Please Don’t Feed the Monkeys: 5 Tips for Practicing Unconditional Love

Let’s face it, we’re trained! We are about as trained as Pavlov’s dogs; probably even more so.

On any given day, if someone looks at us the ‘wrong’ way, BAM! it’s on. What ‘on’ is depends on how we are raised. Some of us yell; some shut down and walk away; others become obnoxiously arrogant and many times bitchy all because we are reacting to circumstances. However, it really isn’t that simple because the situation perceived as prompting our reaction is not exactly what triggered it.

On any given day, many of us not only have this moment to think about, we are streaming thoughts from days gone by as well as projecting those experiences onto times to come. In other words, our heads are consumed with chatter, reducing our ability to clearly be here, right now. We’ve accepted this as normal, and for all intents and purposes it is normal since nearly all of us have a monkey mind running our lives.

This is how we get through our days! Our parents did it / do it, as did their parents. We’re breeding generations of worriers and multi-taskers; however, we’ve upped the game when it comes to mental multi-tasking. Unfortunately, this particular skill isn’t highly marketable and most definitely interferes with our ability to interact with other human beings on a heart level. Each of us is engaged in our own private (his)story, feeding the monkeys with more and more of our what if’s, should’s, doubts, resentments, and fears completely negating any experience with the person in front of us. And be that as it may, there’s no reason to feel bad because he or she is more than likely doing something similar with you! (Keep in mind, nine out of ten times, we aren’t even responding to the situation at hand, we are lost in the zoo, grooming the monkeys of the past as well as the future.)

Now, just for a moment, let’s visit another zoo; the one contained within the mind of the person in front of you. They, as are you, are accustomed to being treated a certain way, albeit good and bad. You see, each of us is trained in our attention getting skills. If we had to work it good with some people in order to get any attention, we will repeat what we know until we get what we want. Over time, these habits become so familiar we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Sometimes the reaction is good and sometimes not so good; however, we are in the limelight AND it also gives us great reasons for why some people are good to have around and why others suck and need to be eightysixed from our life altogether.

With this said, in order to actually change our experience of people and life, it’s necessary to release the monkey. Unconditional love is a gift AND it does not have to be reciprocated (expecting it in return is not unconditional). Bring peace to your heart and mind; give people the opportunity to be themselves and love him or her for ‘where they are’, anyway. Let me ask you, what would it be like if instead of raging at you because you spent too much money, your partner simply held a safe place, discussing why this expenditure didn’t work and what he or she would like to see differently? If you’re not following me, allow me to expand. What if you were used to being yelled at for certain choices throughout most of your life and now you’re being treated in an entirely different way; a loving way? How would that strike you? My guess is it would potentially stupify you or worse because it is a very unfamiliar response to receive. Yet, THIS is what I propose will fundamentally shift our lives; when we actually interact with one another in the moment rather than nurture the monkeys of yesteryear AND days to come!

So, without further delay, here are my five recommendations for practicing unconditional love. I’ve applied them and frequently encourage my clients to do the same:

1) Respond rather than react – Reactions stem from prior experiences. We are re-acting out old times. Put another way, in a split second something sparks our memory whether we know it or not and in a blink of an eye, our behavior is very reminiscent of another time and possibly another place. In other words, we find ourselves re-performing a familiar act because it’s what worked then so why not now? Responding, on the other hand, is a disengagement from the monkey, long enough to become centered in order to generate warmth and understanding from the heart. It’s these heartfelt moments that create new ways of being for all involved. So the next question begs: same soup, different bowl, sir; otherwise known as insanity?. Or, follow the beat of your heart and learn a new dance?

2) One great way to accomplish giving a heartfelt response is by NOT taking things personally. Remember, 90% of the time, people are not talking with you or to you; they are reacting to something else going on in their head! The sooner we begin to see this AND get out of our own head, the sooner we will be spreading the love.

3) Acknowledge and verbalize your feelings when appropriate. In times of upset, many of us feel like raging, crying, jumping up and down, etc. However, what I typically hear is a fear of the emotion lasting for longer than desired. So, we hold it in doing more harm than good OR we let loose the hounds, wreaking havoc on everyone in it’s wake. Neither is a beneficial option because they are reactions bringing us to an acknowledgment of the feelings. This response is a kind way of honoring both you and everyone else involved. It’s you stating your discomfort which in turn lets the other person know exactly what’s going on without harm to either one. Greater things are possible from this point.

4) Along the same lines as number three, take a moment or two to acknowledge your perception of how the other person is feeling as well. This keeps the heart interaction flowing and opening the door up for tremendous connection and healing.

5) Once you’ve reached this point, you’ll be able to determine the best way to proceed. Often times, the situation warrants waiting a little while before engaging any further and by letting the other person know you are open to talking just not now, demonstrates a desire for a peaceful interaction as well as a genuine interest in them. This is a BIG DEAL because there are so many people walking around this planet feeling like they aren’t worth the time or good enough to be loved, and your request to carry on at another time will give them something extraordinary to work with in lieu of feeding those darn monkeys.

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