How to Love Unconditionally Part 9 of a series on Learning to Love Unconditionally
Be intentional about your relationships. Remember when you were younger, you’d think carefully about what you’d say and how you’d relate to a new friend? After a while, we tend to take relationships for granted and get sloppy, saying whatever comes to mind. Our speech censors stop working. We’re less attentive to what we say and do and less attentive to how what we say and do makes the other person feel.
Make the decision to love unconditionally and when you sense that kind of love is faltering, renew your commitment.
Allow yourself -- give yourself permission -- to feel empathy, compassion and unconditional love for the other.
Love the other person in spite of everything – their quirks, their annoying habits, their shortcomings, their mistakes, even their intentional hurts – and provide them with the security they gain from knowing that your love for them cannot be broken. This security will help unleash their human potential and empower them to become their best self.
Pray for/earnestly desire the very best for the other person – their good health, their happiness, their success. Seek to eliminate negative feelings and thoughts about them.
Make a mental list of everything positive about the person, their qualities and attributes, and the good and kind things they have done for you and others.
Hold in your consciousness the difficult and painful experiences they’ve had in life, the trauma that’s helped shape who they are, the wounds that have hurt them, and the failures that have made them feel inadequate.
Love and accept them as is – just the way they are. Don’t expect that you’ll change or improve them. You may be able to inspire, but you can’t force change.
Let the other person make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and grow, so long as their actions are not dangerous or would seriously harms them or others. Restraint and intervention can be part of unconditional love.
Treat others the way you’d be like to be treated. But don’t make assumptions, since we’re all different and have different needs. Ask.
Consider how you would want a concern raised. If it’s a difficult subject, have the courage to ask for feedback: how does this make you feel; how could I do better?
Ask how you can be supportive when they have difficult choices to make.
Be honest and let them know when they’re hurting you and others. It’s not unconditional love if you shield them and excuse wrong or hurtful words or behavior. You can do this in a non-accusatory fashion that is not demeaning, humiliating or judgmental. You can also do this in a spirit of love and forgiveness, acknowledging that you also hurt people (it is to be hoped, unintentionally).
Be fully present in the moment, focused, disciplined and yet relaxed in your interactions. If your mind is distracted by other thoughts or events, you won’t do your best.
Recognize that you’ll make mistakes. Be willing to apologize and to forgive yourself and others. Loving others unconditionally is a process and a journey and not a permanent achievement.
Note: If you’re constantly criticizing, nitpicking, complaining, or trying to change someone, you haven’t figured out how to love them unconditionally. They’ll experience what you think is love as an indication that they’re not good enough and will suffer emotionally. This serves no one’s best interest.
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