We have quickly reached the end of week three and are settling into a “routine” as I stop to reflect on our weekly leadership topic. This week we focused on the fact that when you love someone unconditionally, you can “endure” those all those less than admirable qualities which might otherwise be intolerable. The decision to choose unconditional love over “stacking grievances” is within our control. The power of choice is ours, and we must choose unconditional love more often than we choose the alternative if we want to create magic in our lives and experience love to the fullest.
This is not an easy concept to comprehend (let alone to carry out in day to day practice), but it is absolutely mandatory if we want to experience beautiful relationships with ourself, with others and with society as a whole. If we want to be able to give love unconditionally, we must first love ourselves unconditionally. Teaching my kids the principle of unconditional self love proved to be a little more complicated than I expected. My kids weren’t going anywhere near my suggestions that we chant “I love you” to ourselves in the mirror. No way!
We prayed and memorized love prayers. We listened to “love gurus” like Leo Buscaglia, Zig Zigler and Wayne Dyer speak eloquently on the topic. We planned “committed acts of unconditional love” towards a family member. (That didn’t quite go as I planned). And we followed the guided meditations of Tricia Brennan to get in touch with our higher selves while connecting to “all that is” (www.triciabrennan.com). For the record, they loved the guided meditations!
As a last resort, I turned to the wonderful teaching opportunity provided by our very own “family unit”. I finally realized I didn’t need to look very far for practice and/or practical application of this principle.
In the end, it was the family dog, a thirteen pound, toothless ball of fluff that we call “Gorgeous Georgeous” who helped to drive the point home. We rescued Georgie from the pound, and he is eternally grateful to us for it. It turns out, more than anything, the kids could understand unconditional love in terms of Georgie. They recalled the feeling of self-esteem and significance they experienced when they decided to choose a rescue dog over a pet store puppy. They vividly remembered how great it felt as we brought him home for the first time. They knew, deep within their hearts that because of our love, he would have a safe place to live the rest of his life. They could relate to the fact that no matter what they are doing, how they are acting or feeling, Georgie is always there to love them. He doesn’t criticize, he doesn’t “stack grievances”, he doesn’t complain. He just nudges your hand, which is his signal to pay attention, and licks you incessantly to let you know he cares.
The really great thing about dogs is their complete lack of inhibitions. They’ll sniff each other’s butts and chew their own and they don’t give a hoot, who is watching. They hang out car windows, their hair blowing, jowels a flappin’, living and loving life to the fullest. This same lack of inhibition drives them to “ask for love” when they need it. That is an important lesson for us humans. It’s perfectly okay to ask for love every once in a while. Whether we need a hug, an ear, or something deeper, we deny our loved ones the chance to give us the gift of love if we don’t tell someone what we need.
The bottom line is that Georgie is always there for us—unconditionally! Maybe through him, my family can all learn that it pays in spades to choose love first.