Most people think they know how to unconditionally love the people in their lives. They think they know what that looks like. But, most people have never received unconditional love from anyone in their life, so they don’t actually know what it looks like. This episode details the difference between conditional and unconditional love and some signs that will signal to you that you are giving conditional love
Where are you in your relationship with your young adult child?
If you’re feeling:
* like you’re on an emotional roller coaster and don’t have the ability to get off
* confused and exhausted from walking on eggshells in every interaction
* full of fear because of the choices your child is making
* like a failure because of where your child is and you’re blaming yourself
then you will want to attend this webinar.
Learn 3 vital strategies to begin moving that relationship in a different direction. Even if it feels impossible right now, you can start using these strategies today to begin repairing this relationship. Attend this free masterclass to learn these 3 strategies:
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You’re listening to Parenting Through the Detour episode 48 “Conditional Love vs Unconditional Love”
Howard W Hunter said, “Your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to Him.” Well, how are your detours going? Does it feel like everything’s gone wrong, and you don’t know what to do now? I’m Tina Gosney, a life and relationship coach for LDS parents, with adult children. And I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I’m going to help you find your footing again, through those detours and disappointments. And when you find your strength, and your courage to navigate your own detours, you’re going to begin helping your family through theirs as well.
I am so glad you are with me on the podcast today. I know may can be a super busy month, right? We have ending of school, we’ve got performances, recitals, award ceremonies, graduations. And it’s also like wedding season, right. So if your kids are young adults, they might have friends that are getting married, and then you’ve got those things to go to also. So I just really appreciate you being here with me in the month of May, because I know how busy it can be. In fact, sometimes it feels like May is busier than December. And it feels like you will get even more stressed in May than you do in December in the middle of the holidays.
So before I get started today, I wanted to read a review from Aspenallie and this is a five star review. She says “A must listen to podcast for all parents. I just finished episode number 22 and was blown away by Tina’s ability to explain complex theories with very visual and easy to understand examples. I learned something new in every episode. I love listening to Tina’s calm, encouraging voice and admire her willingness to approach each topic no matter how controversial with love and curiosity. If you have kids, this is the podcast for you.”
Thank you Aspenallie, that is so kind of you to leave me that review. She actually left this review back in November. And if you’re wondering what episode 22 is, it’s called Show Up as Your Best Self During the Holidays. (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN) So the reason I bringing this episode up now is because of what I said just a minute ago, may can bring out a lot of stress, may can bring out a lot of not showing up as your best. And if you’re finding that you’re really stressed trying to get things done not showing up as the person that you want to be, I suggest you go back and listen to episode number 22.
Even though it has to do with holidays, it applies to any time where you felt fill yourself a little bit overwhelmed. You feel like you are not showing up as your best self and you want to be able to change that. There will be a link in the show notes to that episode. But I highly suggest going and listening to that one.
Now, as I told you last week, I have a webinar coming up on May 26. And that is three shifts to begin repairing your relationship with your young adult child, even if it seems impossible right now. Now that is a masterclass it’s been going to be delivered in the form of a webinar on Zoom. And if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re struggling, if you’re wondering, how did we even get to this place? Maybe you’re feeling really disconnected with your child or your or another important person in your life. Maybe you just got a gut punch. And your child has told you something and you’re feeling so wounded and just dazed from it.
You need to come to this masterclass because I’m going to share with you three ways that you can start turning things around and you can start to feel better right away things that you can start doing the day you hear this masterclass the day you attend this webinar. These are things you can start doing right away. It doesn’t require your child or your spouse or anybody else to do anything for you to start making these shifts. It’s completely free.
It’s one hour and I I’m pretty strict with my time I show up to things on time. I end things on time. So when I say it’s going to be one hour, it’s going to be an hour and if you want to stay later for Q&A, you’ll be able to do that, you’ll have the opportunity to do that. There is a link in the show notes to sign up for this webinar and want you to go to that and get signed up, you won’t want to miss it, this is going to be really valuable information. If you feel like you’re struggling, if you feel like you don’t have connection with your child anymore, or maybe that relationship feels a little bit damaged and wounded, you need to come to this class,
I want you to close your eyes for a second. Unless you’re driving, if you’re driving, please don’t close your eyes, I want you to close your eyes for a second. And just imagine that you are in the middle of an ocean. But there’s no boat, there’s no Island, there’s no one to help you, and you’re drowning out there all by yourself, you’re exhausted and you’re terrified. And suddenly, a person grabs you from behind, and they drag you under the water. You are so completely overwhelmed with fear and anger and you’re struggling so hard to get free. But no matter what you do, your head just stays underwater. And just as you’re about to pass out and drowned.
