If you go to a website with 1 million options, what will you do? Probably nothing.
I feel that way about the world sometimes right now. Like I want to do ALL the things to help. Then I get overwhelmed and paralysis sets in. And I end up doing not much of anything.
The state of the world right now can feel like a lot. Often times I’m not sure what to do except try to control what I can control: Keep my kids happy, smile through my mask at a neighbor, put good food on the table, work on my thoughts and energy.
But what happens when it's clear that's not enough? What happens when one too many days pass when I do nothing for the greater good?
I see this so often with my students that want to start a business. It’s the same mental gymnastics that end with inaction. So, if you can relate, if you feel that there isn’t much you can do in this world right now, read on. If you feel like your actions are insignificant compared to the gravity of what is going on, I have some thoughts. Or if you simply just don’t know where to start, we can do this together.
First, I want make an overarching statement: BELIEF directs ACTION.
You have to start with your thoughts and beliefs. If you aren't firm in your beliefs before you take action, you run the risk of doing an action for the wrong reasons. So that's where we have to start: With our thoughts.
As human beings, when we feel stress, we often go outside ourselves. It’s our brain's effort to keep us safe. We want to make sense of it all. So, we consume, we connect with others, we seek out information. We do everything in our power to analyze the threat. We look for answers that may not ever be found.
And that can be useful... to an extent. But by doing that we can also miss the enormous opportunity to go inwards; to dig deeper into our thoughts, our beliefs, and ourselves.
Only looking outside yourself for answers won't lead to lasting change. Doing anything because you're trying to look like a "good ally" is doing it for the wrong reasons.
I remind myself that scrolling social media and reading the news is easy. Reposting a meme takes 2 seconds. Being outraged is easy. Any fool can do that.
The internal work is the thing most people won’t do. It’s much harder to put your phone down and turn the mirror on yourself.
Cultivate love in your heart. Clean out the mental clutter. Look your weaknesses in the eye. Meditate. Pray. Journal. Workout. Do the work. Build up resilience. Critically analyze your thoughts and actions so you can give more to others in your community...
Recognize the ways you’ve failed. Appreciate the ways you've been brave.
Simply being the best version of ourselves is the best thing for the world, but it takes intentional work. I am not the first to say this; far braver people have urged us to do the same. For example:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Gandhi
So, I’m starting there; I'm starting with me.
This is what I’m journaling on: What do I want to see more of in the world? What thoughts/actions can get me MORE of that thing?
Don't get me wrong, change won't come from meditating. Actions are critical. But I believe when you do the internal work, your external reality shifts in line with the change you want to see. In that way, our stress, anxiety, worry, overwhelm or ______ gets channeled into something we truly believe in.
And once you are firm in your mindset, it's time to take ACTION.
I'll start by sharing a bit of advice I got from an activist friend of mine made such a big impact on me.
She said: "Find the ONE THING that cuts you deep."
If you are passionate about BLM, do something there. If food insecurity gets your blood boiling, donate food. If climate change has you angry, do something there. If you want to focus on get out the vote, do that.
So, I pose the question to you:
Pick one thing you care about and take one step forward. Oh, and continue to work on your mindset throughout the process.
Here’s my mantra: The small steps I can take today add up to a whole lot of change tomorrow.
I care about ALL the things right now, but zeroing in on just ONE has helped me move towards action.
Taking action on the ONE THING that cuts me deep reminds me that I am the kind of person that takes action, even if its small, to make the world a better place for my kids.
For me the thing that cuts me deep is: Kids not having enough food to eat.
The following is what I did this week. I’m not telling you this for praise; I’m telling you this because I am a flawed person that is trying to do better. And I know that sometimes, even as a mindset coach, my mindset gets in the way of doing good in the world. And if it does for you too, I want you to know you aren’t alone. Here are 3 things anyone can do even with limited time or money:
I filled up my kids wagon with food to deliver to the local elementary school food pantry. We loaded up dried goods and kids toys and baby wipes and restocked their bins. (Google: where to donate food near me for a list). Keep in mind now, there are a lot of pop up places too. Facebook is a great place to find people, you may even be able to ask if anyone needs groceries directly.
I made dinner for a friend who has a lot on her plate right now. Don’t we all have someone like this in our life? She isn’t destitute, she would eat dinner with or without my help. But a homemade meal made by someone who cares about you nourishes more than just your body.
I texted a teacher friend who is doing online teaching with 2 kids of her own doing remote learning at home. This is hero status in my book. I wanted her to know I am thinking of her and the tremendous work she is doing.
You can care about ALL of it, but from a mental standpoint, you have to do the work in yourself first and then start with just ONE THING - the thing that cuts you deepest. This is the best way to focus your efforts and give you momentum.
What is your ONE THING? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to get inspired by you. And if you are fighting the good fight with your essential work or your volunteering - THANK YOU! Our country and world is better because of people like you.