View Full Version : Lack of Unconditional Love


Wish
06-11-07, 02:32 PM
I am realizing that part of why I have had anger issues and other issues is because I didn't experience a lot of unconditonal love. My parents acted much more pleased with me when I got good grades and accomplished things then when I didn't. This taught me that I could earn others' approval. Now that I'm older and have more insight, I don't believe that you can or should try to earn others' approval. I feel like often the way people treated me and responded to me was conditioned on how I acted or didn't act or other factors.

The more I think about the concept of unconditional love, the more I think that perhaps it's possible that many people don't love unconditionally or have a really hard time loving unconditionally. Does anyone else think that unconditional love is something that few people have truly successfully mastered and demonstrated?

FightingBoredom
06-11-07, 09:30 PM
Monks devote years of their lives to being able to love unconditionally.
Many may achieve this.
Other than that I think some mothers may have achieved this ability and a few people like Mother Theresa.

The vast majority of people, IMO, don't love even themselves unconditionally.

Whether your parents loved you unconditionally or not at this point in your life really shouldn't be a driving force. At some point you have to decide what you are willing to accept in life and whether or not you feel it is acceptable for your anger to exist regardless of the cause.

I think we're conditioned to spend a lot of time asking "why is this happening to me" or "why me" so we come up with answers like "I wasn't loved enough as a child" or something similar. Whether this is true or not isn't the point if you want to make things work in your life and improve your life--which is why you posted this I would guess.

We need to be asking "what am I going to do about it?".

Like, "I find myself getting ticked off at the smallest things most days. So, what am I going to do to change it?"

In this case, does it really matter why you get ticked off?

Nope.
There could be a million different reasons and nothing will change if you find out which one it is that made you who you are now. You'll still be left with a part of your life that doesn't work until you change the questions you ask to "What can I do about it now?" or something similar.

Wish
06-12-07, 07:00 PM
I learned that anger is a response to an unmet need. People get angry because needs of theirs aren't getting met. It is only by identifying the unmet needs and trying to find a way to communicate those needs to persons, that we are able to meet our needs and not get angry. When we get angry, we are less likely to get our needs met. So, I disagree with you that the cause of anger does not matter. I believe that understanding why we are angry and what we feel we are lacking is crucial to learning how to appropriately express anger. If you don't identify and communicate your needs, they aren't going to likely get met and you aren't likely to get a handle on your anger. Hence, if your needs are continously unmet, you will not likely be a happy person because we all have basic needs that must be met in order for us to move on to more advanced needs. Emotional intelligence plays a HUGE factor in successfully understanding and resolving anger issues.

I also have to disagree with you about what happened to me before not mattering when it comes to addressing anger. Unless I can understand what I am lacking, I can't understand what I need and thus I cannot go about meeting that need. So, unless I know what needs of mine were not met throughout a large part of my life, I cannot know what needs I need to fulfill. Understanding what needs were unfulfilled throughout a large part of my life also helps me to understand and quickly identify certain anger triggers. So instead of lashing out at someone or saying hurtful things, I can tell myself ok I feel like this specific need isn't being met because it hasn't a lot of my life so what can I do to try to get this need met. It helps me not to see the other person as hurtful or bad or cruel but rather to focus on my own unfulfilled needs.

I tried to address anger without addressing these things and it failed miserably. I had to understand why I needed and how to find a better way to get that need met iwhen I screamed and verbally attacked people. Screaming and verbally attacking people didn't meet that need. I'm not talking about garden variety anger when I talk about anger. I'm talking about verbal abuse and screaming. Your advice may work for garden variety anger, but any certified anger management specialist will tell you that the issue of unmet needs must be resolved when anger is becoming a prevalent destructive force in our lives. Believe me, I tried things like punching a pillow or holding my breath and counting to ten or simply telling myself I wouldn't allow myself to get angry and that didn't do squat for me.

To answer your question, yes it mattered ENORMOUSLY why I got ticked off. There weren't a million reasons why I got angry. Once I started doing a log for anger management sessions I realized that unrealistic or impossible expectations and unfilled needs were the root causes every time I got angry. So, once I identified which expectations were unrealistic, I was able to realize how these unrealistic expectations were setting me up to get angry from the get-go because they were very unlikely to be met.

