Blindly giving of yourself will take you down a road paved with resentment and being taken advantage of. We all have done this at one time or another, doing everything our partner or child wants us to do until we end up exhausted and angry. We feel used, waiting for the other person to “return the favor” which never happens. This is a recipe for disaster.
Fearlessly giving unconditional love, however, is pure love. It’s loving somebody enough to let them live their life exactly as they see fit, and exactly as you would hope to be loved by them in return.
True loving is wanting the person you love to be exactly where they want to be at all times, with love in your heart. When I first heard this concept I completely disagreed with it, which is why I kept reconsidering and revisiting it. When I am this opposed to something I always know it’s a lesson I have to learn. Eventually, I realized that it really makes sense. I know it sounds crazy and unrealistic, I thought so too. But think about it. Would you want anybody to put limits on you? Would you want somebody to tell you where you could work, who you could be friends with, who you could love, etc. If they did would you believe that they really loved you? Why would somebody who loves you want to keep you from living the life you truly desire?
Think about this statement “I want ‘my loved one’ to be with whomever they want, with love in my heart.” That sounds weird, doesn’t it; like an open marriage kind of thing? This is not what I am referring to (no judgment, just clarification). If you love somebody in the truest sense of the word, you want them to be themselves, just as you want them to allow you to be you. Let’s just say that I am dating somebody and they want to date somebody else. If I really love them completely then I want them to have that. This is not to say that I wouldn’t reevaluate my relationship and make a decision to leave it, because there is a good chance that I would if this happened to me. At least in this scenario, though, it is honest. You know where they are coming from. Nobody is cheating. Everybody is making decisions to the best of their ability with all of the information on the table. Like you, they should have the option to do whatever it is that they choose to do; whatever is best for them. I’m also not saying I would be happy about it necessarily. Ultimately though, if they have a desire to be with somebody else, they really don’t want to be with me in the way that I want them to be, i.e. fully committed and completely in love with me. So I love them enough to let them go and live their life. This is a huge pill to swallow I realize, but do you really want to be with somebody who wants to be with others anyways?? Be honest!! For most of us that would be considered settling and none of us should spend a minute of our lives settling for less than what we desiring. Nothing good comes from that, just resentment.
Another example is the spouse that decides they want a boys/girls night out every Thursday night. Why wouldn’t their spouse encourage that? Each individual in a relationship needs personal time and space. It is imperative to continue to be the individual that you are while you are in relationship. People so easily lose track of who they really are deep down when they are involved in a relationship. I know I did. Once I got divorced I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. Why did I change so much? It wasn’t because he asked me to for sure, I just did. And it was very gradual too. It sneaks up on you until one day you look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself. And worst of all, you often blame your spouse for all of it. Yep, I did that too! Fortunately, we are responsible for our own actions and the junk we get as a result of them. So give your spouse some space and be happy that they have things they like to do without you because you also get to do the things you like to do too! When you give freedom, you get freedom. If you give them your blessing, they will often come home earlier and happier. Isn’t that what you want anyways?
There comes a time when our kids start to make their own decisions. This can be hard for a parent. We get so used to handling everything for them and then all of a sudden they start making their own decisions. It’s a big adjustment. Obviously we still need to keep them safe and help them to understand the consequences of their actions, but there are some BIG decisions they will need to make on their own. College, for example; isn’t it best for the person who is actually attending college to decide where they should go? They are the ones who are going to have to be motivated enough to get up and go to classes, to do homework, etc. As parents we often think we know best, but really do we? How could we ever know what path is best for another person? We can’t. Imagine if we never went through any rough spots in life or made any hard decisions. We would be so wishy-washy. Decision making takes practice, we don’t get to skip this lesson and neither do our kids.
How about when you child decides to travel or move out-of-state. Ouch! This is a tough one too. I do not ever want my kids to move away from me. I want them to stay close to me forever. However, I love to travel and I love to try new things. So…how could I, in good conscience, stop my kids from wanting to see the world? How could I stop my kids from following their life’s path? It’s not up to me to run my child’s life, I’m just here to help them manage it until they are ready to fly on their own. It’s so great when we give them the freedom to live their lives exactly how they wish to live it. It may not be easy, but you may find that you feel closer to your children when they are 1,000 miles away than you do when they live around the block. It’s because you gave them the gift of freedom to be their authentic self. That is a wonderful, selfless gift!
There are times when you have plans with a friend and they frankly blow you off for another opportunity. While this stings a bit when it happens, you’ll often notice it is for the greater good anyways. Maybe you didn’t really feel like going. Maybe they finally got a date with somebody and were so excited they couldn’t say no. Most of the time it’s not personal, it just appears that way. In any case, if you truly love your friend, you want them to be happy. So unless they are in the habit of using you for one reason or another, maybe it’s okay to let them off the hook once in a while. You may find that you have an even better time doing whatever you end up doing instead!
This rule applies to all of your relationships. We are best served when we stay in our business and let others handle theirs. When you find yourself wanting to control another person’s life turn it around and ask yourself how you would feel if somebody was controlling yours. And remember, letting somebody live their life doesn’t mean you have to live with their decisions. You are always free to adjust your position in the relationship, as are they.