02/24/2014 08:43 am ET Updated Apr 26, 2014

How To Love: 6 Ways Not to Love, 8 Ways to Love

Do you know how to love? If you didn't receive the love you needed as a child, then there is a good possibility that you don't know how to love. You might have a skewed idea about what love really is.

What Love Isn't:

1. Love is not needy
When you reject and abandon yourself with your self-judgments and various addictions, you create an empty hole inside that is like a vacuum cleaner trying to suck love from others. Trying to get love has nothing to do with being loving with yourself and others.

2. Love is not conditional
Love is a free gift with no strings attached. When you give "love" with strings attached, it isn't love -- it's control.

3. Love does not give to get
Love isn't care-taking, which is giving yourself up -- giving to get. Love doesn't try to control by making others obligated to you.

4. Love is not harsh, mean, hurtful or judgmental
Love isn't manipulative. It doesn't lie, cheat or use others for one's own ends. It doesn't try to control with meanness, harshness or criticalness. Love is not judgmental of self or others. Love does not consciously or deliberately hurt yourself or others.

5. Love is not indulgent
Love does not enable others in being unloving to you or to themselves, nor does it support you in being unloving to yourself or others.

What Love Is:

1. Love is warm, kind, caring, empathic, compassionate, gentle, tender, generous, understanding, forgiving, nurturing, respectful and unconditional
Love is that which is unconditional -- no strings attached -- and is offered with an open heart. Love gives for the joy of giving, with no agenda attached.

2. Love is strong, solid, firm, reliable, supportive, empowering, trustworthy, honest, patient, responsible and consistent
Love has your back and the backs of others.

3. Love is open to learning and filled with curiosity about evolving itself
Love is always evolving and always learning more about itself.

4. Love is vibrant, alive, passionate and creative, and also open to the pain of life
Love embraces both the pain and joy of life, being fully present with both.

5. Love is attentive, present in the moment
Love does not exist in the past or future -- it is fully present in each moment.

6. Love listens
Love is a good listener. It hears and understands.

7. Love is open to receiving without feeling obligated
Love knows that the sharing of itself is the highest experience in life. It receives graciously.

8. Love is God and God is Love
Love is not an experience we generate from within our body - it is that which we open to and invite into our heart and soul.

Learning to Love:

We evolve in our ability to love when we choose to stay open to learning -- with a spiritual source of guidance -- about loving ourselves and others. Becoming truly loving is a lifelong learning process. It's not like you learn it and it's done -- there is always more to learn.

Learning to love yourself is foundational for being able to love others. The more you learn to be kind and gentle with yourself, rather than judgmental and rejecting, the more loving you will be with others.

If you are not loving yourself, then whatever you think you are giving to another isn't love. You cannot give what you do not have within, so when you are not loving yourself, you are likely needy of love, and what you give to another in the name of love may have an agenda attached -- trying to get love.

Learning to love yourself -- and others -- is the most joyous experience there is, and there is no need to be in a hurry! Being present in the process of learning to love is what brings life its aliveness and vitality, so give yourself the gift now, by getting on the path of learning to love yourself and others!

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."