This week we leave the proud, determined energy of Leo and step into the powerful, practical energy of Virgo. This month is dedicated to assessing the past, taking inventory, and accounting for ourselves this past year. It is a time when we take an unflinching appraisal of ourselves, our words, and our actions. Inevitably, you will uncover words you regret having said, and thoughts that you wished you hadn’t allowed to creep into your head. There may be actions that require an apology, habits that need changing, and relationships that need rejuvenating.
Seriously: this month is intense.
But before you sink into a spiral of shame and regret, take a moment to pause. I want to stress: don’t beat yourself up. I invite you to review your past with an eye toward exploration, with a consciousness of curiosity, and an open-heartedness that understands mistakes are opportunities for growth. We all mess up—we’re human—and what sets us apart is our willingness to right our wrongs.
Luckily, there is a process built for this exact endeavor. It’s known as T’shuvah.
The kabbalists teach that T’shuvah is a practice that works a little like a cosmic eraser. It clears all of the negativity that we created in the previous year and prepares us for Rosh Hashanah, which is the first day of Libra. This is the day when the entire physical world came into existence.
Think about the beauty in the physical world. Before anything is made manifest, there is a moment of perfection that immediately precedes it: A budding flower that breaks its first bloom, the wing of a butterfly that emerges from its cocoon, the moment just before a baby is born. That precise moment is perfect because everything that led up to that moment comes to fruition.
The power of Virgo symbolizes the perfection that precedes the moment of creation, and there is no other time in the year when we can connect so powerfully to our own personal possibility. If we ask to be connected to our perfect self, we can consciously disconnect from our imperfections. We can suspend our self-judgment, self-criticism, and insecurity and see the highest version of ourselves. By doing so, we access the power needed to become that person. Because the road to our highest self requires work—something all Virgos are ready to do.
Rav Ashlag said that out of 1,000 people who begin their spiritual journey, only one of them will complete it. The work of transformation isn’t easy or comfortable, nor does it happen neatly or on a timeline that works for us. It requires certainty, surrender, and a willingness to embrace change. These are tall orders, which is why connecting to our perfected self as we begin the practice of T’shuvah is necessary.
T’shuvah is a six-step process:
This begins with creating a list of everything we need to repair and amend from the previous year. These statements can begin with
“I wish I hadn’t said…”
“I regret choosing…”
“If I could go back and avoid…”
Your cosmic eraser requires you to dig deep.
If you are struggling to pinpoint where you can do better, reach out to a trusted friend. Ask someone whose opinion and perspective you value, and who truly loves you. Ask them, “where do you think I can grow?” Listen fully and without defensiveness.
2. Practice Empathy
Put yourself in the shoes of the person you hurt or slighted. Try to understand how your actions affected them. Don’t justify or defend yourself. Try to feel how your behavior made them feel. Seeing the situation through their eyes, ask what you would want to hear if you were them.
3. Be Compassionate
As you put your atonement into action, whether it be through apologizing, writing a letter, or sitting down to have a conversation, let your objective be only compassion. This isn’t about clearing your name or asserting your side. It isn’t about getting someone else to understand you or tell you it’s okay. It’s about you holding yourself accountable.
4. Connect to Your Perfected Self
Now that you have expressed yourself and are clear on what you need to change, it is time to implement the feedback. This is where our perfected self goes to work. Accepting fault, hearing criticism, and taking responsibility are difficult actions, but when we align with our highest self, we understand them to be necessary on the journey to fulfillment. Feedback is a blessing, and the changes you make are gifts that you give to yourself and the world.
Forgiveness is powerful. If we employed it every day, our lives would be drastically different. But it, too, is a challenge, because to do so, our ego needs to relax, and our heart needs to open. Furthermore, we are only able to forgive others to the degree that we can forgive ourselves. Can you forgive yourself for the mistakes you made? Can you offer yourself empathy and compassion? It’s amazing how when you are gentle with yourself, it is so much easier to offer forgiveness to those who hurt you.
6. Release It
Once you have gone through the entire process, it’s time to let it go. Release the negativity, the pain, and anything else that doesn’t serve you. You’ll know you are ready when you can look back on your list of errors and know—in your bones—you would never do those things again. From here, you are ready to step into a brand new year.
The true gift of T’shuvah is understanding that while everyone holds both positive and negative qualities, our job is to consistently choose to see the good in ourselves and others. Not just during this month, but every single day.
Today, be conscious of your thoughts about others. Focus on the strengths and gifts of friends and acquaintances, rather than their flaws. Lifting up others is not only the kind and loving thing to do, it will lighten your own load.