The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. – Brian Tracy
As human beings, we are constantly prone to experiencing that negative, frustrating sensation – irritation.
Whether it’s at work, at home, or out in your town, there’s always the chance that you’ll encounter something that will irritate you. Maybe you forget your house keys when leaving for work, or your baby son or daughter draws all over your wall with crayon.
Experiences happen from time to time that serve to ‘push our buttons’ – they distract us from our plan or schedule, and they don’t seem to serve any use other than to ‘wind us up.’ It’s fair to say that no-one likes irritations.
But what if I said that within those irritations lies a major key to discovering unconditional love? Would you think I was mad? Or that I was trying to play a cruel joke and irritate you?
Let me assure you that I’m not trying to do those things, or anything else that may annoy you. Instead, what I want to do is show you how irritations can lead to unconditional love.
That which irritates
I’ve already listed a couple of things that annoy, but let’s look at a few more situations and how they irritate:
- Your partner doesn’t wash the dishes like you asked them to – this irritates you because you asked them to and so they should have done it
- There’s a massive queue at the store – this irritates you because you have to wait longer and you shouldn’t have to wait
- Your friend didn’t contribute towards the bill last night – this irritates you because you had to pay for it all and you shouldn’t have to do that
- You drop something on the floor – this irritates you because you need to pick it up again and you shouldn’t have to do that
Can you see a pattern emerging here? The ever-present factor amongst all irritations is that they involve things which should or shouldn’t be done. You shouldn’t be dropping things, and you shouldn’t have to pay all the bill. Your partner should do some of the chores, and you should be better at a certain task.
Irritations come about when something happens which shouldn’t happen, and it throws us out of balance. They’re unexpected, generally unpleasant, and mess up our preconceptions of how life should be.
To unlock forgiveness, learn about your irritations
Despite the many things that could irritate us, it’s important that we notice these when they happen instead of instantly dismissing them. This is because when we notice them, we can start forgiving.
Forgiveness is a subject which has been discussed on a number of sites, especially here at The BridgeMaker. It’s something that we all wish we practiced more, particularly with those who are close to us. In order to forgive, I believe the best way to do so is to look at that which irritates you.
Look at that which causes you to feel negative emotions towards someone who you’d usually love. Focus on that and ask yourself, what is it about that habit or behaviour that irritates you so much?
To help you, here are the same four examples from before, and related questions which uncover more about what irritates:
- Your partner doesn’t wash the dishes like you asked them to – why are you annoyed? What emotions are you now feeling towards your partner?
- There’s a massive queue at the store – why are you impatient? Were you expecting a short queue? Is this queue going to affect the rest of your day?
- Your friend didn’t contribute towards the bill last night – why are you annoyed at your friend? Did you assume they’d pay? Could they have paid?
- You drop something on the floor – why are you annoyed at yourself? Is it broken? Is it going to make a difference if you have to pick it up again?
By learning about what irritates you, you can understand more about yourself. You can raise your self-awareness by realising what angers you and in what way. The end result is that, with awareness, you can choose forgiveness instead of frustration.
Unconditional love comes from regular forgiveness
So how do we practice forgiveness? How can we gradually change our feelings from irritation to forgiveness, and enjoy prosperous relationships?
The key is to practice it regularly. Major change will not happen in a minor amount of time – in order to taste the elixir of unconditional love, we must work towards removing all of our obstacles and blockages that prevent us.
This takes time, as there is usually many of these barriers, but it is possible AND worth it. Apart from the classic saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, there’s also a Zen saying, “Small doubt, small enlightenment. Big doubt, big enlightenment”. If two ways of life from opposite ends of the world say the same thing, then there must be some truth in it.
Unconditional love comes when we are no longer irritated, angered, pained, or afflicted by any negative emotion. No matter what happens to us, our response is always that of love and kindness. In order to reach this state, we must work to remove our responses to negative events, rather than the negative events themselves.
It’s impossible to control what happens to us, but it’s entirely possible to control our reactions.
This will take time as we’re used to reacting in certain ways, ways which we’ve been using for many years. So the trick is to practice something regularly until it becomes a habit, until it forms itself in our mind and we become used to it.
This is the same with practicing forgiveness – we must practice it regularly whenever we get the chance to. And the best chances we get for practicing forgiveness is when we encounter something that irritates us.
We may ‘fail’ at first and become irritated once more, but keep at it. Eventually, with regular and consistent attempts, forgiveness will seem more ‘natural’. When it does, know that you’re on your way to experiencing less negativity, and more unconditional love.