I come by in a small boat and I pull you out of the water. And after catching your breath, you turn around and you see this, this person and I arrive in a small boat and pull you out of the water. And just after you catch your breath, you turn around and you see that person that dragged you under. And you see that they’re actually drowning themselves. And they only grabbed you in a desperate attempt to save their own life. They weren’t trying to harm you at all.
And once you realize this, your anger vanishes immediately. And you quickly help that other person into the boat. This is what happens in our relationships. We don’t see that other people are hurt. We see our own hurt. We don’t see when people hurt us, like this person who dragged you underwater. They were drowning also when they were trying to save themselves.
But you can’t see that until you’re out of the water. You literally can’t see it. Because you don’t have perspective on what’s really happening. And today I’m gonna talk about conditional versus unconditional love is the difference between being in the water and drowning, being pulled down by others around you who are who are also drowning, or being in the boat. Having the perspective from that vantage point and being able to help someone else to climb in the boat with you.
That’s what we’re talking about today. Now unconditional love. conditional love. I would say I think most parents consider themselves to have unconditional love for their kids. But since they’ve never actually experienced unconditional love themselves, they don’t actually know what it’s supposed to look like. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
What does conditional love look like? What does unconditional love look like? And how do we know when we’re which one we’re living into? How do we know which one is present in our relationships? You know, the greatest fear for human beings is to be unloved and alone. In fact, people who are dying are actually more consistently afraid that no one cared about them than they are about death itself. Have you been watching this series?
This is us like I have. They’re on season six. It’s almost over like they’re just doing the last few episodes this month. Kind of sad about it because I have I have just loved this show. But last week’s episode, Miguel didn’t have long to live. He was his health was failing. And Kevin went to his son’s house, his estranged son and told him that his dad was in failing health and he probably didn’t have long to live. And we don’t know exactly how many years it had been since Miguel had contact with this son or relationship with this son. But then the next scene is the son with him celebrating Christmas.
The son came to him and reconnected with his dad. This is what we do right when someone doesn’t have long to live and we know that we they tend to reach out and make amends. They reach out to someone they’ve been estranged from. Or if you’re on the other side, you might have somebody that you are we’re close to Whew, and that you had an issue that was not resolved and you find out they passed away, they have regret didn’t have the chance to make amends with them before they passed.
We tend to let problems stay unresolved indefinitely sometimes. But then when death is near, it becomes a priority to either let it go, or to mend the relationship. Why does it have to be like that? Why does it have to be like, death changed things for us as to how we show up in a relationship. We don’t have to be that way. But we really have a deep need to be connected to each other. When that connection is missing, we are terrified human beings.
Because that is our at our core, that is what we need. And when we feel that someone is genuinely concerned about our happiness, we feel really connected to that person. And on the flip side, when we don’t feel that someone is generally concerned about our own happiness, we don’t feel connected to the other person. Just about everyone has had the experience of being in a crowded room or a room full of people and feeling completely alone. It’s not just human interaction that we crave, because that would take care of that. If we were just surrounded by people. It’s human connection that we crave, to be seen and heard and understood and loved for who we are.
And when we are unconditionally accepted by the people around us, it creates powerful bonds that fill us with genuine and lasting happiness. Nothing but unconditional love has the power to do that for us. Very few of us have ever experienced a true unconditional love in our lives. In fact, it’s one of those traditions of the fathers that’s passed down through generations. conditional love. We relate to our children the way our parents related to us. And they relate and they relate to us the way their parents related to them.
The problem is, we don’t know how to let go of conditional love, and move into unconditional love. babies and small children learn what they need to know through imitation of the people in their lives. And in fact, they will pick up things as small as how you hold the muscles in your face. When you form words. They’re so in tune, to connecting with the people in their lives, to imitating so that they can fit in that that’s how accents are formed, and how they’re passed down through generations.
Accents and dialects. Because the way that we hold the muscles in our face, the way that we form words with our mouth, produce accents and dialects, right. And babies, small children, they pick up on these things. Because they depend on the adults in their lives to keep them alive. They don’t have the ability to do that themselves and their, their nervous systems, their brains, they know that they depend on the adults in their lives, for their very survival. And they don’t have language skills, yet.
They don’t have the ability to understand a lot of things that we say, or to communicate to us what they are thinking and feeling. So they get really good at picking up on small cues. To know whether the adults in their lives are happy with them. They pick up on facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, they pick up on so many things, so many small things. And as we get older, we actually have more language skills. And we can communicate more with our words. And we can understand more of the words that are communicated to us than we were younger. But we still rely on these small cues to measure how someone is thinking and feeling about us.
We don’t even realize that we’re doing this. But we do this so that we can be accepted and that we can fit in. And by this time we’ve gotten really good at changing and monitoring our behavior to be accepted by others. Think about when you’re unhappy. It’s pretty common to blame someone else. Until look outside of yourself and say if this hadn’t happened, if that person was different, if they would just treat me this way, if I could just have that. Usually it’s a spouse, a child, maybe sometimes a stranger.
