It seems like the world is falling to pieces, and everyone is arguing over who’s right.
We’re all attached to social media, and there’s no way to completely avoid being bombarded by news articles, status updates and comments about suffering in the world.
Your big, caring heart may feel like a soppy, wet blanket of sorrow by bedtime.
First, I want to reassure you. Chaos and power struggles are not a new thing. We humans have always been stirring up trouble for ourselves. The world is not worse off than any other time in history, but it is time to stand up for justice, and stay dedicated to positive change.
Many of us, conscious creators and healers, stay away from the news outlets, but we still stay connected to current events in other venues.
We’re often left wondering, “Is there something more I could be doing to help?”
We’ve chosen meaningful work that tends to focus on alleviating suffering. This takes a massive amount of energy. It’s crucial we remember to care for ourselves too.
The guidelines below are meant to keep your batteries charged and lay the groundwork for positive changes.
1. Focus on what you can change. Changing the world is tall order. It’s also not your responsibility, not solely.
When we become more compassionate, adaptable, take on leadership roles and communicate with love, we change the world one person at a time.
By being a leader in your actions and words, you influence your personal communities.
2. You can’t change what you don’t first acknowledge. Be willing to explore your own areas of ignorance. We all have dark spots in our knowledge base that can be illuminated by new information.
Ignorance is merely a place in our consciousness we have yet to explore. Allow for this expansion. Be courageous enough to drop your defenses and open your mind.
3. Forgive yourself. When we harbor shame within, it often projects itself into other areas of our life. To be at our best, we need to forgive ourselves for our failures, for not being perfect.
What is so shameful about trying and failing? What is so shameful about feeling, needing help, being where we are right now? Making mistakes does not mean you’re a failure.
Shame can prevent us from accepting, and growing from, constructive criticism. Shame can keep us silent when our words are desperately needed. Shame can keep us isolated when sharing with someone could change lives.
4. Take care of yourself. What you put into your body is what you get out! Your physical vessel is a precious place to live. Give it nutrients, sleep, and physical exercise. It will respond accordingly. The ability to process your environment and emotions depends upon your physical well-being.
You come first. Dealing with community issues can only be done when your tank is full. The problems will still be there when you’re feeling charged up. Keep working on inner peace to stay strong and wise in time of turmoil.
5. Keep your cool. Emotions don’t have to control us. Observe them, honor them, and let them pass. Emotions don’t dictate reality, they are messengers from your inner world.
To be your best, even when surrounded by turmoil, cultivate a strong sense of inner peace. Maintain a daily meditation practice. Use mindfulness practices to choose how to respond thoughtfully.
6. Understand there is no right or wrong with emotions. In certain situations, others will have more emotion invested than you do. They may be unable to separate themselves from the emotional aspects of a topic because of what it means in their lives.
You may not understand how they feel. You may think their emotions are unwarranted. Understand this, and recognize that you too have areas like these, and no one is wrong in how they feel. This doesn’t mean you have to engage with someone who is wrapped up in emotion, just give them space to feel without judgment. Give yourself that space too.
7. Replace judgments with compassion. If you are hard on yourself, afraid you’ll never be good enough, you’ll see your fears reflected in the words of others. We see what we feel inside projected all around us. Our projections can keep us from hearing objectively.
Everyone experiences this from both sides. I’m sure you’ve had a conversation where you felt the other person wasn’t understanding you, no matter how clear you were. They may have only been hearing their own fears echoing in their mind.
Being non-judgmental is a daily practice. Dropping judgments will enable you to see where others are coming from more clearly. You’ll spend more time deeply listening, and less time judging every statement. Support people with compassion and empathy.
8. Learn to listen. What the world needs now is compassionate, empathetic people with listening skills. Often, being heard is exactly what people need most and have the hardest time finding.
It’s often taken for granted that we know what listening really means. There are multiple levels of listening. It’s a science. Here’s a great resource online for learning listening skills.
9. We are not our beliefs or opinions. We are all humans, experiencing life and processing it through our filters. We have very similar emotions, but are triggered by different things. We apply unique meaning to things, because of our experiences and identities.
Someone may have a belief you don’t respect, but that individual still deserves respect. If they are being aggressive or inflammatory, disrespecting the boundaries of another person, always take care of yourself first. Set boundaries and remove yourself if need be. You don’t have to explain, or reason with, anyone if you don’t choose.
10. See shades of gray. This world is not all black and white. There are many possibilities, yet we are conditioned to think in polarities and binaries. If we look at life on a spectrum, or in cycles, we can see a full range of possibilities.
Whenever you find yourself in opposition of something, reacting strongly one way or another, think about what other possibilities there might be. Be open to, and seek out, new knowledge from other perspectives. Liberate yourself from limitations.
11. Ask why. Why do we associate certain beliefs with people, places, things? Where did we first learn that association? Does it serve our higher purpose? Does it hold us back? Are we contributing to the problem? Are we being manipulated by an outside force for their benefit?
When we ask why, we reveal more about the ideas that have been suggested to our consciousness. Question “reality” and the authority of messages and beliefs. Create the world you live in with intention. We don’t have to think like everyone else, especially when popular beliefs are unhealthy and manipulative.
12. Raise others up. You can’t go wrong with being loving. Support people who are struggling by pointing out what they’re doing well. When you see someone shining, share it with others. Let people know you see them, hear them. Grow their confidence, and your own, by emanating love and encouragement.
13. Get up, stand up. Speaking up about injustice is hard. It takes courage, confidence, empathy and requires you do your research on history and healthy communication. You’re also fighting against the powerful propaganda machine. It’s like being the one person in the cult who says, “Hey, guys – this doesn’t feel right.”
Know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to know everything there is to know. Makes mistakes, learn as you go, but take that leap and put yourself out there.
*Be aware of the venues you choose. Not every place, nor every group of people, is a safe space. As always, use your critical thinking skills, follow your instincts, and stay safe!
14. Stay off the web. A big part of self-care is knowing when to take a break. If you’re feeling stuck, or consistently overwhelmed, take a break from the web. In fact, take a week off every month as a regular practice.
Detach from the electronic world as much as is convenient and possible in your life. The results are amazing! I created a challenge just for this purpose, the 7-Day Media Detox Revolution. Sign up here, and Day 1 will be sent to your inbox September 1st.
While there are activists that devote every moment of the day to fighting injustice, ordinary people can make a huge impact. Work within online communities, family and friends, coworkers, anywhere you congregate with others.
We don’t have to tackle every issue in the world at once, and certainly not at the expense of our own mental health or life goals. Build strength in grass roots action, and lessen the power at the top. Create systems that make people more dependent on one another and not big business or government.
Changing the world looks a lot like being a better friend. Your BFF just happens to be all of society. No pressure. No birthday gifts necessary. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not easy, but we’re not going to let that stop us.