The other day I was having a conversation with my daughter, she was standing on the stool next to me while I was making dinner for the family. I turned toward her at one point and noticed how beautiful she was and told her so: “You’re beautiful. I love you.”
Right after I made that comment, I wondered to myself: Was that the right way to tell her that I loved her?
She IS beautiful, but that’s not why I love her. I want her, and all my children and my husband to know that I love them UNCONDITIONALLY…and not because of the way they may look, dress, or behave.
So often the messages that people send us about loving us are subtly – or sometimes overtly – conditional:
“You’re a good boy, I love you.”
“Wow, you got a 90 on your test. I am so proud of you!”
“I love you. You are always so put together.”
“I love walking around with my three beautiful ladies (two daughters and wife.)”
What is the message we are sending our children or our spouses, boyfriend or girlfriend when we make these types of comments?
I am a grown woman, married and a mother of three, and at times I still wonder about my own father’s love sometimes. Does he love me? Yes. I know in my heart that he truly does.
But he only tells me that he loves me when I look good and am put together, or when I used to score a lot of points for the basketball team.
So when I am not looking my best or feeling my best in his presence I do not feel totally ACCEPTED for WHO I AM no matter how I look, feel, or dress.
Because when we connect our love or our pride to what the person did (an accomplishment) we leave them wondering: ‘If I wasn’t beautiful, smart, or well behaved, would they still love me?’
I do not want my children or my spouse to feel that way. I want them to know that I accept them and love them for WHO THEY ARE and NOT what they do or how they look.
I want them to know that I love them NO MATTER WHAT – no matter what they do, how they behave, what they accomplish or do not accomplish. I love them just because.
How about you?
How do you express love to your loved ones?
Are you subtly connecting your love for them to something that they are doing (or not doing) or to the way they look?
For the next two weeks be mindful of the way that you express love to the people you care most about in your life.
Simply state “I love you” – without any condition.
Make the connection deeper by making eye-contact and speaking in their love language.