I don't want to judge you, but as someone who has seen an anger management specialist, I am concerned about the advice that you are giving me and others on this post. Some of it simply isn't true and I don't want people thinking that it doesn't matter why they get ticked off and that anger has nothing to do with unmet needs and unrealistic expectations. In my case it had EVERYTHING to do with unmet needs and unrealistic expectations. In my case, I also had to examine what needs were met and what needs weren't met in my family of origin in order to understand what needs aren't met when I get angry today as an adult.

Nova
06-12-07, 10:24 PM
Wish,

I'm not belittling your option, to be under the care of an 'Anger Management Specialist', when I state that it does not fall under the guidelines of this forum, to reply to your post, when not under the care of such a specialist.


Personally, I don't regard parental/ caregiver guidance, during childhood, as the sum total of behavior, when one becomes an adult.

We, as adults, have many opportunities, in choosing to identify with behaviors, that are productive to our growth, or choosing to discard those which are not.


Only you, personally, can truly determine, which behaviors, or attributes, are beneficial to you.


The wonder, of life, in my opinion, is opportunities for growth, are not static, but continuous and dynamic. (0:


As for your question, pertaining to 'unconditional love', my opinion is, NO one can personally, define that for you.

Not your 'doctor', media sources..i.e. books, movies, articles, internet sources, etc.


You have to personally experience 'unconditional love' for yourself, to understand how it truly affects you, and another.


You'll know it when you experience it.

It's one of the few beautiful, untainted life experiences, that is not meant to be explained, in words.


Nova




I don't want to judge you, but as someone who has seen an anger management specialist, I am concerned about the advice that you are giving me and others on this post.

ProcrastN8R2
06-12-07, 11:42 PM
Wish, I think your post on anger was excellent, well written, and I agree with you.

But that is not what you started this thread about, was it? Back to your original question:

I am realizing that part of why I have had anger issues and other issues is because I didn't experience a lot of unconditonal love.

I feel like often the way people treated me and responded to me was conditioned on how I acted or didn't act or other factors.

The more I think about the concept of unconditional love, the more I think that perhaps it's possible that many people don't love unconditionally or have a really hard time loving unconditionally. Does anyone else think that unconditional love is something that few people have truly successfully mastered and demonstrated?

I have similar issues from growing up. My parents, especially my mom, were very critical. I didn't really have that security in knowing I was loved NO MATTER WHAT. More accurately, from a very young age, I didn't feel like there was anyone taking care of me. (I was clothed and fed - I am talking about more in the emotional sense.)

My parents divorced and spent so much time wrapped up in their own drama that their children were relegated to minor walk on parts or as extras in the dramatic fight scenes.

Flash forward to today, I am a parent myself and I find myself much more forgiving of my parents' failures. Now I know that my mom is almost certainly ADHD herself (though she declines to seek diagnosis) and I know that my dad was at a loss to know how to deal with her. They loved each other then and love each other now. They FEEL love unconditionally. They were not able to SHOW love unconditionally. They tried to get back together after their divorce. It didn't work. Most definately, as you described, they treated and responded to each other based on how they acted or didn't act. Or, to put it another way, based on how they met or failed to meet each other's emotional needs.

Unlike a married couple, a parent's love for children ideally ought to be free of expectations that a child meet the parent's needs. But, in the real world, lots of people do have children to fulfill some needs of their own. As a mom, I do my best to guard against that with my own kids. I have a need to recreate the childhood I didn't have for my children. My wish to do that may be thwarted a thousand times a day by my own children who are not really interested in reliving the childhood I wish I had so that I can experience it vicariously through them. Kids could easily pick up on my disappointed ambitions for them (like the football dad whose son wants to take ballet) and assume that it means that I somehow don't love them unconditionally.

But, as a mom, I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth! I do love my kids unconditionally, but I am simply not capable of being the perfect, loving parent 24/7. Sometimes I am disappointed in something they did or didn't do and sometimes I am impatient, distracted, or tired and I just want 5 minutes to myself.

Also, just like your parents, ("My parents acted much more pleased with me when I got good grades and accomplished things then when I didn't.") I act a lot more pleased when my kids are "accomplishing" than when they are not. I even scold them when they get bad grades! Or when they throw a tantrum in the store, pinch their sister, tell a lie, etc. The one thing I try to do that is different than what my parents did is that I follow the scolding with reassurance that I love them no matter what, even when they are bad, and that there is nothing they can do to make me stop loving them.

