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5 Ways to Self-Produce Unconditional Love and Heal Yourself


5 Ways to Self-Produce Unconditional Love and Heal Yourself
Image by Daylight. (license).

Note: This is a guest post by Ari Koinuma of OurBestVersion.com.

I often take my kids to play in a sand-pit near our home.  Both my 4-year-old girl and 19-month-old boy love playing in sand.

And sometimes I join them.

It’s such a bliss.  I highly recommend it if you haven’t done it recently. Simple acts like digging a hole in sand has a very soothing, relaxing effect.

Like going back to a time when I didn’t have responsibilities.  No need to perform, please or prove.

Scarcity of Unconditional Love

Childhood bliss is, unfortunately, something many of us don’t experience — and even if we do, don’t experience it fully enough.  Imagine a baby cuddled in mother’s arms. You just exist, and your parents love you.  You may not understand their words, but you get the message from their touches, their smiles, the tone in their voice. They tell you: we are glad you were born.

Unconditional love is a birthright. It’s the builder of our foundation, the ground on which the rest of our psyche is built.  But many (or most?) of us are given the gift of compromised foundation.  You may not recognize it as such in your day-to-day struggles.  But consider these common symptoms:

  • Chronic, mysterious and/or incurable health conditions (migraine, skin rashes, perpetual history of getting sick or injured one way or another)
  • Difficulty trusting other people
  • Insecurity/inadequacy
  • Scarcity mentality
  • Dependency (substance, food, approval of peer/parent/boss)

Virtually all big and deep personal problems can be traced back to your foundation: your right to exist.  And unconditional love is the only true cure for the problem.  There are many fixes for any and all of the problems listed above, individually.  But since all the problems stem from your lack of trust in your existence, fixing your foundation will solve or cure all the other symptoms that come from it.

Where Can We Find Unconditional Love?

But unconditional love is an elusive commodity.  If parents weren’t available or able to give it to you abundantly, who can?  Religious institutions claim to, though they are full of moral codes you have to fit into. Spouses, maybe, but romantic love isn’t the same as unconditional/parental love.  You may believe that a god or a “higher being” can provide it, but on the condition that you have to believe in such thing and have your spiritual antenna developed enough to really experience that love.  It’s not available to atheists, is it?

Is there any place in this world that everyone can turn to, a reliable source for our deep crave for unconditional love?

Yes. You.

You can love yourself unconditionally.  Even if you didn’t experience enough of it the first time around, you can always do so today.

How? You may ask.  I’ve never, ever really received it — how can I give myself which I didn’t receive?

It’s simple.  You re-live your babyhood.  Except this time, you play both roles — the baby and the parent.

5 Practical Ways to Self-Produce Unconditional Love

I put the list more or less in the order of potency.

  1. Visualization. In your mind, imagine your mother (or father or a caregiver) holding the baby you. With a big smile, she holds you gently and tell you over and over, “I’m so glad you were born.” You can write it down or verbally describe it, for aiding your visualization and for greater impact.  This is the easiest method, though least potent and impossible to do if you can’t remember experiencing unconditional love, ever.
  2. Drawing. You can use any material, but I recommend you at least invest in a sketch book and a decent set of oil pastels. You can draw the above scene literally, or you can draw more abstractly by intuitively splashing, lines, shapes and colors.  If your hurt is coming out, you may draw ugly, painful pictures — allow yourself to do so.  Just keep drawing until you get to a point where you can start drawing what your heart desires.  You’ll get there once you spill out enough of your hurt.
  3. Playing. This is where the sand pit comes in — once in my therapy session, my therapist had me play in the sand. Another time, she had me use a pile of dolls and figures to describe how I was feeling.  I remember picking one figure for myself and placing everything else in a big circle facing me, surrounding — to express that I felt like the whole world was against me.  Again, after pouring out your hurt, you’ll get to a point where you start expressing your unconditional love for yourself.
  4. Role-playing. You can get a doll (there are ones that specifically designed for therapeutic purposes, though anything will do) and you hold it in your arms, and physically carry out the acts described in #1.  Be sure to call it your name and tell him/her “I’m glad you were born.”  Alternatively, if you have a willing spouse or a trusted friend, you can enact this where you really get to be on the receiving end.
  5. Caring a child. I obviously don’t recommend becoming a parent for the sole purpose of healing yourself, but this is actually what takes place among parents: a chance to re-do their own life.  We parents all project ourselves to our children to some extent.  Raise your baby and shower him/her with abundant unconditional love.  Alternatively, you can baby sit someone else’s baby and do this, if you don’t want your own child but want to try out this most powerful method.

