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Unconditional love is rare in today's world, and those who have it must preserve it with all they have. Most cases of such love are parents' love for their kids and vice-versa. The fast-paced world we are in right now makes it hard for people to be in committed relationships, much less unconditional ones.
Like a gardener tending to his flowers, these relationships take time and patience to cultivate. In the long run, they are very beneficial and let us lead a long, satisfying life. This secure, peaceful, and happy relationship also has physical as well as emotional benefits.
1. Stronger immunity:
Children and adults in happy, unconditional relationships fall ill less than those who are not. Being happy means, they take better care of themselves and their health.
2. Healthier brain development:
Studies found that kids getting a good dose of unconditional love had many healthy development cycles. They also had good self-esteem. Due to the release of endorphins, their anxiety levels also went down.
3. Higher stress resistance:
In happy environments, people tend to generate more happy hormones. This, in turn, reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Thus stress levels reduce a lot. Panic attacks and anxiety levels also reduce with time. Being in a secure relationship increases our confidence and makes us feel safe and loved.
At the start, in any relationship, since we don't know a person very well, our love will be conditional. But, as we get to know the person better, our love may remain restricted or may flourish unconditionally. This also depends on how the other person treats us.
1. Predictability: When we love someone unconditionally, we know that come what may, we will stick to that person. But, when the love is conditional, the love may fail due to a variety of reasons or circumstances.
2. Sense of security: In conditional love, the partners may be under constant duress to prove their love to the other person. They may worry that they might find someone else better. But, in secure relationships, the partners relax and find peace in each other's company.
3. Arguments and disagreements: In unconditional relationships also, the partners argue with each other. But they do so to work towards resolving a problem. They want to find a solution and will get through it under any circumstances.
In the opposite case, the couple fights to prove that they are right, and it does not matter if the relationship breaks in the process.
1. Never letting go:
You have lived together long enough that letting them go does not seem like an option anymore. They are a part of your soul, and you will work through anything to keep them in your lives. Like a child's bond with their mother is unbreakable, bonds of unconditional love can never sever, no matter what.
2. Pay attention to their feelings:
Listening to your loved ones when they are pouring their heart out is something money can't buy. It's one of those gifts that shows the amount of sincerity with which you invest in them. They will, in turn, reciprocate in kind.
· Do not interrupt them when they share good or bad news about their lives and show your understanding.
· Look them in the eyes while listening to them. This shows that you have their full attention, and they will appreciate it and know that you care.
1. Being understanding:
In today's world, most people want understanding more than love. Everyone wants to be understood and accepted as they are, with no strings attached. It takes time and patience to get to know and understand a person. That kind of effort reflects unconditional love.
2. Support their hobbies:
Loving someone with no conditions also means that you are secure enough to let them have their hobbies. It's not necessary to do everything together.
· Encourage them to pursue their interests by joining hobby clubs and meetings.
· Listen to them and support them during competitions related to their hobbies and meet their hobby club members.
3. Emotional labor of love:
When you love someone wholeheartedly, you become ready to go that extra mile to make them happy. You can make their favorite meals or take them to their favorite hangout spots.
· You take care of their emotional needs as much as your own.
They feel safe expressing themselves in front of you.
1. Giving the benefit of the doubt:
Everyone makes mistakes at some point. When we love someone wholeheartedly, we must be ready to overlook their mistakes. Our loved ones deserve our kindness and giving them the benefit of the doubt only strengthens that love.
· It's important to note, though, never to let them take advantage of our kindness.
· Letting them slide once or twice is fine. After that, it might be manipulation!
2. Support throughout:
Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes, our loved ones may hit a rough patch. They may have lost their job or the death of a loved one. These events can distress people and make them moody. They may not behave properly towards you.
· It is important to show your support during this time. We must be patient until it passes and work towards improving things
· You can even help your loved ones by talking them through their grief or accompanying them to a counselor, or helping with their resume.
3. Show your true self:
A very important act of loving a person without conditions is being your 100% true self in front of them. Since you know they will accept you as you are, you can be yourself with all your flaws before them. This is very freeing for a person.
4. Accept people for who they are:
We must not expect others to make us happy with their choices for their life. That would be pretty selfish.
· Accepting a person's flaws, as well as strengths, is what makes love unconditional.
Understand that everyone has their dreams and ambitions of living life as they please. If you love them unconditionally, you will love and support them even if you do not agree with those choices.
