How to Love Unconditionally: 11 Tips for Loving Yourself and Others

Unconditional love is not dependent on anything we do or don’t do. It loves us no matter what. In all circumstances and in all possibilities. It is a love that does not grow when we are good or evaporate when we displease.  It is a faithful and constant love.

This kind of love is not easy.

It is based upon a choice. Not a feeling.

When unconditionally loved, people flourish. Have freedom to be themselves. To be vulnerable. To admit their mistakes without fear.  And it gives them the desire to grow into better people.

So how can we love those around us unconditionally? As well as love our self unconditionally?

Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.How to Love Unconditionally:

 

1. Be compassionate. Unconditional love remembers we are all flawed humans. Prone to mistakes and sinful. And because it remembers this, it is not so surprised that we have good and bad days. Good and bad traits. It doesn’t make excuses for the bad and ugly it sees in those it loves, but it has compassion for them.

2. Be patient. Unconditional love realizes that life is a journey. It knows no one has yet arrived. Nor does it expect others to have it all together. It will sit and cry with you and then encourage you to do better. It will do this over and over again, because unconditional love is patient and doesn’t demand others to be on its own time table.

3. Desire the best. Unconditional love always desires the best for the other person and it works to bring this about. It will sit for hours talking with the person to help them sort their feelings and thoughts. It listens more than it gives advice. It asks questions and helps the other person see new things, develop new ways of thinking. It sees more viewpoints than its own and is open to what is best for the person. It doesn’t act as the authority of their life and lecture or demand. It speaks the truth with kindness. The relationship is always cultivated and more important than actions and outcomes.

Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.4. Encourage and celebrate. Unconditional love encourages, instead of competing. It celebrates small steps and victories, knowing that the big ones are few and far between (as well as a combination of many small steps). It has an attitude of “you can do it,” and “I am on your side.”

5. Doesn’t expect perfection. Unconditional love knows that perfection does not exist in any area of this life and does not expect others to demonstrate or attain perfection. It does not point out the flaws and failings first, but notices what is working and what is done well. It does not give false praise but manages to find something to be thankful for in every situation or circumstance.

6. Sees the potential. Unconditional love sees the potential in others and helps the person see their own potential too. Not that it doesn’t also see the here and now; it does. It sees the person’s flaws, but it also sees the potential and works unselfishly for the person to reach their potential.

7. Forgives easily. Unconditional love forgives easily and when asked. It doesn’t keep a tally of wrongs or bring up the past to shame or blame. It realizes we all need forgiveness and works hard not to dwell on the past. It does not extract payment for wrongs, nor does it forgive only when it has decided that someone has repented enough or is sorry enough. Unconditional love does not expect forgiveness to be earned but gives it freely as a gift.

8. Studies a person. Unconditional love wants to get to know the other person — how they tick, what motivates them, their love language, their personality, and anything else they can about the person. Because by better knowing the other person, they will understand them, be better able to motivate them, communicate with them, and ultimately love them.

Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.9. Leads by example.  Unconditional love never expects or demands that others do something they are not willing to do them self. Their loudest preaching is by example. Unconditional love also knows that others are responsible for themselves and it does not take accountability for others who are not their responsibility.

10. Doesn’t mislabel. Unconditional love labels the behavior or action as bad, not the person as bad. It sees the difference and knows that a bad action is just a bad action. It knows that what a person chooses to do does not make that person unlovable.

11. Sets boundaries. Unconditional love knows what healthy boundaries are for itself and does not let others take advantage of them. Likewise, it knows how and when to practice tough love for the benefit of the other person.

Unconditional love is not easy.

It requires making hard choices.

But we can grow in the traits of unconditional love.

It requires laying aside our selfishness and often our first response that is wanting to pop out of our mouth.

Ultimately, unconditional love looks at how God treats us and models that behavior to others and our self.

Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What other traits does unconditional love exhibit?

Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth).

Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.Discover 11 traits of unconditional love. Learn how to love unconditionally, both yourself and others, so that you and others can thrive in relationships.

The Secret of Unconditional Love on You and Others

Sometimes a movie inspires you and to be a change maker.

I am talking about the documentary movie about Fred Rogers Won’t You be My Neighbor.

It is well worth seeing.

And not just if you are a Mr. Rogers fan, but if you think this world needs a little more kindness. A little more love. A little more encouragement.

You will leave inspired, wanting to spread these three things a little more.

