For many of us, our values guide and shape our priorities and choices in life. They serve as a moral compass for what we stand for, what matters most, and help us decide which direction we need to go in. So I’m not surprised that (right now) many of us feel pulled in so many directions. Our moral compass is calling us to action and there are so many groups and organizations that need our help.
I heard many times over this past week, that my friends have been feeling overwhelmed by the recent executive orders and that they do not know where to begin or how to best use their time and talents to help the resistance movement. They are unsure which direction will effect the most progress or change. So I wanted to provide a few steps in which you can take action and apply it to the areas that are most personal to you. Because, let’s be honest here, this has become far more personal than we ever anticipated. And we need to focus and choose the areas or initiatives where we can apply our experiences and make the biggest impact.
First and foremost, it is important that our actions and words are aligned with our core values. When this happens, we generally feel more content, positive and fulfilled. When our behaviors don’t match-up with our values, we begin to feel restless, pessimistic and fearful (sound familiar?). So let’s take a moment to identify (and for some of us redefine) our core values. Author, James Clear, suggests you choose less than five core values to focus on because “if everything is a core value, then nothing is really a priority”. He shares a lengthy list of core values on his website that you can choose from. Don’t think too hard about it. Just choose the top 5 or so that jump out at you. They might be as simple as family, growth, independence, community, faith, inclusive, learning, well-being, success, etc. If choosing from that list isn’t working, you can also answer some questions about your upbringing that I’ve used with clients in my business coaching to help clarify these further…
What were your family’s values about work? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What were your family’s values about education and learning? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What were your family’s values about love and relationships? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What were your family’s values on religion? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What kind of behaviours did your family not tolerate: in you, in others? What values do you remember not trying to upset?
What was acceptable and unacceptable to your family about the world, cultures, life-styles? How did you learn this?
What were your family’s values about money? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What were your family’s values about status? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What were your family’s values about struggle? How were they taught? What values remain in your life today?
What kind of behaviours did your family hide: in you, in others? What brought you and/or them the most shame, guilt or fear?
I imagine that after you have answered some of these questions, it is becoming clearer WHY you feel so strongly about certain issues, stances or the recent executive orders. Where you were raised, how you were raised, and what you experienced helped you to become the person you are today. Now take a moment to be deliberate, and consciously attempt to identify which values are the most important to help you live your authentic life. Which values bring you the most contentment, positivity and fulfillment? Which behaviors or areas of your life make you feel the most restless, depressed, angry or afraid? Are these in alignment with how you want to live or how you are currently living? This is where you get to choose a certain direction and what matters most.
When we move forward in our daily lives and make conscious choices that reflect our core values, we will find that we are working in alignment with WHO we are and that will make all the difference in easing our anxieties or fears. It can also bring us to a place of clarity and joy, as well as personal growth.
Alright, now for step two. Choosing to live in alignment with our values, while finding ways to support and serve others who need more of these in their lives as well. Sometimes these values will affect us in a social, political or cultural way. If kindness or compassion is a core value than you’ll want to make sure that your words and actions reflect this (online, in person, and in every way that you interact). If truth or honesty is a core value than you’ll want to tell the truth, listen to the truth, and share yours with others as well as promoting it in other ways in your personal and professional life. If prosperity or abundance is a core value than you’ll want to increase the supply so others may share in the same fortune or gain access to their share of it. We must always ask ourselves, “do I want to experience this for myself or for all of us”? To learn more about our new president and his core values, you might find this article by Ryne A. Sherman Ph.D. interesting.
Next, let’s discuss step three. You have a good idea of what matters to you and now it’s time to decide where you want to align yourself and your values. Perhaps you are seeing some words that can be easily aligned with organizations or action items below. Choose one place to start, and I suggest no more than three areas to focus on for right now (otherwise the overwhelm may make a visit again). And remember, if it is personal than you can have the greatest impact in sharing your experience, talents and time. Now that you are ready to begin your resistance efforts, here are...
15 Ways That You Can Take Action
Support your Muslim family and friends at the Council on American-Islamic Relations by working in their D.C. or local offices and online
Combat racism by Showing Up For Racial Justice and helping to end white supremacy
Join an organization from this list that helps immigrants, or support a refugee through an innovative Humanwire fundraising campaign
Share your Planned Parenthood story on social media so others may learn about the many services for women, and urge others to go there for their yearly checkups while supporting them through insurance dollars whenever possible
Become a freedom fighter for the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all through your support of the ACLU
Divest from the banks backing the Dakota Access Pipeline and tell them that we all get to choose who we do business with
Show your support for LGBTQIA rights and see what’s happening in your state so you can take action
Select one of these non-profits listed here as your charity of choice on AmazonSmile if you choose to shop there
Volunteer as a Border Angel or support immigration reform and social justice specifically regarding the US-Mexico border
Help to stop the repeal of health care with the League of Women Voters
There's a lot of work that's going to be needed over these next four years. Take time to connect with friends and those who share your values. Set up a time to meet and discuss your values and the options above that you align with (and come up with new ideas too), or attend one of the local resistance meetings in your area.
It’s important that we don’t try to do everything all at once and suffer from burnout. We have a long road ahead. I hope that this information will help you to focus your energy on a few key areas and not feel so overwhelmed. We can do hard things. Keep using your voice. Keep showing up. Keep up the resistance!