162: Spiritual Principle – Unconditional Love (Sort Of)

Unconditional love. Seems like a lofty goal. We investigate and explore unconditional love as a spiritual principle. How can we practice this? Where is a model of unconditional love in the world? Is unconditional love the deepest love, or the most basic love? Is unconditional love, abuse? Is love more about the feeling, or the actions that go with it? How can we practice unconditional love when we are being harmed by the person? We dive into all this and more in our episode. Listen in and share your thoughts with us.

spiritual principle – unconditional love

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature


welcome back it’s recovery sort of I am Jason a guy whose love has plenty of conditions and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery and it’s the last spiritual principle of the Year even though I think we’re going to continue right along with spiritual principles next year because we don’t have many better ideas um but no it’s uh it’s spiritual principle time for December unconditional love I gotta be honest I did not think some of these things that we’ve covered as spiritual principles that I I took out of the Narcotics Anonymous step working guide like that’s where I got them from I didn’t make them up or you know try to interpret like some reading and say this is the principle in this like I I went in and if you’ve ever worked the steps out of the step working guide like at the end of each step it has a section called spiritual principles and there’s four or five listed and you answer some questions about them and they you know little readings about how they apply in the step but I don’t know I guess I just as pictured like they would all be honesty open mindedness humility you know what I mean like the the same one’s just deeper yeah and and to some extent they were so when I made this list I I was doing it for a different purpose I went through each one I pulled the first spiritual principle thinking oh the first one must be the main one um but then in cases where they repeated I just dropped to the next one down but yeah like unconditional love does not what I really picture for step 12. honestly being the spiritual principle I yeah when I first read the step it wasn’t for me either so give it away or selflessness like action something right it’s a little weird uh but that was what was in the literature was the unconditional that’s the uh apparently and I haven’t re-looked to double check myself but when I went through the point was I’m picking the top one that hasn’t already been used so I don’t know if there’s one in Step 12 I’m sure I could probably easily look at it up on my computer right here but I’m not going to uh but yeah unconditional love so I it’s a concept that like even without talking about it as a spiritual principle per se I’m like does not sound like a realistic Concept in our world I just can’t picture anybody that doesn’t have some conditions around you know I’m only going to like your presence if you’re nice to me or you know what I mean like this it’s hard to think of some case where it’s unconditional even kids like love is a tricky word in that it means so many different things and so many different contexts to so many different people and we use it you know as an adjective and a verb noun like love is actually almost as versatile as the word [  ] all right it’s right up there so it’s It’s Tricky when you say unconditional love because it’s like well because love is already confused that mean right Love’s already confusing enough and for some of us it’s like our our love especially in relationships is so conditional you know it’s like well yeah I’m only in this marriage because they don’t lie to me cheat on me steal from me abuse me they respect my boundaries like those are nervous for my romantic partner but but yeah you’re right we do we we have this idea that like we we want to Aspire to this unconditional love I think there’s there’s people who want to have this but I just can’t picture it actually working like relationships are transactional whether we’d like them to be or not they are like I do this for you you do this for me and it works out because we both do it for each other right and so my understanding of the way I interpret unconditional love I guess is a little more General in that it really means I wish for every human being a sense of uh I want to show them some compassion some uh courtesy if you will some respect that they have a right to life and a pursuit of you know their happiness and you know I want them to be happy for me it’s something that I’ve practiced in a form of meditation called Meta Meta meditation where you you know the way I’ve seen it practiced or whatever is like you can start with someone that you’re really close to you know someone that you do actually love and you focus on that feeling and then you go outward a little bit further to like let’s say it’s whatever like a clerk at the coffee shop that you go to all the time that you don’t really know but you have some general uh reaction or transactions with you try to express like well wishes good thoughts happy happy Vibes to them and then you expand that out even further to like someone that you don’t really like or don’t really know at all and then out to like the whole world and so the idea isn’t necessarily that I am going to give away everything that I own or like give all of my time up all of a sudden to any person that walks down the street it’s more like okay I can appreciate that like other addicts that are suffering in the world if I see someone you know walking down the street who’s obviously you know using they’re doing the nod or whatever standing on the corner or they’re you know half out of it walking down the street that I can think oh man that’s really terrible like I really wish that person could find some peace I wish they could find some happiness you know maybe if there was some way that I could could help them in that journey in that in their life like I might be willing to do that like for me that’s kind of more the idea of unconditional love not necessarily that I’m gonna like pull my car over and be like oh what do you need here’s you know a thousand bucks let’s get you in the house like yeah I feel like I’m gonna argue two different things on this episode already like I’m gonna have this argument about love and then we’re gonna have an argument about unconditional love um how do you define I love right like I I mean there’s this age-old argument of like is it a feeling is it an action is it a thought or a way of being like I can’t say that I have a complete concept of that so maybe that’s where we need to start with this even though I feel like that’s going to be painstaking but like for me what is love right baby don’t hurt me um I don’t know completely I think it is I I will say I think the feeling of Love is pretty useless if the action of love doesn’t exist so I would say the Act of Love is probably in my mind more important than the feeling of love and I actually think of anything the feeling that comes with love can be built by the act of Love versus the other way around like you could you could feel love for a person but if they hurt you like you don’t want to do nice things for them you want to like you know [  ] break their car windshield or you know pop their tires or something we’ve got songs about this Carrie Underwood hang on like come on um but the act of love you know just I’m going like more like what you described I am going to be this kind person in the world and give these people Positive Vibes of hoping they all do well whether I know them or not or whether they’ve wronged me or not that I feel like is much more useful in the world what’s your feelings about love what is what is love yeah so the connection and intimacy that I can have with someone that I’m close to that’s in my sphere of you know life on a regular basis is much deeper I feel like I have to set some parameters around that or else I set myself up for abuse um obviously in the world of like caregiving and and compassion and therapy and you know all that stuff there’s I believe lots of training and stuff that goes into like healthy boundaries for that [  ] like you you don’t want to get too far in you know or like you get sucked into someone else’s drama you know you put yourself in harm getting too caught up so is that I don’t know in your experience or training with that stuff is that like love going awry like is that like too much love I