Love is a special and complicated emotion which is quite difficult to understand sometimes. Although most people believe that love revolves around the heart, it actually occurs in the brain. Artists, poets and painters all epitomize the heart as the love symbol, but it’s the brain that generates chemical signals to make people understand love. There are different forms and styles of expressing love.
Love allows us to forgive, to care for those in need, and to be compassionate toward those who are vulnerable.
Each of us has a natural desire to love and to be loved. Love defines who we are as human beings; when we fail to understand its true meaning, we deprive ourselves of the greatest power we possess.
What does love mean to you? From what I understand, love means something different to everyone. However, I’ve come to believe that it can quite simply be narrowed down to two key opinions; these being conditional and unconditional love.
There is a huge difference between unconditional love and conditional love. Conditional love blames a person, expects things in return and asks for more. Unconditional love accepts the person, expects nothing in return and sacrifices.
Conditional love is most often displayed by those who put restrictions on their love, meaning that if they disagree with us and/or our life choices, we are not worthy of their love. They criticize and judge us for what they think we are doing wrong in life. This is the type of love that people give to us when we do what they want. It is usually displayed by those who like us because we made them feel good.
In other words, we have to buy their love, but for the most part leaves us feeling empty, unhappy and frustrated. This type of love is a form of manipulation. Through self-examination, if we notice ourselves frowning, sighing with disappointment, speaking harshly, or in any way expressing our anger at other people, we are exhibiting conditional love. Giving or withholding acceptance based on another person’s behavior is the essence of this love. Although it is most often given unintentionally, it allows the cycle to continue. Those who conditionally love others, usually only receive conditional love in return.
Unconditional Love sees the image of God in every person
This love is the ability to see the image of God in every person, despite his or her faults and weaknesses, and because of that, we want that person’s greatest, ultimate good. We recognize that every person was made to be loved into all eternity by God, and we will value and protect every human being, regardless of wealth, status, ability, or age.
It’s the type of love that everyone strives to have for their fellow human beings. Although you may not like someone, you decide to love them just as a human being. This kind of love is all about sacrifice as well as giving and expecting nothing in return.
Those who love unconditionally, are the ones who truly love us for who we are and who are always there to support us no matter what the circumstance. This doesn’t mean that they agree with everything that we do. We all make mistakes and can cause real pain and disappointment to others. It simply means that they do not judge or guilt us for it. They are able to let go and forgive us without harboring resentment or bitterness. When someone is genuinely concerned about our happiness, do we not feel a strong connection to that person? We feel included in his or her life, and in that instant we are no longer alone. Unconditional love is a powerful energy that can lift us through even the most difficult times.
Unconditional love must first begin with ourselves, because without self-love, we cannot know what true love can be. Instead of focusing on our mistakes and failures, we can concentrate on the benefits of our experiences and what we’ve learned from them. Rather than living our lives to please others, we can choose instead to grow to understand and learn what makes us complete. By learning to love ourselves, we are allowing the feeling to generate within us. Only then can we share it to everyone and everything around us. Only then can we accept love.
I have been on the receiving end of both conditional and unconditional love. I definitely know which one I prefer to receive. Everyone wants to be unconditionally loved, so why not start the cycle? Meditating on this quality has caused me to reflect on the kind of love I am displaying towards others and has motivated me to begin the journey of treating everyone I meet with unconditional love.
Which will you choose?