The Challenge of Unconditional Love
Every Soul Yearns for Love
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
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
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
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.
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