don’t think it’s too much love um but it you know if we were going to not dig deeper and just talk about unconditional love yeah I think the the one place I would say it might exist would be in like codependent relationships right like this I will do anything for you no matter how badly you treat me kind of idea which is was unfortunate right I don’t layer for people in that situation but that’s the first thing I think of in an actual unconditional love and practice does look like abuse um unfortunately if both people aren’t on the same page with with providing that but I think people in situations that are more codependent or maybe more I’ll put this person before myself I think that’s more of them struggling with the fear of them not being enough versus like oh I have too much love to give and I’m just giving it to this person freely while they abuse me yeah okay well and I’m thinking I guess so if I think of love in like I don’t know I guess I’d call it like layers you know what I mean like there’s there’s Love Like Love yeah well there’s like the the top you know what I would call like the surface layer would be like oh I love ice cream or I love my dog that’s like the crust level yeah like the very top and then it’s like the love I might have for like you know co-workers or friends or people that are in my life I’d be pretty hurt or you know maybe upset if something happened to them and then there might be like my kids and family members you know and then it’s probably like my wife you know something like that just that’s a general but something like that I guess for me if I thought an unconditional love that’s actually at the very top of all that like really that’s required to build into those other things yeah it’s not the bottom so and that’s what I was just sitting here I think that’s a foundation on which things are built like I can’t have romantic love with my wife if I’m not starting with some level of unconditional love um and as I make a deeper love commitment it puts conditions on it you know what I mean like the idea behind that when I say it is that I think every human being has a right to exist they have a right to life I don’t wish harm or pain or suffering on anyone when I see another person suffering like it makes my heart ache you know like that sort of thing like wow every person should have a right to like thrive in an enjoyable life and you know Freedom like all those things like we all should get all those things there’s not a shortage of that available we act like there is I know we do but there’s not a shortage of that available that I need to be like well they shouldn’t have it and I should have it no everyone deserves that in in some level and so I need to start there before I can have like an intimate relationship with my children or my wife if I’m not starting there I don’t know that I can have those other things so your take is new and fascinating but I don’t think I agree with it it’s new to me too because I just crossed my mind now well I I mean it’s cool it’s cool to talk about I I like the concept of how you lay it out I don’t disagree with there has to be some base level of like Goodwill towards the world in order to have these deeper levels of intimacy and connection I totally agree with that I don’t know that it’s unconditional love though and I’m trying to that’s interesting that you say the deeper the love the more conditions because and and the way you described it I guess does not fit with what I see in the world like I don’t see people getting into relationships and being like Oh yeah this is new so it’s not that important so I can Overlook all the negative behaviors in my partner it’s like more like uh in the beginning there aren’t as many negative behaviors for each person right they got their representative out there doing their best foot forward and everything and then I think as soon as we start seeing [  ] that doesn’t feel good to us we’re like oh I don’t know about this maybe I need to leave I don’t feel like the conditions come later I feel like they’re already present like we’re we’re waiting for those conditions to be violated we we come in with our terms and conditions ahead of time we’re like oh go ahead [  ] off like I got my list I don’t know I guess the idea of unconditional love is like the foundation on where I want my heart or Spirit to start you know the the place where I want to start my interactions with other human beings in the world you know like it’s it’s the starting ground for where I want to be I think if anything so I I did talk with Caroline a little bit about this concept of unconditional love and saying like I really don’t know what we’re going to talk about this week um and she was kind of laying it out the way I think it’s meant in the 12-step program right like kind of like I want everyone to succeed I don’t have ill feelings towards people who even if I don’t necessarily like them or they’re not my favorite people like I still want them to thrive and grow like you were talking about um and and I said okay I totally agree that that concept is present in 12 steps and I think that’s very valid and I think a lot of us got the idea in 12-step that that’s what we were supposed to be aiming for right but that doesn’t feel like unconditional love to me that feels like unconditional Goodwill or what we would call in the therapy World unconditional positive regard like I’m gonna look at you in a positive light no matter what you tell me you did um but it’s not love like I don’t walk out of therapy like I’m in love with all all my people like that’s not it like for me when I’m I’m practicing these principles I mean I think in an idealistic state that much deeper version of Love Is is good um that idea that people would volunteer or give freely of their time to help the suffering of others that they would you know there are people in the world that give you know tremendous amounts of money to causes that they like so I think that’s an idealistic I don’t know what you want to call it like the perfect level of practicing this unconditional love probably looks a lot different than what you see from most people on a daily basis but I think that’s the same for any of the spiritual principles you know what I mean like we are all striving to be honest we’re striving to be you know kind compassionate loving caring you know acceptance like we strive for those things but none of us is perfect at them and we get hopefully if we’re continually improving our spiritual growth we’re getting better at them as we go you know so my starting point for unconditional love is probably very surfacy and hopefully if I continue to practice it over time it will get much deeper I gotcha I gotcha you know I was thinking when you were saying the story a couple minutes ago about wishing this you know ability to find happiness in the world for everybody and to do what makes them Thrive and to feel like they belong here and I was picturing and maybe do I just do this to call you out I don’t know I was picturing when you said that I was like but what if one of those people who you’re wishing that for took away one of those abilities for somebody you love basically what if somebody murdered your kid right what if they took away your child’s ability to thrive in the world would you still feel those well-wishing you belong here you deserve to thrive in the world feelings towards them like that would be tough that would be tough that’s why it’s traditional yeah for me I mean right and again we’re striving for to live in this spiritual place because what I’ve learned at least and I haven’t had anyone that’s murdered a kid but I had a kid molested by a relative and that was pretty devastating and that’s you know it’s tough like I don’t know that I’m in a place of unconditional love towards that person I think if anything I was able to make it then he’s dead now so I don’t care that much but I think I was able to make it more to a state of indifference which was okay I was okay with that um I think it’s funny my wife and I were talking about this the other day I think that’s where I’m at in my life with the person that sexually abused me you you know because she was asking well do you know where he is or is he in jail or what I said I don’t really know in fact I don’t think about him that much and I don’t really care I said I’m pretty indifferent to whatever’s going on in his life I don’t wish him harm but I don’t really care so I guess where I was going with that is when I was in those places of suffering because of the