We often use the term “unconditional love” without really understanding what this means.
The truth is that love, in it’s purest expression, is completely unconditional. To have conditions means that there are requirements and standards that must be met in order for us to love someone. For example, it’s easy to love someone who loves us, who treats us with kindness and respect. But can we love someone who hates us, who would wish to do us harm? Because genuine love doesn’t make these kinds of distinctions. It doesn’t favor one person over the other.
If our love has conditions, then we should question whether it’s love at all, and not something else. Because love doesn’t require anything from anyone. It’s freely given to all, regardless of who that person is or what they have done.
Love means complete and total acceptance. And acceptance means that we don’t require the other to be any different than how they currently are. It means we aren’t resisting that reality and we aren’t demanding change. We accept the other with all of their various flaws and imperfections, while honoring the beauty that’s within them. Even the most vile and selfish person has something of beauty within them if we’re perceptive enough to see beyond their imperfections.
We often find it difficult to accept a person just as they are, because we think that to accept them means also to tolerate them, to condone their selfish behavior. But we don’t have to tolerate them at all. We don’t even have to associate with them. We can choose to distance ourselves from them if they’re constantly creating trouble and drama, if they’re inconsiderate, rude or abusive. We don’t have to put up with that. But we can still love them, even if we love them from a distance.
But do we even show this kind of acceptance for those who are close to us, who are kind to us, who we have chosen to share our lives with? We might have a partner who is very well aligned with us, who is very compatible. But we have a tendency to pick at all the little flaws and to magnify them. Or we find one area in which we disagree and focus all of our attention on it, blowing it way out of proportion, and siting it as reason to disregard all of the commonalities. We can get so caught up on that one disagreement that we wind up destroying the entire relationship.
But what happens when you accept the other just as they are, without demanding that they change? When someone feels accepted as they are they don’t feel any pressure to be anything other than who they are. They can be truly authentic. They can express themselves naturally and freely. And they begin to open up to the most authentic expression of who they are. And when they’re able to be totally and completely authentic, honest and transparent, there’s a radiance about them. They can be truly happy.
And when you allow someone to be who they are, authentically, it allows you to be authentic as well. And there’s so much freedom in this. And so you begin to radiate that same joy. And now the both of you are radiant and joyful, and the relationship become infused with that fragrance. Your happiness is no longer dependent upon the other person being what you want them to be, but on the both of you being the truest expression of who you are. You are both free to be yourselves, without inhibition. And because there is total acceptance, there is freedom. And that feeling of freedom is joy.
So if you want your relationships to be joyful, then learn to accept others as they are. The more you can accept others, the more deeply you are able to love.