We are living through some pretty disrupted times. Whether it is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, politics, racial tensions, the economy or other, our country is quite divided. Friendships have been stressed or severed, work relationships have deteriorated, and partnerships have been severely strained because of prejudice, bigotry, perceptions, opinions, offenses, and the like. It’s everywhere – you see it in neighborhoods, you hear it in the grocery stores, you read it online, and you observe it in the hallways at work.
I see, I listen and I wonder:
- Why are we so committed to being right?
- Why are we so committed to being better or winning?
- Why are we so committed to putting others in their place?
- Why are we so committed to placing blame?
- Why are we so committed to hurting people?
I just don’t get it. Please don’t take this to mean I am perfect; I am far from it! I find myself committed to winning, placing blame, etc. just as much as the next person.
But I should be better. I am a mother, I am a friend, I am a business owner, and I am a leader.
- I should strive to identify what is fair and just.
- I should seek collaboration and compromise and work towards solutions that benefit us all.
- I should look beyond stereotypes and assumptions to see the merit, the mind and the heart of the individual.
- I should accept and encourage responsibility for professionalism and respect.
- I should protect people – in any and all ways in which they are vulnerable.
- I should model kindness and acceptance.
I know I should, but it’s difficult. These past few years, I have read books and countless articles and blogs. I’ve had both quick and endless discussions with friends and foe. I’ve observed my colleagues and learned from my kids. And I’ve looked within.
While I know there are other solutions, below are some of the strategies I have employed to help me become a positive force in my community.
- I am trying to surround myself with people who encourage positivity and push me to be a better version of myself.
- I try to avoid those who benefit or feed my negativity, anger or feelings of hopelessness.
- I am taking time to identify things to be grateful for, no matter how small. (Big shout out to Alexsys Thompson who has continually encouraged me to do this over the years.)
- I am beginning to limit negative media and stick to news, not opinions. (This isn’t to suggest I am no longer interested in world events…it simply means I am disciplining myself to turn it off once I am informed.)
- I am limiting negative entertainment. (What used to be simply entertainment has become a constant input of sadness, despair, fear, etc. so I have intentionally switched genres for now.)
- I try something new each day, whether it be a food or an activity. (I have learned this forces me to see beyond my limited perspectives.)
- I am mindful of my tendency to hurt with words. When it is the right thing to do, I bite my tongue, I delete or discard the post, or I simply walk away. (I am practicing a strategy my friend, Kalani Parnell once shared with me: “if you don’t add value to the conversation, keep quiet.”)
I’d be a fool if I claimed this was easy. It’s not, and I don’t expect that tomorrow, I will be a terrific person. However, tomorrow I will be an improved person, and the next day, I’ll be even better.
Care to join me? What are some ways in which you can encourage or sustain your positive self?