harm that was caused to me most of that suffering is self-inflicted when I’m caught up in resentment anger you know fear like all that stuff I’m the only one suffering from that that person that caused me all that harm or that caused my kids that harm was not suffering because I had all this anger and bitterness and resentment in my heart you know for me to be able to let go of that anger and bitterness and resentment and say hey I hope that person is at peace I hope that they’re like found some place that they can be happy and be well and and not harming other people you know that’s the best place for them to be when I can let go of that hardness and that anger I feel better that’s fair I I do want to just throw in I completely disagree that it was self-cost at any way shape or form wait I’m sorry you mentioned in there you said you know all this stuff I was doing it was all things I was creating for myself like you were creating your own suffering for yourself and I don’t oh yeah I completely disagree that you created that yourself uh right um the other piece of that that I’m not sure of like and this is totally me just riffing off my own brain so don’t take this as gospel for sure but to me while I could see the way we look at it in our society where we would say oh I moved away from anger to indifference that’s like on the path to being kinder to this person or unconditional love right I think I would actually disagree with that too like I feel like we could move towards unconditional love but if we did we would move away from indifference I feel like indifference is almost like numbing correct yeah I would agree so I don’t know I don’t know that that’s like on the path to uh that might be the other direction yeah you know I don’t necessarily think yeah I agree with you there I don’t I guess when I said that I just meant for me like an indifference is is a better place to be than full of resentment and anger like being able to be in that state is is a better place but I don’t know that it’s moving towards love I don’t know that I’m going that way well and I would agree it’s a less uncomfortable place right I just uh I’m not sure it’s I don’t know that you’re still not carrying somewhere right you know what I mean because I don’t know that it’s like the the version of like and and take this with a grain of salt because I don’t know when we’ve actually dealt with or processed or healed or grown but you know I could see that being like not doing those things and just finding a way to stuff it somewhere and that’s that could be causing its own it’s funny it’s interesting you say that because I had been pretty I don’t know I would say like a lot of people I think I was had gotten pretty annoyed with this idea of like triggering and and all that stuff like that’s it’s on its surface it sounds like a dumb idea but when I look more deeply at my life I can see you know times in my life that I was traumatized and then being in similar situations and that causing like a feeling of like re-traumatization and it’s like oh my gosh like that is a thing that can happen even on like some surfacy level stuff yeah you know in a surface reaction to a situation or whatever it’s it’s interesting it is um but anyway back to the unconditional love part well maybe that’s unconditional love for myself like I gotta give myself that place yeah to allow myself to to be vulnerable to be triggered to not just place a judgment on that yeah yeah and and the place to start not that we’re doing therapy here but like the place to start for me and where I try to have people start at is just recognizing that it’s hard to be where you are like that is the the base level of compassion for everything right so you you blame yourself for holding some of those anger and resentment feelings right as if it was your fault well to God it’s so hard to blame myself for this God it’s hard to feel this it’s hard to feel all this anger right like it doesn’t we don’t have to be like brain surgeons to figure out what to send compassionate to ourselves we can just start with it is [  ] hard to deal with this feeling yeah that’s compassion enough in the beginning right and from there it gets better you start realizing like what part of you is feeling like it’s missing a feeling you know what I mean like oh I’m just really feeling like I’m not getting the affection I need right now or I’m not getting the attention I need right and then you can send some more cultivated messages to that kind of inner part of you but just yeah at the base level this is [ __ ] hard yeah it is [Music] this episode has been brought to you in part by Voices of Hope Inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the Dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voices of hopemaryland.org and consider donating to our calls


thank you we get into at least for me I got into the 12-step process I started hearing some of these principles about hey you know listen to the message not the messenger you know I thought I was listening to the message not the mess yeah either one like you know you’re you’re trying principles before personalities like all that kind of ideology and then when I hear that within the the program whether that’s in meetings or in service you know committees or whatever I start to appreciate oh okay I see what that principle is and then I can take that same principle out into my job let’s say and say oh I have a co-worker that doesn’t that I don’t necessarily agree with I can you know learn to what does it disagree without being disagreeable or whatever you know like trying to practice that stuff right so I guess for for me that is like that Foundation of unconditional love it’s like learning to to do those sorts of skills um and as I widen that that into my world as I get better at that practice now it’s like oh I can I can listen to people with different political views than me I can have a conversation with you where we don’t necessarily agree or look at something the same way and I don’t have to get like you know angry and shut you down and close my mind off to that idea I can be like no you’re a person that deserves to be heard and respected and you know again that doesn’t mean at the end of the conversation I’m going to agree with what you say but I don’t have to be like rude or disrespectful I can give you compassion you know a little bit of caring a little bit of attention you know to express an idea and that I think is lacking tremendously in the world um as part of that it’s most of us do seem to be very conditionally loving to people around us you know what I mean oh yeah listen to people and my political party I’ll listen to people that are in my particular Fellowship I listen to people in recovery that have my my ideas that I have about recovery but you people over here that have some other idea like you’re [  ] killing people and you’re hurting people and you’re terrible like and it comes with all this judgment you know whereas if I can say hey wait a minute like we’re all human beings here we all have a right to an opinion and an idea doesn’t make it great it doesn’t mean it needs to be right or that I need to agree with it but I can at least listen yeah yeah let’s stick into some of the definitions I mean there’s no real great agreed upon definition across right across research but at least we’ve got some ideas that we can talk through so you know one that we have is the selfless Act of loving someone with full acceptance and without expecting anything in return the selfless Act of loving someone with full acceptance and without expecting anything in return by that definition do you feel like you have unconditional love for anyone or anything well that loving part gets in like right like what does that mean yeah I mean because I could say yes you know like and there’s people that I don’t even know when I walk down the street like I don’t want anything in return from someone that I might hold the door for or buy a coffee or give someone some change while we’re staying at the counter if they’re short on money like you know these acts of kindness like those to me are expressions of love but anyway I guess the part of the confusing part for me like okay so I read this and I understand that I can fully accept someone and not agree with the way they live their life right like that’s fine that’s easy enough to get but selfless Act of loving someone with full acceptance without expecting anything in return okay so I I do this thing I’m like this person is Meaningful to me I want to make sure