Creating the Future: our daily alignment
‘Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can't control that inner tranquillity and outer effectiveness become possible.’ Epictetus
In this betwixt and between place we are in, many are experiencing a tectonic-plates-moving jitteriness in the face of the unknown. Even the most agile change agent, familiar with navigating through transformational change and its disruptive uncertainty, will be feeling challenged in some aspect of their life right now, probably the area they feel they have least control over. This might be unnerving for those of us who believe we can influence and create our own destiny but what pushes us through any fear is a deeper level understanding that this is for real: not an abstract desire for personal growth but an urgent necessity to adapt fast and learn new mindsets and behaviours that will serve us going into the future. And the excitement of exponential learning is superseding fear and resistance to the unknown as we daily learn to surf this extraordinary wave.
As Victor Frankl beautifully wrote: ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In the space is our power to choose. In our response lies our growth and freedom.’ This is what we can control: how we choose to respond in that space between, how we re-stabilise fast in any given situation and how to respond with a positive and focussed energy to whatever needs to be done.
So, what helps us re-stabilise?
1. A conscious will and discipline to stay positive and see clearly: we are daily bombarded by doom and gloom scenarios and it is very easy to plummet and only see and expect the worst. Of course, there will be aspects of truth amidst the commotion, but the media survives on selling stories and bad news sells! It’s much tougher to research clear, helicopter-vision facts separated from the varying political, commercial and personal agendas. We can be discerning about what we hear and read, including stories of hope, and keep connected to the bigger picture.
2. Be mindful of negative people around us: they find it perversely comforting to wallow and complain how awful everything is. Like attracts like: if we expect the worst, then we are much more likely to bring that in. Imagine going for a job we really want: if we expect not to get it then we behave accordingly. Our mindset, energy, body language, communication and actions will set up a self-defeating cycle and our internal ‘critical parent’ kicks in telling us we are useless and what else did we expect to happen when we unsurprisingly don’t get the job? This repeated experience creates the ‘victim loop’, having a huge negative impact on our inner confidence and self-worth. Conversely, if we consciously make a psychological gearshift into a positive mindset and energy, then we are giving ourselves the best chance and we are in control to respond and influence accordingly.
3. Work out how we self-sabotage: i.e. being cynical or doubting, freezing in fear, being distracted by the ‘noise’, being very disorganised or not believing in ourselves. Understanding the ‘games’ we play to sabotage ourselves and keep us in the victim mindset, defuses their power and gives us a sense of control moving forwards.
4. Taking personal responsibility: there is currently a battle between individual entitlement and the power of the establishment, the rights of the individual versus the collective. At its extreme, it is the polarity between unthinking obedience to authority and wilful, ignorant individualism. How about a third way going forwards: taking personal responsibility for our own needs combined with an awareness and respect for the needs of others, thus integrating freedom and responsibility?
5. Expressing and owning our feelings: a core part of our personal responsibility and feeling in control is to understand our feelings and also share them with others: family, friends, counsellors/psychotherapists. Writing in a private journal will also help us connect and make sense of our feelings.
6. Create beauty and harmony: when the world around us is in chaotic turmoil, we need to consciously create beauty and harmony in the environment we can control to find a corresponding inner peace and well-being. We can devise daily rituals to help us: connecting happily with loved ones, meditation with deep breathing exercises, walking and connecting to the beauty of Nature, strengthening exercise, healthy nutrition, restful sleep etc.
7. My Daily Alignment: in early lockdown when I was feeling much was out of my control, I created a ritual, ‘Daily Wins’. Every evening I would write down and capture wins, any wins, however big or small, of that day: an impromptu grin from a young boy on a skateboard; warm sunshine on my face; a great session with a client: a group video with loved ones, full of giggles and also sadness that we could not be together. This sustained me but as the lockdown continued, I evolved this into a new ritual, ‘My Daily Alignment’. Every morning I write the date and I ask my Future Self (my Authentic Self), to keep connecting me to a higher frequency and positivity. I think about the day ahead and ask for the best outcome, being specific in the details. As I write I begin to let go of all that is wrong in my life, everything I feel anxious or hurt about, and I consistently experience an energetic shift. It starts viscerally: my heart opens and I feel a warmth and peace flowing through me, creating a conscious ‘psychological gearshift’. And in the evening, at the end of the day, I write down all the good I have received and give thanks.
Next week it would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. What a legacy he created! At the start of this Harvest season in the Northern Hemisphere here is my favourite Beatles’ line: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make"
Hannah Elizabeth Greenwood