People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but, for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day's work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably - why, then I don't think I deserve any reward for my hard day's work - for am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good?

There is a need that many people struggle with for a good portion of their lives. It is the need to receive or experience the acknowledgment and acceptance of others. Even when we are not aware that this is what we are doing, we equate these two things with being loved. To be loved is a basic human need. Beneath the need for acceptance and acknowledgment is the cry for self-love. Sometimes having someone else acknowledge you is far more satisfying than simply loving yourself. Perhaps it is because you don't trust yourself or your own love. When you know in your heart of hearts that you are withholding love or forgiveness from someone else, your love will not be enough to satisfy you.

The principle at work in this experience is, "What you withhold from others will be withheld from you!" When you withhold your love from someone in response to their actions, you are withholding acceptance. When you withhold acceptance, you will be driven to receive it.

Every living being, regardless of their actions, deserves your love. Your love is an acknowledgment that, regardless of their behavior, you recognize them to be a divine creation of God. The Spirit of life knows when you are withholding acceptance. It also knows that you can never experience what you will not offer. You will never experience the external acceptance you desire until you internally acknowledge your acceptance of another.

Until today, you may have been seeking the acceptance that you have been withholding from someone else. Just for today, open your heart to someone you have shut out. It doesn't mean that they were right. It means that you are willing to heal.

Today I am devoted to opening my heart, to acknowledging and accepting that I have enough love to sustain myself and to offer to others!

-Iyanla Vanzant, Until Today! - Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind ©2000

When will we become lovable? When will we feel safe? When will we get all the protection, nurturing, and love we so richly deserve? We will get it when we begin giving it to ourselves.
  • Melody Beattie, Beyond Codependency

In an old Gaelic poem called "The Poem of Trathel," there is a scene which pictures a mother playing a harp while her children gather around, entranced as they listen to the sweet strains which issue from a harp at her touch on the trembling strings. She stops. The music ceases, and she lays down the harp. The children pick it up and finger the strings in an attempt to reproduce the music which had come from the harp at the touch of their mother's fingers. In vain. A confusion of harsh discordant sounds comes forth, but not the sweet music they longed to hear as a result of their own efforts. In bitter disappointment they cry out: "Oh Mother, why doesn't it answer us too? Show us the strings where the music is."

We look amongst the strings of our lives for harmony, and expect to be able to just pluck away at it and make it all work. The harmony is there, and like any other skill, we must study and practice in order to bring it out. It takes discipline, and work. We need Wisdom to discern that which is True, Strength to resist Error, and Appreciation of Spiritual Beauty in order to know how to make our life harmonious.

One of the skills that will help us to find harmony is learning to relax and let go. Breathe deeply, let go of your fears enough to feel as peaceful as you can. Figure out what is needed, right now at this moment, in your life. No other individual on the face of the earth is responsible for giving you what you need to care for yourself. If you think so, it is time to change your belief system. You are responsible for yourself. If you think that things in your life are out of control, then you need to relax and stop trying to control things, people and situations. If you are not having fun, you need to take time to do that, now. If you are neglecting your normal routine, you need to focus on one task at a time until you are back on track. And if you can't do anything but worry about a problem, let it go - turn it over to the Universe, your Higher Power, Spirit, God or whatever. Let someone or something else help you carry that load. Set it aside for a time, and when the timing is right, you will have what you need to deal with it effectively.

Whatever it is that is needed, as far as self-care goes, you will not discover the answer until you ask the question. This is Wisdom, knowing what to ask and when to ask it. Listen, and trust what you hear. This is Strength, to resist the error of the world and its pressures, and to trust your Inner Guide. And you will not benefit from any of that unless you follow through, once you hear it. This is an Appreciation of the Spiritual Beauty that is within you, by honoring and trusting yourself enough to act in accordance with what you know you need. Once you begin to seek this interior balance in your life by caring for yourself and giving yourself what you need, you will reap the reward of balance in all of the exterior aspects of you life. Don't withhold it from yourself, and others will give it back to you in generous proportion. Everyone has a claim upon your kindness, especially you!



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