I drop off a birthday cake at their house on their birthday it’s really important and then I find out they have murdered people or committed sexual assault or sexually assaulted minors like does that change how I feel about them or what I want to do for them because that to me is not full acceptance yeah I agree I mean how how could we as humans with all our judgments and feelings about things fully accept anybody yeah my opinions of stuff like that have changed over the years I mean you know there was times I would make a stronger argument and I’m still not sure 100 where I land on this now but like death penalty for like people that are like serial killers or serial rapists or serial child molesters and abusers it’s like those people exist you know and is the answer just to block them up and kill them and get rid of them I mean maybe I’m not saying it’s not I’m just saying like oof that it’s that sounds terrible like and I don’t know how you have compassion and understanding for that sort of stuff but even from like from a mental health you know place like obviously something mentally is is wrong right so is there anything worth studying or learning or trying to treat there I mean I guess if I just come from this place of like oh no [  ] them they all deserve to die like well are we ever gonna be able to do anything with that like are we ever going to be able to as a society like evolve past or learn about or get better with that sort of thing right it doesn’t leave much space to like study it or figure out if there’s any way to heal people or help them get to a place where they don’t feel the right to do those things yeah no you’re right you’re right so and it’s tough I mean it’s really tough you know it’s it’s hard to say but there are people that are out there that will argue and defend that you know no one should be murdered ever you know like the death penalty is never the right answer no matter what people have done and again I’m not 100 sure where I land there but I’m definitely way more kind and compassionate now I mean there was a point in my life where I’d be like oh [  ] them kill them you know what I mean like I guess what’s the difference especially when you’re talking about somebody that took somebody’s life and that’s the penalty for it like how does that make us as a society any different than the person who did the murder in the first place right and that’s just really hard for me to wrap my head around right like you don’t fix somebody punching you in the face by punching them back in the face I get it we want to but it doesn’t actually fix anything well I think that’s where the idea of unconditional love is coming from it’s like it’s not necessarily about vengeance or making a wrong right or equaling out the scales it’s like how do we create a sense of like healing how do we create a sense of easing of suffering you know or relief of suffering like how do we get there you know and I don’t know maybe I’d have to ask you know someone whose child has been murdered if someone else’s murder has made that better I don’t maybe it does I don’t know that it does I can’t say that it does or doesn’t there’s probably some amazing satisfaction but right I doubt it long term it actually does anything but it’s like the the goal I guess if we’re coming to it from this loving place is well what can we do to give this person the most healing you know and the person that caused the harm like what is it within them that causes them to do this harm and and be this type of person is there some healing there that can be done like I would actually say the only useful thing that comes out of like executing the murderer for the person in that situation is that they don’t have the murderer to throw their anger at and they’ll realize they’re angry at like the world or God sooner right like that’s the only benefit because you can waste a lot of time being mad at that guy when it’s really not well and if you watch enough and I I do occasionally watch a lot of like the serial killer documentaries or the like the evil lived here kind of shows where they talk about like and you hear there’s some evil [  ] in the world like and I guess for me I guess that unconditional love idea I look at things like wow those people really had to be suffering to go to that dark place like what is it what is so hurt or wrong or Twisted inside of them that caused them to go to that place rather than just throwing them into the fires of hell and being like oh [  ] them they’re terrible people there deserve to suffer yeah it’s really interesting especially when you move away from a a Christian like Society or a Christian belief system because I think we’re executing them with the assumption that they’ll get their penalty in hell right like that oh yeah yeah you’d be torturing fires and [  ] for eternity that’s that’s what we’re doing we’re sending you there but like what if we could prove we weren’t sending you there and this was it like would we change our minds about killing them because that doesn’t maybe that’s not enough suffering for them anymore right like just dying but you hear those people that that do serve uh you know death row inmates and and things like that people that have been convicted of horrible crimes there are you know people that will do things for them write them letters I mean some of it’s like a weird fan thing that’s different but I mean there are people that have compassion for these the people that are on death row that recognize their suffering and their trauma and that can you know reach out and be sympathetic towards them I mean those people exist right and I think that’s an extension of unconditional love they’re trying to practice you know some sort of compassion and love for another human being even though they’ve done this horrible thing we need a prison pen pal uh this next definition is kind of convoluted so try to bear with me here because it’s a lot of exceptional definition pieces so unconditional definition not conditional what does that mean well the definition of that subject to implying or dependent upon a condition definition of condition a premise upon which the Fulfillment of an agreement depends or is limited uh and then love definition strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties affection based on admiration benevolence or common interests warm attachment enthusiasm or devotion yeah so you know basically uh practicing one of these forms of Love which this sounded like it gave like seven different ways you could show love to someone and with you know lacking the need to fulfill any agreement or conditions around it I don’t know if that changes anything it’s just a very technical word by word definition but you know the first thing that comes up for me when we talk about uh unconditional love and as I wanted to say in the beginning and maybe I should have but whatever but I think the first thing people think of as kids like oh everybody has unconditional love for their children and I’m just I’m not saying they don’t but I don’t think we act as parents in ways that convey that message of unconditional love and I I do actually the reason I want to bring this up is because I think this is one of the bigger problems in our society is that the way parents feel this unconditional love is getting lost in the mix of parents you know I try to avoid the word trauma because everybody wants to run away from it because it’s such a buzzword but like parents went through something and because of their nervous system reactions to life and other people’s actions it’s not coming across to the kid as in experiencing unconditional love so it really doesn’t matter what the [  ] the parent is giving right it matters what your kid gets and like if you’re yelling at your kid because they did something in a way that is not what you wanted them to do Behavior wise that’s not unconditional love like I just I think we can float through the world and and not really take a look at how our punishments our anger our frustration our belittling our yelling at our children does not create an environment of unconditional love it creates an environment for a child of holy [  ] I better get my [  ] together because they’re getting ready to like kick me out of here and I’m gonna die because I can’t get my own food yeah I guess when I heard those seven words or seven different ways of love like to me those are all parts of love like they’re they’re all needed to be loving it’s not one doesn’t give you that love um and why I say that back to the parenting thing