Reflections on Unconditional Love

Unconditional love.

We all long to receive it. We all want to get better at offering it. Yet, time and time again, we find ourselves feeling that unconditional love is elusive. Even those of deep faith who believe God offers it freely often still struggle to maintain the feeling of being loved unconditionally, or to offer their own love unconditionally.

Why is this so difficult?

IMG_1514The answer is simple: unconditional love isn’t something that can be given or received in isolation. Unconditional love can only be realized as a shared state of being. One cannot provide unconditional love to another who is not already open to receiving it. And one cannot be open to receiving unconditional love until she/he first understands how to embody it.

So how do we learn to embody unconditional love?  Again, the answer is simple, even if it is not obvious.

Unconditional love is not something we have to learn to embody; it’s something we are all born already knowing how to be. And then we forget. We get confused. We’re taught that unconditional love is something we need to offer to ourselves or others, no matter what they/we do. But that’s not true. Unconditional love cannot be given. It can only be awakened. So when a person behaves in an unloving, selfish or hurtful way what we need to offer them is a combination of tough love and forgiveness… so they can find their way back to that perfect state of unconditional love again.

IMG_7425Until this year, unconditional love remained an elusive concept for me too. Over the past 12 months I have had the privilege of facilitating countless interactions between students and horses in my equine-assisted learning program where true unconditional love was demonstrated before my eyes. This helped me understand the “mystery” behind the power of equine-assisted learning. Unlike humans, horses are not confused about what unconditional love is, nor have they forgotten how to embody it. In fact, they are masters at embodying it regardless of what the domestic world throws at them. And this makes them masters at helping us remember too:

Unconditional love is the state of accepting ourselves and others, without conditions.  It’s being able to say with complete faith: “I am enough and you are enough. Right now. Right here. Just as we are. We are both enough.” Unconditional love is not defined by the decisions we make or how we behave or even how we treat others. It’s about how we feel in our hearts.


Unconditional love is saying, “I don’t need anything from you in order to feel complete and you don’t need anything from me in order to be complete.”

When we can find our way back to this state of mutual acceptance and surrender, this is when the magic happens! It’s when expectations and judgments fall away. It’s when the joy of sharing the experience of life returns. And it’s when we can make authentic connections in every moment that’s before us.



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