I don’t think I’ve ever been so ready for a year to end. How about you?
What a challenging, bizarre, and painful time it has been in our country and our world. And, as 2020 wraps up, it’s easy to just say “good riddance” and hope for brighter days ahead.
However, as difficult as this year has been for us collectively, and for many of us personally, it’s important for us to acknowledge all that’s happened, as well as our growth and the fact that we made it through.
On a recent episode of my podcast, I reflect on this unprecedented year and share a powerful process and set of questions we can ask ourselves to bring real closure and completion to 2020.
I’ve been doing a version of this process at the end of the year for the past two decades. Conscious completion is important and allows us to step into the New Year more powerfully.
Here are some questions you can ask and answer yourself, as a way to create a sense of closure for 2020:
- What were my biggest lessons in 2020?
- What am I most proud of from this past year?
- What were my biggest disappointments in 2020?
- What am I ready to let go of from this past year?
- What else do I need to do or say to be complete with 2020?
See if you can create some sacred time in the next few days to think about and write down your answers to these questions. You can also share your answers with some of the important people around you (and maybe ask them to answer them as well).
By creating a conscious intention for completion, you give yourself the gift of reflection and maybe even some appreciation for this past year. Doing this allows a space to open up in which to create your intentions for 2021 with a sense of openness and peace.
This year has been like nothing we’ve ever experienced before…and we’re still in the midst of an incredibly uncertain time.
Even with all that has happened and is still happening, there is so much for us to reflect upon that we can be grateful for and so many ways we’ve grown and changed this year.
No matter how painful or bumpy it was…you made it through this year. Be gentle with yourself and others. And, remember, we’re all in this together!
How will you consciously complete 2020? What can you do or say to leave 2020 behind you in an authentic way? Feel free to leave your thoughts, ideas, and feelings below in the comments.
This has been an election like we’ve never seen here in the United States, in the midst of a year like we’ve never experienced.
I’m grateful that President-Elect Joe Biden is calling for cooperation, unity, and healing. However, what has become abundantly clear over the course of the past few days, weeks, and months, is that we’re a deeply divided nation.
And while we already knew this going into the election, my hope and prayer is that things can change in this regard as we move forward. Coming together is going to take a lot of work on all of our parts, but I believe it is necessary for so many reasons.
Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This is true in our families, our teams, our organizations, our communities, our country, and our world.
I wrote my book, We’re All in This Together, for a few different reasons. One of my main intentions was to remind us that we’re way more alike than we are different and that togetherness, while incredibly challenging at times, is necessary for us to thrive – individually and collectively.
Yes, we have some fundamental differences. And, we have some serious issues to resolve, problems to address, and things to change, for sure. Yet, at the same time, there is so much that binds us as Americans and human beings.
As I talked about on a recent podcast episode, for us to authentically confront these challenges and to make meaningful change, it’s going to require us to shift from our us versus them mentality, and remember that there really is no them, it’s all us.
And while we can’t control how the leaders in Washington behave, as well as the nature of the discourse in the media, we can definitely adjust the way we personally operate, communicate, and interact with those around us, as well as on social media.
Here are some things we can think about, focus on, and do, to help us move forward…together:
1. Reach out to those who voted differently – Although the final vote count is still coming in, we know that more than 70 million people voted for each of the candidates. If we’re willing to reach out and check in with people in our lives who may have voted differently than we did, we can learn a bit more about where they’re coming from, how they’re feeling, and figure out how to come together, even with our different perspectives, ideas, and beliefs.
2. Operate with compassion – Emotions are running high these days – due to the pandemic, social unrest, economic uncertainty, and more – in addition to the election. By engaging with others compassionately, not only can we more fully understand them, we make it safer and easier to connect in authentic and effective ways, especially with people who see things differently than we do. Compassion is about relating to others emotionally and having empathy for their experience, not necessarily agreeing with them or seeing things the same way. Right now things are intense, scary, and challenging for most of us and for many different reasons. Let’s be gentle with ourselves and with others.
3. Remove self-righteousness – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We have no morally persuasive power with those who can feel our underlying contempt for them.” In order to understand and influence people who think differently than we do, we have to let go of our divisive self-righteousness, and shift it to healthy conviction. We have important issues to discuss and debate, but making people wrong doesn’t lead to connection, cooperation, or togetherness…it just further separates us from one another.