was I have no doubt that my mother loved me to the best that she could I never had a doubt that she would be there for me financially that she would try to help me in any way that she could but I did not grow up in a household that was like nurturing or caring you know is in fact quite the opposite we did didn’t get a lot of hugs and a lot of I love you and a lot of that unconditional feeling of love the love that I felt like I grew up with was very conditional you know what I mean and you know I wasn’t raised in a place where like my feelings mattered you know I was taught actually the opposite like your feelings don’t matter do what you’re supposed to do shut up you know what I mean stay in your lane like all those things and I didn’t feel like I was honored you know as as a person um as a kid and so that muddles up this idea of love because I would say I do not doubt that my mother loved me right so it’s it’s confusing you know and and it’s confused my understanding of love as an adult and how I act in love in my relationship what I do with my wife or my children and it’s taken a lot of work to figure out like you know when we talk about spiritual principles and you and I have talked about this a couple times on a couple of these different episodes codes none of these to me Exist by themselves in a vacuum like this idea of Love Can’t exist without like compassion and empathy and you know acceptance and humility like all those other pieces are needed to be practiced as well to fully practice love I mean again all these we’re we’re doing these things to the best of our ability on any given day but it doesn’t mean we’re doing them perfect you know we’re falling short in a lot of areas in a lot of these all the time no absolutely uh when you were talking about the story and saying you know I’ve come to this place where I can like talk with people of other political you know affiliations and we can just have nice normal conversations but you don’t see a lot of that in the world I was ready for you to be like and that’s how open-mindedness ties into unconditional love I was like here comes yeah let’s go tide he’s in yeah you’re right I mean none of us are gonna I don’t think practice this perfectly you know we we fall short of everything but I guess and this is where I like honestly the therapy term unconditional positive regard better than unconditional love because I feel like it’s a much more accessible thing for me yeah like definitely way clearer feels clearer yeah yeah well and it it really with words and language describes exactly what I’m trying to accomplish when I’m parenting my kids for me at least my belief is I do want to give them this feeling of unconditional love and what I was doing was not giving them that right I I can be and have been in my life like a loud angry scary guy to to little people and I you know trying to move away from that unconditional positive regard is for me describes like when you walk in the room even if you did something I’m not a fan of three hours ago or three days ago I’m still excited to see you right right when you do this thing or when I find out this information that you fail to class this quarter or whatever I’m not angry at you I tell you hey man you know you’re really smart kid like I know it doesn’t take a ton of work for you to pass classes and so seeing this is a little disappointing you know I totally love you still right and it’s delivering it in that calm I I still love you I’m just letting you know like I really think you’re capable of more hey maybe you had a rough semester and you didn’t get it right okay well we’ll pick it up next quarter or whatever but the unconditional positive regard I think is easier for me to tune in my brain to like this is what I want it to look like and act like whereas unconditional love just feels way too free-floating like I don’t know how to express that yeah but I do know how to express this positive regard at all times even when I’m disappointed or or let down by their behaviors and I think that feels in my household over the last year like it has made a huge [  ] impact for my children yeah for sure and again I feel the same way like at my job I try to do the same thing there like Hey we’re all here trying to make a living people are going to make mistakes we’re gonna fall short if we do let’s [  ] talk about it let’s not I’m gonna mess things up you’re gonna mess things up that’s all part of this you know what we’re doing here but in in my house with my kids that’s become important as well for me to try to set the tone that you know my love or my you know commitment to them isn’t based on how clean their room is or what chore they forgot to do or what thing they left undone at school you know like really trying to be aware of you know this love that I show you is a love for Your Existence as a human being and for who you are as a person not because of actions that you do and a lot of that’s come from work that I’m doing on myself like I look at my issues that I have in relationships or even you know my relationship to like self-worth and self-esteem and how I value myself and I am a person that judges myself a lot off of doing like achieving things you know my self-worth comes from achievements or getting things done or positive compliments and things like that it’s like it’s not out of like hey I’m a person that has a right to exist right [Music] this is uh this last definition which is probably less scientific but I think describes unconditional love better than anything we’ve said so far and it’s from the author of the book unlimited love it says unconditional love is to emotionally affirm as well as to unselfishly Delight in the well-being of others and to volitionally engage in Acts of care and service on their behalf without expecting anything in return I gotta be honest I don’t know what volitionally means yeah I would think it means with like intention with like I will intentionally volition The Faculty or power of using one’s will so there you go that’s what volitionally means of your own accord basically you’re choosing to so to emotionally affirm and unselfishly Delight in the well-being and to of your own accord engage in Acts of care and service on their behalf so nobody’s making you without expecting anything in return I don’t know that feels more descriptive of what I would be trying to do with unconditional love I feel like that at least gives me like oh okay something to aim for I know what that picture looks like to some degree I hate to say but I immediately think so God of the Bible is not unconditionally loving it does not sound like there’s a lot of conditions on that um yeah yeah somebody walked it through like of the Christian principles in the Bible if God was all-powerful and all good we wouldn’t have evil and if God was not all-powerful uh uh but all good then he just isn’t powerful enough to stop the evil but the only way it makes sense is if God is all-powerful and he’s evil the only way this world actually makes sense which is kind of shitty but well and I only bring that up because if your basis for your spiritual you know Foundation your spiritual education your growth is based on those principles doesn’t seem like that’s a part of Christian belief I mean I might be missing something there but it’s like Christianity is so weird to me like trying to wrap my head around what they believe you know now so to speak with the New Testament versus like the god of the Old Testament that basically just [  ] wiped out cities when he didn’t like what they were doing like I that’s not unconditional love at all right but that’s Jesus agreement was posted it isn’t even just Christianity I think every organized religion deity has a lot of conditions you know that doesn’t make any goddamn sense to me no but I mean I just want to single out Christianity is just the one I’m most familiar with but when you think of like Muslims or Judaism or anything were there cities getting wiped out too yeah well they all got a group of people that need killed every organized religion has their group that’s gonna burn in hell and needs guilds yeah that’s a good point a little difficult but anyway and I I think for me that’s one of my challenges though in having an organized religion or an understanding of of God most of the examples that I’ve ever heard of or or been you know educated in in my life have always had a lot of these conditions and it’s like oh yeah God is you know loving caring and greater than us but it’s like well not if we’re not good enough right