With so many boundaries, conditions and obstacles around love, many are incapable of recognizing what unconditional love looks like. In this excerpt from Your Vivid Life (Watkins, October 2019) author Shayne Traviss advocates for the existence of unconditional love and how to achieve this blissful state within.
How many obstacles have we created to love both from others and ourselves? How many conditions have we put on when and whether we are worthy of it? It begins by hiding our eyes in shame when we were hurting as children, or resisting the love and adoration of guardians as we grow. It continues with running away as teenagers when someone asks questions or shows interest in our lives, being embarrassed when our parents brought us lunch in the school yard or deflecting when others swoon or compliment us.
Where did it all begin? Why have we built so many obstacles to love? I know in my case it all started with hurt. First with subtle comments that made me feel restricted, then bullying that made me feel worthless and unlovable, and so with every experience I created another shield, so many that at one time I felt incapable of being able to receive or feel love. As soon as it came my way a force kicked up and it was rejected. And to even begin to put down those shields meant I would be vulnerable to pain and suffering.
But what I learned from experience was that the more shields I put up the heavier life got. And as I garnered the strength to pull them down one by one, and the tenacity to persevere without collecting more then, yes, some pain momentarily set in, but what was far more profound was that I began to feel what love felt like again. And I wanted that feeling more. And so I worked on, and still work on, identifying the shields that I carry that are obstacles to the very force that lifts us higher: love, sweet unconditional love.
Reflection: The Final Frontier
Unconditional love is probably one of the most difficult of all things to master, and the final frontier in living a radically authentic life. But why is it so difficult? Why is so hard to love ourselves and others right where we’re at. What’s created our resistance to it? It seems that it’s the great divide. It brings constant challenges in our own lives as well as in our relationships with others. We’re conditioned to believe that we, or others, must show up a certain way in order to receive it. And with the ideology of that conditioning is the birth of war: war within and without, in our own minds, our families and our societal structures.
We create boundaries and borders both within ourselves, our families and our communities. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with healthy boundaries; however, these boundaries create a resistance to empathy and an indifference to anything outside of our conditioning. They keep us static in our growth both individually and collectively and create barriers to interpersonal communication and self-love.
Because in order for us to love ourselves there is a plethora of conditioned criteria we must meet and the same goes for others. But where did it come from? Who decided? And why the fuck can’t we just free ourselves from it? What’s the holdup? What’s going to happen if one day we just decide to tear down the walls we’ve build against love and embrace ourselves and others with loving kindness just as we are? To respect and celebrate our points of differences rather than use them as catalysts for inner and outer conflict. It seems like such an easy solution, with a ripple effect that creates the kind of peace that passeth understanding. But there’s just one problem, and depending who it is or you are, or how susceptible to conditioning you are, or your level of self-awareness, it could turn out to be the conflict of a lifetime. And that’s your conditioning. A collective of your thoughts about who you and others are. Perception versus reality.
You see, if we can love one another without conditions, and in spite of our differences; politically, religiously and ideologically. If we can put down our armour, drop our shields and build on our strengths both individually and collectively. If we can stop ‘shoulding’ on ourselves and others. Let go of the conditioning we have that everything and everyone must show up the same to be valued or loved, beginning with ourselves, and it always begins with ourselves because when we have the ability to love ourselves without conditions, we have the ability to love others just the same. No matter what. And we must remember that unconditional love is not without boundaries but without the conditions and bias that separate us from ourselves and others.
About the Author
Shayne Traviss is an accomplished author who left the corporate world, filed for bankruptcy, and set out on a journey of self-discovery. He went on to create VividLife.me, a personal-development movement that reached millions around the globe and landed him an invitation and a face-to-face meeting with Oprah Winfrey at her private screening party in New York City. After twenty years of marketing, promoting, and producing others, he decided to focus on his own life experiences, travels, and inspirations.
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