Presence 51: I am exploring unconditional love

How comforting and settling is the gentle mantra of “Peace be with you” and “Peace be with me.” How releasing, how abundant and how generous of heart. How natural. How easily might we return to love if returning to peace was all we asked of ourselves.

I am blown away by this TPP passage I read this morning:

‘We fail in each attempt to obtain the unconditional attention we seek because unconditional love isn’t like money – isn’t something we earn. Love isn’t something achieved through merit. We don’t qualify for love. Love just is. Love is our birthright. Love is what we already are.

During childhood, the example of love set by our parents’ interaction with us, with each other, and with others becomes our primary definition of love. This is the automatic consequence of emotional imprinting. For this reason, whenever we seek to manifest an experience of love for ourselves as adults, we unconsciously manufacture a physical, mental, and emotional scenario designed to recreate the emotional resonance we experienced during our childhood interactions with our parents. This resonance doesn’t have to be comfortable or in any way pleasant, only similar and hence familiar.

For example, if as a child we received abuse when we required love, then the felt-resonance associated with abuse became part of our childhood definition of love. Consequently, whenever we feel a need for love as adults, we manifest an experience that unfolds in such a manner as to at some point include this abusive felt-resonance. This happens unconsciously, automatically. Why? Because this is the only way we know how to get what our imprinted condition leads us to assume love is. However, because of its conditions, the love we end up receiving hurts.

On a conscious level, we may then ask, “Why does this keep happening to me?” The reason we keep manifesting the same hurtful experiences is that we don’t know any better. This is the predicament emotional imprinting perpetuates. This is the open wound in the collective heart of humanity. This is why many of us assume love hurts. But hurting is a condition, whereas love isn’t – it’s a state.

Throughout The Presence Process, we are gradually taught how to perceive beyond the limitations of our imprint-driven interpretations. We are taught how to grow up emotionally. The consequence of this emotional development is that we begin lifting the conditions set in place by our childhood experience. As these conditions lift, we entertain a different perception of our experience. This different perception isn’t fueled by our unintegrated emotional charge, but is accessed through present moment awareness.

Confirmation we are awakening into present moment awareness comes in the insights we receive about the predicament of our shared human condition. One of these is that without exception, everyone we encounter, no matter what their behavior, is seeking the experience of unconditional love. Even if they are being hateful, what we are witnessing is a misguided cry for love.’ (The Presence Process 202-3)

Meanwhile, as I unpick my own inner child’s emotional imprinting, I am inspired, guided, mentored in LOVE by my children.

LV: showering me and the family with loving support and generosity of spirit. Handling her career like a boss, as she blends and shares her talents, creativity and genius, ever on her terms. Her current creative project is blowing me away!

ASV: yesterday, I attended an online panel discussion that she hosted for Disability History Month, on Disability and Academia. She has also produced a blog and a podcast which have blown me away, about her/others’ experience of being ‘Defined by Disability.’ She has INSPIRED me. The panel (of disabled professors and students) was a collective that harnessed and celebrated all I know to be true about disability and neurodiversity – that the gifts inherent are exceptional. How about a Neurodiverse Mediators’ network? To include mental health too. It would allow me to Be Myself…. and then all the other ideas and projects I have will feel they can flow out… not trying to hide behind a 2D neurotypical fitting in mask….

Your thoughts?

Preach it. Sing it. Sizzle it. Love it. The Dyslexic Professor said: ‘We’re trying to get the R number down in the pandemic. We need to get the R number of disabled people UP in academia – we need to go viral to make the contribution we are here to make!’ You can do the same with neurodiversity – welcoming people in and out into society, loud and proud, offering the new style of thinking and being this world so needs: empathetic, empathic, creative, focussed, heartfelt. Go, sister! <3

***nearlycrieswithlove*** I sometimes feel that the so-called neurodiverse ones are the … starseeds of which people speak. It’s like we’re not quite wired for here, but we are wired for somewhere… somewhere much more multidimensional, telepathic, sophisticated… ‘Here’ feels weighty, heavy, clunky, loaded, unnecessarily laborious. All those amazingly creative dyslexic children I taught. You take away the necessity to produce ‘good handwriting’ or ‘accurate spelling’ (earthly, 3D) and let them focus on channelling their creativity, and BOOM – the complexity and visionaryness of their work often far exceeds the NTs around them. So the act of WRITING is the problem. Not the child. Perhaps the child is wired for a world where… maybe the writing writes itself automatically… guided by the mind of the child… without clunky intermediary tools?

And yet… we demonstrate conditional love to our children.

“We shall love you if…. you can spell our spellings / pass our tests / sit still on your chair / follow all the unwritten social rules. And if you cannot, we shall withhold our love, our approbation, our opportunities. And thus you shall either learn our ways, or know that you have condemned yourself to the suburbs of our affection by your own fecklessness and carelessness. Ha! Oh, and happy 6th birthday to you!”

