… finding unconditional love, by Greg Baer (a summary by Pat Evert)
The missing ingredient: what relationships really need
Having just about everything, but still feeling unhappy? When unhappy we blame our partner. No one has the power of making us unhappy, or happy. Only real, unconditional love can satisfy us.
Real love is caring about the happiness of another without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. With real love nothing else matters, without it nothing else is enough. It does exist and is the way to genuine happiness. Disappointment and anger are the only alternative.
Real Love is ‘I care for how you feel.’ Conditional love is ‘I like how you make me feel.’ The difference between the two is disappointment and anger. Withholding love from someone because of their poor behavior is conditional love. We do what is necessary to earn conditional love, only to find it is an unsatisfying imitation. No matter how much we get we are miserable, fearful and empty. The root of my unhappiness is the lack of love. Understand the role your parents, and others, played in your life, but do not blame them. I am responsible for all my decisions in life. Others might be pulling you down, but they are only struggling to keep from drowning themselves. We need to learn more responsive behavior then anger and blame.
Getting and protecting: the many faces of imitation love
We will do anything to relieve the discomfort of our emptiness. Praise, power, pleasure and safety are all forms of imitation love. It’s only imitation, but in the absence of love it feels better than emptiness. We try to control others, but we cannot buy true love. Sexual gratification is no substitute for love. The cost of imitation love is a never ending burden to maintain. No matter how much we get of the imitation we know that we really are not loved. It relieves the pain only temporarily and leaves us empty and miserable.
Getting and protecting behaviors – lying, attacking, acting like a victim and clinging (or running). Trying to please others is lying. We hide our true feelings or give partial truth. Attacking may make another afraid in order to get what we want or keep us from being hurt. Victims have endless excuses to put the blame on the other. Begging for more attention. In the absence of love these will curb the pain of emptiness, but manipulation never provides the deep connection we really want. We know it was purchased, NOT freely given. We cannot stop ourselves, but are like a drowning man. We don’t do it because we are bad, but because we are empty and afraid. We fear that no one will ever love us.
Our parents’ love was the best they had to give, but sadly enough it was conditional, rewards of good and bad behavior. To love someone BECAUSE of something, we put a burden on them to maintain this reason for love. With our marriage partners quite often we are trading imitation love that will sooner or later wear off. Our fear drives us to lie and we will be found out in time. We all tire of trading imitation love. Pretending will not last. We will do the best we can, but happiness will elude us. A starving person (for love) will be motivated to getting and protecting behaviors. It will destroy our relationships and happiness. You must see there is another option, that of getting real love.
Being seen and getting loved: the tale of the wart king and the wise man
The wart king – when we allow others to see our warts we will find some that love us. You need to stop hiding who you are. A wise man is one who accepts us for who we are, one who was once where we find ourselves.
Real Love is a gift freely given and received. When we do anything to get love or to hurt us less we cannot feel what is offered is real love.
Share the truth of who you are -> be seen as you are -> being accepted and loved.
Real love can only be felt when freely given and freely received. You can turn real love into imitation love, but not the reverse. People who have been sufficiently loved can then share it with others. You must first have the absence of getting/protecting behaviors. Then you must be without disappointment and anger. This will allow you to be concerned about the good of others, not just yourself. Real love enriches our lives.
The law of choice, everyone has the right to choose what he or she says and does. Nothing is more important than our ability to make our own choices. Relationships are composed of those who have independently made their free choices. They are the result of the choices we have made. In relationships there are four possibilities: 1) change our partner, 2) live with her and like it, 3) live with her and hate it, or 4) leave.
To change your partner is not an option. Trying to change another is not love. Anything we get by manipulation is not felt as love. When we control another person, they become no more than an object, and you cannot have a relationship with an object. We cannot be loving, which is the best of life.