As you try out these exercise, you’ll experience a powerful sensation of relief and relaxation.  If your scar is deep, you may feel the hurt coming out first — and you need to allow it.  But be sure to incorporate the central message:  you are telling the baby — yourself — that you are glad you were born.  This the most fundamental message of unconditional love.

For most of us, this is not a one-time healing session.  It’s an on-going process. When you have a need to heal, life tends to create opportunities for you to do so — by creating situations where you encounter your brokenness. Each time you feel anxious, worried, or scared, take the time to engage in these exercises. Over time, you’ll notice that your inner peace becomes less and less affected by life events.

An effective psychotherapist can mentor and guide you in this process, especially if your hurt is deep. But don’t underestimate, don’t misunderstand that you are healing yourself. Therapists and other healing arts are simply helping you use your own healing power.

My Personal Healing

I have personally used all 5 methods at one time or another in my healing process.  I used to have this paralyzing fear of people getting mad at me, or being blamed for my mistakes.  When such a situation occurred, my head would “blank out” with fear — I was so overwhelmed by sheer terror that I couldn’t think.  I had an unnatural drive to be blameless, or at least appear to be infallible.  Whenever I was under stress, my defence mechanism was to cover my tracks so I had no visible failures.

After years of living with my fear, I finally submitted myself to therapy. I enjoyed my therapy sessions.  I had two sketchbooks full of my pastel drawings, and piles of journals.

But my catalyst was when my daughter was born.  At that very moment, I felt my capacity for unconditional love truly awaken.  It has been the most transformational healing experience.  As I poured my heart into taking care of her, and now my toddler son, I observed my own foundation become more solid.

Nowadays, those panic attacks are a thing of past.  Sure, my heart would still pound faster when people get mad at me (which doesn’t happen as often as it used to) or if I make a mistake and other people notice it. But nothing out of ordinary. I don’t feel threatened, nor live in fear of such situations.

Concluding Thoughts

If you experience abundance of unconditional love, your life will be peaceful.  By that, I don’t mean quiet, slow or serene — it’s just that you’ll spend little time feeling threatened, afraid, and insecure.  There’s nothing to prove, no need to argue.  Wars will end and crimes will diminish.  Sounds idealistic?  Yes, it can certainly appear so, until you actually experience this healing and transformation. The security becomes so strong and stable that you just simply lose room in your heart for things like desperation and aggression.

Regardless of your childhood experience or your relationship with your parents, don’t begrudge them.  It may be hard to feel grateful for getting hurt, but once you experience the healing, you’ll realize what an amazing transformation it is.  People who were uncompromised may not realize what they have.  But you won’t take it for granted.  You’ll be grateful and will feel excited to tell other hurt souls that healing is possible.

The above 5 methods are the ones that worked for me.  What other methods can produce unconditional love to you?  When have you experienced unconditional love’s healing power?  Please share your stories, so that we can tell the world that it is possible to heal and that opportunity is available to everyone.

Ari Koinuma writes on the theme of “Bic Picture of Healing and Growth: from Depression to Self Actualization” at his site, OurBestVersion.com. If you enjoyed this entry, check out his thorough analysis of self-esteem and his personal story of how he used the method described above to heal himself.

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  • Tabs September 29, 2008, 2:41 am

    Ari, thank you for sharing such a personal story, the need for unconditional self-love is understated in our lives today and your five points seem simple enough to do. Knowing that you have tried it and it works really helps support the article.

    Thanks

    -Tabs

  • Shanel Yang September 29, 2008, 5:44 am

    Unconditional love is great; but, according to Jungian psychologists, what’s most important raise happy, healthy children to grow up to be happy, healthy adults is loving guidance with clear boundaries. I guess it depends on what is meant by unconditional love, but if it means always approving — or at least not disapproving — of everything a child does, that’s actually considered a serious form of abuse or neglect by many psychologists. (I wonder how Brad and Angelina’s kids will turn out b/c apparently they live with almost no boundaries.) I wrote about the importance of “mothering” yourself by giving yourself boundaries and summarized some key points from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ excellent audio book “Warming the Stone Child” in “Fan Your Inner Flame Till It Burns Bright” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/05/10/fan-your-inner-flame-till-it-burns-bright/

    For an alternate visualization, might I suggest imaging yourself as you are right now going back to your younger self, at your most critical junctures in your life, and just being there with your younger self, protecting yourself, helping your younger self feel not so frightened about what is about to happen, but to teach her/him what lessons they are about to learn from them? I find this type of visualization very healing for me. : )

  • Jeanne May September 29, 2008, 10:27 am

    Ari thank you for the very inspiring article.

