Unconditional Love: It All Starts with You

Feb 02, 2015 No Comments by

By Joeel A. Rivera

When you first came into this world and you were held in someone’s arms, you embodied love and were open to giving and receiving it unconditionally.

As you developed through your first several years of life, you continued to see the world through those eyes. There was no need for words or explanations or even to put the word love and its definition in a little box. Love was just understood, uncomplicated, and unquestioned.

Today, I know this to be true at many different levels, both as a father and through working with children during my career as an investigator for the state of Florida. I had to remove children from unfit homes. Although I was acting as an advocate for these kids, and possibly saving their lives, they would end up hysterical and throwing up in the back of my vehicle, even as I tried to comfort them. The truth is that they wanted to go back to a parent that had abused them for years because in their frame of reference at the time this behavior was seen as an expression of love, attention, and connection—regardless of how the outside world saw it or judged it.

In no way am I saying that any children should be left in such an environment or that they actually experienced love in any way, shape, or form in these instances. The point is that we are hardwired to love each other and love ourselves and see the best in others, especially our parents as we grow up. At the other end of the spectrum, I remember the first time that I held my daughter and felt that unexplainable love and gratitude that my parents always told me I would understand once I had my own child. As she is developing and I watch her grow, I have experienced her unconditional love and how she perceives that I can do no wrong. More than anything, she has reawakened that childhood sense of love from deep within me.

Throughout our lives, we learn to develop a definition of love, to associate things with love, and to determine how and when to give or withhold love. The challenge is that in our minds we believe that others share our experience, beliefs, and definition of love. So what happens when someone loves you just as they were loved as a child, or expresses what they experienced in past relationships, or shares what they have learned through life’s journey about how to receive and give love? What happens if it does not fit in your box and agree with your mental construct that is labeled love? Do we reject the love even if it’s a healing experience? Do we judge it? Do we question it? Do we demand that a person love us the way we say and believe love should be?

The interesting point here is that, regardless of what we do with love, at our core we all want the same things. We want to be fully vulnerable, we want to be held, we want to trust, we want to be seen through eyes of perfection, we want to give and receive, and we want to be our true selves. We want to have dreams and follow them, to be happy and make others happy and, most importantly, to experience love unconditionally. We want to know that in our imperfections the love that we cherish won’t be pulled out from under our feet if we make a mistake or have a challenging day. These are not wants reserved for our childhood alone; they are conditions that we deserve through all phases of our lives.

It All Starts with You

I guarantee that you can have this unconditional love in your reality and that you do not even have to look very far or hard to find it.

In fact, once you do find it you start realizing that others around you see, experience, and reciprocate, and even are transformed by your new love. This person will treat you right, will make you strong when you feel weak, will give you true companionship, will inspire you, and meet all your needs. All you need to do is believe in him or her and honor that relationship with the same unconditional love. All you have to do is look at yourself in the mirror and realize that this person is YOU. Indeed, it all starts with you.

Look at yourself and tell yourself how much you love yourself. Tell yourself how proud you are of your accomplishments, how beautiful you are inside and out, that you can create whatever life you want, and that you deserve it. Remember that all negative thought processes you may have about yourself were planted there by the outside world, and that it is not truly you. It does not define or create you. You have the power to decide how you feel and what you experience. This takes practice, courage, and commitment. In fact, every time you go to the bathroom you should look yourself in the eyes through the mirror and say: “I love you. What can I do for you to meet your needs? You are amazing. You are a gift to this world. You make a difference in the lives of others and are loved.”

Think of other things that you want to hear and make sure you tell them to yourself as many times as you can, until it’s so ingrained in you that you do not even have to say it. It automatically feeds you on a consistent basis.

If you want to experience that unconditional love from the external world, you have to let the world know that you are open to receiving it. The only way to do this is to first be able to give your inner child the love that he or she needs. In reality, you cannot expect others to love you in the way you want to be loved unless you love yourself the way YOU want to be loved. If you don’t do this, you look at the world from the place of neediness. You are always looking to others and external sources to give you what you should be giving to yourself.

This may cause you to constantly judge others, become easily offended or hurt, and put up a wall because others cannot consistently give you what you should be giving yourself.

Once you start to do this, you automatically start attracting the people around you who treat you the way you desire to be treated. Plus, you automatically put up healthy boundaries around yourself, and you stop personalizing others’ behaviors because you realize that it’s not about you. The only thing that is about you is the way that you chose to feel, react, and allow things to effect you—and how you see the world. Perspective creates your reality. Give yourself the greatest gift, and that is to love yourself in a way that comes naturally and unconditionally, and you will see that the world will shine it right back at you.

On a personal note, I want to take the time to say thank you to Natalie Rivera, my best friend, wife, and soulmate. Thank you for being you and for loving yourself and, in turn, sharing your unconditional and overflowing cup of love with me. You are a perfect example of perfection in every sense of the word. You are a gift to this world and to me. You make this life epic even if I’m just staring in your eyes. Just holding your hand fills me with the magic of the universe. This is a hand that I look forward to holding as long as we shall live. I love you unconditionally and feel blessed every day to share in your light. You have taken what I understood as love and amplified it in a way that is un-explainable. I love you eternally.

Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit www.joeelandnatalie.com.

 

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About the author

Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit www.joeelandnatalie.com.

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