It has taken me 40 years to ask myself this question.
I was on my morning walk, puppy by my side, ear buds playing a webinar hosted by a lovely woman helping parents feel better on their journey, when she said something that made me come to a complete stop.
She said, "We can't have unconditional love for our children if we don't have unconditional love for ourselves."
My first thought was, "I don't know if I will ever have unconditional love for myself. And if I don't have unconditional love for myself, that means I will never have it for my child, my spouse, my friends, or even my dog."
Then the thought came in my head, "What if unconditional love isn't even the goal?"
I know we come on this planet with unconditional love.
As life happens, that changes.
Life is conditional.
If I hurt my dog, she will bite me.
She doesn't have unconditional love in the moment.
If I yell at my son, he gets upset and feels angry.
He doesn't have unconditional love in the moment.
If I nag at my husband, he gets frustrated.
He doesn't show unconditional love in the moment.
When I beat myself up for not walking fast enough, losing weight, being an amazing mom, wife, friend, business women (fill in the blank)...I don't have unconditional love for myself.
So now what?
Instead of chasing, shaming, or forcing ourselves to love unconditionally, what if we decided to just remember love in the moment?
What if we just simply remembered love when we forget?
So when my child has a melt down aisle 3 of the grocery store, I follow my heart back to love.
Here's how that looks:
1. He has a melt down, I stop. Take a breath.
2. I immediately recall a memory we have shared that reminds me of the love I have for him. I instantly remember that this behavior is not WHO he is...he is having a moment.
3. I hold that love in my head and my heart.
4. I speak to him from that memory. The memory of WHO he really is...love.
5. We work out our challenge in the moment and return to love.
It's not easy. It takes practice. I just had a "practice run" yesterday in Trader Joe's.
Every time it gets easier. Every time I am annoyed, frustrated, or angry...with anyone...I do my best to remember my own words, follow the steps, and remember love.
I know when we leave this planet we instantly return to "unconditional love." My dad experienced it first hand in hospice (it's a great story in Wise Talk from the Other Side.)
I'm no longer chasing unconditional love, my goal is to remember love when I forget.
Here's a Facebook Live that gives you a few more thoughts....sending you all love!