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

 

 

Love You. Goodbye. (Boundaries and Unconditional Love)

 

“Well I just don’t want to give up on him.”

“I’ve already invested so much into this relationship.”

“She has a good heart under all that. She just needs understanding.”

“He’s never really been loved. I’ll be the one to show him what it feels like.”

“I just want to love everybody where they’re at on their own journeys.”

“He’s not perfect, but none of us are.”

Unconditional love. It’s a weird thing – loving someone wholly, the good, bad, and ugly. It sounds admirable doesn’t it? And it is. I mean, if you can really love everybody exactly as they are showing up, then you have come a long way on the personal development train.

However, this gets dangerous. Because sometimes we throw out the term “unconditional love” as an excuse to remain in an abusive relationship (with a lover, friend, or family member). But if one party is constantly getting hurt and disrespected, that is not actually love. That is accepting the unacceptable. And that is not loving YOU, dear one.

Why do we do this? Why do we allow ourselves to be run over in the name of love? People continue to allow parents, spouses, friends, and even jobs to berate, neglect, or flat-out abuse them for years. Societal opinion doesn’t help us out too much with this one. As a culture, we’ve mistaken self-sacrifice for heroism.

We celebrate people who stay married and pity people who get divorced.

We praise martyr-ish behavior rather than supporting those who say “no.”

We commend those who are “selfless” and condemn those who are “selfish.”

But in many cases, that attitude is wrong. Sticking by someone who disrespects or mistreats you is quite detrimental. Hanging in there, gritting your teeth, grinning and bearing, digging your claws in, swallowing your words… that’s not love. Love should feel like freedom. And those things don’t.

So where does the “unconditional” piece come in? Can you tell someone to piss off leave a relationship and still continue loving the other person? Of course. Try these on for size:

“I love you. From over here.”

“I love you. And I do not accept your behavior.”

“I love you. And I love myself enough to not let you hurt me anymore.”

“I love you. Goodbye.”

See? They work, don’t they?

Love yourself first. Then others will see how to love you too.

 

 

Related Posts:

The Most Awkward Hug Ever and Why I Was Pissed About It

When We Hurt

But I Don’t Want to Be Fake

If you’ve ever said, “I just don’t understand some people…”

I see it in your posts.

A horrific news headline

A rant about how you got stabbed in the back by someone you called a friend

A story about a case of blatant rudeness you encountered

 

…followed by the words “I just don’t understand some people…”

 

“I just don’t understand,” you say…

how someone could be so evil

how there is so much hate in the world

why people lie, steal, and cheat

why some seem to have no consideration for others

how they could be so close-minded

 

“I just don’t understand,” you say. Then you shake your head and turn back to your busy-ness, your Netflix, your workouts, your booze, your drama, your Starbucks, your hustle, your distraction of choice.

“I just don’t understand…”

Ok, but is not understanding useful? 

*Morpheus voice* What if I told you… that understanding is within our grasp?

That we human creatures are actually very predictable and understandable once you’ve spent some time studying us. We are deeply complex, but there are reasons behind our rhymes.

“I just don’t understand.” Say it enough, it becomes a copout. Really, you don’t understand darkness because you haven’t tried to understand it. And if you can’t fathom where the problem comes from, you will never be able to help fix it. Understanding is the only way we can be of any help. Understanding is the only way to begin healing ourselves and others. Ignorance perpetuates the cycle.

But, wait.

Can you understand and still get angry? Yes.

Can you understand and defend your boundaries? Yes.

Can you understand and not condone unhealthy behavior? Yes.

Understanding does not mean accepting the unacceptable.

Understanding means we finally realize that even the cruelest acts come from wounds, not from people.

And from that new realization, we can quit responding to

back-stabbing with name-calling,

poor choices with gossip,

and narcissism with insecurity.

Because all those responses? They don’t heal wounds. They create more.

You want the world to change? Then begin the work – yes, it’s work – of understanding. Then we can bring up a generation of healers, not haters.

 

 

Related:

When We Hurt

 

Addendum:

So, if understanding is possible, why aren’t more of us trying to do it? I’ve come up with two reasons:

  1. We don’t want to soften. We are determined not to let anyone off the hook.
  2. If we look too closely at the darkness of others, we have no choice other than to face the darkness in ourselves.

I have responses to both of these. Which I’ll write later. Just sit with this much for now.