Unconditional Love is the Medium for Growth

Heart-Centered ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) rides on the wings of love. Another less poetic way of saying this is unconditional love is the carrier wave for Heart-Centered ABA. Heart-Centered ABA is a kind of behavior change science that is based on inner qualities of love, truth, empathy, and the realization of human potential founded by Adam Bulbulia. Unconditional love is not a flowery statement of idealism, but a practice we maintain and deepen everyday at Bridging Worlds. Unconditional love is the medium that each and every message of change must come through in order to help someone achieve their fullest potential. 

I define unconditional love as the basic connection which we all feel for ourselves and each other as human beings without any negativity blocking us from the connection. When we love another unconditionally, we want the best for the other person with no conditions or expectations required for this connection, openness, and positive regard. 

When unconditional love is not the carrier wave, any attempt to change another becomes an act of perpetration against the other. Traditional ABA practitioners have often made this error. Trying to change someone without accepting and loving them first, is an act of perpetration in that we do not have full respect for their being. We are treating them as objects and believing we know better how they should be. This is hubris and it needs to stop. Through being solidly grounded in unconditional love and empathy, we can address and help support nearly any behavior. 

What makes it unconditional? Unconditional literally means no conditions or restrictions. Carl Rogers brought the concept of unconditional positive regard to Humanistic Psychology. In both unconditional love and unconditional positive regard, we can challenge another’s unconscious or maladaptive behaviors; we simply never withdraw the connection no matter what happens. When we have unconditional positive regard or unconditional love, we never look down on the other. We seek to understand them. (The link in this last sentence explains in more detail Roger’s approach. So much of what we do rests on his great work.


Projection in Parenting

In all close relationships, we must examine the tendency to project our own experiences and issues onto others. In parenting, romantic relationships, friendships, and working relationships, projection is very common. When we project onto our children, we can no longer see them for who they are. We start viewing them according to our own ideas, traumas, or past experiences. Oftentimes, we don’t understand exactly what our children are struggling with and read malicious intent into interactions which are simply not there. Other times, we assume they understand things they don’t or we just don’t adequately use empathy to fully comprehend where they are. Projection blocks perception. When there’s no projective filter obscuring our vision, we can more easily see our children as they truly are.


All Behavior Comes from Our Learning History

All behavior is shaped by the consequences of our environment. In ABA(Applied Behavior Analysis) we call this operant conditioning. In everyday parlance it simply means certain actions are effective in helping us get what we want, while other actions are ineffective. Everyone seeks to get the most of what they want out of life and responds to the universe through learning from experience. Some of us are better able to learn and adapt to our experiences, while others have trouble learning and adapting to our environment and our experiences. This is how we are shaped by our environment and our learning history.

We must understand that everyone is doing their best with what they have to work with at the time. When we accept everyone as good at heart and trying their best, we can respond appropriately. Let’s take social skills as an example. Many of us learn social skills intuitively. We know when a person stops listening to us and we learn to stop talking when we get the cues. Others never learned this social skill and keep talking when others aren’t listening. It’s very helpful to show people who have a deficit in their social skills what they are missing, particularly when they have been diagnosed with developmental disabilities. Often people with developmental disabilities have trouble reading social cues.


We Are all Developmentally Disabled

Obviously some of us come in with more severe developmental disabilities than others, but we all are all developing at different rates and in different ways. People who aren’t diagnosed with a developmental disability still have places where they froze in trauma and stopped learning. Any break in development is in some sense a developmental disability. This is what I mean when I say we are all developmentally disabled. Another way of saying this is, we all have a developmental track which is different from “normal” development. 

Working with the developmentally disabled population with empathy has taught me so much about patience and love. When we apply the principles of patience to any human being who is learning, we remove shame from the equation. We all are exactly where we are as a result of our innate and learned capacities. Through not judging ourselves and each other, we set up the ideal environment for growth. When we accept our way of developing and learning, the process becomes much easier.


Guilt and Shame Free Learning

By removing guilt and shame from the learning process, we can accelerate it. When the environment is completely supportive of a plant, it will grow and thrive. Humans are like plants in this way. We thrive when we have the fertile soil of a secure and loving connection; the warming sunlight of unconditional love; the right water, air, and nutrients of inspired experience; and our tribe of supportive plants and animals around us. Guilt and shame bog down the learning process. They become sand in the gearbox; they only get in the way. By accepting where we are unconditionally, we can move forward most effectively. As I’ve worked with families over the years, I’ve been amazed how much more quickly the learning process happens when guilt is removed from the equation. Learning Through Mistakes is an article all about this guilt free learning process.


Creating Environments that Support Growth

Unconditional love always moves to support growth. By creating environments that nurture growth, we create holding containers for the inspiration of love to come down, shine on us, and bless us. When the environment supports the growth of everyone in the system, we have a truly heart-centered environment. Let’s work together to make our homes, our businesses, and our community environments which truly support growth and evolution.

We hope you liked this article and it helped you get a deeper understanding of Bridging Worlds Behavioral Services and how we work. We have an article on unconditional love on our sister site here. And we have a whole book dedicated to this called Unconditional Eternal Love: A Guide to Love Everyone. You can find more articles about us on our blog.

Bridging Worlds operates using Heart-Centered ABA and the Heart-Centered Operating System (HCOS), developed in partnership with Heart-Centered Revolutions (HCR), a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to forging a world that works for everyone. 

For more information about HCOS, please read these HCR articles and find out how you can schedule an HCOS consultation and training for your business or organization on our website. Heart-Centered Revolutions has helped us grow and flourish and they can do the same for you.

Join our mailing list and like us on Facebook for more updates.

For example: 

If the client is nonverbal we might work on expanding their communication skills to include gestures or pictures.

If the client is overstimulated in the grocery store, goals might include short trips to the store with ways to self-regulate.