We might think we have the right to expect something from our partner because of something we have done for them. Expectations will only set you up for failure, disappointments and anger. Your partner will feel the pressure. The law of expectations – We never have the right to expect that our partner will do anything. We unknowingly expect others to change their behavior or who they are for our convenience. This is not love. Love cannot be demanded. A promise is the only exception to the law of expectations. But, you can never expect another to love you or make you happy, even if they have promised such. Marriage, turned from obligation to opportunity to love, is a most beautiful thing. Anger is always wrong in response to our partner’s behavior. Happiness comes from telling the truth and accepting that one. We perform better when loved, instead of being attacked. There is a difference between asking and expecting. We don’t have the right to choose for others. Fill yourself with love and make requests in the presence of love. Make sure your request is not accompanied with expectations.
Taking the leap of faith: everyday wise men and how to find them
- Have a desire to change
- Exercise faith
- Tell the truth about yourself
- Give up your getting/protecting behavior
Be patient, this will take time and results may come in small doses. An addict can go back to superficial gratification. If I am unhappy in a relationship, I am always wrong. Can I admit that I am to blame for my relationship problems? I haven’t done what is necessary to make me happy and I have worked too hard in trying to change my partner. Trying to be right will never get you love. Would you rather be right or happy?
Exercising faith. We choose to experience something new and unknown. Believe that change is possible. Believe in the truth and real love. Only by telling the truth will we feel authentic love. Be honest about yourself even when you don’t know what the results will be. Fear can hold you back. Someone will love you. Believe in your partner, that they will do their best. They will make mistakes, be patient. Exercise faith instead of protecting yourself, which offers no possibility of happiness.
Telling the truth about yourself. To say you make me angry is false. No one can make me angry, it’s my choice. Take off the blinds and see your own part in the relationship. Find a few wise men/women among your friends and neighbors. Take off your mask and show them your mistakes and flaws. Tell the truth about how you feel sad, fear and anger. The law of expectations, as soon as you expect someone to love you, you ruin the possibility of feeling unconditionally loved. It has to be freely given.
The rules of seeing – one person is the speaker, the rest listen til they are done. The first person to speak is the speaker. The speaker describes him/herself. If you can’t be a wiseman, get one. When we are angry it is because of fear.
Exercise #1 – telling the truth about yourself for 1-2minutes. I have not been a loving husband. I feel alone and afraid often. I worry about what others think of me.
Exercise #2 – the speaker tells about his fears. The others won’t like me, or think I’m stupid, that I will lose my partner.
Exercise #3 – telling about how we get or protect. I complain, get angry, act like a victim, hide my mistakes and blame others. When others are angry at me they are just trying to protect themselves
Exercise #4 – telling the truth about the lies we tell. Blaming my spouse for my anger, excuses I give for not keeping a commitment, excuses for my selfishness.
Giving up the getting and protecting behaviors – this delays our pursuit and experience of true love. It takes a conscious effort to stop these behaviors. Choose to trust others in being honest with them.
The effect of real Love: like money in the bank
Real love eliminates our need of fear. The loss of $2 is unfelt when we have 20 million in the bank. I can afford to lose one relationship knowing there are others who love me. Our past of lacking love effects us in the present, but sufficient love will invalidate such negative effects. Take love from those who have it to give, this will bring healing in your life. Finding love outside of ourselves. I might not be able to do much with our relationship, but I can do something about me getting love. If you can’t get it from your partner you will need to get it from others and later share it with your partner. Tell your defects to your partner first, then to wise men. It is best to clear this with your partner. You need to do this consistently, not casually. Real love alone can overcome the emptiness and fear. We learn love by practice and it takes time. When I expect you to give me five apples and you give me three I cannot appreciate your gift. Be grateful for your partner’s efforts, and your own as well.
Sharing your fortune: the power of loving others
When we are loved we are no longer blinded by emptiness and fear and can see others clearly with a concern for their happiness.
Feeling loved -> Seeing -> Accepting with love.
