1. A Hard Definition
Unconditional love is not a moral/ethical stance.
It is not something you do to get “good person points.”
It’s a sustainability stance. It’s an upgrade.
Unconditional love is a social-technology-upgrade that is a replacement for our outdated culture.
Unconditional love is a perspective of the world, informed by an understanding of trauma, where you recognize that people fight because they have nothing better to give one another, because they are soaked in their own unresolved pain.
It is the understanding that it takes YEARS to train a person to process their pain, which is why our history is wall to wall fighting; there has never yet been an opportunity for enough people to train themselves into clarity such that the general population has a high likelihood of interacting (at least some of the time) with people who treat them well. Meaning: that throughout history, almost no one was treated well.
We are in the first era where our ability to teach one another is disconnected from geography, and a person who wants to learn to process their pain, can possibly do so, whereas in previous centuries there were no options to process pain.
We will not be able to train the population in how to process their pain because like all fads and movements, there is a predictable cycle.
We are still at the stage where we can mostly only reach the early-adopters of fads.
These are the people who are brave and deliberate and sometimes are thrill-seekers, but who do not balk at a new idea just because it is new.
You cannot get a late-adopter to invest years of their life in training that will process their pain. “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”
But there are persons who recognize the pain within them, and would like to process it so they can have some calm.
It is the understanding that we are at the start of a certainly decades and possibly centuries long process of helping the training to spread that will help people process pain.
Unconditional love is not ephemeral. It is the decision that it is resource-draining to continue to never-train people to be good to one another, and then consequently live our lives under constant threat.
We have created hell.
By never having developed a system which would train people in the basics of how to treat themselves and then others well, we have created hell.
Through our collective action, we can uncreate it.
We could live in a world where more and more persons are truly kind, and we would no longer fear so ubiquitously, interaction with others.
We can train people. People can skill up.
We can uncreate hell.
Not-wanting unconditional love is like wanting to go back to dial-up. Or wanting bad-shoes. We know there’s a better way now.
It’s time for an upgrade.
2. “I Never Throw The First Punch”
Some of the meanest people I know are very principled about it.
They wield social weapons and punish people, but they wait until someone has transgressed. This gives them the self-illusion that their punishment of others is justified.
I don’t care whether it was justified or not, I care about whether punishing someone gets the desired result which is to force them to improve the way they treat you. I’ve unloaded on people plenty of times when I felt it was justified and with one exception, no one I have unloaded on went on to treat me better because of it, so the technique is a failure (and that one exception was a very temporary improvement and has since reverted to treating me worse than I’d like).
In an article, here, I made the case that self-loathing is a result of being punished by everyone you meet, and assuming that people treat others well, but that they withhold good treatment when it comes to you.
Growing up, this led me to conclusion that:
“I must be doing something to deserve this poor treatment. I hate myself for doing whatever it is that keeps me getting into this trouble.”
What I have found to be true, is that people who are trained in how to process their own pain, both skilled in processing pain on their own and trained in the processing of pain collectively, in the company of their support network, -these are the people who are able to give others kindness because they have cultivated some kindness to give. And that everyone else, which is the overwhelming majority of the population, -I’m talking one or two people in my entire life- has no kindness to give.
If you have no kindness to give, then you will not be giving out kindness.
The most difficult step for every person I’ve seen, is the notion that if we want a world that is less dysfunctional, it will not happen all at once, it will happen first when those who are ready and able, step up and start to implement the processing of their own pain, so that they have calm and clarity to give, instead of the norm: having only pain to spread around.
It’s difficult because this requires some persons to be brave and be leaders, and divest from the revenge strategy that runs our lives by default.
In order to be someone who is helping to upgrade the world’s social-strategies, you have to be willing to forgive some people, unconditionally.
I’m never talking about sticking with someone who is abusing you, harming you, damaging you, threatening you. But that person who was rude to you in the grocery store? Someone is going to have to be the first to forgive and that person does not read this blog, you do, so it sucks that you’re being asked to be the first to unconditionally forgive, but that’s what I’m asking you to consider doing.
