Whether talking to people in therapy or coaching, Love has become more of a topic of conversation recently when it comes to resolving relationship concerns and issues. This has led me to conclude that Love is often misunderstood. The misunderstanding has a lot to do with confusion between conditional and unconditional Love regardless of the type of relationship. What appears to be unconditional Love does have its conditions; If you love me I shouldn’t have to ask you to do this, or If you Love me you wouldn’t do/say that, or If you love me you’d give me what I want.” For others, unconditional Love is giving and giving and feeling taken advantage of, unappreciated and even abused. The emotional distress of these all too often leads to cognitive distortions.
What Are Cognitive Distortions? Anyone can experience cognitive distortion, which the American Psychological Association defines as “faulty or inaccurate thinking, perception or belief,” and referred to in A Course in Miracles as illusions.
Negativity is often the defining characteristic. For some of us, distorted thinking is a momentary blip. For others they become the illusions that trap them in emotional turmoil. More simply, love becomes what we bring to it from all we’ve learned and come to believe love to be. “If you love me then you would (expectation)...” and conclude, when our expectation is not met, love hurts so we protect ourselves against Love.
I offer this perspective that has helped many navigate the ups and downs of relationships, be it close personal, friends or even work. We must recognize when boundaries and limits are needed when it comes to Love. You might say, that’s not unconditional. And it may appear to be the case until you consider boundaries and limits are sometimes necessary to protect Love so that it can grow and strengthen, so that it might
resist what others might think, say or do that is not of Love, but of FEAR. So that it overcomes the negative self-talk of the ego that would have you define love based on pain and heartbreak from past experiences that no longer exist and have you believe that Love is too risky to give unconditionally. Striving towards separating negative and painful emotions from our past that we’ve assigned to Love, we become aware it isn’t Love that hurts us, but the expectations we have of others (and ourselves) in the name of Love. When we let go of the past we let go of our expectations that would put limits on it. We can then share and give Love unconditionally. We give ourselves a chance to experience Love, and give and receive it more fully. This is how we escape the traps of fear and embrace Love and ourselves.
I'd love to get your thoughts on this so leave a comment and like. You can also check out these links for additional content and upcoming events, like the Living your Love Language couples weekend retreat coming up in February.