(Just a note: this post is session 5 of an 8 part series – start at the 1st session of this series at https://bexb.org/letgo/ )
Examine Ideas as an Adult
Why do you think what you think? Where did your preferences and life positions come from?
Many of our present day opinions, attitudes and beliefs were initially formed when we were children. Something is good or bad, wanted or unwanted, acceptable or shameful.
We have also been practicing opinions, attitudes and beliefs about ourselves since the age we created them. So we might be thinking about parts of ourselves as good or bad, wanted or unwanted and acceptable or shameful.
Along the way, we have changed our minds about so many opinions because of education, experience, a broader perspective and maturity.
But, there are probably still so many ideas that we keep assuming, thinking and believing exactly the same way we did as when we were a child using our child’s mind’s logic and reasoning, or lack thereof.
Today, let’s try to look at ideas with our current adult, mature perspectives. We can notice any attitudes and beliefs that we formed as children and explore them now with fresh eyes and a new understanding.
7-Year Old Logic
I heard an example recently and it illustrates this so perfectly, I’m changing some of the details (for anonymity) to share it with you.
I was talking with a woman who told me about a shameful memory from when she was seven years old.
She is still clinging to what she said and how she was ridiculed, and what the outcome of that situation was from over 30 years ago.
She shared the incident with me as if it was relevant context for what is happening in her life today. Her brain thinks it is VERY relevant. Her brain thinks what that little child said somehow indicates what kind of person she is today as an adult.
But, if we look at the situation now, zoomed out, as adults, we can see that yes, it makes sense that a seven year old would say what she said in that situation.
She wouldn’t have understood the impact and the inappropriateness.
The adult woman doesn’t need to be embarrassed now for what a seven year old said. She doesn’t need to carry it with her and make it part of her identity.
That embarrassing, yet innocent, little comment out of a child’s mind does not have to be the reason that she is the way she is today. She can let that long held belief go.
Another way we can explore and adjust our long held beliefs is by choosing to love unconditionally.
What does unconditional love mean?
It means, literally, to love without any conditions.
You may have believed you could not or should not love so freely and non-judgmentally. Let’s drop that long held belief if it’s creating a need to control.
You can love yourself, your situation, your people, everything and everyone without putting any rules or manuals or expectations on what or how or why you love.
You can give your love completely freely with no price of admission and no limit.
Why not? What is the downside to loving unconditionally?
A Terrible Idea
I can already hear all the cautions and reasons and examples of why this is a terrible idea and how there is, in fact, a very dangerous downside.
I even found a thread on social media this past week where people took the time to spell out all the “downsides.”
Many of the comments centered around the idea of loving someone who is hurting you or not respecting boundaries or disrespecting you.
I think the disagreement here is confusing the verb “to love”, with the verb “to stay, or to condone, or to approve of.”
I don’t think anyone should stay in a situation that is unsafe or harmful.
I don’t think we should drop our own boundaries in the name of love.
What is Love?
Let’s agree on some definitions about what it means to love. I am talking about this in very broad terms.
To love someone is to have affection for someone. Affection can mean care.
My own personal definition is that loving, at the most basic, least intimate level, means wishing someone well. So if I have the choice to wish someone well or send someone “good vibes” versus wish them harm or send them bad luck, I am probably the person most impacted by my choice. The other person may not even be aware – but I will feel the energy of my own wishes for them.
If someone is in a difficult relationship with another person, they have the choice to love or not love (and whatever other verbs you want to include in the choices like fear, hate, despise). So if you have the choice to love someone or hate someone, you get more peace and less stress by choosing to love instead of choosing to hate. You might not even think you are choosing hate. That might just be a long held, pre programmed belief from childhood (or somewhere else).
But now that you know you don’t have to hate, would you consider loving unconditionally? Remember, we can do 2 things at once. We can love someone while not living with them or seeing them. We can love someone while believing that actions have consequences.
Is there a Benefit to Withholding Love?
What is the upside to measuring and withholding your love in certain cases or with certain people or when your conditions have not been met?
Maybe it does sound smart to hold back, or “only love if.”
But in practice, maybe we think that the “problem” with unconditional love is that people do things that we don’t love.
So what are we supposed to do?
Accept what they do? Are we supposed to love them when they disappoint us?
What’s the alternative? Hate them when they disappoint us?
Dislike them when they don’t behave the way we think they should?
No Upside, No Benefit
Those are all options, and they might be what we have been believing we should do most of our lives, I just do not really see the upside.
There is no benefit to hating or disliking. It does not feel good.
It’s coming from a place of fear instead of from a place of love. Hating, disliking and withholding puts you in scarcity instead of abundance.
It also probably does not work if you are using your withholding as a way to change someone else’s thoughts or behavior. If the reason why you think you can not love unconditionally is because of someone’s actions, will withholding your love cause them to act in the way you prefer? Unlikely.
We can just decide to believe every human is 100% worthy of being loved. Even humans who have made mistakes or who have hurt us or who are criminals.
When we choose to love unconditionally, we are more likely to be open to forgiving, supporting and accepting others.
Putting Conditions on Caring for Ourselves
What about how we love ourselves?
