Listening to the doom, waning hope, and frustrations about the upcoming election #election2016, I boomerang back to one thing each time. Responsibility. I’m not talking about the “get your ass in gear” or “cowboy up” (is that really a thing?) kind of responsibility. I’m speaking of influence.
Where do we and don’t we have influence? What choices do we make each day? When we feel stuck or trapped, movement is always the key. Even contemplating movement can contain the
whisperings of empowerment. Action is a essential.
Often in our hopeless, trapped state, we forget we have choices. We forget that although there are many things out of our hands, there are a slew of things we can do. We each make thousands of decisions each day. Some “yuuuuuge” and some small. Each one matters.
Let’s remember we have four years of choices between every presidential election for which we are responsible. Here are a few simple but artful ways to remind us of our influence and options:
- Host a fantastic dinner – Eat a real dinner in your home with people you love. Cook from scratch. Use cloth napkins. Savor the evening. Hear their deep thoughts. It matters none if the floor got swept or the front window washed. Love them well and the rest is invisible.
- Hear the words you say to yourself – How often in a day do you criticize yourself? Pay attention to it. Get curious. Why do you talk to yourself that way? For just one day, choose a different message to gently tell yourself. This is a life-changing choice every time.
- Give work everything you’ve got – Go to work and pretend it’s your first day again. Give it your best shot. Treat every task, project, client, or conversation with great care. It’s empowering to work with a renewed integrity.
- Tell someone you love them – Pick up the phone. Stop by unexpectedly. Find a creative way to tell someone you love them. Life is fleeting and fragile. Make it count. Words matter. Maybe tell someone you love them in the middle of not liking them much.
- Deep clean a small area – There’s nothing like a little cleaning to renew our souls. Try picking one very small area. A drawer. One shelf. The Deck. Empty it, scrub and shine. Pretending you’re moving into your home for the first time again.
- Say you’re sorry – When your behavior or words hurt another, tell them you’re sorry. Tell them that the relationship matters to you and you’ll take responsibility for your part. An apology can strengthen relationship like nothing else. It’s a beautiful thing.
- Try something new – You have permission to step outside of your routine. Ask your 12-year-old self what he or she would like to do today. Go do that! It creates a sense of having a life of choices ahead of you you’d forgotten about.
- Be still – Create quiet. It’s enough to make some of us nauseous. You’ll survive. I promise. Find a new park, a steam, or a field. Take a blanket, cop a squat and listen. Notice. Smile. Breathe. Seems like a Birkenstock and no bra kind of waste of time? Try it. Humor me.
- Make that doctor appointment you’ve been putting off – Your body will only play along for so long. Has something been nagging at you? A stiff knee? Upset stomach after dinner? Dark spot on your shoulder? Get it checked out. It’s one appointment. You matter.
- Tell the truth – At least to yourself. Often times we’ve gotten so good at playing games in relationships that we neglect the truth of our needs or desires. Tell the truth. Sounds scary? That’s why the elephant been hanging out in your living room all this time. Nothing on the planet is quite as empowering as telling the truth.
- Leave your phone at home – We’ll all be just fine. Centuries of people survived without Candy Crush or emoticons filled texts. A little phone sabbatical can help free you up to feel human again.
- Make one phone call that’s been weighing on you – There’s one phone call at the top of your to do list that’s been following you for months. I know it. It stares at you each morning; mocking you. Make the call. Do it today. Take a deep breath. Remember how old you are and that you aren’t 7 anymore. You got this! Then, mark that sucker off your list with gusto.
- Pray – If you’re the praying sort. Consider why you pray. Has it become an empty habit? Do you pray only out of fear? Become curious as to your reasons for praying. Or if you aren’t the praying sort, the opposite questions apply. Open up some space for spirituality in your life, whatever that looks like for you.
- Read a biography – Go to an actual bookstore. Buy a book with crisp, paper pages. Breath it all in, and then let yourself be taken away into the life of another. It’s validating and liberating to witness the choices of others.
- Let another take responsibility for their own feelings – Please refer to #10. We often don’t tell the truth for fear of what another might feel. You are not responsible for their feelings. You are only responsible for being honest with the deepest patience, kindness, and care. It can be a great form of love to let another be responsible for their own feelings. This is a powerful way to establish what we do and don’t have control over. It can take some practice, so be gentle with yourself.
- Pick two items a day to take to good will – Too much stuff. We all have it. In our heads and in our environments. It creates a sense of being cornered. For a month, pick two items a day and start to make a pile. Items small and large that you don’t need or don’t use and haul it off. Let’s clear out some new space in our surroundings.
- Show kindness anonymously – Be generous, supportive, loving, encouraging, and never let the other person know it was you. Give boldly without recognition. Or, just pay for the guy behind you in line at Starbucks. It all matters.
- Get support – Humans are great hiders. We create pockets of hurt and shame and go on as if the emotional infection doesn’t exist. If there are memories or areas of stuckedness (yes, it’s a word) that you wish would go away but continue to pop up, find a counselor. Emotional healing is one of the most important ways to gain influence and empowerment.
Please hear me, I’m not trying to Pollyanna this year’s presidential election choices. They stink. It’s impossible to have a real conversation or debate because all dignity is fleeting when we are trying to defend evil and stupid.
I’m also not trying to pretend that having friends for dinner solves the “yuuuuge” issues the nation faces. It can, however, remind us we are connected and what we do, think, and feel is essential.
We have one vote. That’s it. It’s the extent of our ultimate influence in this election. I’m fully responsible for mine, and you for yours. Aside from the moment you vote, there are 1439 additional minutes on November 8th, 2016 to make choices, be responsible, and bless others.
You are more powerful than you think.