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I’ve asked audiences around the world, “What does a child want more than anything else?”

Their resounding answer is always “Love!”

I follow that with, “What kind of love does a child want? Conditional, “I’ll love you if…” love, or unconditional, “I’ll love you no matter what” kind of love?

Of course, everyone always knows that a child wants unconditional love more than anything else. If that’s so, then what do you think they are willing to do to get it?” The answer is always, “Whatever it takes!”

I’ve watched how within an hour of birth, a newborn colt is running all over the field. And we’ve all seen television images of newly hatched turtles instinctually scampering for the ocean.

Newborn humans, on the other hand, can’t even roll over on their own. But the instinct we do have is to connect with a caretaker. We know how to make the best sounds, faces, and reactions that touch our primary caretaker’s heart. Even as an infant, we intuitively know that the greater the degree of connection we have with our Mom, the greater the chance that we’ll survive and thrive. That connection is what we come to know as love!

As we begin to grow up, we check out how other family members get love and what they do, or don’t do, with their various emotions. We learn to fit in by creating a program for getting love
that optimizes the amount of love we can get from our family of origin.

This old, childhood program for getting love is still playing out in your life. As a child it was a perfectly designed strategy for maximizing the amount of love you got from within your family. But, as an adult, that same program keeps you stuck, looking outside yourself for the love that can only truly be found within.

To discover your own program for getting love, just breathe and finish the sentence, “As a child, to get love I needed to…” Breathing and looking a bit deeper each time, repeat and finish the sentence, “As a child, to get love I needed to…” — it will come to you.

It could be that to get love you had to be quiet, good, nice, or hide your anger, fear, or hopes. Whatever worked best for you is the love program you adopted.

Regardless of what your program was, it was about looking outside yourself for the love you wanted and needed as a child. That was appropriate for then, but how is that old program still playing out in your life now? How are you still looking outside of yourself for the love you want?

To shift that program from allowing everyone else to be in charge of how you feel, you need to take the time to rediscover, heal, accept, and love any parts that you’ve left behind. As a child, when you didn’t know how to emotionally process something that was happening in your life, you stuffed it down so you could deal with it later. Now is later, and now is when you can rediscover, heal, and find that love you have always longed for – the unconditional love that must first be found within.

P.S. And it is only when you have that self-love that you can fully give and receive it with others.