1. Love beyond anger:
When we are angry with our loved ones, our first reaction is to resist or shut down. We pull back to protect ourselves. So how do we react to show our love despite being angry? How do we work through our anger?
· Relax your heart and feel your tension ease over a few minutes. View the anger as energy and let it pass through your heart.
· This energy is temporary. Observe yourself playing out the angry scenarios in your mind. Let your thoughts flow. You will return to your normal self.
2. Being respectful:
Respect is one of the building blocks of all kinds of relationships. It begins with respect for the self and then for others. It is important to respect your loved ones for their choices and how they are as people.
3. Love yourself first:
As the famous psychologist, Jung said, "It's hard to draw water from a dry well". It becomes difficult to love others unconditionally when we do not love ourselves first.
· Spend time doing activities you like and taking care of yourself. This way you will feel fulfilled when doing loving things for others.
· Loving ourselves makes it easier to do and give to others without expecting anything in return.
4. Love even the undeserving:
Some difficult people can be hard to love. Loving unconditionally includes showing them love as well. When we love people who don't like/love us, we can say we have arrived. We can love anyone unconditionally.
As kids, we remember basking in the warm embrace of our mother's love. Our dads would bring many sweets and toys after a long day at the office. Reminiscing about such beautiful memories brings joy to our hearts and minds.
Our parents, siblings, and loved ones would do things for us without expecting anything in return. Such love was pure and unconditional. As we grew up, we experienced this with our friends. We rarely find such love other than from our family and friends.
What is unconditional love?
Love that does not expect anything in return when given is unconditional. To love someone without conditions is a pure thing to do because humans are selfish. Everybody expects something when they do a favor for anyone.
Examples of unconditional love are when our friends buy us gifts or siblings get us extra clothes when they go shopping for themselves. Children taking care of their parents in their old age and vice versa is a universal kind of such love!
1. Forgive loved ones:
It's not easy to forgive a person who has wronged us. So, when we forgive someone, we show a part of our unconditional love for them.
· Take Piero Ferrucci's advice, for example, "forgiving is something we are, not something we do."
· Keep a balance between forgiving people and letting someone walk all over you. Forgive but remember that it doesn't happen next time.
2. Make loving choices:
Always place your loved ones before yourself and ask, what do I do to make their day better? What actions or choices can I take to make them feel more loved? It could be a nice dinner to relax them or something as simple as talking to them about their day.
Relationships are hard enough with two normal easy-tempered people. Add in a splash of self-absorption, and the issues top up a notch. It isn't easy being with a self-centered girlfriend. But, with the above methods, you can make things a bit simpler between you two.
1. Encourage selflessness:
You can speak to your girlfriend about how being selfless has many rewards. How giving to the poor or spending time and appreciating people you love can be calming and make you feel good about your life. Tell her how being grateful has made you feel and made you a better person. She might even consider picking up some of these traits.
2. Let her assume responsibility:
In the case of a live-in relationship, you might be handling everything on behalf of your girlfriend. This might add stress to your life and make her lazy and selfish.
● Give her responsibilities of specific tasks like paying bills, picking up groceries, etc.
● You can even make a chart dividing your responsibilities equally.
3. Speak wisely:
Instead of focusing on your girlfriend's nature while discussing issues, focus on the issue itself. Clinical psychologist Jennifer Rhodes says it's better to point out the issues that concern you rather than randomly criticize her.
● Use kind and constructive words to explain the issue to her. This helps them better accept and correct what's troubling you.
● Studies have shown that people are more receptive to constructive criticism of their actions than their character as it is easier to change the former.
4. Seek couple's therapy:
If you are in a serious relationship or engaged to be married, breaking up is not easy. Instead, you and your girlfriend can avail a therapy session to help you understand and work through your issues.
● It would be easier to discuss your problems in a professional setting.
● Counselors meet many couples who deal with similar things and can help you get through this.
1. Start taking turns:
So, what this means is don't directly confront your girlfriend. Instead, sit her down and have a conversation with her while you both take turns talking.
So this will feel like a comfortable exchange of feelings instead of a shouting match. Your girlfriend will be more open to sharing with this exercise.
2. Be selfish:
Prioritize yourself and do things that please you. Take time out and suggest shared activities that you like with your girlfriend.
● Start saying no to things you don't like or are not comfortable doing.
