Earlier this week, I attended a talk by Bernice A. King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Ms. King was helping celebrate the 2nd Annual Coretta Scott King Women for Diversity Presentation.
In her talk, she emphasized the need for unconditional love with her main focus on loving others. She felt that her father had been successful because he took the fight to a higher level. He did not try to fight violence with violence, but instead demonstrated love and respect for others even in challenging circumstances. He demonstrated unconditional love even when interacting with individuals who were disrespectful and hateful to him. He tried to see them as people, understand their own hurts and weaknesses and love them unconditionally.
Ms. King challenged each of us to look inside and see if we bring certain biases to our interactions. Can we approach relationships with others with unconditional love?
One thing that struck me is the need for each of us to love ourselves unconditionally. Too many times in groups, I hear fabulous individuals putting themselves down. They use their eating disorder’s voice to critique every imagined failing. They believe they should be perfect and when they can’t measure up to that goal, they berate themselves. Do you ever find yourself doing that?
We often ask—“Would you tell your best friend the things that you say to yourself?”
The answer? No.
They would never treat someone else with the level of disrespect and hatefulness they show themselves.
So I ask—where is your own unconditional love? Look at the biases that you bring to yourself and your self talk. Do you accept your failings, your weaknesses, accept that you will stumble and fall? If that mistake happened to a friend--wouldn't you offer them compassion and hope? Wouldn’t you help your friend get back on her feet and encourage her? Can you do the same for yourself?
- Journal about what unconditional love means to you. We often tell families that the best thing they can do is offer their loved ones unconditional love and support. We’ve had fathers who write that concept down in their date books. Unfortunately, unconditional love can’t be scheduled and planned—it needs to be there all the time. (To read an article that I previously wrote about this, look for “The Hunger for Unconditional Love” at the following link.)
- Journal about any biases that you bring to your interactions with others. Are you limiting yourself in asking for support? Do you feel that people don’t want to listen or help?
- Journal about the biases that you carry about yourself. Do you hold beliefs that limit your recovery? If you are critical of yourself or tell yourself that you can’t do something—that negative energy can affect your recovery. You have to tell yourself that you can do it. Even if you don’t believe it right now—remind yourself of that fact. You can do it! Soon the belief will start to take hold.
- Journal about love within your life. Is it unconditional? Do you feel like there are limitations and expectations put on you in order to obtain love? Try to understand your beliefs and then discuss them with your loved ones. Maybe have them read the article above. We all need to support each other and show unconditional love. I celebrate my children’s achievements, but if they don’t achieve something that doesn’t mean I love them any less. Work to understand whether you harbor that thought—if I don’t achieve, I won’t be loved. Challenge that belief. You are worth love just because of who you are. We all are. Every one of us is a fabulous and unique individual who deserves unconditional love as we deal with our day to day struggles.
- Journal an inspirational quote to keep you going—I am fabulous! I love myself! …Whatever works! Now remind yourself of this. Trust it. Live it. Believe it.
Go, Love yourself and Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD