Christmas is the time of the year to give credit to where we’ve come from, individually and culturally, and to where some deeply held values have their origin. Irrespective of whether we are practicing Christians or not, we are heavily influenced by our Christian heritage. Other deeply held beliefs originate from more personal sources: our families, friends, and the circles we move in.
We are seeing out a year that has brought unsettling experiences in many parts of the world, including our own for a change, and has set the course for even deeper shifts. No doubt about it, collective security seems to be harder to come by these days. As a result, we can be unsure what to expect from the New Year. 2017 is developing in a way that will bring more challenges to our deeply held beliefs. We may have all sorts of expectations, but we can’t quite make out what the epochal changes at our doorstep will require from us, if we want to use them to our advantage. Or perhaps we can…? I’ll get to that in a moment.
This presents a challenge in itself: when our need to understand what is happening around us is frustrated, it’s hard to resist feelings of anxiety, helplessness, or blame (which are actually pretty similar things). All are subtle debilitators that influence how we deal with change… So how do we keep looking for opportunities to make a difference in the world, and hold ourselves, and those around us, accountable – in view of the many things we cannot influence?
It seems a good idea to filter out media influences that blow things out of proportion (it is still more likely to drown in one’s own bathtub than to fall victim of a terrorist attack, as The Economist noted after Berlin), to avoid having our morale erode. For example, staring at the news waiting for the next disturbed, testosterone-laden young men to commit brutal acts of folly (now, irritatingly and misleadingly all called “terrorist attacks”) isn’t just an act of witnessing: it helps making such events happen more often. I can’t help feeling reminded of the teenage school shoot-outs in America a few years ago, with the media busy playing to our basest instincts – voyeurism, sensationalism, cruelty – which then encouraged copycats…
So, rather than lament about the end of Western values and civilisation (whatever that might be exactly), I’d like to propose to focus on how we carry ourselves in the world we best understand: Let’s nurture a sense of security and belonging in our family, our circle of friends, team, and small community.
To do that, it is extremely important that we are well in our own skin… In my profession, this comes up regularly because change processes that “work” usually require some psychological preparation. So I’ve decided, as a New Year’s gift, to put together some powerful ideas and resources to boost your balance and improve how comfortable you are around change. Using what comes your way to your advantage makes much more sense to me than iterating “how things should be” (although they clearly aren’t…).
- How to focus on what we have control over – and experience a sense of achievement
- How to keep our anxiety in check – and increase our impact as a result
- How to bring a sense of purpose back into our lives, for our sake and that of those around us
Till then, I wish you a relaxed, merry, inspired and inspirational Christmas!!