Do you like to be loved ‘conditionally’? Most people don’t. Then you must have told people in your life that you want to have unconditionally loving relationships with them. No??? Why not? What are you afraid of — actually no one I know has ever told ANYONE they know that they want an unconditional relationship with them. How strange when that is what we all need and desire!
You have lived with ‘conditional love’ all your life. Since childhood you figured if it is good enough for everyone else it is good enough for you. After all no one ever talks about how much it hurts when people behave conditionally, unlovingly — impatient, disrespectful, unappreciative, dishonest, unkind, unaffectionate — we all just react unlovingly back; withdraw; or swallow and don’t dare show our real feelings for fear we will be completely rejected. A little love is better than no love at all — which is what the starving person thinks when getting a few crumbs from the master’s table.
Erich Fromm, the famous psychologist wrote in his book The Art of Loving, “….human beings are starved for love.” We all believed this to be a figurative not literal statement, since there was little science to back it up. Today a lot of science is pointing toward it being literally true.
‘Conditional behavior’ causes most of us pain and the antidotes are not really working. Is it trying to find the right person, or group? Is it not talking to the perpetrator — often a parent, sibling, spouse, child, best friend…for years? Is it learning to love oneself?
Perhaps the first step ought to be knowing what love is. In 2014 the #1 Googled search phrase was; What Is Love? That seems to indicate that a lot of people want to know what love is. You might think you know what love is. The strongest proof of anyone knowing what love is having unconditional relationships — with oneself and others. If we don’t have that in our life it is likely because we don’t actually know what love is, we just cobbled together some conventional ideas.
I am going to tell you what love is — “Love is intentioned energy that nourishes us like air, food, and water. It can be given or withheld from ourself or others; it can be accepted or rejected from others.”
The fact is we have never seen love, but we have all felt it. Universally. Physics tells us that we can’t feel nothing, only some thing. Our language uses phrases like “getting and giving love”, because that is our experience. We can’t give or get no thing, only some thing.
Finally when we get love from others or give it to ourselves we feel warmed, energized, happy, at peace; while when we feel deprived of other’s love, don’t love ourself we feel empty, lethargic, deprived, and in pain. ( Deutsch – LOVE DECODED)
No thing cannot cause these real reactions in us — and clearly we are not hallucinating, there is no mass hypnosis going on — therefore love must be real in the physical sense. A real, nourishing energy — and we say it in the phrase; A mother’s unconditional love is nourishing. Again we might mean it figuratively, but it is literally true. This explains why we’re all so desperate to find relationships that are loving. (My theory of love as nourishment was validated by Fredrickson’s 8-year long research and published in 2013 in – LOVE 2.0)
What is our best source for love, the only source we can really depend on? Self-love. When we’re hungry do we go and get ourselves something to eat? Yes. Is that selfish? No. When we need love do we have to wait or demand it from people who were taught to behave conditionally? Yes. Does that formula work? Not for most people.
To learn to love ourself and others unconditionally, which people who don’t know what love is think is not possible — is a process similar to teaching children how to eat by themselves. It takes time and patience. But it produces self-sufficiency, not selfishness. Human beings need to become self-sufficient with other nourishments…why not with loving themselves? Of course it is not easy, especially if one only trains, practices here and there. You don’t win Gold Medals practicing once or twice a week…when you feel like it. No…you practice 8 hours a day, rain or shine. This is your life and you either want to be a winner at having unconditionally loving relationships that are satisfying and totally in your control or because you don’t want to do the work, hang on to the belief that it is not possible and live in a conditional universe.
Here is the good and bad news — everyone is created/built to be able to love unconditionally — we know this because that is exactly what every human being, especially infants, need. Yes me and you. Our societies, cultures and religions are designed to make us feel we’re better than others, are often judgmental, competitive, all in all not conducive to training us to be unconditional. This model leads us to be ‘conditionally loving’ and as we grow up there is very little chance of learning unconditional behavior. Unlearning something is even harder than learning something new — which is why we and others are not to blame for our conditional behavior — but now that you know it is possible to become unconditional it becomes your choice — and every small step will imbue you with hope and excitement as you observe yourself feeling better about yourself and watch your relationships be enriched with more love.
Make 2 lists — loving behaviors and unloving behaviors — like patient and impatient (see lists) — post the lists to your fridge, bathroom mirror, office or work-space, car dashboard, computer — and begin a process of becoming more aware of how you treat yourself and others. This seemingly simply process puts your feet squarely on the Yellow Brick Road home, to yourself. There is no going back and no one wants to. When you realize you are being unloving with yourself say you are sorry — YES, to yourself and continue being vigilant — eventually you will become less and less conditional with yourself. It will feel like you have been liberated from the Wicked Witch of the Conditional West. If you notice you are sometimes conditional with others — say you are sorry to them.
Yes there are other steps after becoming more aware — learning how to create vision and incorporating it into loving communication (see graphic) — but that is down the line. So don’t worry about that now. Just build the foundation — AWARENESS.
In the next series of articles I will break down the science — and show you the difference between romance — no nourishing properties — and love with nourishing properties; how to communicate using unconditional love; and work with a vision that says it is possible to have unconditional relationships.
Loving, Nourishing Behaviors
Soft, Gentle, Tender
Listening, Hearing Other
Add your own……..
Unloving, Depriving Behaviors
Rude, Contemptuous, Discouraging
Cold, Curt, Aloof
Self Absorbed, Busy
Listening to Self-talk
Add your own……..
The Continuum Theory’s Circle© of Developing Awareness – Vision – Communication – and Unconditional Behavior.