There’s a lot of unrest and uncertainty right now. You don’t need to read these words to feel it. I’m an empathetic person, and since the start of this pandemic, and now the waves of the anti-racism movement, I’ve had major moments of feeling overwhelmed. It all just seems so apparent that this collective pain is a significant signal that change is needed. And it’s needed now.
The systems that we created long ago are no longer serving us. Most of them weren’t serving us well, to begin with. And we’re reaching a tipping point. In essence, these changes: from the environment to the anti-racism movement, are way overdue. They are incredibly needed. It is time to dismantle what once was to make way for a shared reality that respects all differences and honours and protects all living things equally. And for this shared opportunity to be better, despite the growing pains, I am eternally grateful.
But the truth is that many of us are feeling reactive to the pace and magnitude at which the unrest is erupting. We know we need to do better. We want to do better. We want to change, in theory. But we feel so burdened by our anxieties and fears, that adding another “thing” to the list that we need to fix makes us feel worse. We feel so out of control. And so we hide some more. We bury ourselves even deeper in our vices and distractions and the people around us who validate our fearful thoughts to maintain the status quo, maintain control. Yet, the irony is that by clinging so desperately to our need to quell the fears and remain in power, we allow our pain to control us.
In his book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael Singer talks beautifully about how to grow; you must first let go of the struggle to remain the same. You have to learn to accept change constantly. It feels counterintuitive because when we get hurt or scared, our initial reaction is to fight, or shield ourselves and turn away. But the only true path to growth in this lifetime is to embrace every pain and problem wholeheartedly as vehicles for which to grow.
So how do we participate in the external change that is needed on so many fundamental levels when we are feeling so much unrest inside?
1. The truth is that long-lasting, effective change always begins and ends with ourselves.
There has never been a more critical time in history to participate in your inner work and healing fully. There is no shortage of resources and support to help with this. Everyone’s journey back to their authentic self is different, so find what resonates with you. But start by acknowledging your pain. Allow it for as long as you need to. From there, you can begin to reflect, question and change. Our outward attempts to create a balanced, loving world will forever be in vain without this crucial step towards inner peace.
2. Although our inner work can last a lifetime, be willing to step into the ring and participate imperfectly anyways.
It’s easy to stand on the sidelines under the guise of not knowing enough or not feeling ready. But the secret is that you’ll probably never feel ready. The irony is that it’s only in the act of participating that you develop the skills that make you more competent. Know that the principles of a Growth Mindset are true. You may not know as much as you wish you did, yet. There is always time, as long as you are willing to open your heart and mind to the possibility.
3. Start small.
You don’t have to solve the world’s problems today. Or tomorrow. You are a drop in the bucket. But together, we are the ocean. So give yourself some grace, breathe deeply and start with one thing. Download one podcast that helps educate you on anti-racism or black history. Make one small donation to help with environmental efforts. If we all participated consistently in one tiny, conscious act in the name of shifting to a high vibration of love, it would result in a tidal wave of change.
4. Don’t throw the towel in if you lose track of where you’re going.
Some days are harder than others. We are all navigating a lot. Pause when it feels like too much. Give yourself the space to feel what you need to feel. But rather than give up completely if you lose your path temporarily, make a conscious choice to start back where you left off. Failure is just feedback. It only becomes something permanent if we stop trying. So don’t give up. Forgive yourself. And then keep going, one step at a time.
If there is one thing that emerges from all of this unrest and pressure we collectively face, let it be our re-connection to our authentic selves. Let everything that is happening be a chance for us to become more loving, more aware and more humble. Let us stop running. Let us stand up and meet these challenges with courage, softness and grace. Let us acknowledge the pain in ourselves that has caused the pain of so many others for centuries.
Every day is a new opportunity to unravel who you once were and unlearn what you once knew. To step forth and take hopeful, mindful action from the core of who you really are. From this place, anything is possible.