In my previous post, I clarified my wish for you: that you begin 2022 having taken the opportunity to rest deeply and engage in some self-reflection.  By doing an inventory of the year and perhaps gleaning some lessons, you may be able to enter the new year renewed, revitalized and buoyed by hope. I also suggested 5 ways to overcome feelings of powerlessness and reclaim your own story of hope. Though you may not have the power (yet) to shift our current cultural climate, you can identify where you do have power.

Let’s start with #1: Your capacity to influence your own thoughts, words and actions: By embracing silence and calming your mind, you can start to hear your own story.  When you hear how you act and react with others you can begin to determine whether the choices you’re making are in alignment with your true self.

Who’s telling your story?

Ask yourself where your story originates. Where do the “facts” in your story come from and what makes you accept the narrative of the story as “truth”? Have you paused to reflect on what you believe, or are you swallowing old tales from family, government, place of worship, or teachers without examining? Also, can you hear how you talk to yourself, and the rhetoric that you use? What have you picked up from groups you hang out with, the news, online platforms, political messaging? When you take on these stories from external sources without first examining them, you may be adopting a narrative that is not your own.

Engaging in an inventory to identify your own truth can help you take back your own story. In fact, you may conclude that what you’ve recently learned should replace what you previously assumed. As you examine, set aside, or affirm the refreshed aspects of a narrative, you can find a more powerful truth and integrate new insights into your own unique story of hope.

Photo by Savvas Stavrinos from Pexels

Courageous self-reflection

It takes courage to examine your thoughts, words and actions. You may perceive yourself as a non-violent, compassionate, inclusive person, but do your deeds reflect this perception? You may not harm others, but are you carrying thoughts that perpetuate a culture of othering, opposition and pessimism? How often do your thoughts and words bring you down, sabotage your own efforts and reinforce a story of disempowerment?

Thoughts and words matter. By transforming a viewpoint, you can shift habits that inform the words you use and the actions you take. Consider these suggestions in the hopes that they will align your thoughts, words and actions with your highest aspirations:

  1. Clarify your core values – what do you value most? What connects you with your best self? What would you fight for, protect, or nurture? Maybe your highest core values include love, or family, or truth, or service, or accomplishment, or community. Choose your top 10 core values. This combination of what you value most is what makes you unique, helps you “live into” your heroic self and your personal story of hope.
  2. With presence and awareness, take note of your actions. If you are asked to do something, ask yourself, “is this in alignment with my values?” If the answer is yes, then go for it! If you have doubts, then I would recommend you choose not to do what you are being asked, or ask to modify the request in a way that allows you to move forward with integrity.
  3. Take note of your words. Before you speak, check to see whether what you say aligns with your values and also whether it will be beneficial or harmful, to you or others. Make decisions based on your assessment.
  4. Take note of your thoughts. How often do your thoughts stray from your core values and your story of hope? This takes practice, diligence, and, certainly, self-compassion to not judge yourself but simply observe, make choices, and then focus.

Stay tuned for the second Power Within: Your own cultivation of self-care and resilience

— Joe