The crime that rude person committed was a social crime. No one trained that person in how to best process their own pain, and no one trained that person in how to consider the current pains of others. No one taught that person how to understand the differences between people, so you are working on different priority lists, and that person has not been taught how you can know your own priorities, but that it’s unrealistic that everyone will share your priorities, and if we want peace with one another, we’re gonna need some capacity to allow others to have different priorities than us.
The person who was rude to you, in your family, at work, out in public, was not given the YEARS of training it takes to be able to be good to another person.
There’s just a nearly-zero chance that they were handing out kindness to everyone else that day, but for you they had nastiness.
Unconditional love is about a reframing of how much work it takes for us to be good to one another. It’s also extremely difficult to conceive of if you are filled with pain, and most people have FAR more pain than they realize.
If you’ve ever gotten a new pair of shoes and realized, “Wow I needed those months ago!” then you know the sensation of having more discomfort than you realize because the discomfort had become familiar, and you had not other example to compare it to.
When you get the new shoes, you realize how upsetting the old shoes were, how ill-fitted they were to the task you were asking of them.
The same is true of pain. When you get a moment that is free of turmoil, and you experience clarity, even one time, it can be a touchstone that makes you realize how much pain you are really in all the rest of the time. But if you’ve never had relief from your life’s ills, then unconditional love will sound silly. Because I’m suggesting we all need to get some new shoes, and you’ll be thinking, these shoes are fine what a snowflake this Noah guy is.
3. Premeditated Forgiveness
If you wait until you are in the middle of an interaction with someone, you have rolled the dice.
You have gambled.
If an interaction with someone is the first time you are thinking about how you’d like that interaction to go?
The interaction is largely out of your control.
We-all have sooooo much momentum to ourselves.
Haven’t you noticed?
You probably have noticed how much momentum people have, but it’s easiest to just curse people for having all that momentum since it runs crossways to our own momentum.
If you want to become someone who stops throwing fuel on the fire, the time to forgive people is before and after our interactions with them.
Trying to do it in the moment increases the difficulty from hard to near-impossible.
We have to practice our realization that people are running around in pain, before they’re slinging rudeness at us.
But now is the time, now while you’re not interacting with anyone else, to start to soften up the mind to the idea that people have never been equipped to treat you fairly, and that you are one of the first humans to even be in a position to consider doing the work of upgrading us to unconditional love.
4. Don’t Shit Where You Eat
Before going and spending a lot of time trying to forgive people for being jerks, however, there’s a lot of work to be done.
I’m a big advocate for getting a therapist if you can afford it. And regardless of if you can find and get a therapist that’s a good fit for you, you have got to be reading and writing.
Reading the ideas of others, and getting your own ideas out on paper (or more realistically getting your ideas on screen) is essential for breaking the logjam of the pain we have that we have grown too familiar about to recognize.
The description used is often, if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, the frog will use its grand legs and hop right out, but if you put a frog in room temperature water, and slowly heat the water to boiling, the frog will boil alive. Obviously don’t do either of these, it’s a parable.
Most of the pains we have happened gradually over time.
Plenty of our pain is elusive.
It escapes our notice because it built up so gradually and at a time when we did not realize that we had any choice in the matter.
Jane Roberts’ Seth described it as if we were oil painters who are covered in gloopy tacky paints at the end of the day and in not-washing-the-paint-off, we went to bed and woke up, slowly forgetting that the paint stuck upon us is not us. Many people believe there is no version of themselves to find; they believe they are just their experiences.
But it has been my experience that under the gloop, every person is intact beneath, dying to get out.
Unconditional love means actively working to work through our pain so that it is no longer something so everpresent in us that it taints every interaction we have.
If you have ever had an interaction where you were unkind to someone, and then wished you could have acted better, this is because you are naturally kind, you just have a bunch of gloopy crud stuck on you that inserts itself into everything you do.
Getting through your own pain is altruism.
You cannot give what you do not have.
Get right with yourself. Then we can change the world.
5. Suggested: Reading
Find people who seem to have the sanity you want. If they are good teachers, try to get in front of whatever it is they teach, and add their thoughts to your own.
It’s common to avoid the ideas of others. As if somehow reading another’s ideas might overwrite and contaminate your own.