And we blame other people because that’s what we’ve seen other people do. So this is one of the ways that we’re imitating that the way that we’ve seen our parents interact in the world. Because we say things like, Oh, you make me so mad, he makes me so angry. And we go around perpetuating this idea that other people have the power to make us feel anything. Someone else caused the anger, it’s not my fault. It’s all their fault. And we’ve been told by others that we have caused their emotions, right.
Other people have pointed out that we made a mistake, and so they’re angry. So we have learned to justify our anger by pointing out the mistakes of other people. And because people are always making mistakes, it’s really easy to find justification for our blaming and our anger that we carry around with us through our life, and it becomes a pattern. If we’re unhappy in a relationship, we turn that person into a scapegoat for everything we don’t like. And we blame them for the unhappiness in our lives. And that includes unhappiness that we’ve been carrying around for a long time, maybe since we were children.
But when I tell you, it’s a mistake, to blame other people for your negative feelings, it’s an excuse that you use when you feel bad. We don’t know why we do it. But we need someone other than ourselves to blame. We don’t even realize that that’s what we’re doing. But until we do understand this until we do, until we gain the awareness of what we’re creating in our own lives. For ourselves, we will continue this pattern in our lives and teach our children to do the same in theirs. We’re passing down unhealthy and unrighteous traditions.
So many of us have never received unconditional love from the people in our lives. So we think we’re giving it but we don’t actually even know how. Because we don’t know what it looks like. What we’ve been given and what we give to others is a lot of judgment, criticism, conditional support, anger, frustration, disappointment, and you could keep going on. But unconditional love says, I care how you feel. conditional love says I like how you make me feel. So I want you to think about how that shows up in the way that we interact with people. conditional love is what we give to people when they do what we want. People like us more when we make them feel good.
Or at least when we did nothing to inconvenience them. In a way. It’s like we’re buying love from the people that were around. So to really reliable science, that love is conditional is disappointment and anger. We do things like frown, sigh, speak harshly communicate, we’re not getting what we want. And in that moment, we are not caring about the other person’s happiness. We are caring about our own. And then the other person senses that we are trying to get our own needs met. And they feel very disconnected from us and they feel alone, no matter what we say or do want you to think about when you were a child, when your mother smiled at you, she spoke softly she held you.
You felt really loved and you notice that she did those things more when you were good. And I say good with air quotes. Okay. When you did things like you were quiet, you were grateful you were cooperative. You told her how much you loved her. In other words, you saw that she loved you more when you did what she liked. And probably 99.9% of parents do this, right? And then you saw when you were bad and bad is also in air quotes. Things like we were noisy or messy or disobedient or you are inconveniencing her, are you embarrassed?
Or are you saw that she did not speak softly or smile. In fact, she probably frowned side with disappointment and maybe spoke in a harsh tone of voice. And although she was not doing this intentionally, she told you that with those behaviors that she didn’t approve of you, and you felt much less loved. And that is the worst pain in the world for a child, especially a young child. Remember that child is dependent on the adults in their life to keep them safe and alive. And it feels very threatening to a child to not feel loved and connected to the parent.
But when we give or withhold love according to what another person does, that’s conditional love. And nearly all of us were loved this way as children. And it’s not just our parents that we receive these these messages from. It’s all people in our childhood also. You gave us conditional approval, like the school teachers would smile and encourage us when we were, we were doing well when we are cooperative when we got good grades and helped them, but they usually behaved very differently, when we were slow at something when it was inconvenient to the rest of the classroom, to have us not understanding something when we were being difficult.
Even our own friends liked us more when we did what they liked. And in fact, that’s what’s made them our friends. And that pattern of conditional approval has continued through your life. People continue to give you their approval more often, when you do what they want. And so we do what it takes to earn it.
Now, I don’t know a parent alive, who has ever gotten up in the morning and said to themselves, “I’m going to conditionally love my child. Today, I’m going to be selfish, critical, demanding, and not give them what they want most for me.”
I don’t know anyone who has consciously got up and said that to themselves. Because we love our children, the best that we know how. But the problem is, most of us don’t know how to give and receive unconditional love. You don’t know how to give it because you probably never got it. But real unconditional love is caring about the happiness of another person, without any thought, for what you will get for yourself.
And when you give unconditional love, you’re not disappointed. You’re not hurt, you’re not angry, even when the other person is thoughtless, or inconsiderate, or gives you nothing in return, including gratitude. Because your concern is for their happiness and not your own. This is unconditional love. And maybe you’re thinking, Well, I just can’t unconditionally love people that treat me bad. Or I can’t just unconditionally love people when they’re wrong.
