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This Valentine's Day Give Yourself Unconditional Love
By Beth Banning and Neill Gibson
 

Have you ever wondered what unconditional love actually means, or what it would take to give this to yourself? According to Wikipedia it is: Affection without any limitations and without conditions.

To determine what it takes to give ourselves unconditional love, we'll start by looking at what most often prevents unconditional love in the first place.
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NVC Quote of the Month

 

"NVC grew from my
attempt to understand
the concept of love and
how to manifest it, how
to do it."

"I had come to the
conclusion that love
is not just something
we feel, but it is
something we manifest,
something we do,
something we have."

"And love is something we
give: We give of ourselves
in particular ways."

 

From Marshall's book:
Being Me, Loving You

 
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Unconditional Love... continued

We believe this results from what we learned early on about changing people's behavior.

From a very young age, most of us learned the most effective way to change behaviors we want to discourage is to criticize, blame, judge, humiliate, threaten, punish or use any number of other tactics that will cause fear about acting the same way in the future. On the flip side, we learned to use rewards to reinforce the behaviors we want to encourage.

This punishment and reward system is basically a behavior control technique and the same system used to train most circus animals.

However, what most people quickly learn from being subjected to these techniques is how to avoid being on the receiving end of the negative ones. When we we're caught doing something "wrong," we learned how to be very, very careful so we wouldn't get caught again, even if that meant lying! We also learned how to make sure we looked like we're doing the "right" things so we'd get the reward, even if that meant cheating.

Unfortunately, at a very young age we began to use this same behavior control system and to punish ourselves whenever we didn't live up to our own expectations and to reward ourselves when we did.

The Two Questions

To break free from the limitations of this strategy it's helpful to realize how completely misguided these "behavior control" techniques are in achieving their true underlying goals. Answering the following questions we learned from NVC will help understand this.

The first question is: What do we want people to do?

If you only consider this first question, then a system of punishment and rewards may seem very effective because it does produce the desired results -- some of the time.

The problem is that when people are only motivated by fear of punishment (which they learn to avoid) or promise of reward (which they learn to attain) you'll likely get high prison populations and large numbers of company executives defrauding their shareholders.

Why? When people never learn to identify and motivate their actions from a set of deeper intrinsic values and instead learn only to focus on avoiding punishments and getting rewards, they are likely to act in ways that only consider their needs and not the needs of others, like lying and cheating.

Most of us are never taught to ask the second and much more important question: What do we want people's motives to be for doing what we want them to do? In other words; what do we want their reasons to be for wanting to do it?

So stop for a moment and think about the basic ways you want others and yourself to act. Almost everyone would like people to be truthful, honest, respectful, kind, considerate, etc. If you think about it, how we want others to act is simply a reflection of what we value most highly.

How to Create Unconditional Love

So, getting back to the question of creating unconditional love: what is love? Is it a commitment to support someone in reaching their highest potential, achieving what is important to them in their life, being as happy as they possibly can, ensuring that their needs are met, etc.? Is it helping someone experience what they value most in life?

If you agree, then unconditional love for yourself can only exist when you're able to keep your attention focused on what you truly value and find ways to create that. You can't do this if you have your attention focused on a punishment and reward system to control your behavior.

The way to create unconditional love for yourself is to turn your attention away from this kind of thinking and instead turn your attention to what you value most and the actions you can take to experience this.

Feelings of discomfort are bound to occur in situations where what you value is missing in what you've said or done. However, you can learn to use these feelings to focus your attention on how to create what you value in the situation rather than punishing yourself for having done something "wrong."

Download our free Values Exercise Worksheet from our site to help with this process. You can use this whenever you want to get clear about what you value in a situation you want to improve.

What you focus your attention on will grow. This makes it crucial to learn how to dig below disappointment in yourself or your behavior so you can discover what you value that is missing in any situation.

How to Practice Unconditional Love for Yourself

How can you practice this quality of love for yourself without any limitations and without conditions? Let's say that you fail to arrive for a meeting with someone when you said you would. What kind of thoughts might go on in your head?

I'm so stupid. I should've left earlier. It's not my fault, there was too much traffic. Now they're going to be angry and it will ruin our time together. They probably won't trust me in the future.

How would you feel with these kinds of thoughts going on? Does this feel like unconditional love to you?

Now imagine just stopping, taking a breath, and experiencing the discomfort of these thoughts, but with total affection for yourself and without any tendency to mentally punish yourself for being late.

Consider that these thoughts may reflect your value for punctuality, integrity, consideration, cooperation, and trust. Then realize that when you show up late it is the absence of what you value that stimulates your discomfort.

The next step is simple. Start identifying strategies that will help ensure you act more in harmony with your values in the future.

What could you do to make sure you left earlier to help ensure punctuality?

What could you do to determine whether or not you would run into traffic along the way?

If the person you are meeting seems upset, could expressing consideration for their feelings help resolve this so you could enjoy your time together?

If there was a loss of trust, could you see if there is anything you could do right now to help restore your relationship with them?

How do you think it would feel to have your attention focused on what you value and what you can do about it? Would this feel more like unconditional love? Would taking these actions for these reasons be more in harmony with what you want your reasons to be for doing what you do?

We realize that it takes much more than we can offer in a brief article like this to overcome years of conditioned thinking that may be preventing you from experiencing unconditional love for yourself. Even so, a major step in that direction is learning to turn your attention from the voice of your inner disciplinarian and instead focus your attention on what you value and what you can do in the present moment to experience that.

To learn more about these and other personal growth and relationship tips, sign up for our free, thought-provoking and motivational Weekly Action Tips eMail series.

Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

 

Neill Gibson is coauthor of the PuddleDancer Press booklet What's Making You Angry? He and Beth Banning are the founders of Focused Attention, Inc. and they recently published a set of three relationship eBooks called, The Marriage Guide Series, available through Amazon.com for only $2.99 each. (You can read these on any kind of device you own with free readers available from Amazon.com.) Beth is also the author of the recently released, Interviewed by God, and co-creator of the new Awaken Into Action telesummit for those who want to make a difference in the world.

 

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"Love is not denying
ourselves and doing for
others, but rather it is
honestly expressing
whatever our feelings
and needs are and
empathically receiving
the other person's
feelings and needs."

 

From Marshall's book:
Being Me, Loving You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Self-judgments, like
all judgments, are
tragic expressions
of unmet needs."

 

"Translate all
self-judgments
into self-empathy."

 

"Self-empathy in NVC
means checking in
with your own
feelings and needs."

From our online Marshall Rosenberg,
NVC Quote Collection
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NVC Personal Growth and Healing Package

NVC Personal Growth
and Healing Book
or eBook Package
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List Price: $49.80
Your Price: $22
Save 55% off list price
through Feb. 28, 2015
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