Most of us have had some experience of being loved simply as we are. That kind of love might have occurred in a friendship, in a romantic relationship, in the connection between a parent and child or simply in an interaction with a beloved pet. Whatever the case, most people know what it feels like to be loved not matter what happens. On the flip side, most people know what it is like to be loved under conditions. We have all felt the rejection of someone we loved that stopped loving us when an expectation was not met in the relationship. To me this concept has always been very confusing. Why do we give and receive love unconditionally at times and not others?
In the path of healing from any dysfunctional relationship, the topic of co-dependency will pop up. The topic of co-dependency is a very broad one. There are endless amounts of books and articles written on the subject. In my experience, it is a pretty over talked about subject, that really needs a very simple explanation. Co-dependency is a set of behavior traits in which one puts all his or her needs behind a loved one resulting in deep-rooted resentment. Researching the behavior trait, there are many explanations of co-depend behaviors and why such relationships exist. The resentments that one experiences in a co-dependent relationship are ones of needs going unmet, mostly as a result of the individual not taking care of himself or herself first.
So now that we understand conditional love or co-dependency how is that different from unconditional love. I know one thing for sure certain, as a mother, I have gone many times placing my children’s needs above mine. Is that co-dependency? What about the times we do a good deed? Is it co-dependency when a call comes from family member in need or a friend in need? It seems to me I spend a lot of time doing a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with me! Am I a co-dependent meeting everyone else’s needs? I realized there is a simple difference between conditional and unconditional love, resentment.
I learned a long time ago that I must take care of myself first before I can be useful to another person. Taking care of myself starts with sleeping enough, eating well, being in good physical condition and listening to my own feelings. I believe it is my responsibility to meet my own needs, first. I can not count on anyone around me to take care of me. Now, many people would like to make you feel guilty for living such a lifestyle. Many would like to say that is a selfish way to live. It is true, people can be so focused on self needs that it is unbearable to interact with them. There must be a balance between self and giving to others. When my needs are met I am able to love others free of resentment. That is unconditional love.
Unconditional love is resentment free. In basic terms, it means to love yourself enough to put yourself first, while still offering empathy to those around you. I desire to be in unconditional love relationships. I want to interact with those tending to his or her own needs while offering me empathy and support in life. I certainly do not want to interact with someone who has resentment towards me.
To me the recipe for love is very simple:
* Take care of your own needs first, body, mind and soul
* Have empathy for others and support them as needed
* Remove yourself from situation of conditional love. If it feels bad, it is bad.
Peace, Health & Joy,
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Codependent No More