Choose love. That sounds simple enough. Reflect on this. Do we choose love?
I think love has more than one meaning. Different images come to mind with different types of love. The love of a parent. The love of a spouse. The love of a friend. The love of a child. The love of a stranger.
I love many people in my life. My parents’ deepest purpose was to give us what they had been given as children – a roof over our heads and plenty of food, a good education, and comfort that family will always be there. Their gifts to me were strength and courage.
I was recently talking to a friend who doesn’t believe in unconditional love. I told him I understand what it is because I have a child. My world changed when I had my son. He is the most important person in my life. I can’t imagine a world without him, without his love, without giving him love. I laugh more with him than anyone. He is the kindest, most-level headed person I know. And that is saying something about a child just entering his teen years. I pray he will always find strength in knowing his parents love him unconditionally. I hope his journey is long and met with self-awareness, strength, courage, kindness, and happiness.
I know my son is a rare gift and other parents are handling more stressful behaviors. Their children have mental health problems, drug addictions, or aren’t as loving and appreciative of life’s gifts. A parent needs to be strong – especially when their child has lost their way. All we can do is guide them. We cannot live their lives or make their choices. Sometimes we cannot help them – but we can love them.
Do you know unconditional love? It’s an acceptance for the person you truly are, the person you are meant to be. A parent is supposed to guide their children to be ethical, kind people. They are supposed to reward healthy and respectful choices. I have read “it is easier to build a child than it is to repair an adult” and it’s so true. Parents make mistakes. Adult children need to acknowledge this and choose their own path without blame or fault. A good parent will try to guide their children on the correct path. Parents need to give space for children to grow. A parent needs to accept that their children are different human beings and will make their own choices.
What about unconditional love in other relationships? Spouses need space to grow as individuals, but stay connected to their partnership. This is not an easy task and many couples differ in their needs and points of view on this. Some people didn’t learn to listen to themselves and figure out their own truths before marriage. Some fall in love with the idea of love and marriage and do not take the time to see themselves or others for who they truly are. Instead of growing and figuring things out together, people get lost. Any long-term friendship has the same connects and disconnects. It takes two people, committed to each other, who want to grow. It’s an on-going process that needs to be acknowledged. One thing I am trying to learn on my journey is people will show you who they truly are, if you only listen. The same can be said for ourselves. Listen.
I have always believed that I can’t make anyone happy and that no one can make me happy. It’s listening to our destiny and being true to ourselves. But if we don’t listen and see the truth, we can get lost. It’s heartbreaking when we feel like we failed – our parents, our spouse, our children, ourselves. It takes a strong and courageous person:
- to acknowledge when you are unhappy
- to yearn for nothing more than to be yourself
- to have finally listened and heard
- to go against the advice of loved ones and follow your path
- to know when it’s time to move on
Do you want to know how to love? Some people have good role models, others do not. I believe we all have the capacity to love. Here are a few things we can do to love one another unconditionally.
- Listen. Truly hear what people are saying – in both what they say and how they say it. Hear what they are saying without judgement, without thinking of a response. Just listen.
- Empathize. Embrace what the person is feeling with understanding and compassion.
- Observe. Push the emotion aside and look at the truths in the situation. This step is one of the hardest because sometimes we don’t want to see or deal with the truth.
- Guide. Offer non-judgmental advice that comes from your heart. And realize, your advice might not be received or followed.
- Accept. Relinquish what you think or feel. Welcome opinions and beliefs, even if they differ from yours. Let go.
We need air, sunshine, and water to expand our wings and grow. Or to put it another way, we need space, acceptance, and love. Practice kindness and love. Accept yourself and one another. If you live your life this way, you are blessed. We only have one chance to live our life. Live it with your eyes and heart open.
~I’m here to help
Please write me and let me know if anything I said has reached you, helped you, or made sense. I enjoy getting comments and emails from my readers. Thank you for being with me on my journey.
Clarkson, Sally. January 23, 2017. Five Ways to Show Your Children Unconditional Love. Kristen Welch: We Are That Family. Retrieved from: http://wearethatfamily.com/2017/01/five-ways-show-children-unconditional-love/
Elliott, Susan J. September 2, 2016. What is Unconditional Love? Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/getting-back-out-there/201609/what-is-unconditional-love
Firestone, Lisa. August 8, 2016. 7 Behaviors That Ruin a Relationship. Psychology Today. Retried from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201608/7-behaviors-ruin-relationship
Markham, Laura. March 2, 2014. 5 Secrets to Love Your Child Unconditionally. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/peaceful-parents-happy-kids/201403/5-secrets-love-your-child-unconditionally
Psychology Today authors. 2017. Marriage. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/marriage
Sidell, Nina. A Parent’s Unconditional Love. PsychCentral. Retrieved from: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/06/06/a-parents-unconditional-love/
Taylor, Jim. November 6, 2009. Parenting; Unconditional Love is Bad! Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/200911/parenting-unconditional-love-is-bad