Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Whenever I settle for conditional love then I run the risk of changing "who I really am" into "who they want me to be".
Thought #1: conditional love always comes at a huge cost!
Within counselling some call this "conditions of worth". The idea that I must change myself, be someone else, in order to be lovable. I might be compelled to chase grades, appearances, interests, houses, careers, body weight, cars, medals or anything else that might make me seem worthy of their love. [Irony alert - I might even be using my social media popularity to fill a love deficit in my life!]
You see, "Love is such a necessity for human life" that we simply must have it. We'll change ourselves to get it, and we might even hurt or abuse ourselves to force others to give it, but this conditional love is a mere shadow of pure, unconditional love. Conditional love hurts us. We become sick, anxious, exhausted, abused, conflicted and we know we are "not ourselves". We are a multitude of people in one body.
Thought #2: Unconditional love starts with me unconditionally loving myself!
There is a saying. "You can't love others unless you love yourself". This kinda makes sense to me. How could I pour out pure, unconditional rivers of love on someone else if I don't love, or even like, myself? Where would those pure rivers even come from? You can't get blood from a stone!
It seems to me that loving myself is far from self-ish! That accepting who I am and learning to love and embrace all of my vulnerabilities and imperfections is actually the key to then really being able to love others. I love myself because I am inherently valuable regardless of what others say and I love myself so I can love others.
As I accept and learn to love "me" JUST AS I AM then I'm treating "myself" JUST AS I'D LIKE TO BE TREATED and I become free to love and treat "others" JUST AS THEY'D LIKE TO BE TREATED.
Be brave. Don't compromise yourself for conditional love. Love yourself unconditionally. Love others unconditionally. Embrace every one of your imperfections. Be yourself. Stand tall, shoulders back and unashamed. You have infinite value.
Ric Wilton Ballymena Counselling