● Remember to not be too selfish and keep a balance between caring for others and yourself equally.
3. Try to understand them:
A person isn't born self-absorbed. Most times, it's their traumatic past or bad childhood experiences that make them selfish. Getting your girlfriend to open up about her past will help you understand where she's coming from. You can then help her seek counseling to deal with it and better her actions.
4. Draw boundaries:
For the long haul, this is very important for your mental health. Let your girlfriend know you are there for her and care for her.
● Don't become a doormat and let her walk all over you.
● Let her know that she must respect your feelings, opinions, and time as much as you respect her. A relationship is a two-way street.
5. Discuss past successes:
While working with your girlfriend through a problem, it's good to bring up little wins you have had in the past. Any fights or disagreements that you agree to compromise and resolve with effort and patience can be an inspiring point to your both. You can work on better solutions and be together.
1. Break it off:
This can be used as a last option. If you have been a good partner and have done everything you could to communicate and save the relationship with no change, it's best to break up.
There is a limit for every human to bear, and to preserve their self-respect, it's best to walk away from your selfish girlfriend. Maybe she will understand your worth after you are gone.
2. Reconnect with ourselves:
While being with self-absorbed people, we slowly forget our self-worth. We begin to look at ourselves through their lens.
● Spend time with yourself doing things you like to increase your self-worth.
● Go out and connect with people that value you.
Soon, you will be confident enough to call your girlfriend out on her self-obsessed behavior.
3. Speak up:
Self-centered women tend to shut out their partner's voices slowly. The partner, in turn, suffers in silence while they are mistreated or their opinions disregarded.
Instead, while they throw tantrums or boss around, speak up and call them out on their actions. But do it in a subtle kinder way. This ensures that fights are avoided.
4. Take breaks:
When your girlfriend becomes too demanding at any time, you can take a break from her for a few days. If she calls to find out what's wrong, you can let her know you are taking some time off from her.
● Initially, they may be puzzled by this and wonder what's wrong. Many may not even think they are the issue.
● However, in time they will realize how their demands affect you, and they can start to improve.
Ever had times in your relationship where you didn't feel heard? Like, you speak about your bad day with your girlfriend, but she just ignores it and rants on about how she has had it worse? Or you share about a promotion at work, but she compares it to her achievements and belittles your subtlety? Your girlfriend might just be a self-centered person. There are a few ways you can deal with such behavior without affecting the relationship:
1. Communicate your needs:
'Self-centered people often don't realize how their actions affect others,' says MFT therapist MoAndra Johnson. So it's good to talk and let your girlfriend know when you feel ignored or hurt,
● You can tell them, "You did not ask me about my day" or " You did not pay attention to my promotion."
● Such conversations focus on their actions at the moment and not their nature. So, they have something to improve on and don't feel attacked at the same time.
2. Lookout for gaslighting:
When your girlfriend validates your feelings and accepts you as you are, it's a healthy, respectful relationship. But, when she constantly argues that you imagine things, then please look for red flags.
● Major signs of gaslighting are doubting your take on events or manipulating your mind constantly.
● Such people take a long while to change, and most never do. It's best to step back from such relationships before huge emotional damages.
Inherent/Acquired: Almost ninety percent of people are born self-obsessed. The degree may vary, but it is present in everyone. There are very few truly altruistic people in the world.
● Self-awareness is cultivated through years of meditation and analysis of our inner selves. It takes time and patience.
● No one is born truly selfish. Mostly bad circumstances or childhood trauma induces selfishness. It becomes a way to protect themselves from future bad or painful incidents.
Everyone has at some point been both selfish and self-centered. Depending on the situation, people tend to shift from one trait to the other. So it's very hard to draw a proper line between the two. But too much self-obsession can lead to selfishness.
Self-centeredness is present in all of us from birth. It comes from a desire to protect and improve ourselves. It's almost akin to our instinct to survive, albeit not as important. Selfishness may stem from bad occurrences in life or previous trauma. Such incidents drive us to fulfill our needs before others. This trait comes from a place of protection of the self. It is similar to the instinct of self-preservation.
There is a very fine line between the above three traits as they fall on the same spectrum of emotions. So how do we know to avoid being selfish? How do we embrace centering our self and becoming self-aware? Let us look at some major traits to identify the same.
1. Needs of others v/s self:
This is an important factor to distinguish between the three personalities.
