Nog is Gross. And It’s Time for Another Workshop.

A few years ago I was setting up the Christmas tree. I pulled out the same box I’d been pulling out since college. The same ornaments. The same cords of little white lights. Normally that was a happy activity for me, full of anticipation and magic and fun and music and egg nog. (Just kidding — egg nog is gross.) But that year, I just wasn’t feeling it. That year, I sighed a bit as I had the thought, “Here we go again…” 

And that thought didn’t have anything to do with the craziness of the holiday season. It didn’t have anything to do with the giant fucking KNOT the lights had tied themselves in. It didn’t have anything to do with Silver Bells playing for the 953rd time on the radio. (Ok, it had a little to do with that.)

Mostly though, it had to do with the fact that I was facing yet another year of my life. It wasn’t a bad life. It just hadn’t changed in five years. Frequently, I would question softly in my mind, “Is this it? Is this everything I hustled for in high school and college? Where is the joy?”

I was stagnant. I hadn’t leveled up in a long time and I was feeling it…

The depression slowly creeping in whenever I sat with myself for more than a few moments.

The crushing anxiety over little things that were unimportant in the grand scheme.

The feeling that I could/should be doing something more or better or different.

I decided not to do anything about it right then. I continued decorating the tree, pasted a smile on my face, and sang ALL THE CHRISTMAS CAROLS.

But life is a bitch kind. It doesn’t let us get away with being stagnant for too long. And the following Christmas, I was on the verge of a divorce and a career change (both rather unpredicted by me).

In the years that followed, I had no choice but to level up and expand. My life had changed so drastically that I had to learn how to live with this new me. I wondered often what life would have looked like had I chosen to take a look at myself just a little sooner. Would I have needed the giant wake up calls that came my way? I can’t know.

What I do know is that we humans are meant to level up. Forever.

Growing doesn’t stop after graduation. We are destined to continue expanding for the rest of our lives. In fact, it is downright painful not to. We were not meant to live  stagnant, drama-filled, anxious, numbed-out, lame lives. We were meant to love, feel, teach, and grow.

And growing must start with digging. Digging through the muck. What’s the muck? Old habits, thought patterns, relationships, and beliefs that are holding us back. It’s not pretty or pleasant. But it’s oh, so freeing.

Ready to level up and don’t know where to start? I got you. I’ve got another workshop on the calendar for January 20th and 21st, 2018. It’s called The Muck Workshop. You can read more about it here. You can register here. If you are interested, but not ready to commit yet, put yourself on this email list to get more updates.

Lots more about this coming up in the following weeks. For now, I want to know what you think: What is the #1 reason we find it difficult to start digging? E-mail me at kristen@imperfectedges.com and let me know.

Related:

Magnificent Edges

Personal Development: If You Take This On, You’re A Freaking Hero

Drums, Drinks, and Time to Deal