In the past, when someone asked me what I want in a relationship, I answered “unconditional love.” But I was not finding it, ever.
Being me, I wanted to know why this was happening and consequently began seeking out answers through research, books, taking my past apart, studying my body and mind, but also by observing those around me. I started with couples, mainly because that’s where I wanted to find this unconditional love I so often heard of, but to be honest I could not find it there either. If there is a dependency of any kind, be it emotional, financial, social, status, an expectation or otherwise, then it is not unconditional. While we do our best to accept people the way they are, we are social human beings who often come with expectations, desires, needs, wants, emotions, thoughts and beliefs, all of which we hope to find reflected in or reciprocated by those we interact with.
So is unconditional love possible?
They say a mother’s love is unconditional, but I would call it “unwavering.” Kids disappoint parents and vice versa. Often we cannot live up to each other’s expectations and, while I also love my family dearly, all families have their issues, especially the ones that tell you they don’t.
I then started observing individual people and only when I watched kids playing did things start to make sense. The more I observed, the more I realized that when they are little and have not yet been “fitted” to standards and expectations of our society, they are relentlessly honest, authentic, present and ultimately completely unconditional – though here lies the secret - with themselves!
They say what they think, they show how they feel, and they do what they want, regardless of whether we (adults) deem it embarrassing, hurtful, cute, funny, ridiculous or sad. Think of a child having a screaming fit on the floor of a grocery store, twirling in circles to the sound of music, getting dizzy, falling over, yet getting up to do it all over again, or telling you that you can’t cook or got fat. Children release their emotions and within minutes act as if nothing happened. How? They simply let go of what needs to be released and do not worry about judgment, shame or guilt. Children are shamelessly authentic and demand to be heard, seen, accepted and respected.
As is so often the case, be careful what you wish for.
Unconditional love means unconditionally loving, respecting and accepting yourself.
While we cannot behave like children as adults, we can nevertheless honor who we are, where we come from and what emotions or needs we have. We can be vulnerable, but need to keep in mind that as adults vulnerability cannot come with an expectation to have our needs met by others.
This realization was most certainly not the answer I found most satisfactory, because it is not the easy way out. Unconditionally loving ourselves requires mindfulness, self-reflection, and most importantly self-responsibility.
As a Health Coach, I finally learned that self-love is the key driver to how we prioritize and manage our health including sleep, relationships, career, nutrition, exercise and general lifestyle.
On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the highest, where is your self-love today? As a holistic Health Coach, I can help you better understand your mindset, triggers and belief system driving self-sabotaging behaviour at work, with food, with friends or loved ones, with sleep or physical activity.