As we make the conscious choice to open our heart, an increased abundance of love seems to naturally infiltrate our life. Not just any love either, but unconditional love. While unconditional love sounds great in theory, many people, in fact our society as a whole, finds it quite challenging to actually apply it. In this essay, we will cover 5 major areas that enable us to make unconditional love a reality in every area of our life.

Love. Love is us. We are it. It is our essence. Love is what each person whether consciously or unconsciously hungers for. Love is what feeds us, and it is what sustains us. Yet, to truly define love is a challenge. Love can be expressed in many ways, by many people. We love our kids, we love our cars. We love the way something feels or tastes. This varied diversity gives love many meanings. It can take on many forms. Sometimes though, this varied use greatly diminishes the concept of real love itself.

There is however one type of love that transcends it all – it is unconditional love. To know love in its truest essence, is to know that even the words “love” and “condition” cannot exist in the same sentence. It is as foreign as if someone were talking about white darkness.

True love knows no bounds, no limits. True love has no expectations and holds no obligations. True love – a love without conditions – unconditional love – is where we want to keep growing towards, on our journey of spiritual evolution. It requires an awakening to love in every area of our life. This may sound like a big task, but is actually quite simple. It all starts with us!

Each year on February 14, many parts of our world celebrate the holiday called Valentine’s Day. This is a holiday where cupids, hearts, and seas of red and pink seem to be the backdrop of love for the Western world. Whether you are a fan of Valentine’s day or not, something more fundamental needs to be remembered by us all: love is not a one-day-a-year holiday, it is who we are.

Love is our essence. Love is the direction in which we want to keep moving, on all levels of our life. And not just any love, but specifically unconditional love. Unconditional love is not the type of love that is associated with Valentine’s Day. In fact in our society, while some speak of unconditional love, very few of us actually practice it on a daily basis, in any area. We may love our kids, our partners, our families, etc. Usually however that love is very conditional. We may not outwardly say it, but on a subconscious level we definitely live it. I love you because you are….have…will be….will have….give me, etc.

When these so called loved people by us tend to act up or out against our desires or expectations, many of us tend to pull our love away, limit it or restrict it in some way. We make sure the other knows that we are somehow hurt or disappointed due to what they did, or didn’t do. This is not unconditional love. So you may be thinking, is it even possible for us as humans to still truly love another when they did something we did not like or approve of. Something that we deem hateful or hurtful? This is a good question indeed, and not an easy one to answer for all people. Going to our essence though, yes, I believe it is possible. It all depends on the level of consciousness with which we think, speak and act. It depends on our personal growth and evolution. It truly depends on the choices we are willing to make, based on our personal priorities. Remember, love is our essence. It is not something we need to learn. Rather it is something we need to allow to come through.

The important difference and distinction here is not to confuse unconditional love with acceptance. I don’t have to like what you are doing, but I can still love you. This means honor your path, however or whatever you may choose it to be, without creating any guilt, shame, anger or disappointment around it. I can choose to love you, and find peace and understanding that there is divine purpose in your personal choice of expression. In this respect, we can love our so called enemies. We can love the homeless person on the street. We can love our entire Earth family, not just those who share our genetics, or religion, or culture.

Imagine what our world would look like if our kids knew that no matter what they do, we don’t look at them any less; if our partners knew that they can never disappoint us. Again, this does not mean that we allow what we may deem as abuse or negative energy to come our way. Unconditional love must be applied to the self first, if it is to be applied successfully to any other.

Let’s take a journey then to see what practical tools we can put to use here in making unconditional love a reality. No matter what type of relationship you are in – spouse, kids, family, friends, enemies or strangers, all of these connections present you with opportunities to practice unconditional love. Below are five vital areas to consider and work on in any situation with another being that causes you to criticize, or judge them, or pull your love away from them.

Step 1: Dissolve Your Expectations

Take all the expectations you hold over those you love and imagine for a moment a glass of water. Take all those expectations and imagine them just dissolving in that water. You think it can’t be that easy? The choice is yours to make. Think it cannot be done, and it won’t. So be mindful of your self-talk here, and underlying beliefs, as they will dictate your outcome.

