The founder of my Life Coaching School and Master Coach, Brooke Castillo, speaks on the regular of the benefits of unconditional love. But her approach is different than most in that her opinion is unconditional love is something we do for ourselves because we are the ones who get to feel the love. And who doesn’t want to feel love, Right? So when handed a silver platter of emotions to pick from, why not choose love? It feels great, and the other person doesn’t even have to know about it, and you can stop your suffering.
Complete transparency? I struggle with this. Especially when it comes to the idea of loving people who have caused me a significant amount of pain or who trigger me HARD. I try to feel unconditional love for them, I really do. And on an intellectual level, I know how much I would benefit from it. But when people don’t act how I feel they should, my brain is like “that’s bullshit, they don’t deserve it.” And the last thing this chick is feeling is unconditional love.
I discussed this topic with my Coach this week. I was sharing my struggles I continue to have as a blended family mom, and she offered me this: “What if instead of unconditional love, you tried to have compassion?” That tiny change in perspective provided a huge shift in how I felt about everything. YES, I can totally have compassion for these humans, even when I don’t agree with how they behave, and even when they cause me pain (Which is never true. No one can make you feel anything without your permission).
Understanding why people behave the way they do, not easy. Being okay with their behavior, also not easy. But having compassion for how they must be feeling to make them behave that way, for me, was far more tangible. And when I could get there, to a place of compassion, these monsters started to look like humans again, no longer evil entities whose only desire was to make my life difficult. Being able to recognize and acknowledge their humanness allowed the divisive idea that it was me versus them to dissolve.
But it’s so easy to push them all the way to the dark side, right? They are evil, and we are good. They are the villains, and we are the victims. That feels so much better. That way, we can remain powerless, and they can still be the focus of our blame, cause of our pain, and we get to dodge responsibility. How could we possibly identify with such monsters? Especially when if we were to identify with these monsters, we run the risk of identifying with the monsters within ourselves.
But, in reality, we are all partly dark and partly light. No one is “good” all of the time, and no one is “bad’ all of the time. There is no invisible line where the light ends, and the darkness begins. By rejecting the darkness in others, we are also rejecting it within ourselves. For if we can only love someone when they are good, the insinuation is they are unworthy of love when they are bad. Then so are we only worthy of love when we are good and, therefore, unworthy of love when we are bad. But this is never true because we are worthy all of the time. Our worthiness is absolute, regardless of our mistakes.
By withholding compassion from others, we are also withholding compassion from ourselves. By withholding love from others, we are also withholding love from ourselves. When I’m loving and compassionate toward others, it makes it easier to be loving and compassionate toward myself. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “hurt people hurt people.” Practicing compassion means I can recognize someone else’s suffering without making it my own. It’s like a secret weapon that allows me to see the monsters for what they are, humans in pain, with their own demons to slay. They get to choose how they behave and so do I. Unconditional love for the humans, I’m still working on that. But compassion, I can do.