As any of you who’ve been around on Facebook, Instagram or right here know...
I’ve spent the past week leading a “What If It Went Right?” challenge.
I had a few goals for doing this challenge (as is usually the case!)
I wanted to offer something encouraging to people (especially sensitive-soul, social-justice-oriented educators) who are working hard and feeling a bit beaten down by daily life – and the nightly news.
I wanted to invite more people to connect with me, so I can be helpful to more folx.
I wanted to challenge myself to be brave and show up on video more – for the above two reasons.
And I wanted to do the experiment myself - to see if it helped my mood and my energy.
Re. #4 this week I want to share a little about what I experienced.
A couple of things I learned from asking “What if it went right?” and imagining how some event or interaction I was anticipating could go well (rather than worrying about it or dreading it because I’m thinking about what could go wrong.)
Often, just imagining something going right had an immediate positive impact on my emotions. I felt a smile creeping out of the sides of my mouth and little more lightness in my chest.
Other times imagining how something could go right gave me an idea of an action I could take that would make that outcome more likely – then I took it! It didn’t even have to be a big worry or a big action – like I was a little nervous about an extended family dinner and as I imagined it going well I remembered that I wanted to have gifts for my niece and nephews, so I got them and then felt excited about them. And then got to share them which was fun!
Sometimes, imagining what could go right made me want to wear clothes that went along with that positive possibility...and doing so boosted my mood even more. (I think sometimes this can work the opposite way as well – dress happy, feel happy.)
A couple things I learned from looking for “What went right?” this week.
It’s very helpful when your plane makes an unexpected extra stop in Chicago – helps shift focus away from the stress, so at least it doesn’t keep growing bigger!
With a slight shift to, “What did I do right?” it’s a lovely way to challenge self-judgement.
I am very resistant to stating what went right when I want to tell ONLY a whiny/bitchy story about all that has gone wrong.
However, it is possible to talk about what went right even when lots didn’t (and without ignoring or negating actual grief/anger/irritation) – and I like the way doing so sucks a little life out of what one of my clients calls “THE DOOM STATE.”
No, this wasn’t a practice that radically changed my life – but that’s not the way most lasting changes works. It was a practice that helped loosen the grip of my naturally anxious, pessimistic, negative brain patterns just a bit at times. It provided alternatives.
Change usually comes one tiny little step at a time. One tiny little practice combined with another.
So, I’ve got one more “tool” in my do-life-beautifully-while-doing-big-hard-heavy-important-work toolbox. And you do too! I’d love to hear about it if you tried it – even if you got stuck or didn’t find it helpful at all.
And I’ve also gotten a TINY bit better at showing up on Instagram and Facebook. So, if you’re not following me there, please do! I plan to keep having more fun and offering more support there in the coming weeks. So do connect with me there too!
For now, I’m off to take in 48 hours of vacation to two of my favorite places in the world – Taughannock Falls and Seneca Lake, where I shall continue reading FICTION (Liz Gilberts, City of Girls.)
Then I’m heading to see friends in Philly for a hot minute.
Then to the Strong Voice, Compassionate Heart retreat with Amanda Kemp.
I wish you all an amazing week with lots joy and the courage and strength to keep working for justice.
p.s. Want to ask another great question (especially in the midst of all the suffering we see going on around us)? Civil Rights activist Ruby Sales suggests asking, Where does it hurt? as a means of connecting your inner life with outer action, which is really what thriving for equity is all about at it's core. The both/and. You can hear more https://onbeing.org/programs/the-inner-life-of-social-change-ruby-sales/