Crisis as a Catalyst for Change
Many of us are still reeling from feelings of anger, fear and injustice at the recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer – and the ongoing unjust killing of people of color. This is a difficult time on many levels. It is also an opportunity to reflect, get grounded and take action to affect both inner (personal) and outer (societal) change
Here are a few ideas to support you wherever you are along this path:
Feel Your Feelings
Feeling anger, rage, fear, disappointment, sadness, despair? These are all natural and understandable reactions. Allow yourself to slow down and simply notice when an emotion starts to take form. Stop, name the feeling, and locate where you feel it in your body. What does it feel like? What’s the temperature? What’s the color or weight of that emotion? Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel – without judgement. Try to witness your emotion from an outside perspective and remind yourself that you are not your feelings. Notice as your emotions start to move through you like clouds travel through the sky.
Stand up, close your eyes and feel your feet firmly planted on the ground below you. Take long, slow deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth. Allow your exhale to travel all the way down from your head, through your face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, pelvis, thighs, knees, shins and feet. Each time you exhale, send that breathe all the way down into your feet. Visualize your body as a tree. With each exhale, push your breath all the way through your trunk, firmly into your feet and into the ground below you – burrowing roots underneath the ground. With each exhale, these roots become longer, thicker and more firmly rooted in the ground below you. Do this for as long as it takes to get out of your head and into your body. Slowly open your eyes and notice what feels different.
Find Ways to Serve
Helping others can help you feel better. There is a plethora of current available volunteer opportunities related to our social justice and health pandemic. Research organizations that support your values. Make a list of your natural born strengths and your learned professional skills and find tasks/roles that leverage these strengths and skills.
Make Your Voice Heard
Vote as if your life depends on it. It does. Attend rallies. Submit opinion pieces or letters to the editor to your local newspapers. Send emails/make phone calls to your local Mayor, Governor, Senator, Assembly Members AND their staff. Post your requests on social media and tag your local/state elected officials.
Donate to Social Justice Organizations
Find organizations that align with your values and make a monetary contribution – or several. Even small donations can make a big difference and will help you to feel empowered.
Learn How to Have the Hard Conversations – And Have Them
We aren’t born knowing how to have conversations about power, greed, injustice, discrimination and racism. It’s especially hard to talk about this with friends or family members. Educate yourself on how to communicate effectively. Read books and articles; sign-up for lessons, training, workshops and/or coaching. Learn and practice powerful non-defensive communication so you can make your point without coming across as defensive or putting others on the defense. Learn how to set strong boundaries so you can ask to be heard; push-back without feeling guilty; and buffer yourself from what other people say, do or how they react.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Take Bold Action
Crisis is a catalyst for change. This is an invitation for us to wake up, examine our lives and figure out what is most important to us and what we truly want– based on our values and priorities. Are there small or big changes in your life, relationships or career that are begging to be examined? This is an opportunity to push past our comfort zones, redefine our vision and take intentional, bold action.
In summary, powerful emotions, including anger, fear and injustice, can be harnessed into positive energy that generates hope; feeds our dreams; sparks optimism; and accesses our courage to make important changes.