Do you choose to love yourself unconditionally? To forgive and support and accept yourself? Do you believe you are 100% worthy of being loved (by others and by yourself?)
I once heard a podcast interview where the guest suggested that instead of thinking about activities as self care, we think of them as self worth activities.
I don’t remember her exact reasoning behind this word shift but I like the vibe of it.
When I think of self care, it can feel a little indulgent and a little bit like “I’m doing something nice.” It almost feels like an obligation or because I should or I have to.
But when I think of doing something for myself from the perspective of self worth, it’s more confirming that I am worthy of this time, or energy or activity or expense.
What about you? Can you think of some things that might be classified as “self care” that you do not do because they do feel too indulgent, but when you reframe them as self worth, does it feel more aligning?
Reprogramming Emotional Patterns
As we are talking about our long held beliefs, let’s also start to notice our own emotional patterns.
Notice how and why you react to people and circumstances.
If your reactions are grounded in attitudes and beliefs from your childhood, consider reprogramming those old emotional patterns.
For example, if you notice yourself shifting into people pleasing mode when someone’s mood seems to tilt towards anger or disappointment, you can check in to see if, now, as an adult, when you know that people are responsible for their own feelings, you prefer not to people please and just let the other person experience whatever emotions they are experiencing.
The “Strike First” Example
Another example might be if you go into defensive mode and attack in a “strike first” way when you feel challenged, you can slow down and consider if what seems like a challenge to you is actually a threat, and if you really want to strike, attack or defend or would you rather respond in a more mature, confident way.
You can think about it as if it were emotional time travel.
This emotional time travel is possible when you can go back to whatever hurt you or scared you or diminished you as a child and, with your adult mind, you can reframe that experience for yourself with unconditional love and acceptance as your current adult self.
How Humans are “Wired”
Have you ever heard someone explain their behavior or tendencies with “that’s just how I’m wired.”
Good news neuroscientists tell us that we, as a species, are wired for kindness and generosity so this emotional reprogramming should come naturally once you start considering it.
Humans are also wired to connect with each other.
Let’s consider connection in the context of unconditional love.
I’m suggesting when love conditionally (instead of unconditionally) and instead of connecting, we could say we are disconnecting.
It’s interesting to point out that humans want to love so to do the opposite is counter to how we have evolved or how we are wired.
Examine ideas you’ve never examined before
Reconnect (or connect for the first time) to compassion, forgiveness and generosity for yourself and others. You are 100% worthy of it and so are they.
There are so many ways you can examine and process all these ideas. Obviously, since I have been promoting the Let Go and Surrender journal for the past month, I’m going to suggest journaling as a tool for self reflection.
You can also think about mindfulness, like meditation. One specific type of meditation you can try is called Loving Kindness Meditation (also known as metta meditation) is when you send goodwill, kindness, and warmth towards others by silently repeating a series of positive, reassuring phrases. Wish others true happiness, joy and fulfillment.
Verse to Practice Surrender
Another way to reprogram your emotional patterns is to repeat a positive affirmation to yourself.
Here’s this week’s verse to practice surrender.
Let me remember to be open and gentle with myself and others.
My needs and desires are met in amazing ways.
I know how to have love, compassion and peace.
I can connect with others and myself.
Let life be joyful.
Let me forgive always.
Let me surrender.
Chakra and Maslowe’s Hierarchy
Where are we on Maslowe’s Hierarchy now that we are in the 2nd half of this series?
We have moved up to the Love and Belonging level in the pyramid. This level is about interpersonal relationships and being a member of a community.
We can also now focus on the heart chakra which is about connection. This is the center of compassion, forgiveness and generosity.
Why do I (or don’t I) allow others to give to me?
Why am I worthy to receive?
Can I get to the root of any unworthy beliefs about myself so I can reprogram them?
Pretty Big Topics
We have covered some pretty big topics today. I’ve sent you back to your childhood, I’ve encouraged you to love unconditionally. You might be thinking about how you can reprogram your emotional patterns right now.
I am so curious how you are reacting to all of these concepts.
Share your reaction with me below.
If you want to discuss these topics with me and other people in real time, join me in about 2 weeks on Tuesday, February 21st 2023 for a hybrid workshop and discussion.
We will talk about Abundance vs Scarcity. If you join via Zoom, it’s audio only, so you don’t even need to have your camera on. Space is limited in the room, so make sure to RSVP early at bexb.org/letsmeet
Session 6 of this series is Opening to Possibilities. Here’s the link: https://bexb.org/opening
Get the Let Go and Surrender Journal to follow along for these 8 episodes: https://amzn.to/3vM0v5W
Get a weekly gentle journaling check in: https://bexb.org/weekly/
Join a daily journal prompt FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/journalingfriendship
Shop for all the irresistible notebooks: https://bexb.org/quickshop
I can remember when as a small child, you set up your bedroom space as a classroom. Your only student was your younger sister, but you developed detailed lesson plans and taught her diligently most of what you had learned in your school’s first and second grade. It made you happy, her happy, and your parents very happy. Thank you for continuing to be a great teacher.
How do you do it? So many good ideas! Thanks!!