like there’s conditions upon that it seems like and and I haven’t personally been able to to wrestle through some of that sometimes so that idea of an unconditionally loving God has been a part of my challenge with finding a good uh connection to a higher power for me it’s like say it’s it’s a part of my meditation practice to do that meta meditation and the idea being you know I’m as I’m building out that feeling of love it’s like the feeling of love that I feel let’s say towards my wife like the amount of of well-being that I want for her the lack of suffering that I want for her I should try to feel that for every single person walking around you know now it doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to give the same of my time and energy I mean that would be idealistic to think that that was even remotely possible but the the feeling you know that hey if I see another person walking down the street man I [  ] hope that person succeeds I hope they have a beautiful life I hope all their dreams and wishes are fulfilled like that’s you know that’s a good place for my spirit to just rest you know as a as a place of starting I I think and this is one of the I don’t want to say the challenges but one of the places I’ve gotten to which you know we talk about this all the time like if you talk to me in five years I’ll probably have a whole different idea of what God is but for me currently you know it’s not the the figure or person so to speak I feel like we make God into like this person kind of yeah it’s not that right it’s more like an energy or a universal way that everything’s connected in some sort of fashion but I do not not my Earthly parents but like I have this Vision in my head of what a really loving [  ] parent would be you know what I mean just that person that’s able to show up with this unconditional love with the unconditional positive regard always going to have compassionate view instead of like the self-blaming view I might have and that’s who I picture as my higher powers like I guess attitude or or personality it’s just this warm loving like almost like a like a warm loving grandfather or grandmother if you can picture it right where the the grandkid could do no wrong like that’s my picture of a higher power and I feel like when I need to go and communicate with my higher power that’s a great reception right like that’s a warm place to go and it does feel like that that parental love without all the conflict that the world puts on it of like having to go to work and the stress of keeping your marriage together and pay the bills and like that gets in the [  ] way but like this one is that version of that that’s just pure and and I feel like that’s what the [  ] if I can create my own God that’s what I want it to look like yeah like for sure loving and caring the the unconditional love for your partner I guess the thing that I think of right because you know me I’m always trying to go against or disprove her or whatever I’m like okay so when is a time when that wouldn’t exist well what my partner does something that hurts me right if they’re not thoughtful if they don’t get me something for dinner when they get the rest of the family something or or you know God forbid they would go out and sleep with somebody else and and hurt me in that way or lie to me or something right am I feeling that unconditional love feeling in that moment because that’s when I need it the most that’s when I need to show up and be like have the understanding that they didn’t do this personally to hurt me they did this because of some way they feel inside themself and they were seeking relief from that so if I can do it then I’m all in that’s unconditional love to me but like if I’m carrying that five days a week but then the other two when they’re upsetting me I don’t feel like I have that I probably got some more practice to do on that unconditionally yeah and I guess that’s the way I look at all the the spiritual principles I mean just in my life I wish I could say like I’m 100 honest but I’m [  ] not right well yeah we talked about it but I I just mean even in obviously dishonest situations like I have situations where it’s just easier to tell a little white lie than it is you know and most of them are trivial but not always most of them are trivial [  ] around work you know we forgot a service call so I’ll call a customer and it’s easier to say oh I’m sorry we have a guy called out sick today you know what I mean like and it feels harmless it feels like nobody’s suffering from that so it’s easy to do but the truth is that’s not [  ] honest you know and there’s probably a way that Honesty would work just as well it’s just not as simple or convenient and I don’t feel like it’s going to give me the result that I want so you know but would I say that I’m an honest person because I’m honest 99 you know I’ll be less generous 90 of the time in my life you know yeah I’m a pretty honest person I mean do I unconditionally love my wife or my kids or all a Humanity every single day of every moment [  ] no no you know I’ve had doubts where I’m like I think I need to get divorced I don’t even think I want to be in this marriage you know like those times have happened no it’s not most if it was most of the time I would probably need to do something with that so there you go everybody that listens at home every week when you listen now every 10 times Billy says stuff one of them’s false and you get to figure out which one that’ll be the new game why you listen um so a psychologist came up with signs of unconditional love like things that would point to this is what we’re looking at right and his idea is these four signs you’re accepted for your faults without a desire to change you I guess this is like the experience of unconditional love for a person so one you’re accepted for your faults without a desire to change you do you feel like you get that in your marriage hmm no yeah right right I will say I think I get something closer to this now than I ever did before oh yeah 100 for sure but there’s probably still some desire to change some of my behaviors I can only imagine like not everything I do is pleasing to my wife well and I just wonder for me like is that more me or is that more the like why I don’t feel that you know and I can’t answer that specifically yeah yeah because we’re gonna have our own perception based on how we feel about ourselves for sure so it kind of goes back to that apparent child relationship right it’s less important what the parent is giving and more important what the kid is receiving and those aren’t always the same thing right and so like yeah I think the part of feeling accepted is probably going to definitely depend on your ability to feel secure in yourself and lovable I think the part about the desire to change you is probably easier to parse out like because you can kind of there’s some clear signs that your partner wants you to do some different [  ] yeah uh but anyway so the next one is your needs are Paramount and viewed as valid and that’s a tricky one I mean what if you say your needs or something like I need more time to myself is that something that’s available like I don’t know all the time yeah um I feel like I get that I just don’t know that well what if you like went home today and you were like you know I’ve really been thinking about this Jen and I just feel like I need like to go get an Airbnb and be by myself for like two weeks just to clear my head would that be like oh cool where are you gonna go or would that be like how the [  ] is the house gonna be all right for two weeks well I have I told her I wanted to do that for a week and she was okay with it I was like I just want to go out in the [  ] Woods by myself for like a week and just be alone with myself for a week and she seems okay with that okay okay now I mean if I got longer I don’t know right right well and it’s interesting because like I don’t think we get to control what we need and yeah it’s still hard to ask for it because it does put a strain on other people well and of course I’ll say that you know my understanding of being an addict and like sometimes I want some really ridiculous [  ] you know and I’ll start justifying or rationalizing [  ] in my head so I gotta kind of be careful for me personally like I gotta kind of maybe talk through that sometimes and see what’s what’s a reasonable expectation of a need right like all of them yeah all of them well like say the the week alone by myself I mean I wouldn’t necessarily describe that as a