When I was 18 and first started going out to clubs with friends and drinking alcohol, my brother made me an offer that taught me a lot about what it means to really show up for someone.
He made me an unconditional offer.
“I don’t care what time it is or how far away you are. If the person driving you has been drinking, you call me. I’ll be there. I promise I won’t ask any questions.”
To this day it reminds me of what unconditional actually means — no judgment, no shame, no strings attached.
Every day, we say the word “love” a lot. We casually slip it into conversation with our partners and our children. “Love ya, honey,” we say distractedly as they walk out the door.
Yet, often — our actions tell them that our love is conditional. You may get annoyed at your child because they are not behaving in the way you want or you may withdraw affection from your partner because of some perceived disappointment. In big and small ways, our actions say, “I always love you, but I love you a little more when you behave the way I want.”
How often do you make someone an unconditional offer?
The life-changing impact of an unconditional offer
I have only used my brother’s offer one time. He showed up at 4 am at a house party in a remote area, no questions asked. We went home, slept, and the next day — it was like it never happened. What did my brother now know?
He didn’t know that I was feeling uncomfortable about how drunk my friend who had driven me was getting. He didn’t know that my only other option home in the age before Ubers and in an area inaccessible to taxis was a leery guy who had made unwelcome sexual advances.
It may seem silly but at the time, if I had needed to explain all of this to my brother — I probably wouldn’t have called him. I would have sucked it up and gone home with my drunk friend. That same friend later drove in an accident that killed someone and critically injured 3 others.
Here is the important point —he made that offer years ago but the emotional safety of that unconditional offer stayed with me for a lifetime. I will never need that offer now but I will always know deep in my heart that my brother will show up when it counts — no questions asked.
Sometimes, the best way you can love someone is simply not to judge. Don’t be so quick to offer “what you should do” to a friend who is suffering from a painful breakup. Refrain from trying to fix your child’s bad mood or to shame them into behaving. Find ways to say, “You have safety, whenever you need it, no explanations needed. I’ll be there.”
My unconditional offer to you
Unbeknownst to you, my dear reader — in many ways — you have kept my spirits alive. Every time you clap, comment, and wrote me a personal email, you’ve kept my writing alive.
You gave me your time and attention. You listened to my thoughts and feelings. Now, I want to do the same for you.
So, here’s my unconditional offer to you— I want to give you my undivided attention once a week for 6 weeks. No judgment, no questions, no shame, just safety. Completely free of charge.
I’ve teamed up with my amazing friend Marta Brzosko (a beautiful soul, a top Medium writer, and a meditation teacher) to offer a sharing group. We’re doing this in cooperation with Indra’s net, an organization whose mission is to provide community-sourced mental health support.
If the pandemic has pushed you deep into isolation and you now find yourself struggling to find a new normal or to reconnect with anyone, we want to create a safe space and a community for you. Perhaps the hardest thing for you is that things should be “fine” but you simply don’t feel that way. Instead, you feel stuck, unmotivated, and flat but don’t feel like you have the right to complain about it.
If this is you, we’re here for you. We hope to make you feel that whatever you are experiencing is valid and to also bring you in contact with a new community of people who are all interested in authentic relationships.
When: Every Wednesday from the 7th of July for 6 weeks. We have nominally chosen the time of 1.30 pm Mountain Standard Time (UTC/GMT -6) but we are happy to change it depending on where our participants are from. To help you with aligning your time zone with mine, you can use this website. Please select Denver, Colorado, and your own city.
Where and how long: Every session is on Zoom and lasts about 1.5 hours.
How big is the group: We’re aiming for 6–8 people.
Price: Free of charge
What we’re going to do: In each session, there will be time for uninterrupted mindful sharing by each participant. You’ll be prompted with a question from the facilitators, but you can also share what feels more relevant. After individual sharing, there will be some space for interacting with other participants. Each session will be opened and closed with a guided meditation.
How to apply: If you’re interested, send me an email at email@example.com or hit “reply” to this email before the 30th of June with a short descriptor about why you want to participate and what your preferred time for the meeting would be. We will select people based on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please only apply if you can and want to make a 6-week commitment to be a part of the group.
I hope to meet you, know you, and have some fun with you soon!