4. Look for and find common ground – The dividing lines of liberal versus conservative and red state versus blue state are reinforced all over the place these days. Remembering that we’re all Americans and as human beings we have so much common ground with one another is essential. We may look, think, pray, act, believe, and vote differently, but we actually have way more that brings us together than divides us. Our job is to look for and find these commonalities, and to use them as the foundation for our discussions and debates.
Although it may not always seem like it, especially right now, I believe that we truly are all in this together. And, operating from this perspective is what will allow us to create more unity, connection, and positive change as we move forward during this critical time in the history of our country and our world.
Recently I’ve found myself getting into some infuriating debates on social media (mostly with fellow white folks) about racism, law enforcement, the current state of our country, and, specifically, the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I’m usually pretty good at not engaging with people and in discussions that don’t seem respectful or productive. I’m all up for healthy debate, for being challenged, and for trying to influence people. I’m also passionate about finding common ground and working to see things from different perspectives. These are some of the main reasons I wrote my most recent book, We’re All in This Together, and wanted it come out in 2020, in the midst of this incredibly divisive time.
Last night someone I don’t know came at me aggressively on Instagram and instead of just ignoring it, I went down the rabbit hole for a while and got really triggered and angry. Thankfully, my wife Michelle talked me down and helped me disengage.
As I tried to calm down and got into bed, I cracked open our friend Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed, and happened to open it right to a chapter called “racists.” As I read, I began to breath more deeply. She beautifully articulated a few things in this chapter that really resonated with me.
Close to 90 percent of white people approve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, while only about 30 percent of white people approved of him during the civil rights movement (which is about the same percentage of white people who approved of Colin Kaepernick when he first took a knee in protest back in 2016).
Glennon quoted a piece of Dr. King’s famous 1963 essay, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which he wrote this:
“I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’.”
Wow…these words hit me like a ton of bricks for a few reasons. First of all, what Dr. King was writing about back in 1963 from that Birmingham jail is what I am seeing and hearing a lot of these days. Some of the people I’ve been arguing with have even used Dr. King as an example essentially saying “he did it the right way,” but then accusing those who are protesting today for doing it the “wrong way.” This makes me crazy…I find it incredibly disrespectful and disingenuous.
But, second of all, the deeper truth I had to grapple with as I read these powerful words is my own moderation, my own racism, and the subtle ways in which I actually do the things that Dr. King is calling out in this essay, which perpetuate racial inequality and white supremacy.
Like the smoke in the air in California right now, we’ve all been breathing in the toxicity of racism here in America our whole lives – it’s in us whether we want to own it or not.
I think a big part of what’s happening right now in our country is that many people are waking up a bit more to this toxicity and seeing the devastating and deadly impact it has had and is still having on black and brown people, and on our entire society.
Those of us who simply get to learn about systemic racism (and not experience it directly) are incredibly privileged. And, we have the opportunity to use this privilege to actually make our country fairer, more just, and more humane.
To do this we’re going to have to continue to grapple with not only how the racism of our country impacts us personally, but how we internalize it and even perpetuate it, both consciously and unconsciously. And, in doing this, we can continue to both learn and unlearn, and we can also actively participate in the changes that are necessary. While this is not easy or comfortable, it is essential.
As we get closer to the election here in the US, I have a feeling that things are going to be increasingly intense and volatile. I feel scared, sad, and angry…and, at the same time, I also feel excited, hopeful, and ready.
We have a lot of work to do – within ourselves and our country. And, as Dr. King also famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
There is a weariness that a lot of us are experiencing these days with everything going on in the United States and the world the past few weeks and months.
As I talked about on a recent podcast episode, there are some specific things I think we can focus on right now to navigate these challenging times and hang in there.
- Pace Yourself. This is one that I struggle with and have been challenged by recently, but it’s essential. Even if we have tons of passion, lots to do, and feel called to act, serve, respond, speak up, or engage, it’s important for us to take breaks, care for ourselves, and remember that it’s usually a marathon not a sprint – which is so true right now.
- Check in with Others. When we get stressed and there is so much uncertainty around us, like these days, there’s a tendency many of us have to go into fight-or-flight survival mode. While this totally makes sense, it’s also important for us to pay attention to those around us whom we live with, work with, and know. So many people are hurting right now for lots of reasons. Checking in with others allows us to offer our support to those who can use it and also helps us shift our focus off of ourselves, which can benefit everyone involved.