I wish just once my parents had said that to me. I have grown to believe that they did love me like that. They just didn't know that I couldn't have known that without them telling me.

So, to answer your question, I do think it is possible that some people don't love unconditionally. But I think many more people FEEL unconditional love. But, loving means being vulnerable to being hurt, so most of us are not always able to show it unconditionally.

Wish
06-13-07, 07:54 PM
Fighting, this isn't just about my parents. I have never truly felt unconditional love in my friendships or other relationships. It's not just about my past. I don't feel unconditional love presently. Many of the friends I've had have said I'm too difficult or this or that. They don't seem to want to deal with any of my problems related to being bipolar. That is not being a true friend. Unconditional love means you're there to support someone and be a friend not just during the good times. It's easy to be a friend during the good times. The true test of friendship is the kind of friend you are during the difficult or bad times.

To me, unconditional love is supporting someone and caring about them and reaching out to them during good times and bad. It means not running when times get tough. It means not judging a person for things that they're less than proud of. These are things that very few people, in my experience, are able to do even if they say they can or want to.

Wish
06-13-07, 09:59 PM
I agree with you that parents should not expect children to meet their needs. I think that many people have children for selfish reasons. I think that some people view having children as a way to avoid ending up in a nursing home when they get older. I have made a solemn promise to myself not to have children unless I feel like I can truly give of myself selflessly without becoming resentful or feeling like I'm sacrificing my own identity.

Having kids to fulfill your needs will never successfully fulfill those needs. Other people cannot give you what you are lacking in yourself. If you are unhappy and feel unfulfilled, your kids will mirror that behavior because that is what they will be taught and exposed to. Basically, the fewer the unmet needs, the healthier that a person is. I also think that this backfires because a parent who cannot meet their owns needs, cannot meet the needs of a child and in turn feels like a failure as a parent.

I'm not saying that it's not important to accomplish things, I just feel like parents sometimes need to give their kid more latitude to figure out what truly interests them. I've seen way too many parents define accomplishment solely by what grades a kid gets, what college they go to and how much money they make. I think that some people aren't great in school and don't go to college, but still manage to do great things in life. Bill Gates is a Harvard dropout. A friend of mine in law school married a firefighter who had a 12th grade education. It didn't matter to her that he didn't go to college because he was passionate about what he did and he worked hard. I think that success comes in many more shapes and sizes than parents sometimes realize. I definitely felt pressured to follow a certain path.

FightingBoredom
06-13-07, 11:12 PM
The advice that I give is from personal experience and is based on things that have worked for me--and for others. Frequently it is based on things I've learned from reading self help books and have successfully applied to my own life.

What I post is also based on my opinions and everyone is welcome to take it or leave it. For sure...nobody should take forum postings as guidance over that of a medical professional. So please don't.

I'm not sure, at this point, if you're looking for advice or just want to vent.

Crazy~Feet
06-13-07, 11:21 PM
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Wish
07-06-07, 12:23 AM
I didn't ask for any medical advice. I'm an attorney. Don't talk to me like I'm stupid.

ProcrastN8R2
07-06-07, 12:56 AM
To me, unconditional love is supporting someone and caring about them and reaching out to them during good times and bad. It means not running when times get tough. It means not judging a person for things that they're less than proud of. These are things that very few people, in my experience, are able to do even if they say they can or want to.


Yes, you are right. I think most people don't unconditionally love themselves, let alone anyone else. Judging others or running away is so often something people do because they are so vulnerable themselves.

Wish
07-06-07, 02:06 AM
I think that's why many marriages fail. People can't stick it out through good times and bad.

justhope
07-06-07, 07:59 AM
I agree Wish. And most of it's because they think it's an emotion, and when that fades...and the hard times hit, esp with piling bills, job stressor's and children, they can't handle it.

I have been with my other half for almost 14 years now. I was in love with him the instant I saw him, we had a whirlwind love affair, and we are still very passionate in everyway. and by passionate I mean on every level. We have weathered some of the hardest things couples can face. We have faced infidelity early in the relationship that resulted in the birth of twin girls, we have faced losing our home both due to roommates we lived with not paying bills with the money we gave them, and due to a house fire, we have faced huge financial stress, substance abuse, my illness, his illness, unemployment, and serious illness of our son.

