What’s Care Got to do with it?

I sat down this morning to write a blog post. My heart wasn’t really in it and it felt like it was something I had to do.

And I definitely had that weighty and disengaged feeling that accompanies most “should-y” things. I procrastinated and distracted myself successfully for a while…until I’d had enough. What should I write about? What would people like? What would be easy? I thought I would write about ‘care’ and the question ‘what do you are about?’ ‘Yeah, I’ll just do that; I could put something together pretty fast,’ I thought. And then I caught myself. ‘Care’ isn’t something to write about; ‘Care’ is something to write from. So, after a few slow breaths, I asked myself the question “what do I care about in writing this blog post?” This list of cares surfaced quickly and effortlessly:

  • I care about sharing my voice in the world
  • I care about offering a perspective that’s valuable to readers
  • I care about provoking new awareness in myself and others
  • I care about inner reflection and learning

And to me, the rigorous practice of writing is one way to help me to take care of these cares. Not surprisingly, my energy and focus grew and I felt more alive, alert and able to pull my thoughts together. It occurred to me that still, after all these years, I am conditioned to operate out of ‘doing’ mode, concerned primarily with action and producing a result for the sake of producing “a result”. Results, after all, are what we cherish. Many of us assume that producing a result is evidence of our worthiness. That’s how I started off this morning. I got caught in that old story – I wanted to type something up and spit it out (action) so that I could post an entry on my blog already! (result). I had convinced myself that I needed to post a new article to be seen as credible, professional and relevant. Looking back, I see that this earlier orientation produced undesirable feelings of duty and frustration and that my jaw, shoulders and neck felt tense, stressed and tight. Clearly, not the place from which I would do my best work. When I stopped and connected to what I care about, I became engaged, energized and I found renewed meaning in the actions I was committing myself to. It changed from an obligatory task I had to do, to a genuine expression of me, and what I care about.

Therein lies the power of the question “what do you care about?”

It offers us the opportunity to align (or realign) our commitments of time, money, energy, focus and other resources to the taking care of what we care about most. Care is not simply an esoteric, woo-woo construct. It is a most fundamental orientation to living a good life. Care is a place of choice and as such, it changes with time. It gives me the option to choose what gets my attention and energy rather than feeling obligated and resigned to do what I “should” do. There is no single answer, nor any right or wrong answers. It is an exploration of what brings me energy, vitality and aliveness….or not. The question keeps me from slipping into old patterns of living from fear and playing small. It empowers my commitment and grounds my action. And it is a practice to engage in with a regular rhythm, as was reinforced for me this morning. Commitment by commitment, day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year. I find that the question allows me to get bigger than my complaints, bigger than my reactions and it brings me back to the present moment. What a gift.

When was the last time you reflected on this question and looked at how your commitments and actions were aligned with taking care of what you care about? I invite you to take a look.

Let me know how it goes.

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