I’ve been thinking about the idea of unconditional love for a while now. When I first starting experimenting with it, I focused largely on loving another person for everything they are, even if that included some elements or behaviours that I did not resonate with. No matter who you love, be it family, friend or lover, there will always be these differences, as we are innately human and individual in our expression of that. So the art of acceptance, appreciation and just letting another person be became my first hurdle in experiencing unconditional love.
Little did I know then, that loving a chosen person unconditionally is not the extent of what unconditional love is all about. I realised this when I became aware that I was not being unconditionally loved in return. While it is all well and good to give love freely to another, the way in which I express that will depend upon the other person’s response to me. In no way does this mean that giving love is a reciprocal deal dependent upon receiving love… That would be contrary to the term ‘unconditional’. What it does mean though is that my unconditional love must also include myself.
The question to ask is not, ‘How much does this person deserve my love based on their love for me?’ The question becomes, ‘How can I best express my love for this person whilst honouring and loving myself first?’ Applying this has required me to alter the nature of my relationship with different people along the way, however I have not had to alter my love for them. I just have to express it in a way that gives both of us the unconditional love we deserve. The limit to which I love and respect myself becomes the limit of the love I have to give and experience.
Now that I experience love in this way, I have become aware that the only limit that love has, is the limit that I place upon it. I can create as little or as much as I choose. It doesn’t cost anything, it will never run out and giving love to one person does not reduce the amount I have to give to another. With this in mind, I begin to explore the rules and boundaries that apply to the love relationships in my life. Even when I do unconditionally love myself and others, I realise that the next expansion will involve looking at the frameworks that this love sits within.
The notion of rules and frameworks by definition seem contradictory to the term unconditional. But I’m not sure if love for self and other can be maintained without some sort of agreed arrangement on it’s expression. Or can it? I am a firm believer in experiential learning, so I am starting to challenge all of my preconceptions of how and where love exists in my life. This includes those that are self imposed and those that I have inherited through social conditioning. I suspect that I am in for one very interesting ride with this, it will be expansive, exciting and probably a little emotionally risky. But with unconditional love for myself, I will be able to choose what honors me and what does not.
I know that the limits of love in my life will always be the limits of myself.