    The suggestions you made were very sound and relatively easy to take action on. Other things which can help include taking care of animals such as dogs, and also being involved with plants and trees.

    The therapeutic value of animals, particularly dogs, is well documented.

    And sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to not only love unconditionally but also open ourselves to receive it from where ever it comes.

    Warmly
    Jeanne

  • Ari Koinuma September 29, 2008, 4:25 pm

    @Tabs,

    It was my pleasure to share my experience and insights. Indeed, unconditional love seems to be a scarcity. It is preached in some religion yet it’s rare to experience it. But there’s really nothing quite like the powerful sense of relief that comes from receiving unconditional love. So I encourage everyone to try one or more of the methods above.

    ari

    @Shanel,

    Hello friend! Thanks for adding your insights to my post!

    You are right, by unconditional love, I wasn’t implying that we should not discipline our children. On the contrary, we are pretty strict parents. ;-) But unconditional love is the foundation of our relationship — no matter what our children do, we affirm that we love them, that we are glad they were born. There are some inappropriate and harmful behaviors that we forbid or strongly discourage. But even when they commit these acts, it will never change our love for them.

    To demonstrate this point, when pointing out wrong behaviors, we focus on the actions. We never accuse them of “being” bad children. Bad behavior does not make them bad existence — existence is off-limits, and always secure. After they take time to consider what was wrong about their behavior and apologizes, we “forgive and forget” — meaning, we try not to drag out our anger and frustration.

    This is all in theory, of course — there are times when we fall short, or our temper gets the better of us. But all in all, so far we feel good about our parenting and how our children are turning out.

    @Jeanne,

    Indeed, I thought about pets after I finished and submitted the article. And you are absolutely right about opening ourselves up to receiving love. Thanks for adding your insight!

    ari

  • BJ September 29, 2008, 10:36 pm

    Hi! What helps for me is to just tell myself in the mirror each time that I look in it that I love myself. Or other compliments ;) It takes some repeatment but it works quite well. Good luck & have fun ;) BJ

  • giddi September 30, 2008, 11:27 am

    Thanks for sharing and for the central theme – loving unconditionally. it genuinely does remove the boundaries we have against others in our minds and allows us to accept ourselves and others as they are.

    you should love yourself to be able to love others and apart from healing yourself you find joy from giving a gift of kindness when people least expect it.

  • Ari Koinuma September 30, 2008, 5:58 pm

    @BJ,

    Thanks for the comment, and you are absolutely right — a habit like that really can condition ourselves to believe in our self love. That said, some of us have deeper emotional scars that require more concentrated “self-love sessions” to immerse ourselves into the unconditional love we need.

    @giddi

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, a person secure about his/her own existence really feels less threat from any situations. Fundamentally, it’s a belief/conditioning that says “I’m OK to exist, no matter what happens.” When that very core is affirmed, a lot of more minute details bother us less. It feels free and relieving.

    ari

  • Tom Volkar / Delightful Work October 1, 2008, 12:44 am

    Ari – you’ve shared some excellent methods. I particularly enjoyed reading about the playing. We all used to lose ourselves for hours as kids and we never get too old to play.

    I’ve actually lead a workshop called the Unconditional Support Experience. it was a huge hit. People are starving for such support. I love connecting through song.

  • Ari Koinuma October 1, 2008, 10:05 pm

    @Tom

    Thanks. As a parent, I do find it sometimes hard to just allow myself to play — even when my kids are sleeping, I’m always on call and I can’t totally let go of my responsibilities.

    So it’s actually moments when I get to play with the kids that are the best reminders of childhood bliss. I just tune in to how my kids are enjoying themselves and think to myself how freeing that is. Not even your own safety is your responsibility. You just sit and play. And you are loved for it.

    I can’t totally lose myself into it as I still have to remain as a parent, but really, playing in a sand pit is pretty harmless…. I just find it very comforting.

    ari

  • Clay October 1, 2008, 11:33 pm

    Thank you for your wonderful post. Unconditional love is indeed an exception rather than the rule, in this crazy world of ours.

    I have struggled with esteem issues for years, particularly in relationships. Always expecting someone to judge or criticise, I held back, becoming aloof and not partaking in life. Because I constantly expected rejection, I have often acted in ways that make it even likelier to happen, or become the rejector myself.

    What’s odd is that I cannot immediately identify any lack of love in my growing up. In fact, its only recently, at 27, that I’ve realised the only person who is as prepared to judge me as I expect to be judged is, of course, myself.

