Unconditional Love

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We've heard songs about it, seen it in the movies, heard it talked about on Oprah by relationship experts, and read about it in thousands of self help books. But, what is unconditional love? We all want to feel loved. We think about it, hope for it, fantasize about it, go to great lengths to achieve it, and feel that our lives are incomplete without it. The lack of unconditional love is the cause of most of our anger and confusion. It is no exaggeration to say that our emotional need for unconditional love is just as great as our physical need for air and food.

It is especially unfortunate, then, that most of us have no idea what unconditional love really is, and we prove our ignorance with our horrifying divorce rate, the incidence of alcohol and drug addiction in our country, the violence in our schools, and our overflowing jails.

Our misconceptions of unconditional love began in early childhood, where we saw that when we did all the right things—when we were clean, quiet, obedient and otherwise “good”—people “loved” us. They smiled at us and spoke in gentle tones. But we also saw that when we were “bad,” all those signs of “love” instantly vanished. In short, we were taught by consistent experience that love was conditional, that we had to buy “love” from the people around us with our words and behavior.

So what’s wrong with conditional love? We see it everywhere we look, so what could be wrong with it? Imagine that every time you pay me fifty dollars, I tell you I love you. We could do that all day, but at the end of the day would you feel loved? No, because you’d know that I “loved” you only because you paid me. We simply can’t feel fulfilled by love we pay for. We can feel loved only when it is freely, unconditionally given to us. The instant we do anything at all to win the approval or respect of other people—with what we say, what we do, how we look—we are paying for the attention and affection we receive, and we can’t feel genuinely loved....
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