The Tao Te Ching: Verse Sixteen

Attain the ultimate emptiness
Hold on to the truest tranquility
The myriad things are all active
I therefore watch their return

Everything flourishes; each returns to its root
Returning to the root is called tranquility
Tranquility is called returning to one’s nature
Returning to one’s nature is called constancy
Knowing constancy is called clarity

Not knowing constancy, one recklessly causes trouble
Knowing constancy is acceptance
Acceptance is impartiality
Impartiality is sovereign
Sovereign is Heaven
Heaven is Tao
Tao is eternal
The self is no more, without danger  

                                                                                                      Lao Tzu

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus came to the conclusion after many years of study that Change is a fundamental force at the core of the Universe. He shared, “Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”  Now if you are someone who usually sees the glass as half full, this insight offers a view filled with possibility. It is encouragement to be mindful because, you will not pass this way again. It also encourages you to have courage and patience because, this too shall pass. However, if you find yourself often trying to cling to things, hoping against hope that things will stay the way they are or the way you want; you are indeed inviting a huge amount of self-imposed suffering into your world.

One of the paths to contentment is to truly try to wrap your mind and eventually your heart around the concept of Impermanence so that you can make your peace with the fact that Change is the only thing that is constant and certain. Easy enough said, very difficult to do. It is almost goes against all that a professional or family caregiver strives for. We are determined to fixing things and then ensure that things stay fixed. Which of course they won’t.

Here is where we tend to swim in dangerous waters. Professional and family caregivers want so much to aide and assist. We are incapable of really saying no to anyone who needs our help. We take on more and more. We dedicate a huge amount of energy to achieving something that cannot be achieved because our compassion outweighs our wisdom.

The frustration that builds slowly chips away at our endurance; and we begin to de-compensate until one day, we look into the mirror at a stranger. The questions begin to echo in our heads. Why am I so tired and angry all the time? Why can’t I sleep? How did this happen; all I do is yell?

We move through our personal and professional life attaching to things, wanting them to remain solid and last forever. We experience anxiety, envy, anger and even become verbally violent with others because of our need to cling to a false perception of permanence. Resisting Impermanence blinds us to the need to adapt and find a footing in the new reality so we can thrive. It is nearly impossible for caregivers to acknowledge that they must let go. However, it is in the letting go that we can find a reprieve from alienating friends, colleagues and loved ones.

Finding the peace of mind that so often eludes caregivers starts with the caregiver getting in touch with his/her Need to Fix things back to the way they were. When we have sat quietly and mustered up the courage to do the introspective work needed to explore this trait in an open and honest manner, we will have taken a huge step to resetting our energies in a more realistic and positive direction.

But it is vital that we approach this introspective work with the same loving kindness for ourselves that we would offer to another. There is nothing to be served by gutting yourself up the middle, dissecting each element of your personality and analyzing things to death. Just start slowly by asking what was my honest motivation to do something and what was I honestly trying to achieve. Gently…slowly; acknowledging that you are indeed a good person every step of the way. Offering yourself the greatest of gifts; unconditional love and acceptance.



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