One hears a lot about 'Unconditional Love'. The dictionary defines unconditional as 'absolute, with no conditions or reservations'. Thus, to love unconditionally is to love with no restrictions, no qualifications, no 'I love you... but...'. Simply "I love you, with no strings attached".
Do you love yourself and others unconditionally? Do you love and approve of yourself and others even when a 'foul-up' occurs or when a behavior is not one you judge 'right'? Have you achieved that ideal state of being, even once in a while? To love yourself and others no matter what the situation is.
There are certain states of mind that will make it easier for you to love yourself and others with no reservations. The first is to accept things and people (including yourself) the way they are. This does not mean that you do not want any changes. Instead this means that you love them the way they are now, you accept that they are 'good enough', and desire them to become more of who they really are: their highest self.
Another state of mind is patience and understanding... The same patience one has with a small child that is learning to walk, or to talk. When a child stumbles or when a child speaks in strange incomprehensible words, we don't laugh at the child, mocking it, giving it a hard time and making it feel bad. We have understanding and patience. We understand that the child is learning, growing, and moving towards mastery of the new skills they are learning.
So it is with "adult learners". We are all learning to be masters of life and love... thus we all deserve patience and understanding. The people in our lives, no matter how trying they may seem at times, also deserve our patience and understanding. They too are struggling with mastering the skills needed to be happy and fulfilled in this existence on Planet Earth.
Thus the first steps towards Unconditional love include patience, understanding, and acceptance of what is. To create a world for yourself where unconditional love abounds, you can also hold the thought that the world is a friendly place. As thought is creative, you will indeed attract to yourself a friendly world. Your attitude will bring out the best in people. You will be a factor in inspiring others to opt for their highest thought.
It is sometimes difficult to love unconditionally when some person or situation has 'pushed your button', so to speak. You have a choice as to how to react. You can get angry, you can pout, you can pretend that nothing is happening (ignore the person and event), or perhaps, a better way to handle it is to deal with the situation or person in a non-attached way. Taking care of what needs to be done, responding with patience and understanding, and moving on.
Non-attachment does not imply non-caring; being non-attached, emotionally, physically, psychically, and intellectually is an active process of expressing your feelings NOW, releasing them, being done with it, and moving on. This can be done honestly and in a caring way.
Unconditional love has to do with always coming from a loving, giving, and responsive viewpoint, recognizing the value and worth of yourself and others, and thereby producing a state of pleasure. Unconditional love is the highest truth and is not afraid to tell it. Know that you are living in a world that loves you as much as you love it, where you are an inspiration because you love, and you are not-attached to the results.
Loving unconditionally is not always easy, as it involves speaking the truth, yet doing so without withholding love. It means acknowledging that while you may not approve of a person's behavior, you still honor and recognize the Divine Being that they really are. It means that even if someone doesn't behave in a way that you want them to, you still recognize the fact that they are a Being worthy of love and respect. No, they may not be "perfect" according to your definition of that term... Yes, you might be able to see many ways that they could "improve" themselves and their lives... Yes, you might think that you would do better in their situation... Yet, unconditional love means giving people the space to make their own choices, their own mis-takes, their own successes.
Just as we let children learn how to walk, we need to let the people in our lives learn "how to be"... and just as we give a child plenty of love and moral support while they're learning to walk and talk, so with the people in our lives, whether they're family or co-workers or friends or someone in the grocery store (or ourselves), we need to also give them love and moral support to assist them in discovering their own path toward Unconditional Love...
Handbook for the Heart: Original Writings on Love
edited by Richard Carlson (author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff).
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.