Someone needs to speak up and say something, I just can’t let it go. And it’s true that sometimes we have responsibilities to teach and correct people. This includes children, employees, who it doesn’t include is adult children. Spouses does not include someone you do not have direct responsibility over. Even when we do have a responsibility to teach and correct. It never has to be done with disappointment and anger. Those are two signs that will always reveal your true motivation is disappointment and anger.
And that is not unconditional love. And you might also be worried that maybe unconditional love means that you just let people do whatever you just let them walk all over you that you never say no, you just become a doormat and you get used by everyone around you. But this is not what it means. loving people unconditionally does not mean that you give them everything they want. That would be indulgent and irresponsible. When you love people unconditionally, you accept them as they are and you contribute to their happiness as wisely as you can. It does not mean you respond to their every demand, and you sacrifice unconditional love for yourself in the process of showing it to somebody else. So it helps to ask yourself this question.
“What looks most like love to me and to them right now?”
And then it helps to act from that. Sometimes the most loving thing to yourself and to another person is to say no. Sometimes it’s to speak up. Sometimes it’s to put a boundary into place. Sometimes it looks like letting go of your need for something to look or be a certain way. It looks like opening yourself up and asking that person becoming very curious about what their needs are and how you can help them. Sometimes it looks like doing something for somebody, and sometimes it looks like not doing something for somebody. But if you get clear on what unconditional love looks like in your life, and you’re releasing the other person from doing anything for you to feel it for them.
It starts to open up a lot of doors. You know, I am kind of fascinated by a near death experience. This, I like to read about him, I like to watch shows about them, I just think it’s really fascinating. And I have noticed that almost universally, people talk about being wrapped up and consumed in a love that they’ve never experienced before. A love that is so powerful that it permeated every part of their being right down to the core. And this is because that’s how Christ loves us.
And we are here to become like him, which means we need to learn to love like him. That’s why we’re here. We need to learn to love ourselves, and to love others, like Christ as releasing somebody else to be different, to act differently, to show up differently, to treat you differently, releasing your need for them to do that, so that you can love them. That is more what unconditional love looks like. And being aware that you’re not doing that is the first step. Right, you have to be aware of what’s happening.
Just like when you get pulled out of the boat, then you can see perspective, then you see, oh, that other person was drowning too. Then things start to look a lot different to you, once you get out of the water and into the boat. Now, it’s going to be super easy for you to be critical of yourself, as you listen to this episode. It’s going to be really easy for you to judge yourself, for not knowing what you were doing when you were doing it. And I want you to be really patient with yourself.
As you learn to give unconditional love to yourself and to the people in your family. It’s a total learning curve. It’s a learning process. And our humaneness gets in the way, quite often. You’re not going to lose your fear, your pain, your disappointment and anger overnight. It takes time and patience, and you’re going to stumble along the way. I practice this every day. And some days, I’m pretty good at it. And some days, I’m really not good at it. I stumbled plenty.
But now I realize that I’ve stumbled and I know how to get back up and keep trying. I’m going to tell you that journey is worth it. It’s worth every effort that you give, to find unconditional love for yourself and for other people. And also when you are able to get out of the water and into the boat. You’re going to be amazed at how many problems that you’re stuck in right now. Start to work themselves out. You don’t have any idea right now what’s going to take care of itself. When you start to give and receive and open yourself up to unconditional love issues that you’ve been stuck in problems that it seems like you’ve tried everything to fix. People that are huge.
They’re just so hard to get along with. Those things start to work themselves out. And as an adult, you need to understand that you have to become increasingly responsible for your own happiness. You can’t hold your parents responsible. I’ve talked a lot about how we pass these things on to our kids today. You can’t hold your parents responsible anymore for your own happiness. It’s not helpful or productive as an adult, to blame your unhappiness on your parents.
You need to learn a better response to your pain than blame and anger. And you can do that. And remember, there are people all over the place all over the world that are drowning. Most people are still on the ocean drowning, pulling each other down. And they’re doing that because they are hurt people. And they’re reacting badly to the pain of feeling unloved and alone. And when we really understand that, our feelings towards other people and our relationships with them will change dramatically. Without unconditional love, it will feel like you’re drowning all the time.
Even innocent encounters with other people can feel very threatening.
But with unconditional love, nothing else matters. And without it, nothing else will ever be enough.
Now just a reminder, there’s a link in the show notes to sign up for my free masterclass about the three shifts to begin repairing your relationship with your young adult child. And remember, you don’t none of these shifts have anything to do with them. So you don’t have to be dependent on them to change for these things. work. And I want to tell you I have a special bonus for those of you who attend, you’ll have to come to find out what it is. But there is a link in the show notes to get signed up. And I’m really looking forward to seeing you there. It’s just in a couple of weeks. Go there and get signed up.
And as I sign off for today, I want you to remember your detours and disappointments do not define your family and they do not define you. Have a great day and I’ll see you next week.