Judith is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual practices that nourish the soul and celebrates the journey from relationship to romance.
You’ve heard the term “Unconditional Love”.
What exactly does that mean?
As we’ve already learned “Unconditional” means without conditions or limits. That’s fairly concrete. We can discuss what a condition or limit is but for the most part we’d more easily come to agreement on that than we would on the word “Love”.
That may sound strange coming from someone who writes romance. But the word “love” has numerous definitions in part because it is used in a variety of contexts. We talk about how much we love foods, colors, clothes, etc. We also talk about ‘love’ when speaking about pets and places. Even when we are referencing people, there is a distinction i.e. l love my family. I love my friends. I love myself. I love you (a particularly significant person such as a spouse or lover). “Love” is one of those words that has gained such popularity that it is important for each of us to understand how we are using it.
Why? Because “Love” is a word that describes an emotional connection to something or someone.
In my work as Senior Faculty for The William Glasser Institute we teach that relationships are at the heart of problems—that if we all got along better (think unconditional acceptance and unconditional support) our world and the world around us would be a more peaceful place. (And Peaceful is not necessarily boring).
We also teach that when we use words like “love” each of us has our own individual picture or perception of what that would look like, what our personal manifestation of that word would be in our own life.
So keep that in mind as you consider Unconditional Love.
When two people say they ‘unconditionally love’ each other that does mean that they accept each other as they are. They do not enter the relationship wanting the other person to change. They want what is best for the other party without dictating what that “best” is.
The hardest part of that last paragraph comes when we see someone we love doing something we just Know will end in pain or disaster or both. Many of us have a strong “fix it” trait and it is hard to step back.
One thing I’ve found that helps me is to remember they are living their own lives, this is their path and there is something they need to learn or experience which is why whatever it is is happening to them at this point in time. Sometimes we have to experience the same situation more than once before we figure things out and sometimes we never to figure it out. When we try to ‘fix it’ for someone else, we take their power away from then and what’s worse, if it doesn’t work out, it is our fault.
Knowing yourself, your boundaries, having the wherewithal and skill to set and hold them without hostility is key to continuing to love someone and yet not approve of everything they choose to do. If you ever hear the words “If you loved me, you would …” come out of your mouth or said to you, you know you do not or are not Unconditionally Loved. This is also true if you just think them about another person.
Again, Dr. Glasser spoke and wrote about healthy boundaries. A core principle in Choice Theory is that our choices do not harm another person. However, you can accept, support and love someone and still say “no”.
Here is an example: You have a family member or friend who has addiction problems. It is not mean to say to that person, “You are always welcome in my home when you are clean and sober.” Sometimes you need to complete the thought with “You are not welcome when you are drunk or stoned.” Of course, if you are spewing angry energy into each word—
From my point of view, one of the most difficult tasks facing us on our life journey is to know ourselves and our needs, to set clear boundaries to protect ourselves and to keep them. Sacrificing ourselves in the name of ‘love’ is not – again from my perspective – loving. Enabling a people to continue to abuse themselves, others or you, is not loving.
Diana Pettybone finally faces the reality of her abusive marriage. And, it only gets worse. The emotional and verbal abuse escalates to physical. Her circle sisters support her in leaving her marriage and protecting her from further abuse. They do not support her when she wavers and considers returning to him. However, they only ask her questions to help her think things through e.g. “Why do you think he’s changed?” “What do you see him doing different?” “Why is it important to you what other people think?”
Each of the heroines in The Sacred Women’s Circle series faces a critical time when they must take the leap toward what they want, leaving behind what they’ve had, the safety of the known for the possible glory of their happily-ever-after. They make that decision knowing that regardless of their choice, they will continue to have the acceptance, support and love of their circle sisters.
If you look at one of the dictionary definitions of love “unselfish, loyal, benevolent concern for others”, supporting someone in abusing themselves or others (including us) is certainly not love.
Some of this is not easy to do. And, having said that, consider this:
What would your life be like if you were Unconditionally Loved and Loved Unconditionally?
Please leave a comment. I do want to know what you think.
Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.
Follow Judith on Twitter:@JudithAshley19
Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.
You can also find Judith on FB!