I am comfortable doing hard things. Say it out loud. What is your response?
I can have a difficult conversation with someone even though it is uncomfortable.
I am capable of sustained effort and working hard to do what aligns with my values.
I can be kind and patient with myself over and over, even when my inner critic is telling me I’m not worthy.
When something is hard, I find that I remember to breathe, settle into my body, and be on my own side.
Bring to mind a time when you did something difficult or challenging. Visualize it by playing a video clip in your mind and noticing the details. Where were you? Who was there with you? What were you doing? What were the words in the air? Did you feel scared or anxious? Determined?
What was it in that situation that was particularly challenging? Was it that you were determined to speak your truth not knowing how it would be received? What was the level of risk to your relationship with the person?
How did it turn out immediately and longer term? Sometimes what is hard in the moment clears the air and improves the relationship. Other times not. Are you shaming yourself even a little for not doing it better than you did? See if you can let that go. It is okay that we don’t do things perfectly.
Notice how you feel in your body. Are you tense and holding your breath? Be aware of the soles of your feet and your seat. Soften your belly and let your breath deepen. Relax your shoulders and your mind.
For me recently, I have been working with anti-racism and my role as a white woman. It is hard to bear witness to the pain and suffering in our world, to acknowledge injustice and how that affects individual people’s lives. It takes sustained effort to remain open to listening and understanding how I have benefitted from systemic racism and to do that with clarity, kindness, compassion and without turning on myself.
Throughout my life I have both leaned in and stepped back from work for social justice. I was an activist in the feminist, lesbian and AIDS movements in the eighties and nineties. I have worked on healing my own trauma to stop inflicting my unconscious pain on others. I teach meditation and facilitate people healing trauma. I know it is not my job to fix people and I trust we each have the capacity to heal and grow.
Many people have it so much harder than I do right now. I live in a lightly populated area with very little Covid-19 and I can now see my son and family again. I work online and my income hasn’t been much affected. I have a safe and nourishing living situation. I am also having trouble sleeping the last few months and work every day at regulating my nervous system. My brain isn’t working as well and I’m not as productive. Although my personal life is okay, I care deeply for those in more difficult situations.
We are being called right now to step up and do hard things. The way to sustain right action over the long term is to work within our capacity. Many people are feeling overwhelmed. Individually, where we are on our journey of healing our own trauma from childhood affects how steady we are now. Our personal circumstances might be very difficult, especially if you have children at home or have health, economic or other challenges. It is natural for us to want things to be easier and to grieve our losses.
From being patient with our children or irritating neighbor, to marching in the streets, reading, engaging in difficult conversations or donating money, it feels good to take action and to contribute to making the world a better place.