Fred Rogers had a simple message: I love you just the way you are. You are special and matter. I want to be your neighbor. Kindness and love change the world.

Nothing to complicated. But it was a radical message for kid’s television.

Still a radical message.

Most of us don’t have a Fred Rogers in our life.

How many people have told you, “I love you just the way you are?”

Probably not many. Maybe none.

How many people have you told, “I love you just the way you are?”

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.That doesn’t come naturally. Come on, you don’t really expect me to say that!

 

Maybe this is one reason people didn’t understand Mr. Rogers. I mean, who goes around telling imperfect little children, (who clearly are selfish, throw fits, and probably didn’t even eat all of their breakfast cheerfully) that they are loved just the way they are?

Besides Fred Rogers?

Don’t these children need a life of striving and improving and growing before they are getting even half way close to becoming something worth writing home about?

What accomplishments do they have to their name?

How are they better than everyone else?

What special gifts or talents are they using to change the world?

What awards and contests have they won?

Right now, they are dependent on their parents for everything. They are not bringing in any income, cleaning their messes, or leading a support group.

And if those children are told that they are loved and special just the way they are, won’t that make them want to sit down and quit trying? Quit growing? Stop changing? Because we all know, children are far from perfect, no matter where they are in their growth spurt. Big or little. Tall or short.

If there is one thing that children need, it is improvement.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Loving Unconditionally. Why this message is important.

 

If you watch the movie, you will notice the deep connection Mr. Rogers has with children. He gets on their level right away. In a few sentences he gains their trust. Children tell him things they would not tell other adults. Scary things. Funny things. Hard things. Emotional things.

He listens. Acknowledges them and their feelings. The children leave lighter.

His message is simple. You are loved, and you matter.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be loved and to know we matter to someone.

We want to be acknowledged. To know someone sees us and loves us.

Mr. Rogers helps the children feel this.

He explains big scary things like death, divorce, anger, and controlling our emotions using simple words. He encourages us that we can do hard things, like discuss our fears. He reminds us we count right now. Just the way we are.

Acceptance and love ooze from him. And the audience of kids soak it up.

We all want to be accepted. Loved. Right now. Without jumping through hoops or doing complicated things. Or waiting to grow up.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love defined. What does I love your just the way you are mean?   

 

Towards the end of the show, Mr. Rogers is giving a commencement speech and he tells the audience that people have asked him what he means when he says, “I love you just the way you are.”

He said it means you don’t have to earn it. You are loved without making your bed. You are loved during your bad day. You are loved without accomplishing anything and before doing anything.

Wow! Who doesn’t want to be loved without having to earn it? Without doing and accomplishing?

Wouldn’t you savor being loved:

When you first wake up and haven’t even gotten dressed.

In the middle of your mistake riddled and emotional rollercoaster day

While your boss is telling you all the improvements you need to make.

In the middle of your temper tantrum.

When your house is a mess and the clothes you are wearing are dirty.

When your kids are screaming, the dog is digging up your flower bed, and your neighbor is not mincing words about your cat attacking his cat.

When nothing on your to-do list is crossed off at the end of the day.

When you feel to tired to even try to get out of bed, try to be cheerful, or live a good life.

When you are at your worst. Your dirtiest. Your lowest point. Your most unlovable period.

Yes! We all would.

We all have our hand in the air asking for this kind of unconditional love. This love that is not dependent on us. Our actions. Our doing. Our emotions. Our accomplishments. Our striving. Our earning. Our age or health. Our future or past.

Did you get that?

This kind of love is unconditional love. It is not dependent on anything we do or don’t do. Unconditional love loves us no matter what. It loves us in all circumstances and possibilities. It doesn’t suddenly evaporate or grow because of anything we do.

Unconditional love. This is what we as adults. We as children. We as humans desire. Crave. Thrive under.

But this kind of love is rare. Hard to exhibit. Hard to understand.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Conditional love versus unconditional love. Why we feel nervous saying this to others.

 

We grow up nervously trying to please others. Forming our self into something acceptable and wanted. We strive and earn. We accomplish and do, so we can accept our self and so others will accept us.

We compare. Tweak our self a little.

Judge others. Tweak our self a little more.

Compete in the game of life. And tweak our self a little more.

We all know that no one is perfect. That no one has yet arrived and is the best they can be.

That everyone has room for growing and changing.

And we take all these ideas and apply them to love.

People need to earn our love, we think. They need to do something for us to love them more.

