Is there someone you are “supposed to” love – but who you find it hard to feel loving toward? Your son or daughter, your spouse, a sister or parent?
You think: if they were more considerate, if they would tell the truth, stop drinking, be more responsible, did what they were supposed to do, if they just appreciated all you do… it would be so much easier to love them.
Dear friends: do you know you can just decide to love them, exactly as they are right now? Instead of resentment, judgement, disappointment, you could feel love.
This doesn’t mean that you have to approve of everything they do.
This doesn’t mean that you have to let yourself be treated poorly.
It doesn’t mean that you have to spend more time with them or even stay married to them.
It just means that you get to feel love. It’s a gift that you can give yourself. It feels amazing to set down resentment, a huge relief to let go of judgement. You can stop trying to control others, stop reacting to them, and just let them be as they are.
How to do this?
Own your feelings. Understand that you (never anyone else, no matter what they do) are responsible for how you feel.
Stop focusing on the behaviors and qualities you have been letting bother you. There are many other qualities. Open yourself to seeing them. Open yourself to the fullness, the mystery, the humanness of your child (husband, brother, etc.).
Consider that you may not be seeing the whole picture. That no one can ever completely know another person’s experience. That where each of us is right now is temporary. There are always countless possibilities. And, that other people get to live their own lives in their own way. Just as you do.
Choose loving thoughts. It may help to scope out, focus on the bigger picture: All beings are worthy of love. We are all humans, doing the best we can, from where we stand. I chose love because it feels better than resentment. I chose to add more love to the world.
Practice creating and feeling the physical sensation of love, on purpose. For a few minutes, sit quietly with closed eyes. Breathe deeply and evenly, in and out, centering your attention in your body. Feel your chest expand and contract. Imagine breathing in love, breathing out resentment, hurt, judgement. Let your in breath fill your limbs, your throat, your face. Let the warmth, expansiveness, stillness, and energy fill you and soften you. As thoughts and feelings rise up, gently notice them, and return to your breath. When able, on your out breath begin to imagine the feelings of love flowing out of you into the space around you, into the world.
Allow the love and compassion to encompass yourself as well. Know your own worthiness and value. Respect yourself. Take good care of yourself. Speak your truth, as best you can. If you need to set boundaries, have them address your actions, what you are willing to be around, how you will behave- as opposed to rules of how others should be or behave.
When we stop thinking that love is something that needs to be earned, when we unhitch our love from all conditions, we can practice unconditional love. We can chose this because it stops us from creating unnecessary suffering, for ourselves, for our loved ones, for the world. We can do it because it just feels good. Because it brings us freedom and grace.
We can chose love on purpose because it aligns us with the best, truest, deepest part of ourselves.