Today I was walking down 11th Street on my way home from some Christmas shopping and the words you get what you give popped into my head. The last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude and giving back, particularly with regard to love. The term “unconditional love” was something I definitely had heard of but I never really saw that sort of love around me. To me, loving someone like that sounded co-dependant or an invitation to be taken for granted. How could anyone love someone and be okay with it not being returned? It occurred to me that I never really loved someone unconditionally. I can honestly say that in my past I always seemed to love people based on conditions. I never released control. I never allowed myself to let go and just love. If I was going to give my love to someone they had better be doing something for me too. Otherwise forget it. If they hurt me, then I would withdraw my love, return the pain, or give up. I wasn’t going to be made a fool of.
But I was a fool—an insecure, scared fool who time and time again, failed in my attempt to avoid heartbreak. It was a lesson I was faced with in every relationship. I had so much negativity, pain, anger, and a horrible fear of being abandoned. I thought that if I put on my armor and dominated an argument, I would win somehow. I wouldn’t be the fool. I feel sad when I look back on my behavior because I see how it was working against the very thing I wanted more than anything: to really be known by someone and to still be loved. Could someone accept my flaws and still love me?
I realize now it’s never been about someone else’s approval; it’s always been about whether or not I was capable of accepting my flaws and loving myself. The way I think it works is that if we shed all this baggage and rejection we’ve accumulated through the years, really strip it away, then connect to the being that exists under this armor, you will find nothing but love. You will find your beautiful self. When you connect to this core part of yourself you then are presented with the opportunity for your first unconditional love experience—YOU. Whoever thought a first love could be yourself? Why not? To love and honor yourself first and when the time is right, you can give your love to others.
Here’s the difference: when you have this sort of love and respect for yourself, it doesn’t matter if your love isn’t returned. You aren’t trying to fill a void. You’re not giving away love based on conditions any longer, you dismiss the “What’s in it for me?” attitude. Receiving love from another is the sugar in your coffee but it’s not necessary to be fulfilled because your cup is already full of your own self-love. In fact your cup is so full that you can’t help but share it with others. Isn’t that great?
So how is this tied into you get what you give? Well there is a second part to what popped into my head as I walked home. Sometimes when you give love to someone they are not ready to receive it. They just aren’t there yet. Keep giving your love to those in need but don’t be tied to the outcome. Send love from your heart. In one way or another you WILL get what you give.