Maybe not at first, because we love a baby just because it is ours, but soon we expect more.

We tell our kid we love them when they bring home an A. Hit a baseball out of the diamond. Make us proud. Win an award. Do their chores. Delight us in some way.

We tell our mate we love them when they remember our birthday. When we feel loving towards them. When they clean the kitchen. During that sunset stroll on the beach.

We don’t want to have conditional love, but so often our love is conditional.

And one very hard thing for us to say to those we love, is, “I love you just the way you are.”

Yup. Right now. Right here.

And what’s often harder still, is saying that to our self.

Have you ever looked yourself in the mirror and said those words to yourself and believed them?

The rub is this. These words are probably hard to say because we see a good number of imperfections of the person we would say this to. Yes, we love the person, but we also see and know many of their imperfections, flaws, and areas they need some improvements in.

And when we say, “I love you just the way you are,” we think we are saying to the other person that they are perfect. Have arrived in life. Can sit back and stop growing or trying.

The reality though, is that we are not saying they are perfect. We are saying, “I love you as the flawed human you are. You don’t need to jump through hoops to earn my love. Because my love is not dependent on what you do. My love is dependent on who you are. On your worth as a human. A child of God.”

You are saying, “I accept you and love you flaws and all.”

“My love does not waver and come and go. My love is unconditional.”

You are saying, “You don’t need to take a shower, read a self-help book, solve your fears, heal your anger, get dressed out of yoga pants, or put makeup on for me to love you. I accept you the way you are.”

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.If I say I love you unconditionally, will the other person know what I am saying?

 

Try it.

Tell your child, mate, or friend, that you love them just the way they are.

See what happens.

When we feel secure in the love someone has for us, we are more vulnerable. We quit pretending and act more like our self. We want to try harder and do better. We release a huge sigh of relief. We feel inspired to do more and accomplish more. We quit hiding the true us.

Put away your fears. The last thing we do is sit down and think we have arrived and are now perfectly content to do nothing for the rest of our life in the manner of improving our self or growing.

Because we as humans, and from a very early age, know we are not perfect. We know that we have improving and work to do on our self. Our most recent mistakes spring to mind. Our flaws and self-doubts fill our mind.

Listen. Someone is already saying I love you unconditionally to you.

 

Do you know that someone already loves you unconditionally?

Without that shower and with your morning breath.

With all your flaws. Your lack of new achievements. Even with your bad attitude that is still hanging on from yesterday.

He loves you just the way you are. Right now.

Even with your messy desk, rough patches of skin, and lack of matching socks.

You don’t need to change yourself to get his love. His acceptance. His help. His grace.

You don’t need to try harder, mold yourself into good enough, or try to earn his love.

His love is not something you earn. It is a free gift. Freely given.

God loves you just the way you are right now. You don’t have to do anything to earn his love. You don’t have to produce and do to have the right to be allowed some of his love.

His love is unconditional.

His love is waiting for you. Just receive it.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Loving someone unconditionally. Now Pass it On  

 

If someone said, “I love you just the way you are,” what would you say? Feel?

How could it change your life a little?

And what if you said it to those around you? How would it change their lives? Your relationships with them?

Try it.

It doesn’t have to be there exact words. But something like it.

See what happens. How the person responds.

Then do it again and again until they begin to realize you mean it. That you love them unconditionally. That they don’t have to earn your love.  Or change to get your love.

Say it until they believe you love them faults and all. Bad traits and all. Horrible day and all. Quirky smile and all. Unsightly toes and all. Plus, all their wonderful and charming personality and bits thrown in. You love them kit and caboodle.

And while you are at it. Say it to yourself. And mean it. Now say it again. Again. Replace those lies and critical tracks playing in your mind with the truth.

Listen and hear God saying to you every day.  Because he is. His unconditional love is a daily gift. Always renewed. Always available.

Now pass it on to those around you.

When we feel loved, truly loved, we don’t sit down and stop growing. No, we grow in ways we can’t even imagine.

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 

P.S. Lesley writes about what it looks like to Live Loved!   And Kaitlyn Bouchillon talks about a very moving scene from Won’t You Be My Neighbor? at (in)courage.


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts on unconditional love?

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.Unconditional love has a secret. When we feel loved and accepted just the way we already are, that's when we get motivated to change into better people.

When Words Fail

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Sometimes words fail us.

I am telling hubby goodbye. Sitting in the car, I roll down the window and look at him standing in the driveway.

