People who act unconditionally do so by setting a conscious intention to love, give, show up, and support wholly, having freed themselves from expectations of what’s in it for them. Hold on; I am not asking you to let people trample over you like an old rugged doormat; don’t! All I am saying is, one must choose to do good for the intrinsic value that it brings.
Virtue based on transaction:
People often let their value for relationships be controlled by what they can get in return from the other person. They will assume friendships just to be shielded from loneliness and get into relationships in the name of love, but be in it for what their partner brings to the table. We have people that give to feel good about themselves and to get the recognition that comes with the act of giving. This mentality that good deeds need to be compensated with something equally good or better has society morally corrupt. It corrupts peoples’ intentions and gives room for manipulation; if I can trade in some good to achieve a personal greater good, then hurray! I have nothing to lose. Acting according to virtue as a means to a selfish end deems your deed valueless because your intention is not pure. What happens if the transaction doesn’t work out the way you thought it would? We’ve all heard (maybe even witnessed) of a lovers’ union that has drastically and tragically taken a turn. A partner who you thought was naturally giving can quickly turn on you and demand reparations for their love, patience, and generosity when they fail to get what they hoped for in return. Such stories tend to surface in the media; spoiler alert, it ends in gruesome death. For this reason, my mother insists that I do not take from strangers; yet, she’s taught me all my life to act unconditionally.
What it takes to act unconditionally:
One must understand that the most valuable things that make life worthy are achieved without putting conditions beforehand; they are achieved when the intention is pure. If you love and care for someone, you prioritize them, show up when they need you, and fully support them because that is what feels right to you. However, when you choose to be there for someone, it doesn’t automatically guarantee that they’ll be there for you, putting in the same effort you do. Therefore, if you acted based on the hope that they’ll love you back the same way or extend the same kindness that you do, the expectation you built to get something in return makes it transactional. To be in a mindful state of being, one must learn to act unconditionally and absolve themselves of expectations; in doing so, you create peace within. Why? When we operate out of good intention and go our way, good tends to follow because that is the law of the universe. However, if you do good unto others purely out of personal interest, then disappointment may follow, corrupting your inner peace. It makes sense to do good for its own sake, for reasons such as putting a smile on someone’s face, putting an end to someone’s misery, and shining a light in other peoples’ lives.
In his book, Everything Is Fucked, Mark Manson describes unconditionality in Philosopher Immanuel Kant’s words, “you must treat humanity never merely as a means, but always as an end itself.” What this translates to is, we must not use people (the humanity in them; their values and virtues) as stepping stones towards achieving our selfish desires.
Act unconditionally, but be mindful enough to realize when people are preying on your goodness because that too is a possible outcome. Sometimes we engage in what we think will be mutually reinforcing relationships, then things get one-sided. Whereby only one of the partners involved puts in the substantial effort. If the situation plays out that way, be glad and content that you acted on pure intention and not expectation. It is entirely okay to part ways with people who constantly use you. Know that you cannot punish people for not playing the role you needed them to in your life. Your intention should be to heal from the undelivered expectations you might have subconsciously harbored so you may gain clarity mentally and emotionally. The goal is to move forward and maintain a mindful state of being.