    But that’s the irony isn’t it? So often the people in our lives, or at least our perceptions of them, serve as projections of our own inner beliefs. The way they act and treat us is often the way that we expect to be treated, or believe that we should be treated.

    Again, thank you for this post. Even just in sharing your story, I believe you will have helped a lot of people.

    Good times,
    Clay

  • Nathalie Lussier from Billionaire Woman October 2, 2008, 12:41 am

    This is such an important topic, I wish we would discuss it more often. I have heard the term “emotional piggy bank” before, and I think it applies to love. If you don’t feel love, then it can be hard to pass it on. But your idea of using unconditional love seems to take this concept one step further.

    Great read!

  • Ari Koinuma October 2, 2008, 7:09 pm

    @Clay,

    Wow, thanks for a wonderful comment. I really appreciated how you shared your personal thoughts about this.

    Like you, I wasn’t (and still can’t) able to immediately identify where things were lacking in my upbringing. I had most wonderful parents, with whom I’ve always been close.

    But you know, some of us are more sensitive than others. What may seem like a perfectly normal remark can hurt us in ways we can’t foresee or imagine. Other factors — cultures, schools, peers — have potential to inflict powerful wounds, too, just as they have tremendous potential to do good to us.

    In the end, it’s no use saying “we shouldn’t be the way we are,” is it? We need to accept ourselves for what we turned out to be, and then from there on, begin the healing and growing process.

    And I am in total agreement about your surroundings being what you are projecting. Again, the power there is that once you realize it, you can begin to change your projections. It’s very potent stuff.

    Thanks again for your comment, Clay. I hope we can keep in touch.

    @Nathalie,

    Thanks! Yes, I have heard that phrase, too. Deposits being made when we were babies can carry us our whole life — but the great part, is, it’s never too late to make deposits. Any of the methods above, when repeatedly done, have power to fill up any depleted accounts.

    ari

  • Jamie Simmerman October 10, 2008, 1:29 am

    My boys often try to dig to China. My job is to sit in the hole and rescue the worms as they appear. We collect them all in a tub and then transplant them to the garden.

    Childhood bliss is such a wonderful thing!

  • Jamie Simmerman October 10, 2008, 1:37 am

    Very interesting concept. I am a psychology major, so your post piques my interest. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  • Liz October 13, 2008, 10:52 am

    Your story really hits home

    i’m 22 so way before ‘kids time’ but i have exactly the same black out type experiences when ‘threatened’

    it’s extremely frightening and something not many people would understand and its takes hours if not days to get myself right again

    i am just starting to re experience everything with the help of a therapist who finally understands and doesn’t think i’m just playing up (like my first therapist)and i hope one day i will be able to live better than i am at the moment

    it’s good to read about you and i’m sure your kids are very lucky to have you

  • Chase March October 21, 2008, 4:09 am

    I think the real key here is to give love freely. You can show love in a variety of ways. You can love a friend, a neighbour, or a stranger, by performing small acts of kindness.

    I truly believe that you get out of life what you put into it. Kind of like “what goes around comes around.” We often think of this phrase in only negative terms but I think it is true in all the positives as well.

    That’s my take on this topic anyway. If those 5 things help you that’s great. But I think it is important to remember that to be loved, you must give love. I’m sure that is the key.

  • Ari Koinuma October 29, 2008, 10:42 pm

    @Jamie

    Yeah, and every child should entitled to their bliss. But most don’t get enough, hence all the emotional pain in the world. I really think some common knowledge about psychology can go a long way in understanding and healing our minds.

    @Liz

    Well, I’m sorry to hear you are experiencing panic attacks. But sounds like you’re on track to discover and heal your wounds with your therapist. It can be uncomfortable to do this, but just think — you’ll be free afterward! It’s wonderful to heal. I hope you get there soon.

    @Chase,

    It’s true that loving others can really be a healing experience. I’ve had that experience myself. I was simply focused on more focused, heal-your-wounds-at-the-base methods here, but if you don’t need this kind of self-therapy, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    Thanks for your comment!

    ari

  • Melinda November 3, 2008, 11:18 pm

    Dear Ari,

    Throughout my recovery, visualization has been so important to me. Early in my recovery, I didn’t believe in any part of myself–but a spiritual advisor told me that even if I didn’t believe it, that I should affirm myself daily. I pictured myself to be a successful person. During the long years of attending college, I imagined myself walking across the stage to recieve my diploma–I imagined myself to be successful in a lot of different ways and after awhile, I started believing in myself. It happened so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was happening–but a lot of how we feel about ourselves and the world is nothing more than habit–and we can change our habits if we invest some time and energy into doing so.

    Another great article, Ari–thank you for writing it.

    Melinda