At this time of year I find myself reflecting on what I can do to further the momentum for change – in my own life, in my relationships with those close to me and in our world. For me this is the only way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the task at hand. There is certainly much that I would like to change but there has to be a place to start and this place must be within my sphere of influence. Nothing good will come from attempts to change things that we are simply unable to change or influence because they remain outside our reach.
So my hope on this first day of our new year is that we might all think about the ways in which we could seek change in our own lives. I believe very strongly that small and incremental changes are significant and in fact, I think that this may be the only hope for real change in our world. Things change when we change them – little by little, day be day, in the world, in our own lives.
Sometimes it’s easier to say that someone else (or society) needs to change something and even though this may be true, we can also think about what we can do differently that might affect the situation. This doesn’t mean that we are responsible for the situation, just that we can act to make a change too. Not doing anything will usually lead to us feeling disempowered and then unable to affect any change. Acting, just doing something, even if it’s something small, can make a big difference.
For me, misuse of power is the most significant obstacle to change – and to creating a more peaceful and equitable world. I think it’s really useful to regularly reflect on how we each individually deal with power and power dynamics in our lives? Are there real ways in which we can limit power imbalances in our relationships? Can we just become more aware of how we use our own power because this then gives us some capacity to change the way we behave?
Awareness for me, is crucial to change. If we are not aware of what we are doing and why then change won’t even be on our radar. So just to sit and think for a moment about what feels important to you in terms of change – individual and / or social; and then what you might do about it even if it seems small and insignificant in the bigger picture.
When we couple this awareness with empathy and compassion for ourselves and for others then real change is very possible. Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to imagine what life might be like for that person and how that might feel. Compassion takes the idea of empathy a little further so that we can appreciate not only how the person might be feeling but we approach this without judgement and with a deep understanding that the conditions of their life so far has lead them to this point.
Both these concepts, empathy and compassion, relate to how we live our lives – to become aware of our own behaviours and emotions without judgement but with a desire to grow and learn, can lead to real change. Applying this to others as well gives us momentum for social change.
So many of the social issues that we have faced this year are based on judgements of each other and intolerance of the differences between us. If we can work towards replacing these judgments with compassion it will indeed be a good year!
Wishing you all a peaceful and productive year as we move towards creating a more peaceful and equitable world in 2016.