You can continue to expect your partner to change, or be the source of and reason for your love. OR, you can remember that you are love, thereby freeing yourself and them from the clutches of expectations.

You can continue to compare your kids to how you think they “should” grow up and act, or you can allow them to express themselves freely, knowing that you provide a safe environment in which they can learn who they truly are.

You can continue to expect apologies from your those who you feel wronged you, or you can embrace the fact that nobody does anything wrong given their model of the world. Each person operates based on their personal understanding and evolution, no better or worse than yours. We have all been there, and we will all be there.

In the end, the expectations we hold over others, are all too often not even our own. Peer pressure from family, friends and society blinds us from thinking for ourselves. It is time to dissolve those expectations and allow unconditional love to shine out from you always.

Step 2: Move Beyond Your Ego

All too often when someone “hurts” us or “disappoints” us, it is then that our Ego gets fed the fastest and makes itself most apparent in our life. We withdraw, we feel wronged, we feel like a victim. We may cry, we may want to tell our woes to everyone around, we may even lash out in various self-destructive ways.

However, only an Ego can generate a victim-like state. You soul—your spirit—knows that there are no victims and no villains. Our thoughts and actions, whether directly or indirectly attract to us the various people and situations we get. We may not always get what we want, but we always get what we need.

It is therefore possible in times of great hurts to look for the learning opportunity that you just presented yourself with. It is possible to see the gift in every person, and think with your heart instead of any Ego-driven mind. You don’t have to like what the other person did, but you also don’t have to move away from unconditional love for the soul who perhaps only “forgot” that they too are love at their essence.

Step 3: Free Yourself From Judgments

Judgment creates separation. Separation limits or cuts off love. No matter what your affiliation is to any religious or spiritual practice, I believe that God is love and does love us all unconditionally – no judgments, no conditions, no exceptions. I know this is still a tough one for many people to accept, as their God appears to be a very conditionally loving God. Only “IF” you believe in this, or practice that, “THEN” you are righteous. Otherwise, you are judged, and potentially even condemned. It is a good thing that we are evolving past this mindset, which has not served us one bit.

If we can get past judging others on any of their words or actions, we open up a huge gateway to unconditional love. However to stop judging others, we need to stop judging ourselves. This perhaps is the greatest obstacle to overcome here. This is where the most attention and healing is needed in our life usually. Think about it, if I apply unconditional love to myself, it is only then that I can fully and completely be me—in any moment, anytime! From this state I am not seeking anything from outside of myself. Therefore no one can disappoint me, and there is no one to judge as being better or worse than what I consider myself to be. I am now free to love fully, allowing each individual to express themselves as they see most fit for their personal evolution.

Step 4: Recognize that Everyone is Worthy

A person may not always do or say what you want them to do, but it does not make them less worthy of your love. Our Ego creates a superiority complex that can be easily activated based on our income level, religious choices, ethnicity, creative ability, etc. Let’s remember that diversity is a beautiful thing. It creates the mosaic of people, places and experiences we can have here on this incredible planet. Let’s honor that, rather than negate it.

Whether you approach this from the side of empathy, compassion or tolerance for another human being, or even animal, or other living creature, everyone is worthy of being loved unconditionally when we open our heart.

Step 5: Recognize that We are All In This Together

Lastly, know and understand that however close or separate you think you are to others, in essence we are all one, from the same origin, and of the same essence. We are on the same team. One of the greatest illusions we live with is that of separation, where we take on the me versus them syndrome. Another illusion that we put into practice all too often is the survival of the fittest misconception.

In truth there is no need to compete, or take sides, or wage wars. We are choosing all this, but we can make fresh choices, from an expanded state of awareness. We are all universally connected, and whether you live by karma, or doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, you can never go wrong with seeing yourself in the other. This is the gateway that opens us further to unconditional love. It then multiplies throughout the world as it ripples through us, and always finds its way back to us that much stronger.

Be the shining example of love that you are, in all that you think, say and do.