Have you ever wondered what unconditional love actually means, or what it would take to give yourself or someone else this kind of love? We believe everything in your world is a reflection of YOU. And that's the good news! Why? Because if everything starts with you, then you don't have to FIX, CHANGE, or concern yourself with what's out there; all you need to do is understand and focus all your unconditional love internally. This newfound self-love will lead you to a life filled with more self-confidence, peace, and authentic happiness—guaranteed.

Let's begin by understanding what unconditional love means. The definition of unconditional love, according to Wikipedia, is: “Showing love towards someone regardless of their actions or beliefs."

To answer the question "What would it take to give ourselves unconditional love," we’ll start by looking at what prevents us from offering unconditional love in the first place. We believe what prevents us is the way we've been conditioned to respond to people's actions and beliefs.

From a very young age, we've learned that the most effective way to change someone's behavior is to criticize, blame, judge, humiliate, threaten, punish, or to use any number of other tactics that will cause them to fear acting the same way in the future. On the flip side, we learn to use rewards to reinforce the behaviors we do like. This punishment and reward system is basically a "behavior control" technique. It's the same system used to train circus animals.

But what do most people learn from being subjected to these "behavior control" techniques? We quickly learn how to avoid being on the receiving end of the "punishment." When we're caught doing something "wrong," most of us learn how to be very, very careful so we don't get caught again! And it's not surprising that, at a very young age, we begin to use this behavior control system on ourselves whenever we don't live up to our own expectations.

We've put together a video on YouTube that describes how this process happens to us, and how it plays out later in life. You can see it on our website.

The video focuses on how this process affects our relationships with other people. But the process works pretty much the same way in our relationship with ourselves. When you watch the video it won't be hard to see how the habitual ways we learn to react to situations can hinder our ability to love ourselves unconditionally.

But first it's helpful to understand how completely misguided these "behavior control" techniques are in achieving their true underlying goals. Answering the following questions helps us to understand this.

The first question is: What do we want people to do?

If you only consider this first question, then a system of punishment and rewards may seem like a very effective system because it does produce the desired results—at least some of the time.

The problem is that when people are only motivated by fear of punishment or promise of reward you'll likely get the highest prison population in the developed world, and large numbers of company executives defrauding their shareholders. Why? Because people have only learned to focus on getting the rewards and avoiding the punishments.

The second, and much more important question is: What do we want people's motives to be for doing what we want them to do? (Or—Why do we want them to want to do it?)

So stop for a moment and think about the very basic kinds of things we want other people (and ourselves) to do. It's easy to realize that we would like people to be truthful, honest, respectful, kind, considerate, etc.. And we want them to act in these ways because these behaviors reflect what we most highly value.

The way to create unconditional love for yourself is to turn your attention from the system of punishment and rewards that you've learned to use to control your own behavior. Instead, turn your attention to what you value most.

Whenever you feel the discomfort that is bound to occur in situations where what you value is missing in what you've said or done, learn to focus all of your attention on how to create what you value in that situation, rather than punishing yourself for having done something "wrong."

You can download our free values exercise from our site to help with this process. You can use this any time you want to get clear about what you value in any situation.

This is the essence of what we point to at the end of our video. What you focus your attention on will grow. This makes it essential for you to learn how to dig below any disappointment in yourself or your behavior, and discover for yourself what you value that is missing in the situation.

If you understand love as a commitment to support someone in reaching their highest potential, ensuring that all of their needs are met, being as happy as they possibly can, achieving what is important to them in their life, etc., then unconditional love can only happen when you're able to keep your attention focused on what you truly value and finding ways to create that. You can't do this if you have your attention focused on using a punishment and reward system to control behavior.

As an example, let's say that you fail to arrive to meet someone when you said you would be there. What kind of thoughts might be going on in your head? "I'm so stupid; I should've left earlier"; "It's not my fault there was so much traffic"; "Now they're going to be angry and it will ruin the meeting"; or "They probably won't trust me in the future."

How do you feel with these kinds of thoughts going on? Does this feel like unconditional love?

Now imagine just stopping and experiencing the discomfort of these thoughts without mentally punishing yourself for being late. Consider that these thoughts probably reflect your value for respect, punctuality, consideration, cooperation, and trust. Then realize that your discomfort is being stimulated because these values are missing for you when you show up late.

The next step is simply to start identifying strategies that will help ensure you act more in harmony with your values in the future. What could you do to make sure that you left earlier? What could you do to determine whether or not you would run into traffic along the way? If they were angry, could you do anything that would help resolve this so you could have a successful meeting? Could you have a conversation with the other person to see if there is anything that could restore your relationship with them?

How does it feel when you have your attention focused on what you value and what you can do about it? Does this feel more like unconditional love?

Author's Bio: 

We realize that it takes much more understanding and many more skills than we can offer in a brief article like this to overcome years of conditioned thinking that may be preventing you from experiencing unconditional love for yourself. To learn more about this and other personal growth and self-help techniques, sign up for our free thought-provoking and motivational Weekly Action Tips eMail series at: http://www.FocusedAttention.com/cmd.php?ad=317928.

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