07/08/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mother's Day: The Importance of Mothering Yourself

When we interact with others from a place of compassion without expectations, things are set up to go pretty smoothly. When we find comfort in knowing that all the love and support we need is housed inside us, we can honestly share that joy with others without needing anything in return. When we practice cleaning our slate and interacting without motive, what we actually "get" in return is greater than what we might have expected. Life can open up, and be full of surprises that blow past our narrow expectations.

Fears, insecurities and the need to please can rule our lives. Our society is economically and socially set up for us to live under these pressures in order to maintain its control and survival. That all sounds pretty sci-fi-future-movie, but if we were a society of compassionate do-gooders who seek nothing in return for our loving thoughts and actions, how would we keep going the endless cycle of fear, debt and unhealthy relationships? What would send us escaping into deadening behaviors that fuel our economy like retail therapy, prescription meds and junk food? What is the real reason America is so unhealthy? We stopped loving ourselves.

We are trained from a young age to do things in order to get things, including love. Be good and you'll get a candy, a toy and we won't be mad at you. Do bad and love will be temporarily withheld. This continues into adulthood. Play within the rules and you'll be fine at work. Do just what you need to do, but not too much and the system will keep cranking. Creating conditions around love, security and acceptance is something we do easily. Forgiving and living with compassion are part of our wiring right from the beginning, but our culture has covering up and second-guessing some of the best parts of our nature. We often need a lot of re-working our system to get back to how we started.

We need to become our own best mother, gently supporting ourselves in clearing away all these unneeded layers on top of the compassionate, forgiving, healthy and happy people we all have inside. And if we're thinking about how our own mothers were there when all those layers got added in the first place, remember that moms are people just like us! Loving and caring for us isn't always an easy job and we shouldn't expect perfection. Relaxing our hold on things like expectation and guilt isn't an easy task. It can be daunting and scary. But letting go the expectations of ourselves, of exactly how things should be, is an important start in becoming our own caregivers. We can begin to build trust in ourselves that we have what we need inside us. We are capable, strong, loving individuals and know that when we do the work, we will see a change. The layers will come off. We'll get happy. Letting go isn't about submitting to oblivion and not caring. It's quite the opposite. Letting go of what's in our head from somewhere else lets us begin to put loving attention and care around our capabilities in our selves, where we are right now.

Stuart Smalley was right. "You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It People Like You."

Someone asked the Dalai Lama why he thinks people love him so much. He said probably because he spends his time thinking about other people more than himself.

Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. This can be another useful one, but has to start with loving yourself first.

Happy Mothering Yourself Day.

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