By Marianne Clyde
What do we do when it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket?
We change our focus. Not by putting our head in the sand, but strengthening our own internal locus of control. So that rather than become part of the problem, we become the solution.
The world is groaning for strong capable leaders. Leaders who are strong and compassionate, grounded and wise. Leaders who know better that to jump into the firestorm with everyone else just because “everyone else is doing it.” Leaders that are equipped with skills to enable them to pull others out of the firestorm and lead them in a more productive direction. We can’t do that if we are reacting to anger with anger, hate with hate, accusation with accusation. We must be able to display a strength that can’t be rooted up when the winds of circumstances whip up all around us. We become the safe place in the storm.
How can we do this? There are 10 simple to understand and easy to implement principles, that, if practiced on a regular basis, will strengthen your sense of self and sharpen the wisdom that already dwells within you. You will be able to respond instead of react, and be the voice of reason when chaos begins to ensue.
We cannot change all external stressors. They will continue to come. People will continue to have opinions, strong opinions, and continue to be unreasonable. Illness and strife will happen around you. But that doesn’t mean you have to be knocked off balance by any of that. You can be the leader you know you are called to be. How?
- Connect with your creator on a regular basis, through meditation, prayer, and awareness of your connection to all that is. If you can’t do 20 or 30 minutes twice a day, start with 10 minutes. If you can’t do that, do 2 minutes in the shower or at a stoplight. But start quieting your spirit and learning to listen to the wisdom within you. It’s there, but it doesn’t shout; it whispers.
- Know your true identity. By connecting to the wisdom within, you begin to see that you are one with your creator. All that love and joy and peace, all that kindness and creativity and abundance, that’s who you are. That’s your true nature, and when you are happiest.
- Nurture awareness. You begin to become aware that while you may experience negative emotions, that is not who you are. You will begin to realize that when you dwell on anger, hatred, fear, you stir up stress within your body that creates physical health issues as well and mental health problems. You learn to discern where someone else’s anger starts and yours ends.
- Just breathe. When you are stressed or experiencing strong negative emotions, just stop for a moment and take a deep breath. When you are angry or fearful or hateful, your heart beats fast and your breathing gets shallow, and the oxygen is not able to circulate properly in your body. Your IQ even actually goes down, not a great way to make good decisions.
- Respect. When you begin to respect yourself fully, you will be better equipped to respect others, treating them as individuals, seeing them for whom they are, not just labeling them according to race and gender, nationality, or sexual preference.
- Practice gratitude on a regular basis. When you are tempted to slide down the slippery slope of anger, blame, reactiveness, stop for a second and think of 3 things to be grateful for in the situation. Think of things to be thankful for you as you wake in the morning and go to sleep at night. It will help you sleep better because you are programming your mind and body for peace and joy.
- Limit judgments. Judgmental people are negative. Criticism and judgment comes from a false sense of superiority and creates an unhealthy stress response in the body.
- Detach from unnecessary drama. Stop reacting to anger with anger and to hate with hate. Take a deep breath and detach. It will give you a minute to develop a thoughtful response that leads to better productivity.
- Communicate effectively. Make no assumptions about what others know or should know. Tell people what you need. Share calmly how their actions made you feel. Ask for what you need. It just saves time, aggravation, and misunderstanding.
- Forgive quickly. Don’t hold onto grudges, even if what they did was wrong. Forgiveness doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse bad behavior. It just allows you to release the burden of hate and revenge.
These simple principles take focus and persistence, yet they can change your life and your view of the world. The world needs you to be the leader you are called to be. You’ve got this!
Marianne Clyde, LMFT, best selling author of Zentivity™: How to Eliminate Chaos Stress and Discontent in Your Workplace and founder of the award winning Marianne Clyde Center for Holistic Psychotherapy and Be the Change Foundation.