Taken or Given?
A few years ago I was with a group of people waiting for a coach to take us to the airport following a week-long retreat and whilst we were just chatting a single lady turned to one of the men she liked and said “It’s a shame your taken as you are just the type of man I am looking for.”
Nothing too unusual about that scenario, however, his reply was… He said, “I am not taken I am given!” That got me thinking am I taken or am I given, and is there even a difference?
I guess to even begin to explore that question you would need to look at the context of what love is, what you want from love and what you are prepared to do to experience love?
Love appears to have two elements – there are the feelings and emotions we experience and then, there are the external behaviours that we observe in the other person that we use as evidence of whether (or not) we are loved. It is this second part that I feel is flawed, because;
· Just because he looked at that other doesn’t mean he hates you
· Just because she didn’t text doesn’t mean she doesn’t care
· Just because he was angry doesn’t mean that you did something wrong
· Just because she didn’t like your shirt doesn’t mean she isn’t proud of you
· Just because he is moody doesn’t mean he is doubting the relationship
But, so often, we take these external behaviours as evidence of whether we are loved or not, when at best they are assumptions and at worst completely fallacious.
Many years ago I realised there are primarily two ways that you can love others (and yourself) – conditionally or unconditionally:
Conditional love is the more common form of love and includes
o I will love you if you love me
o I will love you if you do as I say
o I will love you if you follow my (unconscious) rules of love
o I will love you because we are married
o I will love you because I need to be loved back
o I will love you because you love me
o I will love you because I ought to
o If you loved me you wouldn’t have done xyz…
o If you loved me you would have texted me
o If you loved me you would buy me flowers
Unconditional love is rarer and less visible
o I will just love you because I want to
o There is nothing you can do to stop me loving you
o I respect and accept you just the way you are
o I don’t need you to be any different for me to love you
o There are no rules you need to adhere to for my love
o I love myself and will not berate myself for my actions or thoughts
o I love myself enough that I can say no to others
o I love myself enough to eat sensibly and exercise
o I love myself enough that I won’t do unnecessary drama
It seems to me that conditional love is about being ‘taken’ – somebody outside of me will give me love and when they act in a way that seems loving (according to my beliefs, rules and insecurities) then I will feel it is safe to love them (and myself). Therefore they control my emotions and if their actions make me feel bad, then I need to change their behaviours so I can feel better.
Therefore, unconditional love, is perhaps, more about being ‘given’ – because I love myself, I can love you and I need nothing in return, I have chosen to give myself unconditionally to you and that in itself makes me happy. I control my emotions and I can choose my emotions at any given moment and my emotions are not driven by their actions.
Of course, you are not going to be stupid – if they are hurting you, you might want to put some space between you and them, but you can still love them. You might need to leave them or just accept them, but your love is what you are choosing to do in a way that feels right for you and is not dependent on what they say and do.
This unconditional love is a little hard to see because the person doesn’t do drama and they don’t try to control you and this behaviour may be misconstrued as not caring, or not taking things seriously, however, it is good to hang out with these people as they are calm and loving, and in their presence you kind of feel strangely OK being yourself.
So the two questions you might ask yourself are “Am I taken or given?” And “Is my love conditional or unconditional?”
To love unconditionally is probably one of the hardest things to begin to do as we are so programmed by the ‘normal’ rules of life and the expectations that if you love somebody they will just love you back. However, in my experience (and I am not there yet) once you can see this way of being, it seems crazy not to follow this path, out of respect for yourself and those around you.
Of cours,e I am just scratching the surface in this little blog – because to love unconditionally so many values, beliefs and thought processes have to be observed, changed or let go of.
If you would like to explore this more – give me a call on 01280 731155 Let me show you new ways to understand love.