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Did someone say Social Change?

"It’s not enough because we are all still looking to change things outside of ourselves first."

There is a lot of rumbling for it, isn’t there? Why wouldn’t there be?

I mean, we are amid a pandemic like none of us have experienced before, lives on hold, filled with anxiety-inducing uncertainty. And, wouldn’t you know it, the ugly side of humanity has made itself prevalent again with, yet another senseless death followed by more protests, rioting, looting, and devastating destruction of property.

Is anyone surprised by society’s actions right now? Or, if we are being honest, could we say that it really was to be expected? It’s unfortunate to me that my answer is the latter. We are still, and please don’t take this to an extreme, a finger-pointing culture. Now, there are plenty of groups and organizations with the right intentions, but it’s not enough because we are all still looking to change things outside of ourselves first!

Yes, we have systems, policies, and procedures that are broken. That is obvious because they fail the people they are meant for every single day. Bear with me here, but I see that we go about things backwards, after the fact, or expect change to happen from the top down.

One example, that is unrelated to this conversation but relevant, is chemical addiction. We have a great protocol to stabilize people after the fact. There is even some (not enough) focus on relapse prevention. But how about prevention all together? I say if we taught our children impulse control, distress tolerance, self-soothing, conflict resolution, emotion regulation, and what true life balance looks like we would have emotionally intelligent young adults entering into college and emerging into the grown-up world. That would be social change! It wouldn’t end addiction, but it would reduce the prevalence, guaranteed! And not just chemical addiction, process, and behavioral addictions too!

Getting back to the tragedies of today, if we are pointing our fingers outward, toward things we cannot control (or change), in the direction of others to take action (and create change) we are starting in the wrong position (so to speak). We must start at home, with ourselves.

When I find myself in a period of personal contemplation, I find the best results arise through the process of internal inquiry. Asking myself if I have the right motivation generally gets’ the ball rolling. But you may also want to consider exploring whether your life improvement goal is for real or for show. I have met many people who are seeking change for someone else’s benefit or due to someone else’s prompting. This generally doesn’t have the best outcome. And for anyone who faces periods of feeling stuck, stagnant, or unsatisfied try some personal observation. Asking yourself if you are still doing the same things and waiting for a change to miraculously happen is a great start because if you are waiting for life improvement to happen through osmosis you need to be prepared for disappointment.

Listen, there are a lot of aspects that go into generating social change and it starts with individual values, our ability (and commitment) to be self-aware, to think, feel, behave with consistency, genuineness, authenticity, and honesty. Then we can move toward finding a common purpose through collaboration, and the development of effective group values which is where we can insight improvement to societal and community value systems.

Something else we all want to keep in mind is where our ability to contribute effectively exists. Know where your strengths are. It’s a fact that not everyone is skilled in community organization, economic development, social entrepreneurship, community-based research, or philanthropy. But everyone can engage in socially responsible behavior, vote, offer aid, be an advocate, and participate in protests and demonstrations (although those who can’t resist violence, theft, or destruction of property may want to find a more fitting setting).

I believe social change to be a purposeful process of initiating and employing ideas, tactics, and measures to stimulate the value, esteem, and life improvement for all people, across all community types, throughout professional organizations, and within the varying institutions, without prejudice. It has been studied at great length and is noted for requiring time, effort, and dedication.

Tricia Parido

But what I would prompt you to notice in this article, is that everything that has been suggested starts with the self. This is where we all need to begin because this is where we have the most control. I work with people every day to truly understanding themselves. And I am here to tell you that most people have very strong feelings about what is right and wrong but more often than not they cannot articulate why they feel the way they do when prompted to look at it in relation to their values, morals, ethics, and belief systems.

I’m not implying that there isn’t any social injustice, that “privilege” isn’t a real issue. I just know firsthand, as someone who shifted from a reactive finger pointer to someone that approaches life in the stance of a learner, that being one who judges does not serve a higher purpose. I am someone that works diligently to remain in an internal locus of control. I insight change through the power of inquiry, study, understanding, acceptance, and leading by a good example. I use the art of pause to formulate responses reflective of how I want to see myself and be seen by others, which has taken the place of knee jerk reactivity. Life pressures do not affect me as they once did because I worked tirelessly to move away from absolutes, should statements, and future tripping premonitions.

I could talk for hours about how I transformed my life. But I think the most important thing to bring to the table right now is how I identified where I could make a difference working my way outward from within myself. I recognized that I had strength in my individual values and pride in citizenship.I am skillful incollaboration, finding a common purpose, advocacy, social entrepreneurship, and community-building. So that is where I started and is where I keep my focus in the undying effort to continue instigating change, even if it’s one person at a time.

The journey for me has been filled with deep personal reflection and has produced nothing but amazing reward because I allowed myself to transcend to new heights where the gift is always the act of doing positive action.

If I leave you with anything here today, I hope that it is with the inspiration to start your change from within, to seek the guidance and support that will speak directly to you in a language you can understand and implement. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your clients become awe-inspired through the work you offer and do together. If you need direction, I am always available for consultation.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”

Mahatma Ghandi

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