Unconditional Love (I don’t care if you like it.)
The other day on the train, I was feeling feisty (Moi? Quelle suprise!), and started this post, as a draft on my phone. I titled it “Things I’m Done Apologizing For” and I wrote as fast as I could for about 15 minutes. It was long. I’ve been apologizing for a lot – being myself, things that are out of my control, what it takes for me to be happy.
I came to a realization:
I’m done apologizing for who I am and what I need.
This is not to say that I have terrible people in my life who make me feel bad. I don’t. I have awesome friends and a terrific partner. I have a great community and support system of people who accept me for who I am.
But I still find myself “feeling bad” or apologizing. Or feeling that, even if I’m not, that I should be sorry about these things.
I get stuck in feeling like I’m not enough. In believing that I should feel small, even if no one is making me feel that way. In feeling undeserving of acceptance exactly as I am.
I’m making a declaration:
I’m finished doing this to myself, berating myself, then apologizing. Even internally. When I play the apology game, the game of “feeling bad”, it stands in the way of my loving and accepting myself completely, the way I want to.
Which is not an interior state that is conducive to self-care. It is not respectful to the person I am. Who is, in fact, deeply worthy.
I’m done giving imaginary apologies for what makes me – me.
This is not to say that when I screw up that I don’t want to honestly and sincerely apologize. I do. I want to be accountable for my actions. I want to stand in my integrity. Accountability and integrity feel gloriously wonderful. I vow to own my mistakes.
But the stuff that isn’t hurting anyone? I’ve decided to love those parts of myself just a little more. I’ve decided to offer myself the empathy that I offer others.
I want to offer myself unconditional love.
I’ve decided to accept those pieces of my life and self-care and needs that are just part of the fabric of who I am. To bring it all in, to invite it all home.
- I vow to extend love to myself, even at my most nerdy, un-showered, and imperfect.
- I vow to extend respect to myself, even when I’m unproductive or struggling.
- Part of my self-care is a vow to love myself, no matter what, in whatever condition I find myself.
Unconditional love is not just for other people.
It’s for everyone. Because everyone is inherently worthy of love without judgment – acceptance without perfection. Love is not a transaction. You do not have to be anything but who you are.
One of the amazing things about Lovingkindness meditation (or Metta Bhavana) is that it gives you the direct experience of this kind of unconditional love, through spiritual or mindfulness practice. In this form of meditation, you offer yourself words of lovingkindness – mantras of well-wishes.
You then offer these same phrases outward, in ever-widening circles to others in your life, until you begin to cultivate lovingkindness for the whole world – of which you are a part.
When you experience this lovingkindness for all beings everywhere, it is simple to see yourself as an intrinsic and worthy part of that fabric of life.
It is a process to learn to love and accept myself completely, unconditionally, without reservation or exception. But I am working on it. And I am sending some of that goodness your way, too.