What is unconditional love? As an empath, a healer, a sensitive or spiritual person, the true meaning of unconditional love may elude us. On the surface, we are taught that unconditional love implies loving someone without limits or conditions. This kind of love is easy to see in the relationship between a parent and child. Even if the child is naughty, the parent still loves him or her.

But what does that mean? Many have interpreted this to mean that we should love someone unselfishly. It implies that we care about another’s happiness and will do anything to help the other person feel and experience contentment in their lives. These acts are to be done without expecting anything in return.

This secondary definition, although popular, can be especially tricky if someone is an empathic healer. By nature, an empath is highly attuned to feeling and sensing the emotional energy around them. They can detect others’ happiness and joy, as well as their anger and frustration. Empaths also have a deep desire to experience harmony in the world around them. They will instinctively respond to internal stress by wanting to heal anyone they perceive to be in pain. This helps to bring about accord in their lives by reducing the unsettling effects of the emotions they are picking up from the other person. This can leave these highly sensitive people in a bit of a conundrum.

We have all been taught that putting other people’s feelings first is right. To do anything else is selfish. We are not taught to love or care for ourselves. We are not taught to be sensitive to our needs and desires. Instead, we are programmed with the belief that we are supposed to put ourselves and all that we stand for on the back burner, where we all but forget who we are. Part of this programming entails caring about everyone else’s dreams, except our own. We ascertain that the right thing to do, the unselfish thing to do, is to sacrifice who and what we are all in the name of love.

What we as empaths, we as healers, we as sensitive individuals must realize is that if we want to help someone, if we want to experience unconditional love with a partner, we have to discover how to fill our own cup with love. This suggests that in order to have this wonderful and blessed dynamic in our relationships, we should love ourselves first.

Unconditional love can never be achieved if we put our wishes, our dreams, and our desires on the back burner in order to care for someone else’s. This is not unconditional love. To experience unconditional love, we have to put ourselves at the front of the line and not the back. It is our job to make ourselves happy, not everyone around us. And from this place of inner sovereignty, then and only then can we come into a healthy relationship with another, on our terms and in alignment with our values.

Sadly, the lie about unconditional love was put into our conscious mind by our family, our tribe, our community and by society in general. It is easy to misconstrue the meaning of unconditional love, especially if it is interpreted as suggesting that we should love and accept our partner regardless of how they treat us. This form of unconditional love is unhealthy and toxic to everyone involved.

If you are struggling with the concept of unconditional love and these words resonate with you, or make you feel a bit uncomfortable, take a step back and look at your relationships. Unconditional love is based on caring, you for another person and him or her for you in return. Unconditional love is not meant to justify and forgive your partner’s bad behavior in some distorted selfless act.

If this dynamic is part of your world, decide to love, honor and cherish yourself before you go filling the cup of another. It is not selfish to love ourselves. It is a choice, just like forgiving is a choice. Choose to take care of yourself and your happiness. The rest will naturally follow.

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