Being able to say ‘no’ to those we love can be a tricky task, but unconditional love includes the power of choice too.
Many people think unconditional love means sitting back and letting people walk all over us while they meet their agendas. All may be love, but not all actions are indeed loving actions. Unconditional love does not mean tolerating intolerable circumstances.
We can be unconditional love while still placing conditions on what we are willing to participate in. Conditions are not placed on the love. Conditions are placed on the circumstances. Love includes the power of choice too.
Learning to say, “I love you and… no.” is an empowering form of what I call true authentic relating. True authentic relating is a compassionate form of relating that enables us to stay centered in the heart and maintain integrity, despite antagonistic or bullying attempts to thwart our true authentic power.
Truly and authentically relating to those we love and/or care about, sounds like this:
“I love you, and if you want to be a part of my life, please stop treating me like I do not matter.”
“I love you and this is not okay.”
“I love you and I do not agree with the choices that you are making.”
If it is not appropriate to show love (i.e. at work or another social activity) or you do not feel loving, then use the phrase “I acknowledge you and… (for example) speaking badly about me at lunch in front of my supervisor is not acceptable behavior.”
Heart-centered awareness and living as our true authentic selves permits us to stand our ground, commanding love of self while also commanding loving conditions. When we command our conditions from the center of the field of the heart, with integrity and authenticity, our circumstances and conditions will realign to mirror back accordingly.
Sometimes this means choosing to step away from situations, circumstances, people, and structures and choosing to love them from afar. We have the power to choose. Love never goes anywhere. Only circumstances change.
When we make a commitment to integrity and to living from the heart, then we may also recognize that not opting to step away is a choice. Not choosing to step away when a pattern is abusive, demeaning or unsupportive is a choice.
Heart-centered awareness provides a vehicle for integrity, accountability, and responsibility within family structures, at work, and in relation to community. This follows and expands on the principles of coherency, congruency, and integrity in action – a formula for extraordinary living.
Drop down into the ‘field of your heart’. Consider a social situation or circumstance in which roles are limiting the expression of your true authentic self. Think about the role as a pattern. Ask yourself what this relationship can reveal to you that you have not yet recognized.
Questions to ask yourself
- What thoughts, feelings, or experiences occur for you as you relate to this pattern from your heart?
- How might you deal with this pattern to enable you to move beyond the limitations of the role to relate from a space of loving self-completion?
- What actions, ideas, expressions, or conversations might you engage in from your heart?
For example, my mother expects that adult children be the ones to initiate contact with parents on holidays if not together in person. As a result, it is always up to me to make the phone call. This has been frustrating. If I didn’t call early enough or at a time that was convenient, or if she didn’t get the message, she would be upset with me. This would often lead to nasty emails, disappointing conversations, and missed opportunities to lovingly connect.
The last time this happened, I dropped down into the field of my heart. I could see that this pattern was a form of surrogate control: “Do it this way because I said so,” and even had a little bit of bullying built in. I could see from my heart that my mom just wanted to talk to me. By getting hurt if I didn’t call on her terms. She had her own ready-made source of feeling empowered as a victim in a distorted way. I could see it wasn’t personal, although it felt personal.
Thus, rather than engage in the old reactive patterns of defensiveness, I chose to tell my mother lovingly from the field of my heart that if she wants to connect with me on a holiday, and I haven’t called yet, then please pick up the phone and call me. I would love to hear from her. This was true authentic relating. It enabled me to move beyond the role of obedient child reacting to controlling expectation into a loving space where the pattern could change. The pattern did change.