Conditions…as humans we put conditions on nearly everything. “If this, than that“…is a common way our brains work whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. I’ve tried to become more aware of the conditions I’m putting on myself…and others.
For example, as I prepared to leave my old job and consider what a new life…new career…might look like, I told myself I wanted to do things I loved doing. Coaching was high on the list as a choice of something I wanted to try my luck at. The condition I set was “If I get training, then I’ll be prepared to coach.”
This condition had more ramifications than merely attempting to prepare myself to start a new venture. It would impact how I spent my time during the training…my bank account (training isn’t free)…when I could start coaching (had to finish the training first)…and possibly how I coached (as I was trained vs intuitively, maybe).
Once I stepped back and acknowledged the condition, I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to live with…so I made the decision to back out of the training. To trust in my abilities…my 15 years of working in management positions and coaching employees…my experience with my own life coaches…and my intuition. If this doesn’t work like I want it to, then I can always go and get additional training…but I think I’m gonna be ok.
Another unfortunate condition we place on ourselves and others is how we love. If I lose weight, then he’ll love me — and I’ll love myself….If I get that promotion/job, then I’ll be good enough — and he’ll love me…If s/he does [insert whatever], then I’ll love him.
I’m just as guilty of these thoughts and conditions as anyone else. For years I’ve been my own worst enemy when it comes to embracing my own imperfections. And let’s be honest, until we learn to love ourselves…with all our imperfections…we aren’t going to truly love anyone else. So when we are harsh with ourselves, it only goes to stand that we’re harsh with others. Maybe not in the same way…maybe not as harshly…but we’re still setting conditions for love to be given and received.
This becomes incredibly obvious when you bring a pet, especially a dog, into your life. A dog — in my case, Sheba — loves you unconditionally. She doesn’t care if I’m having a bad day. She doesn’t care if I haven’t showered…or brushed my teeth…or just finished off a dozen cookies. She could care less how much I weigh…what I do for a living…what kind of car I drive. She just wants me to love her…to pet her…to feed her. She simply wants a hug and to hear “good girl”. And if even I fail to do any of those things…she still loves me. She doesn’t hold a grudge…or adds it to a list of pros/cons…or withholds her love.
Now I know there are a million reasons why it can’t be that simple for humans. Our brains are more advanced for a reason. There are times when making lists are important. When we need to take into account what someone has done and how they treat us, but I know I’ve taken this to extremes in my life and it’s something I’m actively working on in my relationships today.
I can admit that it’s hard for me to bring that unconditional love to the table because of the fear…the voices…the ego…that exist in my head. “What if…” “What if…” “What if…” What if what? What if something happens? What if he stops loving me? What if he cheats? What if he changes his mind about me? What if he’s swallowed by a sink hole? Every “what if” statement is as ridiculous as the most ludicrous one.
We have no way of answering the “what if” or even preparing for it…except for withholding our love or placing a condition on it as a means to try to keep the giving and receiving fair. I can personally attest to the fact that that is probably the worst thing we can do. It puts a “what if” in motion that creates a cycle of conditional love that is nearly impossible to stop…or live with.
Beyond giving the best puppy kisses ever and offering up hours of endless enjoyment, I’m pretty sure Sheba came into my life to teach me this lesson…or at least serve as a daily reminder that loving someone is only as difficult as we make it. The love is there for us to experience…and it’s up to us to decide if the conditions (or lack thereof) are right.