Do What You Can Where You Are

women holding hands

In the last couple of weeks, I have had many clients coming in with the same question – what can I do to make change in racial issues in the world?

I usually start by talking about how looking at these issues on a world scale can be very overwhelming. There are so many facets that have an impact on these issues all over the world. To think about it in a global way only leads to feeling helpless and hopeless.

So what can you do? You can do what you can where you are. In your city or town, in your school or workplace, in your state or region. These are things that you can do to affect change.

But where do I get started? Many communities and other aspects of different states and countries have a variety of options for those who wish to be part of making change in their society.

There are organizations for discussion and planning. There are organizations for understanding and learning. There are organizations for legislation and government. There are organizations for political candidates. They are organizations for schools and colleges. There are organizations associated with the workplace.

You can reach out to national organizations about starting a branch in your community if there is something you would like to see offered.

If your community does not have a lot of these options, then you can find like-minded individuals around you and start some yourself. Every organization starts with a few people who are passionate about a cause and you can be that starter.

If we look at things in more manageable sizes they do not seem so overwhelming. When we are able to do things in smaller chunks we can find that we do not feel helpless or hopeless. We feel involved and productive.

If you go to a protest in your community or make a sign and stand on the sidewalk at your house or you wear a tee shirt when you are out running errands or you become involved in organizations in your community or you start an organization. These are the smaller chunks of things that you can do where you are. If you add each one together they become something bigger touching more people.

Change on a large scale starts with change on a small scale – a single person’s mind and heart spread to another and another. Can you change everyone’s mind? No, but you might change one persons or several people with words and/or action.

If you have been asking some of these questions – do what you can where you are.

Until next time,
Deborah

Mindful Communication

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One of the main causes of conflict in relationships is problems in communication. The ability to truly listen and speak to others and to truly be heard and understood. Along with the ability to be truly honest with ourselves and others. It is not being able to do these things that causes so much relationship conflict.

The first part of mindful communication is always listening. Most people think they are listening in conversations and/or “arguments” when many times they are just thinking about what they want to say or their next response while the other person is talking. To mindfully listen, we must actively listen to the other person so much so that we are then able to repeat back to them what they said BEFORE we have a response. We must be able to then pause and consider our response carefully taking into account exactly what they said not what we think we heard them say.

Avoid judging the other person when communicating. Many times during communication we make judgments against the other person and what they are saying based on our feelings or perceptions. This judgment then makes it very difficult for us to truly listen and then to understand the other person’s perception and feelings. By judging, our own feelings become foremost in our minds leading to an inability to think clearly.

Instead of immediately responding, we should also pause to validate their feelings and words. By simply saying first, I understand what you are saying, I heard what you have said, I heard you say and then repeat or summarize what they said. By doing this, the other person feels understood, which is what almost everyone is seeking in any communication.

Be completely focused on the conversation at hand. No looking at phones or worse yet using the phone. No watching TV or paying attention to other people who are around. No tuning out or daydreaming during the other person’s speaking. We must practice being fully present in conversations for the other person to feel respected and also to be able to fully listen and understand.

Conversations aren’t competitions. The goal shouldn’t be to win the discussion. It should be to be heard and understood and possibly come to a compromise of understanding or at the very least an understanding of the other person. We don’t have to win to successfully communicate.

Do no harm. In any conversation, words should not be hurtful. Carefully consider what you are saying and how you say it. Consider tone carefully. Try to avoid putting the other person on the defensive by not using the word you and staying with using I. Do not bring up everything from the past, stay with the topic at hand. Do not blame. Do not use profanity or make generalizations. Be specific and speak with truth and love. If you are upset about something, it is best to wait until your emotions have settled before speaking. Be impeccable with your word.

“True communication goes beyond talking and listening. It is about understanding.” ~ Gerald Campbell

Until next time
Deborah