I used to think that love was something you do or give in relation to another person. Some say it’s a choice.
Actually, unconditional love is just a natural consequence of completely accepting yourself exactly as you are. And not only do you feel better, but other people feel it – it’s really amazing as it starts to happen!
Strangers’ babies were the first to show me that I was transitioning into this state of being. Early in my own Quanta Change process, I walked past a woman with a baby, and this baby was smiling at me and seemed fascinated with me. The woman looked sort of puzzled and said, “She LOVES you, and she has never acted this way towards a stranger before.” That repeated itself many times over, and it was new for me at the time. Before that, babies didn’t hate me, but they certainly weren’t drawn to me like this, either.
The next way I noticed it was with a client with whom I had been working only by email (a practice I’ve since left behind because of what happened with her). She was having a tough day and asked if she could call. It was the first time we talked by phone. From early in the call, she kept saying that she already felt so much better, which was surprising to me. Finally, she said that from the moment I started talking, she just knew it was going to be better. I hadn’t told her HOW things could work out. She said it was just a feeling – that somehow my voice or my presence was the cause of her feeling better.
And then, my clients started noticing it for themselves. One said that people at work suddenly started saying how much they loved working with her and were asking to work more closely with her. One client said that things that had bothered her for years about other people – to the point of losing sleep over it – just didn’t bother her. Another client’s teenage daughter finally let him help her with her most feared homework subject, and expressed gratitude instead of anger and resentment. Many clients have seen the effects through healed relationships after years of serious conflict or just feeling ignored altogether.
How does self-acceptance lead to something other people can just automatically feel, though? Quanta Change founder Mimi Herrmann explained it to me using the final verse of the Bible passage which ends: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Mimi said that these 3 words describe how we’re meant to develop as humans, and it’s how we would have developed without the presence of Learned Distress, the feeling that “there is something wrong with me being just as I am.” We absorb this feeling from those who surround us early in life (as they did in their early childhoods) and it becomes the generating force behind the moments in our lives that don’t feel good.
Without the presence of Learned Distress:
Faith is put into place while we are in the womb and babes-in-arms by being given absolutely everything we need – physical and emotional. This sets up the feeling that “the way it is to be me is to have everything I need.”
Once we’re old enough to start looking ahead, this faith sets up hope: “Since the way it IS to be me is to have everything I need, I can always have everything I need.”
This hope brings about complete self-acceptance: “Because I have everything I need, I am OK exactly as I am.”
Then when we greet another person, they feel unconditional acceptance or love from us: “You are OK exactly as you are (because I don’t need anything from you to make me OK).”
Sometimes, a client responds to this with, “Oh, no! My childhood definitely didn’t put faith into place, so I’m doomed!” But that’s never true. At the core of our being, each and every one of us has the kernel of faith, hope, and self-acceptance. It has just become overwhelmed by Learned Distress. Peeling away layers of Learned Distress gradually reveals the foundation of being able to accept ourselves and others.
Who do you struggle to love without strings attached? Who do you have a hard time accepting? In what relationships do you long for more ease?