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If You Think Unconditional Love Is Impossible, You Might Not Know What It Is

If You Think Unconditional Love Is Impossible, You Might Not Know What It Is

Unconditional love is a gruesome, painful and sacrificial way to care for another human being. It isn’t butterfly kisses, a steamy night of passion or the joy a son brings to his mother’s heart. It is so much deeper than that. It is endless. It is profound. It’s powerful.

But is it possible? Science[1] says it is. Mario Beauregard, professor at Montreal University’s Centre for Research into Neurophysiology and Cognition, conducted a study and found that not only do all humans have the capacity to show unconditional love but, more importantly, specific areas of the brain are activated during this process, releasing dopamine—the chemical involved in sensing pleasure. Loving unconditionally is a mutually beneficial endeavor.

Unconditional love is hard because we misunderstand what it is

Loving someone unconditionally means loving the very essence of the individual. Just as they are. Despite what they do or fail to do, with no expectation of anything in return—including love.[2] However, it is one of the most misunderstood concepts. If offering unconditional love is your mission in life, you need to beware of these 3 subtle differences:

Unconditional love is loving someone no matter what happens, but it is not accepting abuse

It is supporting a person through every situation they face. Sticking with them through the good and the bad. It is not, however, blind devotion, unrelenting commitment and enabling bad behavior. Loving someone unconditionally involves doing what is best for them no matter what it costs you.

When you love a person you want to see them happy, but that does not mean neglecting yourself or becoming a doormat. When you allow yourself to be mistreated you are teaching your loved one that it is o.k. to mistreat people. You are reinforcing bad behavior.

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Forgiveness is a vital component of practicing unconditional love. It means you must be quick to forgive but at the same time, not available for abuse.

Many people misuse the this concept as an excuse to remain in toxic and unhealthy relationships or to explain why they refuse to hold their loved one accountable.[3] Often times, this is seen in abusive relationships. The victim may claim to stay with the abuser out of love. But sometimes love may mean severing ties, calling the authorities or taking other extreme measures to get them the help they need. You do what is best for the individual despite the cost.

Unconditional love seeks to provide happiness but isn’t over-protective

Love is an action not a feeling. It is a conscious choice that you make repeatedly—moment by moment. It doesn’t happen naturally. When a mother gives birth and holds her child in her arms for the very first time, we have been led to believe that the love is instant. And as magical and poetic as that sounds, it simply isn’t true. That mother chooses to love her child. Many times that choice is made and solidified some time during the pregnancy. Think about it. When a woman discovers that she is unexpectedly pregnant, she does not immediately fall in love with the fetus. It takes time. She must choose to love her child.

Providing for the happiness of your loved ones whenever you can is important and necessary but your desire to please them shouldn’t come at their detriment.

If a mother discovers her child is using drugs—love demands that she do whatever she can to assist them in breaking the addiction. Whatever it takes. And as painful as it may be, sometimes that involves allowing them to hit rock bottom, go to jail, or even become homeless. Pain and heartache forge character and tenacity, and help us to grow. Watching someone you love suffer is brutal, but sometimes it’s necessary. Allow your loved ones to experience set backs and fall. Just be there to pick them up when they do.

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Unconditional love involves respecting and accepting the life choices of your loved ones without being indulgent

Unconditional love is the complete and total acceptance of a person “as is.” It involves not withholding love because you don’t agree with their life choices. You don’t love because of—you love in spite of… Adopt a “care less” attitude.[4] Meaning, I could care less what you decide, I love you anyway. It means staying away from controlling behaviors and passing judgement.

That said—this doesn’t mean you stand blindly by and watch someone—especially a child—run head long into danger.

Many times a parent will not chastise a child, or challenge them for fear of retaliation or losing the child’s love. Enabling bad behavior is not love.[5] Unconditional love seeks what is in the best interest of that person above all else. It is supporting and nurturing that person into being the best version of them self.

Why we should practice unconditional love when it’s so hard

Unconditional love is transformative. It has the power to change you and the person you love. It is a balancing act that requires you to constantly adjust and readjust your actions and attitude. But it is worth it in the end. Some of the benefits of learning to love unconditionally are:

  • You learn to accept and love yourself.
  • You become more empathetic.
  • You are better able to cope with change and deal with disappointment.
  • You develop a deep understanding of what true love is.

10 keys to unlock the door to loving unconditionally

How can finite beings love infinitely? When most people think of this kind of love, people like Mother Theresa, Ghandi and the Pope come to mind. But how can we—mere mortals—transcend our inherent, natural tendency towards selfishness and love without condition or expectation of a reward?

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Here are 10 things you can do to begin loving unconditionally:

1. Practice forgiveness.[6]

2. Practice empathizing[7] with others.

3. Learn to love yourself unconditionally.

4. Practice open and honest communication.

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5. Love them the way they need to be loved. Love isn’t a one-size-fits-all; what might be loving for one person could be harmful to another person.

6. Accept yourself and others “as is.”

7. Accept and respect the boundaries of your loved ones.

8. Choose to be loving. Ask yourself in each situation, what is the most loving response?

9. Don’t try to be a human shield. Allow your loved ones to hurt and support them through the pain.

10. Perform acts of service daily, with no expectation of anything in return.

What actions will you take to demonstrate your unconditional love?

Reference

More by this author

Denise Hill

Speech Writer/Senior Editor

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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