It is of utmost importance that you care for yourself, as your own loving and wise parent, looking after your physical and emotional needs: from eating well, to getting sleep, to providing rest and renewal, to connecting with people, to providing a little time for things that bring you joy and nourish you. This is not selfish - as it would not be indulgent to provide this for a child - but responsible. You must take this responsibility seriously.
Today, instead of seeing your day as a long list of duties you fear you are inadequate to fulfill, see the day as offering you gifts. Make sure you accept all the presents: the kindnesses others show you, the expertise others share, all the little pleasures such as a hot shower or cup of tea or a beautiful cloud, and the opportunity to be of service.
We live our lives based on stories we have been told, or told ourselves, often never questioning the assumptions or checking for evidence. Today, question your stories, especially when an agitated or fearful thought arises. Is the thought or story true? How did you know?
Often, we don't know the true story, but we need to loosen up our sense of possibility, shake our conclusions.
Begin by letting Love hold your worries, with great strength and tenderness.
T.S. Eliot writes in his poem Ash Wednesday:
"Teach us to care and not to care.
Teach us to sit still."
Today, pray for discernment about what is our responsibility and what is not - where to engage our attention and care and where to let go and leave the work to Love and to others. Let us do our own work, faithfully. Let us give up what is not ours, gracefully. Let our busy selves believe when the answer we receive is "do nothing." Give us deep patience, trust, and the ability to listen.
Today, know that other people's criticisms of you may not always be based in truth or a desire to support you. Sometimes the criticisms are more about the other person than you - that person's envy or competitiveness or comparison or self-justification or limited perspective or faulty opinions. Especially if we have absorbed those opinions from close friends and family early in childhood, we may accept them, unquestioningly, often causing burdensome shame and self-doubt. Today, experiment with letting go of messages about your faultiness. Consider that those very traits that have been criticized may be some of your greatest strengths, or at least served you in meaningful ways.
In the Bible, God says, "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts." Because Love's truths are written in our mind and heart, they are with us, as part of us. Therefore, we recognize truth when we hear it - because it echoes the truth already within us. When we trust the truth written in our minds and heart, we are less likely to be led astray by strong opinions, charismatic personalities, faulty logic, or guilt and shame used to manipulate us. True teachers are not teaching us, but awakening us to what we already know. Today, feel the power and presence of the teacher within.
Today, instead of believing you are broken in mind, body, and spirit, know and feel that you are made with a spiritual power that maintains your unbroken wholeness. You are made of integrity and radiance.
Today, before each task, ask yourself if your motive for that activity is driven more by love or fear. If the answer is fear, turn that fear over to Love and let Love hold it with great compassion, as if it were a little baby. Ask Love for help. Do not judge or criticize your fears.
Today, let go of any sense that you know how things ought to be. Loosen up on your opinions and need for control. Rest more in Love.
Today, don't try so hard to be a good person: to be cheerful and orderly and kind. Don't put forth so much effort, as if you aren't already what-you-hope-to-be, as if it takes great force of will to overcome your sloth and selfishness. Instead, know that Life is living through you. Love is loving through you. Soul is creating through you. Being is being you. This takes more yielding and gratitude and less trying.
It is human nature to try to analyze the causes of other people's suffering: to dissect their psychology, childhoods, personality, weaknesses. We like to understand. However, often we are wrong. Often, our simplistic analysis does not support healing.
Some disciples approached Jesus about the cause of a blind man's suffering They asked, Is this blindness caused by the man's sin or the sin of the parents? Neither, he answered,"but that the works of God may be manifest in him." Jesus didn't need to identify a cause of the blindness to heal the man. He focused instead on the powerful, embracing power of Love.
This is not to say therapy is not helpful; in that case, a person specifically asks for support in exploring their past and beliefs and working toward healing, and a good therapist listens deeply, challenges her own assumptions, and acknowledges complexity, all with the motive of moving people toward a sense of their wholeness.
This is not to say that we don't sometimes have an accurate insight into someone's struggles, but rarely does that person need our unasked for analysis. Begin instead with a sense of Love's presence with that person, speaking to them in just the ways they need to hear, attending to their needs. Often that is all the person needs from us.
Likewise, as noble and necessary as it is to examine ourselves, a thorough understanding of ourselves is not a prerequisite for experiencing Love's healing and transforming power.
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and numerous essays. You may read more of her work at tarnwilson.com.