A New Year of love and trust is essential to your well-being. Instead of the ephemeral resolutions of the season, trusting yourself and others enough to know that you are worthy of love is life-changing. Three tools for daily use in the New Year invite you to do just that.
“I am because you are” is at the heart of the African wisdom tradition of Ubuntu. It says that a person is only a person in the context of others. It is a way of life in which trusting in your magnificence is as essential to your life as it is for others to claim for themselves.
Across the country the most frequent questions asked of me have to do with how we love ourselves and others; how to be worthy of love and goodness. The questions reflect a widespread yearning for a more robust experience of life. In the spirit of “I am because you are” these three tools are a yearlong companion for actualizing a year of more fulsome love and trust.
1. Love yourself with intention. Instead of assuming that the deeply ingrained messages of conditional love are the norm or that you are less worthy of love than others choose to trust in your unconditional worthiness of love.
Each day name a quality or quirk that marks who you are and name why it makes you lovable.
Decades ago a wise man insisted that I do this exercise in front of a mirror each day. At first I thought it was a trite suggestion. The act of looking into my own eyes and naming something lovable was the threshold to moving beyond the unexamined internalized messages about why I was not as worthy of love as others. Find a trusted person with whom to share what you begin to name and love.
2. Discover the goodness in others. The journey to love and trust does not exist in a vacuum and is not about narcissism. When you love and trust your own magnificence your own foibles become part of a wide-angled lens of your life. With fresh compassion and tenderness toward yourself and others “I am because you are” becomes an invitation to discover the goodness in others.
Like many, my life was once blinded by assumptions, biases and easy judgment about others.
I chose to practice suspending those arrogant thoughts in order to discover a commonality of goodness with others. It revealed a more life-giving way of being in which the goodness of those with whom I differ is as important to our mutual well-being as vibrant disagreements are.
3. Detach from toxic people. Loving and trusting in yourself and others is a filter for responding to the abusive, bullying or toxic behavior of some. It illuminates the reality that such behaviors have little consciousness about “I am because you are.” Instead, their actions diminish or deny the magnificence found in others and themselves. It is not your responsibility to invest in changing their behavior by putting your own life on lockdown.
For your sake and theirs detach. Unlike the choice to be trapped in anger or resentment, loving detachment from another person happens when you entrust their well-being to the Universe, God or a Higher Power.
Decades after detaching from a toxic relationship the person and I reconnected. She had done the inner work of choosing to change her behavior and we were able to forge a life-giving relationship. Detachment honored the truth that “I am because you are” with the hope of new love and trust emerging in the future.
Loving intention, discovering goodness and healthy detachment are tools for everyday use. They invite a New Year and life of richly textured relationships.
You are more fully alive and magnificent when fear of others is replaced by the choices to love and trust.
Robert V. Taylor is president of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in New York City which works to democratize peacemaking for a new generation of young leaders. He is the author of A New Way to Be Human: 7 Spiritual Pathways to Becoming Fully Alive (New Page Books 2012). He lives in Seattle and on a farm in rural Eastern Washington.