Tag Archives: Control

Finding a Balance

Finding a Balance

BalanceIn our current political environment, I’m struggling—how to find the balance between my responsibility as a spiritual being to protest what I see as grievous transgressions of respect and rational conduct, and my attempts to remain internally grounded and peaceful?

I’ve been reluctant to talk about this question, because I don’t want to risk alienating friends or family members who see things differently. Each of us is on our own personal journey, and I cannot judge where someone else is along that path. That said, the last several months have been very difficult for me. I’ve never been particularly political, and after months of bombardment by distressing presidential campaign rhetoric, I had been looking forward to ‘the end.’

I didn’t anticipate that the end would become ‘the beginning’ of what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. Tirades that would have been considered unspeakable in the past seem to represent this ‘new normal.’ Behaviors that would have been condemned out of hand a year ago have been glossed over, and even embraced as ‘telling it like it is.’ And fake news has flooded social media (the only news source accessed by many, it seems), making it hard to ferret out the factual from the fanciful.

These are the thoughts that have been consuming much of my internal real estate since November 9th.

This morning, I met online with several colleagues who are also working through these issues. It was a chance to be reminded that each of us has a choice in how we live. There is a bigger picture to keep in mind. As author Stephen Covey would say, the political scene is in my Circle of Concern, but much of it is outside my Circle of Influence.

As an individual, I’m discovering that the best way to deal with my internal conflict is to get back to my spiritual and creative roots. Where can I, one single person, make a difference? What can I do personally to make the world a kinder place?

Choosing to take small steps, to approach the issue from a perspective of love rather than a position of fear or antagonism, and praying hard and consistently for courage in the long term, can help me. Focusing on my creative work (painting, writing, sewing, hand analysis) and nurturing my closest relationships provides a renewing lifeline in a time of uncertainty and instability.

As Viktor Frankl so brilliantly put it, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

When you are dealing with turbulent times, what responses are helpful for you?



More Lessons from the Art Show

More Art Show Lessons

Before the actual day of the event, I was experiencing a great deal of angst about the success of the art show. What about those two tables I’d reserved for the school children, only to learn the day before that their artwork had never been collected? What if more participants bailed? Why hadn’t I contacted that great photographer specializing in social justice issues earlier, so he could have participated?

The feeling was familiar—it was akin to the experience of giving a party and having lots of people call at the last minute to say they wouldn’t be able to come after all. How would the guests who did come feel? Would they enjoy themselves as much as they would have if everyone had attended? Would we all end up feeling embarrassed?

Basically, in both of these instances, I was putting myself in the impossible position of trying to control the uncontrollable. I realized that there was no way I could direct the feelings of the participants or dictate the size of the turnout.

What a revelation! I was not responsible for others’ responses! This awareness finally allowed me to let those ridiculous expectations go, actually be present, and enjoy the event. And those who attended took pleasure in the experience and thanked us for coordinating it.

How about you? How often do you create your own crisis by trying to control the uncontrollable?