When you have anger you will not be able to hide it, they will feel it. See the other is not attacking you, but is drowning. If you feel loved, you will not be disappointed by another. Loving others is principally unspoken acceptance and acts of kindness.
Seeing is the elimination of our own blindness. We must be able to see them clearly before we can love them. We must not be expecting them to give us what we need. When we see them as objects that either that serve or hurt us we cannot see them as they are. We must learn to see them. I must eliminate emptiness and fear with real love. When unhappy in a relationship we need a wise man to help us see them. We will no longer see them as ugly, using getting and protecting behavior, we see them as fearful souls drowning and trying to survive. The world is a beautiful place when we see it clearly. We can also turn our clear sightedness upon ourselves. Don’t feel excessively guilty. When we see well, everyone becomes beautiful and loving them becomes a natural reponse and we will no longer be alone.
Accepting is the result of seeing. Two reasons we do not accept others – 1) we want something from them and don’t get it, or 2) we are afraid of them. It is because we are empty and afraid. Do you see others as a means to make you happy? That is imitation love. When you get enough love you won’t see people as such, but will see them in their beauty. It is the lack of love in our own hearts that causes all the prejudice and hatred. Criticism is lack of love. We will communicate disappointment to them in many ways. Without love we are miserable and expect our partner to make us happy. When they don’t we judge their behavior as unacceptable. Disappointment is proof we do not accept them as they are and it is always selfish and wrong. She feels you are unhappy with her and want her to change to make you happy. When we are disappointed we love them less. Any form of disappointment will keep us from being happy in our relationship. The more unconditionally loved we feel, the less disappointment we will experience. Anger is one step away from disappointment. We must allow others to make their choices and make their mistakes. It is difficult to distinguish love from its counterfeit when we are getting what we want. It becomes obvious when we don’t get it. Criticism will undo all our good behavior. Criticism will not improve the others behavior, only the reverse. When we are full we no longer need others to make us happy. Don’t expect apologies, if you do you are not accepting them. It is selfish and arrogant. We all make mistakes and we need to be forgiving (accepting) of them. Before you speak, think about it. Is this short term satisfaction more important to me than the long term relationship that I might sacrifice. ‘I love you, but I am angry at your behavior’ is a lie. When people feel unconditionally loved they don’t get angry.
Imposing consequences need be done with love, not in anger. We learn our best lessons by mistakes, which are opportunities of love. To do it in anger converts the consequence into a punishment which helps no one. This will bring unnecessary conflict into your relationship, a feeling of enemies.
Loving is caring about the happiness of others. This is one step beyond accepting another’s flaws. You need to get to the point of not needing that person to be any certain way. When we accept another unconditionally, in time we begin to care for their happiness. But, remember this is not to put them in debt to you, that is conditional imitation love. We need to make conscious decisions to love unconditionally, to love them and yourself unconditionally. Mistakes are a necessary part of learning. Am I willing to love one who gives me little or nothing in return? Someone has to take the first step. It’s selfish to wait on your partner to take the first step. In taking these steps of love we become wise men. Miraculously your bucket fills as you chose to love others, even when my bucket is low. At times your bucket will empty, call a wise man and start over. Stress is a sign that you need more love. I love you because you need it.
Playing a beautiful duet: the joys of mutually loving relationships
For a beautiful duet each needs to know how to play an instrument and how to do it together.
- Tell the truth to your partner. Admit your responsibility for problems in the relationship. Remember my spouse is loving me the best that they can.
- Exercise self control. Don’t do anything to protect yourself.
- Forgive your spouse for any attacks.
Tell the truth about YOURSELF. But, before you can help another tell the truth about THEMSELVES – 1) be unconditionally loving and 2) see that the other is capable of hearing what we have to say. You cannot bypass the need of feeling loved before proceeding to fix someone. If the relationship is not an unconditionally loving relationship so many things can become conflicts.