need it’s a want it’s a thing it’s an experience I would like to have to see how I you know how I can sit with myself whatever reasons don’t matter that much but it’s not like I’m gonna have a nervous breakdown or that I can’t function or that I’m gonna suffer if I don’t I mean I don’t know maybe I’m gonna suffer if I do it I don’t really mean yes and no that is how I feel about that like we have a very interesting look at needs and wants and I I’ve held that view that our society holds for a long time and it’s starting to shift for me so I I don’t know where completely I stand with it anymore but I don’t think our needs are just like food water and shelter like I I I’m starting to really think we have some other emotional needs that are actually a bigger need than we’ve ever given them priority or we’ve ever you know noticed or known and I would say that it’s possible like we are actually when we when we don’t do these things we need that we don’t actually realize or need we’re like oh that’s just a one I can delay that and not do it I think we’re actually creating like a toxic physical slash emotional environment in our body that is causing us to be sick I’m reading a book about it right now so it’s pretty fascinating there’s actual research that like shows these kind of connections and we sort of just [  ] ignore it for no reason which is baffling yeah um but it’s a it’s a really fascinating book of like stuffed emotions the theory is that we’ve been separating this as like a brain that has thoughts and a body that goes through medical conditions right and the theory is that that’s not true that this is a one-word mind-body experience that is like your whole body is filled with this emotional experience and it’s actually creating a toxic environment for your cells to reproduce in which is what’s shortening the telomeres quicker which is actually what’s killing people so it’s like not expressing anger when you feel anger is actually leading people to have like cancer and Ms Right autoimmune diseases and I’m like [  ] it’s just I don’t know it’s wild yeah I I would say like if you view things that maybe our needs as wants and deny them for yourself like you could be shortening your life like we don’t really [  ] know right you know what I mean so it really puts a whole new spin on like damn am I really thinking through these the right way I denying myself well and we do know I mean obviously as especially within male culture this idea of you know stuffing your feelings and and not dealing with emotions like that has some pretty basic obvious Health consequences you know as far as high blood pressure and heart disease and right all those things that’s what he’s talking about in the book like we already have the evidence that all this is related and we’re just ignoring it on the bigger scale yeah so there is at least for me like I’m doing some work to address some of that now I mean unfortunately it’s taking till of my 40s

so yeah yeah I I just I think we’re gonna really in the near future start to get a better understanding if it’s a measurable thing maybe it’s not measurable and we all just need to kind of Buy in and believe it but I I do think we’re gonna start learning man that that we have way more needs and we’ve realized oh and and just uh to give uh the ladies out there and understanding too like yes men are taught to suppress every [  ] thing and the only allowable thing is anger and that’s only allowable sometimes and at some levels right women women have the same exact [  ] their program from birth that their whole job first number one is to be mom and wife above anything else so like they spend their lives living in a way that’s supposed to be giving honor to this role they they are given but really like they don’t get to experience life as themself as a woman only just experience it again A lot of times there’s almost uh almost uh mockery or a shaming of like being overly emotional you know what I mean yeah yeah they’re needy right they’re emotional they’re clingy there’s all these negative connotations when people are really just trying to get their needs met um and those are needs we know those are so um another sign the other person does not try to make you feel small which uh yeah my wife’s pretty I get mine reactive sometimes I get her triggered I might hear a couple things and this gets back to the emotional I mean yeah like emotional needs stuff it’s like I am just now starting to work on some of that so I’m trying to figure out what my emotional needs are in my relationship and and that’s one of the things my wife and I were talking about it’s like I was expressing some uh like whatever hurts or something that were going on and the way that she replies to them how that makes me feel or or kind of compiles on to the guilt and shame part of it and she’s like oh well how would you like me to respond and I was like I don’t know but not like that so it’s just being able to identify sometimes like hey when I am in this kind of emotional state this type of response would really help you know get me through that or us talking about that stuff like right because I think for her unintentionally she sometimes makes me feel small and then I do the same thing to her like we’ll talk about things that I’ve done that hurt her and of course what I like to do is overthink and over discuss almost like we do where I start bouncing 20 ideas off her head and like what about this and what about that and how come this and and she doesn’t like that like it makes it feel like um intellectualizing her emotional pain and so she’s trying to express to me like hey when I’m expressing this hurt it’s not the time really to do that maybe what I need is just for you to be more sympathetic and to just kind of oh I’m really sorry you know and I said yeah but but I wasn’t intentionally trying to minimize her pain it’s like me trying to process in my head oh well why does it make you feel this way what should I be doing differently you know yeah you’re coming from a place of really trying to address her concerns and yet the way they’re being addressed and that’s a honestly thank you for giving that example that’s a beautiful example of the way that we can be trying to express and give this unconditional love in a situation and the other person is not receiving that feeling from us that’s perfect also congratulations I think that’s awesome that you’re like on this journey and trying to realize like these pieces that don’t feel well and I think that’s a great starting point like you don’t have to know the right response that’s going to make you feel the best like for now if you know it’s wrong that’s a great starting point hey this one’s not working right let’s try some other attacks on this or or ways of going about it and yeah it is hard to figure out at first if you’ve never got it that’s the kind of the point right you’ve never gotten the thing you were looking for how do you know what it looks like right well and you can be in a relationship that you think is a good relationship and and it can be going along well and then be in a different relationship where those same skills don’t work you know what I mean like that it’s like we’re not a one-size-fits all and it’s the same with my children you know my emotional responses to my children are different right the last one on his list uh the relationship is reciprocal and not transactional and honestly that was the one that just I was like well that’s bullshitless now every relationship is transactional in some way shape or form yeah I don’t know maybe it’s not I mean I think of some of the parenting books I’ve read and the practices I’ve tried to put in place from them I don’t think a lot of people would necessarily agree that that’s the way we need to parent right but I really do feel like you know I can’t imagine a world where one of my kids can do something where I don’t love them right and I mean I’ve I’ve tried to Think Through like the worst case scenarios one killing another one or something I don’t know like what could be worse right I just can’t like I’m still gonna love them and that’s from this practice I guess yeah and this is to me where that idea of Love gets confusing because if I have you know my kids are getting towards adult age now you know if my daughter let’s say begins to like steal all our money or steal all the things out of our house you know and I have to make a decision to put her out of the house even though I have no idea where she’s going to go or what she’s going to do like is that loving