He rests his hand on the edge of the window as I squint up at him.

I am leaving for a week. Heading south.

On the kitchen counter lies the itinerary. The calendar. The notes and to-do’s.

He has prayed for safe travels. We have small talked. Nothing to do but say goodbye and drive, yet I linger.

I look up at him and my eyes tear.  Thoughts race across my brain. What if I die while traveling? Would he know how much I love him?

Suddenly I want to tell him how much I love him. How much he means to me. That I don’t regret walking beside him. Having his children. The life we have lived.

That I am sorry for all the times I have gotten mad at him. Not laughed at his jokes. Not smiled back. Doubted him. Not respected him. Argued with him. Held grudges.

We have been through so much together. Vacations. Births. Deaths. Moving. Accidents. Job changes. School. Trials. Sickness. Home projects. Celebrations. Little and much. This and that.

This man I have hiked the continental divide with. Watched die. Sheet rocked and painted with. Gardened with. Hugged and cuddled. Dated. Whale watched and snorkeled with. Traveled with. This man loves me, faults and all, and desires the best for me. He encourages me to be a better person. Challenges me to be more.

This man I eat, sleep, and do life with. How do I tell him I love him? How do I let him know what is running through my heart and mind as I look at him before I leave?

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words are complicated and fail us.

 

We have one word that means love. And we use it both casually and seriously. I love tea. I love my child. Both are conveying a fondness, but one is a deeper fondness than the other. Yet now as I look at him, words fail me. Fail to convey my thoughts and emotions.

I guess this is why we have poetry. Metaphors. Songs. They try and communicate love into some picture or words we can connect with. Understand. They try and explain the mixed-up emotions and hard to describe feelings we get swamped upon.

And yet on some level they too fail.

Think about the love, the strong emotions you have for your mate, parents, children, friends, pets, country, places, even physical things. Can you really communicate your love for them in words?

Every year my dad would come and spend several weeks with us, and when it came time to leave, I remember having the same feeling. Wanting to tell him how much he meant. Wanting to tell him how much I loved and appreciated him. And yet, I could not. My thoughts just did not translate into words. And so, we hugged extra hard and extra long and then said we love you to each other. He drove away with tears in his eyes and I stood waving with tears in my eyes.

Because words sometimes fail us.

The same is true with God. The bible explains his love for us. Shows his love for us. And even uses words and examples to convey his love for us (like him longing to gather us under his wings as a mother hen gathers her chicks; a shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go off to search for the one lost sheep; a father running to meet his prodigal son), but in the end the words fall short and fail to really convey the deep, abiding, unconditional, and overflowing love he has for us.

We like to say that God loved us so much he sent his only son to die for us. But even that picture of love fails. How can we even comprehend it. What it really means. How much love that action really communicates. We can understand a little, but not fully.

Because words sometimes fail to express all of what one is meaning to say.

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

When words fail to express our feelings and emotions.

 

We hadn’t been married for that long when one day on a long drive, hubby said, “I love you enough to die for you.”

What does he mean? I wondered.

No one had told me this before. The words were scary. The concept scary. I wanted him alive, not dead. And then the big question back.  Did I love him enough to die for him? I wasn’t sure I would when the pinch was tightened to reality.

“I hope it never comes to that,” I said.

“Do you understand what I am saying?” he asked.

“No.”

“That if it came down to it I would give up my life, so you could live. I would let you out of the burning house or the sinking ship first. I would sacrifice myself for you.”

I was beginning to feel guilt. I didn’t deserve that. Why couldn’t we both live?

It took years, but I eventually began to understand what he was trying to say. He was trying to tell me how much he loved me. How devoted he was. That in a pinch he would see to me over himself.

Greater love has no man then he lay down his life for another.

His words were failing him and so he used this picture from the bible.

When we have big feelings, emotions, and thoughts, words often fail us.

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

Sometimes we need more than words.

 

We rest in the driveway a few long moments. Just looking at one another.

“You better get going,” he says. “You have a long drive.”

I nod.

This deep desire to tell hubby what he means overwhelms me. And so, I say the only thing that comes to mind. “I love you,” I say, and hope he reads my heart.

“I love you too.”

My eyes tear a little.

And I know he understands.

Because his eyes tear a little too.

In the end, maybe we both know a little of what we are each thinking. Even without words.  Because when you love someone, sometimes you can communicate in other ways.

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: When do words fail you?

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.