Living from a place of unconditional love is a constant practice for me. Every day, in every interaction, I notice instances when I withhold my love, put rules on it, or push it aside in an effort to protect myself.
Sometimes, I think the person on the other end does not deserve my love because of what they are saying, doing, feeling, or how they are being at the time. I set perameters on my love and decide, “I will love you when this happens, or when this stops happening.”
I may convince myself it’s the wrong time to love: It’s too soon, it’s too late, it hurt before and it could hurt again. I may deny my love because of the mere potential of pain and heartache, or the idea that my expression of love may go unreciprocated.
...And quite often, the person from whom I withhold my love is myself.
What I notice about this type of love is that it all comes from the mind. This is a perception of love based on logic, on reasoning from the past, on rationalizations and a whole list of brain-generated reasons why my love cannot not be given.
But is it real love if it has limits? Shouldn’t love be unconditional, all the time, without exception? And isn’t every person at their core inherently deserving of love, too?
I have realized that I can love those who frustrate me (even total strangers), because they help me practice patience and kindness. They give me an opportunity to be “I love you” without the need to say it. They invite me to inquire about where I might be a source of frustration for myself and others, too.
I can disagree with the actions of my enemy, and I can love them anyway—Not even despite their wrongdoings, but because of them. They are my teachers, and they give me plenty of chances to practice unconditional love when it seems truly impossible. Expressing and living from a place of love does not mean compromising my safety or condoning actions that are unjust: Love can look like loving myself first, and giving myself permission to love the other person from afar.
I can love the people that have hurt me, for they (in their truest nature) are not their thoughts, words, or actions. It is those who hurt others that need love the most.
I can be unapologetic with my expressions of love for those closest to me, even when I am unsure if my love will be reciprocated. Aside from the illusion of fear and separateness, there is no reason to let the response of others cover up the depth of the love I have to give. If my love is true and unconditional, their response will not dilute my feelings anyway.
I can practice this love for others by practicing with myself. I can choose to love unconditionally.