Love. The word that makes the world spin around. The word that gives people meaning. The one capable of providing happiness and sadness. What does it mean to love someone? Truly, unconditionally loving someone. And how can we apply it to ourselves when it comes to health and fitness.
I am not an expert. I have not studied anything, so everything that I write here comes only from experience.
What does it mean to love somebody unconditionally? It means that you love that person no matter what. You love them regardless of what and how he/she lives their life. You love that person without any conditions. It might be easier to understand unconditional love with your pet.
Recently my girlfriend told me that she just found out, that her dog loves her unconditionally. It took her 9 years. So, yes it can take some time to build a strong relationship. But when I asked her how long it took her to realize that she loves him the same way, she replied “half a second”.
That is a strong connection and to maintain it for 9 years means a lot. It requires a lot of dedication too. We all have had a pet at some point, so there is no need to explain more about responsibilities. But we still love them, regardless. And we want the best for them. So, we research how to make their life better. We read or educate ourselves about their needs and try to provide them with as much as we can.
But we also know what is good for them and whatnot. For example, we know that sugar is bad for their eyes and we never give them any. We Educate them not to run after cars as that puts them at risk. Why do we do that? Because we love them. We want what is best for them in terms of their health and happiness.
Now, that does not mean that they will necessarily like it at that moment. Trust me, my dog loves to run after cars. And he does not seem very happy when I stop him. But that is for his greater good.
It is the same with humans. We want what is best for the people we love so we try to change them, according to our perception of good and bad. This tendency of ours is often the reason for conflicts in close friends, family, and romantic relationships. We want to help so much the people we love, so we forget how to communicate with them. We often enter into conflicts, just to prove to them our love.
Here is what I realized, watching people that I have grown with, fighting all the time.
The more we try to change someone according to our beliefs, the more that person is going to be frustrated by this judgment-type communication.
Let us say your girlfriend is addicted to sugar. She is an emotional eater, and she deals with stress of any kind, by eating loads of chocolate. You know that this s bad for her. So, what do you do?
Have a meaningless conversation about the bad consequences of sugar, ending in a fight?
Hide the chocolate from her, ending in even more frustration and buying sweets in bulk?
Accepting her the way she is and help only if she asks for it?
That is right. The last one is the healthiest approach. It is the behavior that is bringing you one step closer to unconditional love when it comes to relationships with others. Once we accept the person, we will then, be able to love without any conditions.
Now, there are many lessons we can take out from this. I want to focus on two and help you understand.
This is something I learned when I started to train people. They all wanted permanent change and as we know it cannot happen without behavior change. How do I get to change those people`s way of thinking? Simple. Be a perfect example. Educate them through examples. It does take time and patience. But it seems to be the only one that works.
Back to the example above. If you sit and eat chocolate with your girlfriend and keep saying how bad it is for her health, she will never change. let us imagine a situation where you develop a healthy relationship with sugar. You educate yourself of the consequences. You manage to say no because you do not want, rather than because you cannot. You keep talking about how good you feel not eating that much sugar. How free and energized you feel. Sooner or later your girlfriend is going to notice and decide to try it herself. She is going to ask you for help. Now it is your turn. Now you can talk to her about the benefits and consequences, and together come up with a solution how to change her behavior.
It sounds to me like a healthy relationship between two people, loving themselves without any conditions.
The second lesson is more complex, but you can apply it to your own self and massively improve.
When it comes to loving yourself, things are a bit different.
Back to the dog example. You have the power to control the dog’s actions to a certain extent and correct them if they are wrong. You still must be careful though, as it is another conscious being that is in a relationship with you.
However, you can apply these dog-educating techniques to yourself. In fact, You are the only person you can change. You know what works for You. You know how to put barriers. You know what you want to change in You and the only person you have to discuss it with, is only You.
It is a bit tricky when people think they really love themselves. By accepting who you are, does not mean that you accept that you can’t stop drinking 2 liters of beer per day.
No. it means that you are honest with yourself and are ready to change. You are the only person that can set any conditions, barriers and require changes. And again, it comes out of love. You love yourself so much that you cannot let getting poisoned by alcohol every day. You love yourself so much that you want to exercise your body, to make it strong and resilient. You want to benefit your immune system and general health, so you can stop taking some of the pills that you do on a regular basis because you freaking love yourself and you want what is the best for you. Of course, that does not mean that you are going to like it. Training is not always pleasant. Not having chocolate whenever you want is not always comfortable. But it pays off and is good for you.
For me loving your dog means, educating, and sometimes restricting for its greater good.
Loving people around you means accepting them the way they are without trying to change them. Loving yourself means making sure your body is healthy and strong.
It all comes down to love. The driver of pretty much everything. Anger, sadness, motivation, success, hate, and change. If we try to think of our actions driven by love, maybe we are going to be able to share it better with others. If we try to practice love and think of its origin, maybe we are going to have better relationships. Both with ourselves and others.
“Love is going to save the world,” they say. But it could also destroy it. Love wisely.