What is conditional love?

My friend, I’m not speaking theory here. I received conditional love for Andrew Lee Sullivanmany years. It destroyed my self-esteem and left me empty, starving for true acceptance and a sense of belonging. Love was given to me only for what I could do. I hope my few reflections about what is conditional love may help.

What is conditional love – but spiritual miserliness?

Heaven forbid, there are poor shriveled souls that dish out miserly love, only after counting how much to give. They link love to calculations. Love is only given to the good-looking, the achievers, the money makers, the virtuous. What is conditional love? It’s love given for what I do, not simply for who I am.

Conditional Love
Am I receiving conditional love?

When I’m on the receiving end of conditional love, I may not receive much love at all. My face may not be pretty enough. My accomplishments may fall short. My monetary contributions to the household may not cover all the bills or satisfy the expectations of the “management.” So, love is held back. I’m loved only for how much I can please somebody else.

If I’m the soul giving conditional love, I’m judging who deserves it and how much to proportion it. My friend, do all you can to avoid this. You’ll be happier to give love unconditionally. Every human being deserves love precisely for existing as a unique, priceless creation in God’s eyes. I don’t care what the person as done or not done, the sun shines on the good and bad, and love is meant to sparkle in this way too.

Conditional love is a choice – not a feeling.

I’m not talking about the natural attraction of love here. The feeling of love is special. It draws us to the beloved like the irresistible pull of a magnet. If I surrender, we happily unite. But when we’re talking about conditional love, we’re not talking about this natural feeling of love. No, we’re talking about a choice to accept a person and bestow whatever is good upon that person. An accompanying nice feeling may or may not be there. Independent of pleasant or unpleasant feelings, conditional or unconditional love is always a choice made by the will.

So, conditional love is ultimately a choice to judge somebody unworthy of love. I deem a person unworthy, implying that love has to be earned. Time, treasure, assistance, kindness, forgiveness, and a welcoming kiss on theConditional Love Kiss cheek all have to be earned. A simple friendly smile has to be earned. What an ugly world to live in. Everything must be earned. Welcome to the world of conditional love, where a miser chooses how much love to give.

Conditional love harms both the giver and the receiver.

Conditional love is hardly love at all. It’s selfishness, causing destruction in the hearts of both the giver and receiver. When I receive conditional love I’m taught that I’m only as good as what I can do. I’m taught that my worth is linked to another’s pleasure. So, I ‘m indoctrinated to believe a lie about myself: I’m not lovable, not deserving of another’s love, certainly not worthy of unconditional love. The receiver of conditional love then ends up starving for true love and living the lie that he or she has little value.

Conditional Love
Conditional love makes both of us unhappy.

When I’m the giver of conditional love I gradually become miserable. Why? Because I can’t participate in what love is really all about. I see and practice love wrongly and this wounds my very soul. By its very nature real love is expansive. There’s no self-interest. But conditional love is not expansive and riddled with self-interest. So, the conditional lover hardly practices love at all. And not knowing how to love at all, the conditional lover ends up frustrated in his or her very being. An essential component of life is lost to anyone who can’t really love.

I can learn how to love unconditionally.

If you are loved conditionally, say the truth. You can say it nicely though. Practice unconditional love, speak with a positive and understanding tone. Respect that your listener may have had a difficult past. But give the person a chance to understand you and change. If the person decides to change, be patient. This is a try-fail-inch-forward kind of thing. It will take time to perfect.

Next, learn how to value yourself independently of how much you may or may not please others. You are far more valuable than this, my friend. This will take a change in how you view yourself. Take a step back and look at yourself through God’s eyes.

Now, if that’s not enough: What about making a life changing decision that will elevate your whole life? Consider this: should I decide to love

Doors to Unconditional Love
Will I choose to love without conditions?

unconditionally? It takes a deliberate decision. Leaving all mistakes behind, can I start all over again with this choice? What will this mean for me?

Unconditional love is not easy. At times, it may go totally against my feelings and inclinations of how to treat someone. It would mean loving no matter what, under any circumstances. That’s why it takes a deliberate act because the feelings may run contrary. So, a personal commitment to oneself beforehand will help.

Unconditional love means accepting a person for who he or she is, period. I accept the person, weird habits, faults, inconsistencies, annoying tendencies, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, everything. My love remains constant, not altering according to the circumstance? Can I do that? Yes! Give some wiggle room for falling on your face a few times, but still, yes.

Love unconditionally and welcome more happiness into your life.

If you get anything out of this post, take this away: Give unconditional love because that’s why God made me. The enjoyment of my life will soar once I can live this purpose. My friend, take a step forward and just make an unconditional act of love, once. Start the journey. One time, and see what this does inside your heart. Free yourself and let unconditional love blossom within you.

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Andrew Lee Sullivan is the pioneer and foremost educator on Affirmation Meditation. He's a national, award-winning hospice counselor and grief recovery specialist. In 2007, as a Catholic priest and cult survivor, Sullivan became a Vatican whistle-blower. Today, Andrew is happily married and enjoys a second life under the Arizona sunshine with his wife and two young boys. His memoir is entitled: Vatican Intervention.

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