Relationships with other human beings are just about the trickiest things we have to navigate during our time here on earth! Those relationships can be our greatest sources of joy and happiness, and at times, pain and suffering. It seems that all of us have at least one relationship (or two, or three…) that could use some healing. Just have a conversation with any one of your friends, family members or work colleagues. It seems as if someone is always complaining about someone or something someone did. I have definitely fallen into that category a few times too many these days. There just always seems to be someone, even people I totally love, who are bugging the heck out of me!
It is basic human nature to have gripes with the other people in our lives, but the whole concept of gripes and stressed relationships seems to be on steroids right now as we experience the ups and downs and uncertainty brought to us compliments of COVID-19. All our hopes and dreams for 2020 were pretty much dashed before the end of the first quarter! Everything has changed. The way we live. The way we work. The way we travel. The way we move about our communities and experience life. The way our children are educated. How could all of that not impact the quality of our relationships?
I have seen some of my closest friends at odds over politics, the handling of COVID-19 by our government, arguments over COVID-19 statistics and when our communities should re-open, and of course, the recent presidential election. More impact on our relationships!
And while we may be able to conceptually agree that it has been nice to be at home with our families so much more in 2020, I have also witnessed some familial breaking points, visa vi yelling and tears, stemming from a little too much togetherness.
How do we continue to love our friends and family when they are driving us crazy simply because they are around a little more than usual, and how to we continue to love them despite the fact that our political views are diametrically opposed?
The answer is really simple, and really difficult at the same time — Try a Little Unconditional Love.
Love is one of the best emotions we ever get to feel. So why not try to love our loved ones without condition? Meaning just love them, all the time, completely, with no strings attached. No matter what they say. No matter what they do. No matter what they fail to do. What could feel better than to just lay down your sharp and pointy weapons and simply love someone you already love?
When I was doing my coaching certification with the Life Coach School, there was a whole chapter in our certification materials on Unconditional Love. There are lots and lots of reasons people hire a coach, and seeking out a coach as a mechanism to improve relationships is pretty common.
Below are a few of the key concepts I learned that might help you in your efforts to love unconditionally:
- We all have a preconceived idea in our heads, based on our experiences and beliefs, about how the other people in our lives should behave. Guess what? Those people might have a completely different idea about how they should behave and to add another layer of complication, they probably have a preconceived idea about how you should behave also. Fertile ground for problems? You bet it is. But a simple understanding that the people you love might be operating from a different set of expectations and beliefs can be powerful in understanding the other person and the reasons they fail to behave as you might like.
- You have a choice in how you feel about the other people in your life (actually anything in your life). We pretend as if we have no choice in the matter when we are let down or hurt or aggravated by another person, but we always have a choice. It all starts with our thoughts. What you choose to think about another person will impact your feelings about them, and ultimately the quality of the relationship. Watch those thoughts!
This next part comes right from my Life Coach School materials. They highlight some very good questions useful to explore when experiencing suffering in a relationship:
- How do you want to feel about this person?
- How do you want to feel right now?
- Would it feel better to like this person, or dislike this person? (Be in a good place with this person, or be at odds with this person?)
- Do you know you have the option to love this person unconditionally, regardless of what they do or don’t do?
- What is stopping you from unconditionally loving for your own sake?
These are powerful questions to ask yourself when it becomes difficult to unconditionally love our loved ones! Try it out when you’re struggling.
Cheers to Unconditional Love and the world it would create for all of us!
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