Whether climate change, the world economy, our political landscape, or recent global health epidemics.... there are certainly multiple topics to "chat" about these days. While discussing these topics allows for conversation starters, connection and shared empathy across continents, it also can contribute to a global spread of anxiety and fear.
Many of us struggle daily with the balance of "acceptance vs. control". We either throw up our hands and say "It is what it is" vs. "I am going to give it my all to try and change my personal circumstance no matter what". Knowing when to choose which strategy takes experience, self - awareness and resilience. We need to walk the delicate line of being our best self vs. knowing when to relax and let things play out as they may. Knowing this line is not easy, and a source of many decision-making dilemmas and coaching conversations.
It seems that now more than ever, many of us are ready to throw in the towel; in particular on large topics that seem unsolvable, or challenges that seemingly even our world leaders are not able to effectively tackle. This feeling of powerlessness takes over. We give up. We check out. We stay home. We disconnect.
This feeling of powerlessness is the biggest deterrent for positive and sustainable change. Think about our new years resolutions, diets, or other areas where we felt the hill was too big to climb. As long as it seems achievable and we can see small steps of progress, our motivation continues. As soon as we feel our efforts are not producing results... the feeling of "powerless" creeps in.
However, this emotion can be overcome no matter what the situation. I have found that a few small things or tweaks in our behavior can make a huge difference in helping gain back that feeling of control. As a result, we start to create positive momentum, progress and hope.
Some strategies for overcoming a feeling of Powerlessness:
1. "Be" present
In times of stress, when our minds are in the future we tend to think about worst case scenarios. From this place, we are typically in survival mode with our limbic brains trigged, and therefore our ability to cope is significantly impacted. On the other hand, when our minds are in the past we are also putting judgement on how things were, and making projections from this place. The only state where we can actually create what we want (in particular how we feel) is from the present moment. By focusing our attention on our immediate surroundings and focusing on our breathing, we are able to calm our minds and take back our power.
2. "Be" calm
Who we are and who we are "being" has an impact. Our energy and what we bring to each and every interaction has impact. If you bring calmness, people will feel this. It is contagious. It is sometimes hard to not take on the energy of others, but if we are intentional about it, and stay focused on trying to serve others with our love, calmness, and light, we can change the narrative, and stop the spread of tension and anxiety. People will be grateful for your being. Think of the power and impact this can have on your surroundings.
3. "Be" grateful
I can not stress the importance of this one. I started a journal a few months ago, and the impact on my life has been dramatic. When you start to look for things to be grateful for beyond the obvious (a good cup of coffee, a friendly smile at the store, a bird sitting outside your window), you train your mind to focus on the small & positive. It generates a feeling of joy and appreciation. When you start activating these joy and appreciation neurochemicals, they start to become part of your being. Trust me, try it for 21 days and see the impact on your life.
4. Celebrate small wins
Sometimes we set the bar so high for ourselves, we forget the great progress we are making along the way. If you can't have immediate global impact on climate change, start in your town. If you can't influence an entire election, start to talk about your values with immediate friends and family. All of your efforts are making an impact. This impact can be carried on and multiplied. Look at the great things you are contributing and celebrate the small progress.
5. Practice self-compassion
If things are not turning out as planned, don't beat yourself up. The point is to keep trying and working at making positive progress, no matter what the end goal. The same can apply for the things in our life where we feel that we have no influence. Politics, health scares, climate change.... etc. If you can't solve the big things on your own, think of the small things that have an impact on others (imagine if everyone followed your lead!). Maybe making one small step in the right direction is all that is needed right now. After some time, the habits will take hold. Impact will be seen, but change doesn't happen overnight. Don't give up on your wonderful self!
We are at a time where we all need to come together to solve some big challenges. We all need to transmit positive energy and connect to co-create solutions. Let us not give up hope on what is possible. Let us not let powerlessness take over. We have the ability to create a future we want... it is up to each of us to take back our individual power.