Instead, read so much that you have conflicting and contradicting information from smart people who do not see eye to eye, and then you will have to find your own way through it to what you believe is best.
You’re in there somewhere.
I’ve never met a person who we couldn’t coax out some more of who they really are, just through conversation.
It wouldn’t stick of course. People have momentum. But I’m convinced in each person, someone really cool is in there because I’ve always gotten to see glimpses when I talk with people.
And even if you’ve done a great deal of work to find yourself, don’t stop; don’t assume that you’ve got it all; we were buried under a pile of intentions from other people, and there is a great deal of turmoil left in the world.
A good indicator that you are still buried is the resistance to forgiving others.
If it still sounds like crap to forgive others before they’ve changed, then likely there’s still pain caked on there, making you feel like it’s unfair that someone else get a break when you need a break more than they do.
The resources are out there. Keep looking. Keep finding new people with improved ideas you can swap in; keep upgrading.
You’re in there.
6. Don’t Forget To Dump Your Brain
Writing is the other big tool.
You may think you know your own mind. You may think you know what you have to say.
But if you’ve ever clammed up when someone prompts you to speak your mind?
That’s because there is a difference between recognizing your own thoughts and articulating them.
When you think your thoughts, when you explain something to yourself, the you you’re talking to has all the same information that you do.
You’re preaching to the choir. You’re talking to a “Yes Man.”
Your mind doesn’t have to organize its thoughts for you to be aware of your thoughts.
But even to sit down and journal, you will immediately be struck by how little you are ready to say.
Sometimes I specify that this is learning to type and not learning to write.
Learn to get your ideas down on paper/screen where you can see them.
Confront yourself with your thoughts if you are ready to gain ownership of your own mind.
Again, I think this is sometimes unsafe without a professional ready, as many people’s minds have so much ready to spill out that the experience is unsettling and even scary.
But unconditional love is concurrent with persons who are able to cleary express their minds. It is an act of altruism to become clear in your thoughts so that when you talk to people, they do not have to work to understand you. It is an act of progress and upgrade to be clear.
7. Better Than Recycling????
You are upset about the planet.
The people who are contented do not read this blog.
The world is being dumb.
You have ideas for how the world could be less-dumb.
Those ideas come out when you want to yell, or gasp exasperated at the way things are done.
There is very little that anyone can do, while simultaneously being an untrained communicator who is on their own.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
8. You’re Right, This Does Take Forever
If it sounds like I’m asking a lot, it’s because I’m asking a lot.
This isn’t even the half of it.
This is just the start.
It takes YEARS of skilling up to exit insanity, and to be able to spread what sanity you have around to others who also need it.
We are constantly fighting one another, but fighting each other because this is a massive problem that will take a huge amount of effort to set things on a better path, not because the other person could have done a better job.
Think of how much effort I am asking of you.
That’s how much effort it will take for them.
Unconditional love is an upgrade that we can work toward. It is unfair that we will not likely get to live in a world that has unconditional love by default, but we are the people who can get things started in significant ways.
The first step to solving a problem, is admitting there is a problem.
We have a problem.
Our world is full of nearly every person in pain, with no training of how to get through it, to get clear.
And confusion reigns.
But confusion doesn’t have to have anything to do with you, if you skill up.
You can become clear.
There’s a you in there we will all benefit from seeing and learning from.
9. Bonus: An Open Letter To Everyone I’ve Yelled At
That didn’t help.
If I could go back and not-yell at you I would.
Most of the time, even as I was yelling, I knew it was useless and terrible. But I’d run out of restraint.
It takes so much energy to not-yell, all the time.
I get screwed over too. And the default strategy on this planet is to yell when we’re mistreated.
But I’m sorry I yelled. I would have liked to keep exchanging information until we could have dissolved the blocks between understanding one another.
It didn’t happen.
I ran out of patience, and yelled.
I wanted change that we weren’t ready for. I got impatient. I resorted to old strategies.
In the moment, yelling equaled a chance for things to change, but that’s old-brain.
Yelling is not a chance for things to change.
We have to just keep teaching one another, and getting through our pain as it comes up, so that it cannot rule us anymore.
It was shitty of me to yell. I’m sorry.