like is that a loving action I mean well and this is where unconditional right right and It’s tricky because I don’t think my feelings for her would change I think my heart would be broken or maybe it’s even a safety issue I mean for our older daughter that’s the one with a disability I mean the reason she’s in a group home and an assisted living type environment is because she became unsafe she was unsafe to us and unsafe to our small children so it was a literal safety issue right you know that we had to put her in different placement and it’s it’s painful it’s still painful for my wife she’s hundreds of miles away you know what I mean we have to like travel and make accommodations because she’s in this state all by herself you know far away you know know but it’s still like somewhere in there it was the right decision right right but it’s hard to figure like is that really loving like obviously she would feel much better being at home with us and we would feel better you know in some sense well and this is where you get into the tricky pieces of all this right one that is a complicated situation because when you’re talking about unconditional love you can’t just look at am I having unconditional love for this one child of ours right because it’s unconditional love for myself unconditional love for our household unconditional love for my other small children it’s not a decision of just one unconditional love towards one person right right so the unconditionally loving thing for myself in a situation where I can no longer afford to lose any more my items that my kid is stealing is they have to go right right it doesn’t mean I I feel it doesn’t mean I’m gonna see him on the street and like spit on them or yell at them or tell them to get their [  ] together I’m still gonna have that unconditional positive regard hard when I see him hey how you doing do you need something to eat is there anything do you need socks like it’s getting cold outside do you need a coat are you ready for treatment you know anytime you are you can call me right or if you just want something you want to get lunch I’ll come meet you for like that’s the difference it’s not really what I chose about her staying in the house or not it’s how am I coming to the situation one of those things that oddly enough I heard early in recovery and I thought one day I’ll find out that’s all [  ] especially in the therapy world that it’s got to be I still believe that all actions either come from love or fear I don’t disagree with that statement I know it sounds a little woo-wooy and out there but like I think we act from a place of love when our body feels good and when our body’s in a survival State it’s in place of fear and that’s where everything comes from fear-based decisions and and those seem like the two places right and so actually to for me if I wanted to increase my unconditional love I would work around my insecurities and my fear because the more I can lessen them the less they get in the way of me being able to do what I think happens naturally yeah and I I would think too if I could with that idea in mind if I could you know begin to practice trying to remain in a state of unconditional love like it would make my interactions with the world more loving and less based in fear you know I’m starting my days in a place of like like with a meta type meditation or a prayer with love and good wishes and good intent towards everyone I come in contact with like if I’m setting that intention that I want to love and be compassionate towards other human beings hopefully when there’s decisions come up I’ll act in that right right this next paragraph says unconditional love can be unhealthy if it exists without boundaries and then it goes on to say some other stuff but I just got to disqualify the whole paragraph like that makes a conditional love if you have a boundary on it sorry uh quiet yeah it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense so seven ways to practice unconditional love these are not vetted by us we just kind of copied and pasted them from place um love is not how you feel it is more about how you act I don’t disagree with that yeah I mean I don’t think it’s not about how you feel but I think it is more about how you act well the tricky part about that is like so like I just think of in our case where we put my daughter in an assisted living place like that didn’t feel very loving but it probably was the loving act I mean it goes back to the idea of like your three-year-old might want to play with the stove and they might be highly upset that you won’t let them and they might cry and they might throw a fit and they might break a toy doesn’t mean it wasn’t the most loving thing you could have done like you gotta save people and protect them right you know just because they want to do it doesn’t make it the right thing to do this says adapt your love to others which is an interesting concept I I don’t disagree yeah I think we do like like your example right this person isn’t experiencing this unconditional love that is exactly what I’m trying to give in this moment so maybe I need to adapt give unconditionally to yourself This is yes I would check that off that’s the hard one extra stars on the end of that I’m like if you do that you will love others uh number four love can sometimes be uncomfortable I don’t even know what the [  ] that means I mean if it’s opposed to anything you’ve been modeled or shown in your life sure it will feel uncomfortable because it’s not familiar but I don’t know I don’t know what that’s trying to prepare people for yeah I feel like I read that and I’m ready to go get abused like oh this is uncomfortable it’s love it’s perfect uh learn forgiveness we talked about that show love to Those whom you think don’t deserve it oh that’s interesting practice unconditional love with a simple act every day so there’s some ideas I don’t know we’re running out of time yeah any thoughts about unconditional love I do like that simple idea one though because the idea I heard behind that was like give a compliment to the [  ] Wawa Clerk or you know oh that’s your hair looks good today or just some kind act and watch what that does for your spirit well you know and we go back to this idea we talked about in the faith episode of like confirmation bias and you know placebo effect like what I have found from acting towards my children from unconditional positive regard is that I feel warmer towards them because I constantly or more frequently notice when they do something positive which is what I didn’t notice before when I was coming from that place of like fear and I got to get them in shape or they’ll never make it in the world or I’ll be a I’ll look like a bad person for raising these kind of kids you know whatever the fear was kept me seeing the negatives and it’s like acting from this place it’s like oh man they did a thoughtful thing they took a bowl into the other room to the sink for somebody or something you know what I mean like I just see it more and it’s created more warmth towards them honestly and so I would just say the practice of it and even this practice of like every person I run into today I’m going to notice something about them that I like maybe they smell nice maybe they got cool shoes but you know what you were saying like give these compliments I feel like when you start looking for places to do that you do start feeling warmer to people towards people because you see the places where they’re doing it right that’s cool yeah but and then the last thing I would say is if you struggle with the unconditional love because of our confusing and complex version of Love start with unconditional positive regard that’s a [ __ ] great if you can get that down you’re doing better than most I’m actually starting to wonder if that is love right it is I would say yes yeah all right well uh go out there unconditionally love each other and you know talk about our podcast you can obviously donate um and that helps us out to keep this whole thing going and helps people out in early recovery to get the tools they need to hopefully thrive in this new recovery world but if you don’t have money and you just enjoy listening to us there’s like no money needed to tell other people about our podcast or to share it on your social media or to engage in conversations around it you know that supports us as well we appreciate all your support go out there love each other have a great week foreign [Applause] [Music]

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