You may make requests. The need for real love is more important than any request. Never demand/expect anything. The difference between a request and an expectation is disappointment or anger. Unconditional love makes us happier than anything else. When you feel loved you can accept denied requests as if you have $20,000,000 in the bank. Make sure your requests are clear, not vague hints. We cannot expect our partner to read our mind. Your partner does not have to say yes to your request to show you love. Yes, you have the right to expect a promise to be fulfilled, but you would be foolish to hold that over your partner at the risk of losing a loving relationship. You would be wise to keep your requests to a minimum. There is no place for disappointment or anger. You want a relationship based on real love. You do not keep score in your relationship. Do not try to change your partner, fully accept them. Upon making requests be sure you have enough love that you won’t be disappointed if refused, and be sure they feel loved to respond. Do not pressure them for an answer, it must be a gift freely offered. When love is the motive you won’t get everything you want. Neither one should feel like they have to prove their love for the other I.e. giving gifts.
Real love in all our relationships: spouses, children, friends and coworkers
When we lack real love we gather every bit of praise, power and pleasure we can seeking its counterfeit. We can never have a happy loving relationship when living under expectations. Marriage should not be a platform to squeeze imitation love out of the other. It should be a lifelong agreement to learn real love, how to care for another. Sex can, and so often does, become a means of getting imitation love, rather than the result of a loving relationship. Nothing is as important as the infusion of real love into your relationship. Real love is the only thing that will make us genuinely happy. We need to fill our lives with real love so as to not chase after sex and imitation love. Limit sex to long-term relationships. Sex should be the result of true love, not a means to get imitation love. Nobody likes being used. Do you genuinely care about your partner’s happiness? Take the initiative to love your partner. It must be freely offered.
Parenting – family is the place for children to learn real love. We must love them the same as when they displease us as when they please us. Their anger and rebellion could be the result of our lack of love for them. Controlling and permissiveness are both destructive. Correction with genuine acceptance is needed. If our children feel like they are down to their last two dollars it is the parents fault.
To receive and give unconditional love is the most worthwhile goal in all our relationships. When we try to change others we are only choosing to be miserable. When I am angry it is never someone else’s fault. It is my choice. Rather than seeing others around us as an inconvenience we can see them as an opportunity of being accepting. When feeling empty and fearful, be truthful with God and see how fully he loves you.
Dealing with obstacles on the path to real Love: disappointment, anger, getting and protecting behaviors
Real love can eliminate disappointment and anger rather than managing them. Making demands only creates such conflict. Everyone must have the freedom to choose whatever they want. We are not obligated to give others everything they want. There is no need to prove our love to them. If you can control me you will never know if I love you. I get to choose what I do, but not what the other does. A request with disappointment was really a demand. Controlling others is selfish and wrong.
Five steps to avoiding conflict:
- Be quiet, when angry do not speak
- Be wrong, admit you are wrong, if angry you are wrong. Which is better, being right or a loving relationship. Anger blinds us to seeing our partner clearly. If you are controlling, unloving, blind, expecting your partner to make you happy, you couldn’t be more wrong. Tell your partner you are wrong.
- Feel loved, remember who loves you.
- Get loved, call a wise friend and get love.
- Be loving, give it to another and it will multiply, do something loving for your partner.
Dealing with getting/protecting behaviors. Tell the truth about yourself and feel real love. Emptiness and fear is the cause of such getting and protecting behavior.
Anytime we motivate people with fear we are attacking them. If you genuinely care for someone their faults will mean very little to you. Don’t talk about the other, talk about yourself. Accept your blame.
When acting like a victim you are saying, ‘look what you did to me and what you should have done for me.’ Victims see others as objects that will either make them happy or hurt them.
Loving and being loved is the only way to true happiness.
Ending a relationship. If someone decides to continue to lie and not tell the truth they cannot participate in a loving relationship. Some relationships should end. You can only continue to tell the truth about yourself. People who cannot admit they are wrong cannot learn anything. Even the most unloving relationship can be resolved.