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The Challenge of Unconditional Love

Updated on March 30, 2020
Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives every day by sharing her joy and love of life.

Every Soul Yearns for Love

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Loving Completely

When talking of unconditional love, many people think first of their children, their partner, their parents, or their pets. They nod vigorously, certain that they offer unconditional love to these beings.

What does loving unconditionally mean, and how can we bring unconditional love into our day-to-day life? This article outlines several ways in which you can enlarge your view of love, making your life a gift of love for those around you.

Love For All Beings

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What Makes it so Hard?

While you may like the idea of unconditional love, it is a challenge to love everyone without expectation.

Why is unconditional love so difficult? The short answer is expectations. It is hard to offer love to others, without expecting anything in return. We are hardwired to want a reward for the risk of making ourselves vulnerable.

You give love, you expect to get something back. Maybe a thank you. Or some acknowledgement of your sacrifice. Or at least a nod. But if you expect something, then you are not sharing your love unconditionally.

As part of my own unconditional love practice, I recently decided that the next $100 bill I received in my business would be used as a tip for the server the next time I ate out.

I had fun imagining the person's surprise at my generosity. I felt good, thinking how grateful the person would be. It made me smile, thinking about how good it felt when I received those unexpected large tips, back in the days when I waited tables.

Part of me didn't realize that the $100 bill would come just a day after making that decision. I thought I'd have more time to plan. And the next time I ate out wasn't really the place I'd been wanting to leave the large tip.

In my imagination, I left the tip with a young server at the local coffee shop. But, my next outing was actually at a local Chinese restaurant with a girlfriend.

While my friend used the bathroom, I quietly went up front and paid our check (as a surprise for my friend, who was suddenly thankless and annoyed that I'd paid without asking her.) Then I handed our server the $100, folded up and discreet.

She didn't say thank you. She didn't make a big show. She didn't even come back to the table to refill our drinks. We had to find her, to get a box for our togo items. And to top off the experience, my friend was annoyed.

I was irritated, leaving the restaurant. That didn't go at all according to plan. And then I realized that buying lunch and leaving a generous tip was not about me. Wait. What? It's not all about me? No.

I had expectations of people's behavior, thus rendering my gestures of abundance and unconditional love completely neutral. I expected something from my friend and from the server. That placed a condition on my gift. It tarnished the very gift that I was trying to give.

Only when I released my expectation and agreed with myself that the act was meant to bless them, whether or not I received thanks, only then was I able to release my expectations and just offer love.

That is the challenge of unconditional love: to offer love without any expectation. No strings attached.

Loving Kindness Meditation

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Love All, Serve All

Unconditional love is love for all beings, whether you like them or not. Loving all, whether they fit in with your religious, political, economic or social expectations, that is unconditional love. And it's not easy.

It's easy to love the people who love you. It's easy to offer love to people who are nice to you, or who agree with you, or who do what you want.

But what about the other 99.999 percent of people and beings who inhabit the planet? The challenge of unconditional love is to offer love and service to those you deem unworthy. It means you offer love to your perceived enemies, to your rivals, to your ex-partners and your estranged children and to the strange dog who nipped at your ankles on your morning run.

The challenge of unconditional love is to offer love, compassion and acceptance to all beings regardless of their behavior, their circumstances or their desirability.

Loving Kindness Meditation

As you lay in your bed, practice this loving kindness meditation.

With your eyes closed, offer the following prayer or meditation.

Yourself: May I be at peace, may I be happy, may I be free from pain.

Someone you like or love: May you be at peace, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.

Someone you dislike: May my enemy be at peace, may my enemy be happy, may my enemy be free from pain.

All beings:May all beings be at peace, may all beings be happy, may all beings be free from pain.

Letting Go of Expectation

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Release Your Own Fear

The easiest way to practice unconditional love is to let go of expectations of outcome. Usually, expectation is present when you fear something. You fear loss. You fear you won't be loved or acknowledged or appreciated.

Let go of your fear, and embrace the idea that you are deeply and completely loved, exactly as you are. Once you embrace unconditional love as your own birthright, then you can offer it to others.

Letting go of expectation is difficult. It feels scary to offer love without a promise of something in return. The truth is, you can only control yourself. You can offer love or fear. When you offer love to a being, you choose to release your own fears of rejection and abandonment and unworthiness. You look beyond that and into the truth that love is a gift for you and for all beings.

Embrace the idea that when you offer love without expectation, you open an energetic flow that allows an abundance of love to flow through your life. You allow others to love you without condition. What you give, you receive.

When you release fear and embrace the notion of loving without expectation, then you open yourself to receiving that love back.

The truth is, there is nothing to fear. You are safe. You are loved. All is well. Share that love with everyone you meet and open yourself to a flow of universal abundance.


Namaste, friends

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Deborah Reno

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    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Reno 

      17 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      That's a lovely story, Ruby. I hope you were able to continue that flow of good energy and abundance into the world.

      Namaste

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      17 months ago from Southern Illinois

      This is a beautiful article. My husband and I went to the Pizza Hut to eat, when we got up to pay the server said that our bill had been paid. We asked who and she said that his comment was " Passing it on " It is nice to know that people are out there who still care. Thank you.

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Reno 

      17 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Eric, I always appreciate your kind words. You are a thoughtful soul.

      Namaste

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Reno 

      17 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Donna, thank you for reading the article and taking time to comment. I appreciate it.

      Namaste

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Reno 

      17 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thank you for your comments Peggy.

      Yes, just when I thought I had it all figured out, the Universe gave me a little tap on the shoulder to remind me to let my ego go!

      Namaste

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Reno 

      17 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thanks for your comments Kari. I have also thought that I'd forgiven someone, only to realize that I was still pretty bitter.

      It is a challenge to just love people. But so worth it.

      Namaste

    • Deborah Demander profile imageAUTHOR

      Deborah Reno 

      17 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the article. I appreciate it.

      Namaste

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well done on a much deserved topic. You did a good job of laying it out for me. Thanks. (I will be incorporating this)

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      17 months ago from Greenwood, Indiana

      I agree with the giving of unconditional love is without the expectation that you will get something in return. It is a precious love and brings kindness and thoughtfulness to the giver and even more so to the receiver of such a gift.

      I loved reading your article, great job!

      Donna Rayne

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      17 months ago from Houston, Texas

      This is such good advice. Your experience at the Chinese restaurant was a good lesson to illustrate your point of giving love and not expecting it in return.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      17 months ago from Ohio

      I agree, we are here to love. No matter what else we do with our lives, we should love all we meet. As you say, this can be difficult. Sometimes, I have convinced myself that I had forgiven someone who wronged me, just to find out later that I really hadn't. Love is hard to show unconditionally, but it is worth the effort to try.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      17 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Interesting reading. Thought provoking.

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