● Self-aware people think about others as much as themselves. They understand that sometimes the needs of others may be more urgent than their needs. So those need to be fulfilled first.
● Self-absorbed people give their desires priority over others. But, once they are achieved they help others attain success too.
● Selfish people are the extreme of the lot. They always put themselves first. Even when they have got success they don't bother about others.
2. Positive/Negative reframing:
Every emotion or trait can be classified as positive or negative. But, there are also ambiguous traits like self-absorption which can be both, depending on the intensity.
● Self-awareness is having a thorough knowledge of the self through analysis and meditations. It is always good to be aware of our nature, strengths, and weaknesses. It helps us live a calm and happy life. And so, this trait falls into a positive frame.
● Self-centeredness if gone overboard can cross into selfishness and make a person undesirable. But, done in the right amount it makes us independent and strong. We are the captain of our own ship then.
● A person's selfishness always has negative consequences irrespective of how selfish they are. As there is no concern at all for others, it may also end up harming people in the long run.
Selfish people are only takers and not concerned about others. E.g. Imagine you have to go to a restaurant and have a 9 p.m. reservation.
● A selfish person will complete their show and only then leave the house. It doesn't matter if you miss the reservation.
● They always put their needs above others.
A selfish person will keep you waiting at the airport in spite of promising to pick you up while they spend extra time at the hairdressers. Even though they do not respect your time always, a self-centered person would not go to that extent and pick you up on time.
Example of a self-centered person:
If you tell a self-absorbed person your cousin or someone close to you passed away, they would not immediately sympathize with you.
● First, they would tell you about the time they lost a loved one. How bad they felt about it or how their world crashed.
● They might even tell how sad they are that you would have to cancel your vacation plans to attend the funeral.
● They would basically focus on how bad it was for them in the same situation as opposed to you.
Suppose you have a major exam tomorrow and have to study for it. A self-absorbed person has no respect for your time and ambitions.
● They will call you to hang out with them or go to events.
● If you refuse, they will throw tantrums and use emotional blackmail till you agree.
● It does not matter if you pass or fail the exam, as long as you do their bidding.
However, once you attend the event or go to them, they might help you study for the exam for some time. They agree to help you only because to listen to them and they can control you. But they do think about you too.
1. Preoccupation with self/others:
Selfish people are always out to look for ways to succeed, at times at the cost of others. So they also observe what others do.
● If selfish people see someone succeeding they might bring them down so they can go ahead of others.
● Self-centered people are rarely concerned about others. They are too busy obsessing about themselves.
2. Helping others:
Both self-absorbed and selfish people think of themselves before others. However, there is a major difference in attitude here:
● Selfish people do not think of helping others once their work is done. They move on or may even hamper others' progress so that they are the only people who succeed.
● Self-centered people start helping others once they take care of themselves. Once they are satisfied and happy they look to do the same for others.
A person is made up of many traits which are like double-edged swords. You do too much of something and you may falter. But you do too little of something considered to be bad you may lose out too. Self-centeredness is one such quality. Too much or it borders on utter selfishness which is nasty. But, too little of it and you may become a pawn in the hand of others.
So, how can we know when we overdo it? How much is too much? Are there signs that we can look out for the difference between being selfish and being self-centered? Self-centeredness is concerned with looking out for oneself first. A self-centered person has a good amount of self-worth. Selfishness is only to think of oneself, sometimes at the cost of others.
Difference between self-centered and selfish people:
1. Sense of self:
A self-absorbed person has a very strong core. They can identify with a very deep sense of self. This has been built over years of taking care of one's needs regularly. Selfish people are shallow and only have self-interests which they fulfill at the cost of others. They do not have a secure sense of self.
2. Attitude to sharing:
Selfish people very often do not share much about themselves. Their future plans, ambitions, etc are all hidden for fear of others succeeding before them. Self-obsessed people share every detail about themselves for praise from others. They want to be appreciated for the littlest of things.
More time for things you love:
The more self-obsessed you are, the better you can say no to others. When you go after what you like and do activities that you love, others cannot waste your time doing their work.
It becomes difficult for them to demand unnecessary activities from you. You are happier, on the whole, doing things you love.
Self-centeredness, when done with a balance, is a good and useful trait. We build many inane qualities such as self-esteem, self-respect when we apply a lit bit of selfishness in our lives. When we are self-centered, we take care of ourselves better. This leads to longer, healthier, and happier lives.