Loving unconditionally is an ideal that always felt unfair to me. It has always felt like an unrealistic ideal that only delusional people could attain through living in a bubble and being grossly naive. It seemed to me that to love unconditionally, one would need to live in a bubble and shut out all of their feelings, opinions and most importantly: standards.
I’ve always been told that loving unconditionally is emancipating. I’ve heard time after time in the plethora of self-help books, videos and podcasts that unconditional love is the way forward. The concept irked me because to me, loving someone is giving them a part of me. It’s sacrifice.
That was until I realised it’s my actual definition of love that’s warped, rather than the concept of loving unconditionally (I think I grew up listening to waaay too much Amr Diab, haha).
Last weekend was my turning point. I went to a vegan yoga festival and was supposed to get there for 3pm for the kundalini yoga class. My friend and I arrived late and missed the class so we went to the talk instead. We entered at a point and I heard something that I’m sure God planned for me to hear it.
He defined unconditional love in its truest form:
“When there’s someone who comes into this room, you obviously don’t feel love for that person the way you feel towards your closest friend, or partner, or family member.”
This one comment annoyed me so much that it forced me to think. How do I actually look at people when they walk in? I judge them. I look at what they’re wearing, how they carry themselves, what they say, etc. In other words, I attach myself to their experience and emotionally invest in their presence.
So, if the opposite of doing this is to love them, I must detach. How do I do this? Empathy.
Even empathy seems like extra work, but that’s only because we’ve associated with loving someone and having empathy with a form of martyrdom. In order to love, you must be willing to sacrifice and give a part of yourself to someone else. We only love if we’re able to, it’s never natural — or at least that’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe.
It all starts from within
I don’t believe self-love is to absolutely feel amazing about yourself at all times. It’s to detach from what you think of yourself to know the outside stuff is a fraction of who you really are.
It’s to allow yourself to view yourself as a whole being, not through the lexicon of your face, acne, lips, hair, body, financial situation, career etc. You don’t try to love yourself regardless of your perceived flaws, you simply don’t identify as a part of yourself as if it’s your whole self.
So really, to love yourself unconditionally is to detach and observe. Same with loving anything and anyone unconditionally. The same way you don’t attach yourself to the person who just walked into the room. You give them the space to be themselves without injecting judgement into their aura. That’s love.
Loving your lovers
With those whom you love in a more intimate way, the same rule applies. You love someone because of who they are in their whole true selves.
Naturally, we attach ourselves to people because of certain qualities we see in them that mirror what we have, or what we want. A man may love a woman because he projects a maternal standard that he has, which she seems to meet. The moment she stops being his version of motherly, his love for her ebbs.
To love unconditionally is to love regardless. This isn’t to say you become a doormat — rather it’s the opposite. You love someone enough to want to act upon it, but you have enough love for them and yourself when you realise your relationship is getting unhealthy.
With a strong sense of self that can only come with learning to love yourself unconditionally, you can draw boundaries or just let go.
Even after you’ve let go, you still love them unconditionally. Let yourself feel your feelings towards them, but don’t attach your worth to their presence. It’s that simple and that bloody emancipating.
PS: I know I’ve abandoned this blog for a year, I’ll get back to blogging again. I just need to develop a routine.