True love is love without limits – love without conditions.
Treating yourself with love is completely accepting yourself, exactly as you are, despite any conversation in your mind about how you should be or what you should have done.
Most of us know about love with conditions. We love when all conditions have been met and, if we love, we can expect something back. Love with conditions is an agreement that implies, if you act this way, then I will love you. I will love you if….. It is this agreement that makes it safe to love, the conditions applying to everyone around you, including the way you treat yourself.
The drama around knocking over a glass of milk could have happened hundreds of times in our formative years: Look what you’ve done! What’s wrong with you? Can’t you be more careful? When will you ever learn? All very upsetting to hear, constantly reinforced, eroding all feelings of self-love. Upsetting, because it seemed to be your fault. You did something wrong and so they don’t love you like they did before.
Sometimes we decide that it’s up to us to make things better. We have to modify our behaviour and attempt some strategy to make us loveable again. Or maybe we react, becoming irritated by what happened and their response to it. It was an accident. I didn’t do anything wrong. Why do they have to be so upset with me? What is their problem? We are agitated by their behaviour and believe they need to be different before we can love them again.
Both these responses arise from exactly the same agreement. The latter points inwards, with the former having the finger pointing outwards. We learn that we’re not ok as we are or decide that others are not ok as they are. We learn that giving and getting love is a game. A game of punishment and reward.
The rules of the game demand that when you, or someone else, does something wrong, you are guilty, need to be punished and should be ashamed. When you are a “good girl” or a “good boy”, you get a prize – the prize of love and acceptance.
As we grow into adults, we use this as our barometer and, sadly, it becomes our definition of love. The rules rely on our judging everyone, including ourselves, as we embark on a lifelong dance with the demon of perfection!
This concept of love is not love at all. It’s fear, plain and simple. In order to practise love without limits, we need to know what real love is. There are over 30 words in the English language alone related to the concept of love….and most of them are to do with romantic love. Is our notion of romantic love really love? …and how does this sentiment apply to love outside of romance, like the love you have for family, your best friend, your pet, your work and most importantly, yourself?
As love is so hard to pin down with words and can be confusing to apply, the easiest way to recognise it is to know what it is not. It is infinitely easier to identify fear, so anytime this feeling of fear crops up, you know there must be an absence of love. How easy was that?
The simplest definition of love, therefore, is no-fear. Whatever situation you’re in, this is the one and only acid test required. Listen to all that’s going on around you and in your head, during any challenging time, whether you’re alone or not, and ask yourself one simple question: am I feeling fear or no-fear? By reaching for a no-fear feeling, by definition, you must be in the presence of love.
Keep that in mind and remember, love is a truly powerful force and may that force be with you, always.