- Stay in the Present Moment. This moment right now is all we ever have and where our personal power resides. In the present moment we have choice and we can discern. When we’re stuck in the past or worried about the future, our power, influence, and perspective are all limited. With things being so unstable these days, it makes sense that we’re concerned about the future. However, the more we can challenge ourselves to stay in the present moment, the better we’ll be at navigating the difficulties and disruptions we’re facing.
- Remember…This, Too, Shall Pass. Without minimizing or diminishing the seriousness of the moment in history we find ourselves in today – in the midst of a global pandemic and at a time of painful, yet important reckoning in America about systemic racism, it can be helpful for us to take the long view. Most of us will be fortunate enough to survive this experience and we will collectively get to the other side of it. Nothing in life is forever and the intensity of this time will pass. Having this perspective will serve us in so many ways.
- Don’t Waste This Crisis. Many years ago, when I was going through a difficult period in my life, a therapist I was seeing said to me, “Don’t waste a good crisis.” She was challenging me to look at the learning opportunities in the midst of my painful struggle. There is so much opportunity for change, growth, and transformation for us right now – personally, culturally, and more. It is up to us to do the work necessary to make these shifts, learn from this experience, and create sustainable change.
I know this is a rough and exhausting time for so many of us. What we’re facing is unprecedented on many levels. And, as hard as it is, if we dig deep, lean on each other, and remember how strong we are – individually and collectively – we can not only make it through, we can become better and more resilient in the process.
Even though we’re in this same storm, yet different boats, I also think it’s important to remember and focus on the idea that we’re all in this thing at the same time. We can and we will get through this.
Feel free to leave a question or comment below.
This has been one of the most intense periods I’ve ever experienced in our country and our world in my lifetime (I was born in 1974).
I’ve been feeling angry, sad, scared, helpless, shocked, and much more. The emotional roller coaster that most of us have been on the past few months with the pandemic seems to have gone into overdrive with the tragic, senseless, and brutal murder of George Floyd.
In the midst of the protests, reactions, outrage, curfews, news coverage, and more – I’ve been hearing a lot of people ask the question, “What can I do?”
I think the answer to this question does depend a bit on who we are, where we are, our level of privilege and power in our society, our background and identity, our experience, and more.
And, even with all of these variables and differences, here are a few ideas I have for how we can each be a positive force for change in our country and our world right now:
1. Listen and Learn– There are so many brilliant and powerful voices from within the African American community and other communities who have deep wisdom and perspective to teach. A book I recommend is called How to Be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi. And, whether we read this book or other books, the more willing we are to listen to those who have insight and important lived experience, the more we can learn, grow, and evolve.
2. Speak Up– Using our voices and our platforms to speak up is so important, especially at this time. Although our country and our world are so polarized and politicized these days, and many of the issues being addressed right now are emotionally charged, speaking up for justice, fairness, truth, love, accountability, and unity are things we can all do, even and especially if we feel angry or scared. Audre Lorde said, “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” It’s also important to let our elected leaders know what we think and to demand change.
3. Support People and Groups Doing Important Work– There are so many courageous people and groups doing incredible work right now (and have been for many years). This past week we donated to the GoFundMe page for George Floyd’s family and to the #BlackLivesMatter organization. If you are able to support people or groups financially, that can be incredibly powerful. And, helping shine the light on and lift up voices and organizations doing important work is something all of us can do. Using any privilege we have to help those who may have less privilege than us is essential and empowering.
4. Be Willing to Make Mistakes– One of the biggest things that stops us from learning, connecting, growing, helping, and inspiring change is that we’re afraid to make mistakes, upset people, cause problems, do something wrong, make ourselves vulnerable, or be judged. While all of these things make sense, they get in the way of conversations, actions, and support that can make a real difference. As Dr. King said, “An individual has not started living until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his or her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Things may seem hard, scary, and painful right now – they do to me, and to just about everyone I know. And, it feels like we’re at a pivotal moment in our country and our world…a real inflection point.
This is not a time for us to sit on the sidelines and observe, this is a time for us to get in the arena – to listen, learn, speak up, support, and be willing to make mistakes – all in service of being a positive force for change.
Even though we’re all different and we each have unique backgrounds and experiences that impact how we view what is going on right now…I truly believe, we’re also all in this thing together and we have the power to make things better. We can and we must!
Feel free to leave a question or comment below.