Our unmet emotional need for unconditional love often stems from a reluctance to deeply love our own self.
My friend called me in despair, “my circumstances are overwhelming,” she cried “why do you even still talk to me?”
Her attitude is more common than we like to admit.
At first, I suggested my friend “think on paper,” taking all of her overwhelming thoughts and gushing them out in writing. This has many benefits: a sense of control, organizing issues, giving the self permission to express its truths, instantly reducing overwhelm, and so on.
“But,” she said, “I already wrote it down”.
Perfect, the next step is to ask yourself this question: What am I resisting? For each item that adds to your sense of overwhelm.
People are in conflict with the world around them, their personal relationships, and especially their loved ones—because at various levels we fail to fully acknowledge, accept and love our own selves. This makes it difficult to either love others, or be loved by others, making deep intimate connection almost impossible—despite it being our greatest desire.
This is the journey of self-discovery that heals and empowers.
This is the process of authenticity that can be emotionally difficult to tolerate; especially when we’re miserable, feel like victims of circumstance, and want others to care and love us.
It has to start from the self.
Self-love through authentic awareness of our own resistance to growth and change enables intimate sharing to take place with other people.
And what is intimacy, really? It’s not sex. It’s not when two people with emotional walls, big barriers, and lack of self-acceptance get together and rub their bodies together for distraction or complain about life, while wallowing in self-pity. Intimacy is based on authentic connection.
And our authentic self is always empowered. We are powerful, capable and mighty beings. Our weaknesses are based on false fears, beliefs and identities that we cling to for a variety of reasons. None of which are deeply authentic. They are habits. They give us excuses. They allow us to at least feel something, anything, because we aren’t used to feeling good.
Connection with a significant other, be it family member or lover, depends on your authentic self meeting their authentic self.
This can involve supporting each other’s weaknesses, wounds, confusions and fears, but only from an orientation of positive growth, learning and change. This is who we are. Our authentic self is full of love’s light.
My friend wanted circumstances to be different. She wanted people to be nicer, life to be easier. She also recognized that her identity is rooted in struggle. After all, she wants to write a best-selling novel about the struggles in her life.
I said, “Don’t live your life in the moment as if you’re a character in a book. Readers want to know your authentic journey of accomplishment, not your self-indulgent struggle with conflict.”
And in some way, isn’t it true that we all attempt to play a character, or a role throughout our life based on our past experiences? For better or for worse.
Subconsciously, we seek to re-create the larger-than-life and care-free experiences of our early childhood. My friend sought that through other people’s capacity to share with her, accept her, and love her. However, she became over-sensitive to what seemed like their rejection, refusal and limitations.
Intimacy is the bridge for connecting through authenticity.
Conscious relationships start by recognizing that we are the central force and greatest power in our life experience.
First, recognizing our individual journey that we choose to openly share with a partner. And second, acknowledging that our partner is going through their own individuated journey.
Only by respecting differences and boundaries do we have a chance to appreciate and fully connect at the level of similarities. Our own authenticity lets us connect to the authenticity of another.
This makes communication key to a conscious relationship. Creating a safe space of listening, empathy and acceptance of each other’s experience is the key to authentic communication. Does that mean unconditional love? No, sorry, it doesn’t; because authenticity is a condition. If love was unconditional we would always feel full of love—no matter what.
On the one hand, we can relate to the popular wishful thinking for unconditional love because it represents a place of total loving harmony with feelings of absolute safety and security wrapped in the nurturing embrace of a deeply intimate connection (makes me want it just thinking about it).
However, when you step back to consider the practicalities of unconditional love or unconditional acceptance we realize that maintaining love’s harmony is just like maintaining health. It’s not automatic; it doesn’t happen without effort, focus, discipline and attention to detail—these are conditions.
The more we embrace the efforts required to be more open and loving, the more love we bring into our lives. Intimacy begins with vulnerability. My friend is well on that road.
Don’t demand that your intimate partner accept who you are unconditionally. Demand they accept you as you are because they believe in who you are becoming.
We are all on the same shared road of emotional, psychological and spiritual growth towards absolute self-love that emerges from complete authenticity.
Author: Gabriel Sanford
Apprentice Editor: Roslyn Walker; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Helga Weber/ Flickr