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  • Márcia Fervienza

On the idea of unconditional love

Relationships between parents and children usually bring considerable conflict within. When they are healthy and functional, they are wonderful: they serve us as a lovely refuge on stormy nights, they are the essential shoulder (or lap) for moments of pain, and they are the safety net that supports us when our legs can't anymore. But what about when the relationship is tumultuous, abusive, and full of conflict? How to deal with it?

We grew up hearing that father and mother are for life. This phrase carries within itself the implicit message that we can renounce everything in life except our parents. The same is true of children and other blood relatives (siblings, grandparents, etc.). And although this idea brings with it some magic in its bewildering assurance of eternal love, it also carries a condemnation: that no matter how we treat each other, we are bound to be together and to live together, regardless of the costs for us.

If on the one hand this approach offers us the realization of a childish desire for eternal and unconditional love, which calms the anxiety inherent to the human being in the face of abandonment and loss of maternal love, it also makes us lazy, sloppy and negligent: if I know that your love for me is unconditional, why would I take care of you or our relationship? I know that nothing (I repeat: Nothing!) that I do puts at risk what we have. Thus...

Although the most romantic and idealistic can argue that conditional love is not love, I particularly believe that this thinking is unrealistic. In my experience, I have never seen anything in life that is not conditional. In fact, I never saw a human being engage in any activity that would not bring them any benefit. And if it brings them benefit, it is conditional. Not even supposed acts of altruism are entirely altruistic, because when we know that we are doing something good for someone else our brain releases endorphins, which makes us feel good about ourselves - which is our personal gain. So what are we really talking about when we talk about unconditional love?

We need to deconstruct some harmful beliefs passed on from generation to generation, which are accepted without being questioned, and approach them objectively and logically, because many of these ideas serve only to keep us imprisoned in painful situations, which benefits a small minority - usually, the minority that exerts power over us and causes us suffering in some way.

It is time to take your power back. Think about it!

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