A story a friend told me, years ago, has always stuck with me. She told me of a time when she had got herself wrapped into a ball of emotional intensity and was sat in bed crying in the middle of the afternoon. She felt like she was unlikeable, she wasn’t good enough and the world felt like it was weighing down on top of her. Her boyfriend, now husband, came in and sat on the bed and asked what was up. She recalled how she spewed a barrage of hysteria back at him, tears streaming and the emotional blinkers well and truly down. He asked her to look him in the eye. He relaxed his face and said softly – ‘I love you’.

Movies often show us what unconditional love looks like too. The romantic moments where one person holds the other in a space of love, even at their lowest, weakest or craziest.

Unconditional love isn’t exclusive to romantic relationships. Family and friends can be held deeply in that space of love too. It is to simply love without condition.

Unconditional love doesn’t say – ‘I’ll only love you if you love me back’. Unconditional love doesn’t just say – I will only love you when you’re skipping along without a care in the world but I’ll love you just the same when the ebb of shadow flows your way too. I will love your tears as well as your smile.

I don’t have romantic love in my life right now but I am so grateful to know the truth and depth of unconditional love from other relationships around me.

So often we are able to hold others in love – reassure them it’s ok to cry, offer compassion when they have made a mistake, offer support when they need to remember all the good things about themselves or their life – to remember the light. Yet why is it holding ourselves in that same space of unconditional love rarely ever crosses our mind?

We don’t expect perfection from those around us but it so often seems we expect it of ourselves. Why don’t we love and accept ourselves, unconditionally, with the same compassion we offer up to others? We can learn to love our tears as well as our smile. To accept our weaknesses as well as our strengths because, after all, show me someone who doesn’t feel the rainbow of emotions at one time or another.

I had always struggled with self worth and have practiced what Louise Hays refers to as ‘Mirror work’ for a while – affirming love and acceptance of myself for who I am, to myself, eye to eye, in the mirror. It felt so uncomfortable it was almost unbearable to start with. It felt cheesy, pathetic, a waste of time, pointless, embarrassing before somehow I started to find a sense of ease in doing it, especially on the days when things seemed to be going according to plan.

But one night, last summer, I was all caught up in emotion and feeling at the end of my tether with something. I was crying, red faced and in the grips of feeling utterly shit. I went to the toilet and caught a glimpse of my blotchy faced reflection as I washed my hands. The old, well practiced thoughts of how ugly I looked and pathetic I was being, came flooding into my mind first, before I caught myself thinking them. It was in that space of awareness that I was able to pause and breathe and choose not to believe them. I looked myself in the eye in the mirror and I told myself ‘I love you’.

Awareness is your power. Awareness allows you to pause and choose love. Awareness is your opportunity to turn the light on, to forgive, to surrender with compassion and to move forward with love. For yourself and ultimately for others. Every moment of awareness offers you a new beginning.

Forgive yourself for not being perfect, as none of us are. Sit with yourself in compassion when tears come, shine light on your shadows because at times we all experience them. Love who you are right now, right where you are, not when this or that has been achieved, not only in the light but in the shade. Love yourself without condition.

Perhaps then, in the low moments, there is nothing really to fix or change but simply a nudge to rest. A nudge to pause, to breathe and show love and acceptance to ourselves, exactly as we are. A nudge to bring your awareness back to the present moment, right now, rather than the story of the past or the fantasy of the future, complication that can only exists outside of the present moment.

Instead, with awareness, offer yourself love, without condition. In moments of fear, frustration, elation, excitement and all that’s in between; Be love.

“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth  ‘you owe me’. Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky” – Hafiz