Just one of the things above could have driven us apart, and believe me there were times we both thought about it. But love is not a feeling. It's a commitment. It's understanding how to continue to hang on despite other's faults and it's learning to let go of ridiculous unrealistic expectations of how you believe someone should be or how they should act. Period.

I can say for me one of the only "people" I have shown anything close to true unconditional love to is my children, especially my teenager. I could have given up on him many times with his horrible behavior. Then we found out how sick he was, and I am glad I stuck by him or I could have never been able to live with myself. There are few people in this world that have the capacity to love people unconditionally. I have only touched the surface of it with my children and thier father.

Since I can't discuss other things here, I will hint (and this is my opinion only)at the fact I often am a strong believer that there is only one being that can show true unconditional love, the rest of us are novices.

You can choose to live with the pain caused by people who have not show you love unconditionally in your life, and then choose to move on after that pain, and learn how to let it go of the hurt inflicted by those who didn't live up to your expectations. and if you believe you justified in thinking you are wronged, you really must look in the mirror and make sure you have lived up to that expectation in the lives of those you have loved or love you, and make sure you , yourself lived up to it in every way possible you expected it from others. I am pretty sure if people are honest with themselves they will find they have failed in many ways and that is just part of being human.

heyabird
07-06-07, 10:56 AM
I didn't ask for any medical advice. I'm an attorney. Don't talk to me like I'm stupid.




I don't want to insult you again, but do you really think this attitude towards other people's advice and opinions will make them love you unconditionally? What I read in your posts is "I want this, I want that, people won't give it to me, I have unmet needs".

You know what? Other people have needs too, and one of those needs is to not be emotionally exploited by somebody who feels bad about their situation, complains about it A LOT and still doesn't take any advice from them. I have had friends with that attitude, and at some point one just has to stop trying to fix their lives, because, let's face it, that'll never work as long as the other person is not ready. It can feel like somebody is sucking pure life energy out of you. Who wants that?

Maybe it would help if you try and empathize just a bit with the people around you, and I'm not talking about those people who actually hurt you, just regular people you know, friends, other people who are trying to understand you. Just try and give back a bit.

Wish
07-06-07, 11:58 AM
I understand hey. I'm trying to learn empathy. I want to have a lot of close friends because I've never had that. I'm working on making it happen.

Imnapl
07-06-07, 01:18 PM
I understand hey. I'm trying to learn empathy. I want to have a lot of close friends because I've never had that. I'm working on making it happen.You only need one.

Wish
07-06-07, 01:30 PM
Im, I really do need more than one. Relationships are largely about mutual fulfillment of needs. One person can rarely, if eve, fulfill all of your needs. I think that different friends often fulfill different needs in your life. I think that when you only have one friend, that's where relationship problems start to happen because your less likely to get some of your emotional needs met and they're less likely to get some of their emotional needs met. What if that one friendship ends and that's all you have?

Imnapl
07-06-07, 08:37 PM
Im, I really do need more than one. Relationships are largely about mutual fulfillment of needs. One person can rarely, if eve, fulfill all of your needs.I tend to think that relationships are largely about sharing: values, interests, history, affection, loyalty and respect, to name a few.

blueroo
07-06-07, 10:03 PM
I suspect that as long as your focus in life is "getting what I need and want" you will continue to drive it away. The formula you are looking for is deceptively simple.

Love yourself. Then you can love others.
When you love others, they love you back.

The complexity is entirely hidden within "love". Until you accept that you are ok with who you are today, you can't love yourself. When you accept that you are ok with who you are, your childhood doesn't matter anymore. How your parents raised you don't matter any more. All the bad things you've done don't matter anymore. All the bad things others have done don't matter anymore. The past is not a place of judgement, but a place of reflection. In this context, love is seeing the past for all of its trials and tribulations, and still being ok with where you are today.

Spongedaddy
08-10-07, 07:49 AM
Im, I really do need more than one. Relationships are largely about mutual fulfillment of needs. One person can rarely, if eve, fulfill all of your needs. I think that different friends often fulfill different needs in your life. I think that when you only have one friend, that's where relationship problems start to happen because your less likely to get some of your emotional needs met and they're less likely to get some of their emotional needs met. What if that one friendship ends and that's all you have?
That is part of the problem. Even of you find different people who meet different "needs" at some point they wont fill those needs and then what? Unconditional love only comes through acceptance. Love in essence is acceptance. The real question comes down to how accepting of yourself are you? The way people act is usually a reflection of what's going on inside of them.