Why do we continue to pass this cycle of abuse on to the next generation? I was moved by reading this passage (p205) of The Presence Process by Michael Brown :

‘The part of us that has difficulty accepting how others hurt us is the needy and unattended aspect of our child self – the emotional charge related to being loved conditionally as a child. We know we are regressing into this needy and unattended aspect of our child self when we hear ourselves say: “They are my parents. They should have known better.” Or, “They brought me into this world and it was their responsibility to keep me safe.” This is drama. This is the voice of a child who doesn’t yet comprehend the complexity of the human predicament that envelops us all. Integrating anger, the need to blame, and our insidious desire for revenge requires facing one of the greatest obstacles set before us on the path of emotional evolution: arrogance. Arrogance prevents us from being able to recognize our plight flowing through the experience of another. Once we experientially comprehend the mechanics and consequences of emotional imprinting, only arrogance stifles our capacity to forgive both ourselves and others. The consequence of arrogance is that we may easily be able to accept the fact we didn’t know any better, but we are still angered by how others behave. Unless we choose to integrate this anger, it will prevent us from accepting that others, especially our parents, did the best they could with the hand dealt them through their parents. Neutralizing arrogance and the anger it breeds requires the following simple insight: All behaviors we witness during our interactions with others that aren’t acts of unconditional love are unconscious pleas for unconditional love.

So… we haven’t managed to forgive those who hurt us. We haven’t managed to integrate the fear, anger and grief that arose from our being loved conditionally… and our arrogance causes us to lock in to blame (vs responsibility taking) and a kind of righteousness. And then we inflict conditional love on to the next person. Especially the next child.

I’m thinking of my really 4 complex cases this year: I’m seeing individuals reeling from not receiving unconditional love. They all think it’s something else, and can’t understand why the others won’t be ‘rational’ and accommodating. But they are all traumatised by a lack of unconditional love, now and in the past. And they are using demands or a hard ‘No’ to cry out for someone to say, “You are right! You are the most thoughtful, sensitive, kind and loving of us both/all. And I/we should follow your lead. Thank you for being right here. I/we apologise for our wrongs.”

Everyone wants the other to say: “You’re right. I’m wrong. Lead on.” This seems to be how people receive love…..?? By their rightness?

It is in the human’s best interests to be right. Rightness leads to acceptance. Doesn’t it? Think back to the spelling test. She who shows most rightness in spellings gets..?

Gets most love / acceptance / lauding!

So is it a wonder that wrongness or error is laden with shame and guilt. Now you take the SHAME of the current wrongness (say in the dispute) and you fuse it with the SHAME of the childhood wrongness (collected in a series of experiences of conditional love and emotional imprinting of fear, anger and grief) and you get…?

Emotional paralysis; heightened fight/flight; despair and distress.

Ok! So… in your work, you are indeed showing unconditional love in your impartiality. This is good. But you are also sometimes missing opportunities to hold a mirror up to a person to let them see themselves more clearly. 

Tell me, in all honesty, how do I do that without making them feel more SHAME at their acting out behaviours?

YOU TEACH THEM SELF-COMPASSION. This is akin to self-forgiveness, which is a longer journey, but one that is kickstarted by the practice of self-compassion. 

Oh my. Of course. Imagine if I’d started off each of those cases by teaching self-compassion, instead of saying “Tell me what the other party did to/at/against you?”

(Similarly, I could have done some of the work Debbie Ford taught so well in ‘Spiritual Divorce’ about accepting it takes two to ruin a marriage. Now THAT was a hard lesson for me, but a liberating and empowering one.)

It’s up to each person to find their own inner child and nurture him/her through a conflict. Without the inner child work, you are really rearranging deck chairs. 

Obviously, I’m not a psychologist qualified to introduce people to their inner child…

That’s why we use the protocols of self-compassion. And remember that the wonderful Kristin Neff speaks to many, and Paul Gilbert speaks to others.

Oh yes… Let me read.

Ok so this set of slides is an amazing reminder of Gilbert’s Compassion Focussed Therapy work:

Key terms he uses:

  • Tricky brain
  • 3 emotional regulation systems
  • Observing our selves via mindfulness
  • Self-soothing
  • Humans create hells and horrors
  • Forgiveness

He ends with this quote:

So we’re looking both SELF-COMPASSION and COMPASSION for OTHERS.

How did I think I could do conflict resolution work without introducing compassion and forgiveness?

Did I ever ask my clients “What needs to be forgiven for you to reach a resolution?” As long as I am letting my clients think I buy into the idea of ‘unforgivable actions’, I am not meeting them authentically, and I am not serving them well.

These concepts are so complex.

This is why you are going to teach people How to Dialogue, rather than jump into try to ‘fix’ their disputes without any supposed need for behavioural change, emotional recompense, or true reconciliation. 

I made mistakes in NOT telling people how I work. If I tell people that I work with concepts like compassion, forgiveness, responsibility, change and unconditional love, people could more easily self-select themselves out of my client list, or at least start a process knowing that I was going to ask something of them internally, personally.

You’ll find your way with the SoD. Peacefully. Self-compassionately. Compassionately. Unconditionally. 

I love this work. It lights up my heart.

We know. <3

I am exploring unconditional love

PS. Remember this…?

And also: look at the behaviours I see today (now Mon) and spot ‘pleas for unconditional love’. We don’t need to respond to them codependently, as they are still responsible for their own happiness, but we can remove the sting from some of the less comfy behaviours.

You might also look out for your own pleas for unconditional love.


Awareness encompasses the observer too.

What best step could I take today to explore this theme of our search for unconditional love.

Spot every time you withhold UL. Ask yourself why you withheld your UL. What is the judgement, and from what fear, anger or grief does it spring? How much more peace could you bring to the world if you met more people with ULove instead of fear, anger or grief?

Man, you set a high standard!

Thank you! ?

You see I like to think I’m loving.

Exactly. You’ve just revealed another layer of work to do. Goodie!

Ok. Today (7th) I’m going to spot whenever I withhold my unconditional love.