Lessons From 2020

Most people agree that 2020 has been the strangest year of their lifetime. Even my 90+ year-old father says that it is the weirdest time he has experienced. Some people have described it as the “Perfect Storm” with COVID-19, George Floyd’s death, and Cancel Culture surfacing in an election year. But, what lessons have we learned from all of this?

 

Let the Grumbling Begin

 

Listening to all the grumbling going on in America, one might surmise that the biggest lesson that we have learned is that we, as a people, are very accustomed to doing what we want. We do not like rules. Additionally, people are definitely not patient.

 

Well, these are all truths about the American people. However, none of these “lessons” are hardly a revelation. For years, the behavior of people has demonstrated impatience and a dislike for rules. 2020 has simply brought these issues to the surface.

 

Fear and Frustration

 

For many people, the grumbling comes out of fear or frustration.  People were and still are afraid of COVID-19. The virus can result in serious issues or death. Thus, it is something to take seriously. However, the fear in many cases is so deep that people assume it is even more dangerous than the facts show.

 

Similarly, the frustration that people feel over the rules, trying to work at home and manage children in the house, being away from friends and family, etc. overwhelms many people. Each of these things is a frustration in its own right, but together they create a frustration that many people have never experienced before.

 

Therefore, perhaps the lessons of 2020 are that fear and frustration can truly take over your life.

 

Human Interaction

 

Being away from friends and family is more than a simple frustration. It makes life difficult. Humans by nature are social beings. They need interactions with others, including hugs and touch. The need for interaction is the reason why many people consider solitary confinement cruel. So, although people today aren’t completely isolated from all human interaction, it has been greatly curtailed.

 

In many cases, workers are working remotely from others in the same company or seeing clients via video or telephone. Having personally worked remote, had remote workers working for me, and having seen clients remote, I can tell you that the reports of something being lost in an electronic-connection are very real. It is much more difficult to build a personal connection and to understand the other person’s perspective when not in person.

 

Thus, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that human connection is an essential element of life.

 

Anger and Violence

 

There are several sources of the anger and violence that is being demonstrated in the streets of American cities. Some people are truly upset about equality and justice. At the opposite end of the spectrum are people that simply want destruction. No matter the reason for the anger and violence, we have seen that standing back and allowing them to act out does not work. Anger and violence just beget more of the same.

 

Therefore, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that you need to take action if you want to stop a behavior. It might also be that if we want love and acceptance, we need to visibly demonstrate the same. Alternately, it may be that life is short or at least too short to be consumed with negative emotions.

 

Our choices Do Make a Difference

 

People’s perspective on life in 2020 is very much based on the decisions they have made when faced with the 2020 challenges. Some have chosen to listen to the drama and hype while others have listened to the facts. Similarly, some have decided to do what is right for themselves and their families without judgment of others. Meanwhile, some have decided that what is right for them is the answer for everybody.

 

Choices during this time also include deciding to be happy and find creative solutions to a person’s business and/or personal pursuits. Others choose not to look beyond what 2019 offered, leaving them feeling stuck and frustrated.

 

Thus, the lesson of 2020 may be that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Other Lessons

 

2020 has presented the opportunity to learn many other lessons as well. The lessons each person can learn from this situation are as unique as the people themselves. Some may learn that they need to spend more time with their family or may come to consider time with loved ones precious.

 

Others may focus inward and see that they need to put themselves first more often. Perhaps they learned the value of down time or having a hobby. They may even come to really appreciate many things that they previously took for granted.

 

Whatever your story, make sure that you learn as much from 2020 as you can. If you don’t learn, you are likely to repeat the lesson. Something most of us don’t want to do.

 

Conversation Makes Change

When you were three years old, you may have thrown a tantrum to get what you wanted. If you are like most kids, however, it probably didn’t work most of the time. Otherwise, you would be kicking and screaming on the floor at age 40 every time you had to do something that you didn’t want to do.  Instead, most of us learn that conversation makes change much more effectively than tantrums.

 

Making Change

 

 Teenagers, who simply fight with their parents about going to a party on Saturday night, are likely to be spending the evening at home. However, those that explain to their parents why they want to go to the party and what they plan to do to ensure their own safety are more likely to convince their parents to let them attend the party.

 

The reason is that the latter group shows both maturity and an understanding, at least subconsciously, of how a person goes about making change.

 

Rioting Does Not Create Change

 

Fighting, resisting, destroying, and creating chaos are sometimes viewed as people seeking change. It is possible for people to lash out in this manner when people are greatly oppressed and restricted from using or unaware of other means to express themselves. However, generally speaking, chaos and destruction are indicators that the person does not have a goal of change for the betterment of all.

 

The Portland riots and the organized mass looting in Chicago and New York City are examples of situations that are not born out of the desire for positive change. Instead, the leaders of these actions clearly have different goals. If they wanted positive change, they would have a conversation. They would attempt to engage with people instead of sucker-punching individuals who wonder too close to their activities. Likewise, they wouldn’t be trying to burn down buildings or steal things that they don’t need. Those actions are clearly designed to create chaos, fear, or to have some other negative result.

 

Limiting Conversation, Limiting The Opportunity For Change

 

Rioters don’t have conversation. They scream at people and try to intimidate them, but they don’t have positive interactions with people. Rioting, however, is not the only way to shut down conversations and change.

 

Facebook and Twitter stop conversation by marking information that differs from their opinion as false. At times, this escalates to the suspension of accounts. In some cases, they ban users completely. You might ask what does this have to do with change and the answer is, “Everything.”

 

Since true positive change comes about through conversation, change cannot occur when conversation is limited and opinions stifled. They would argue that they are eliminating false information. Yet, they are quite selective in the information that they remove. If false information wasn’t allowed, probably at least 50% or more of the information (based on my experience), would be removed.

 

One could argue that their selective methods of censoring are really an attempt to manipulate, silence, and destroy. Thus, the psychological and sociological impact of this behavior is very similar to that of riots. In the end, it divides people further and reinforces their existing opinions, making change impossible.

 

Individuals Stop Change, Too

 

It is not just businesses and rioting people that stop change from happening. Often in the name of change or fairness, individuals will take actions that stop the very change or fairness that they claim they seek.

 

The use of masks is a great example. Some people are constantly in people’s faces yelling about masks and social distancing. Some of them have gone as far as entering another person’s personal space to fight with them over the issue. Even if they are simply constantly posting about it on social media, the problem is that the people who don’t wear masks have tuned them out. They aren’t going to listen to someone who is seemingly yelling and belittling them.

 

The same can be said about those who are strongly opposed to masks. Those people may make fun of people in masks and who social distance. Again, they are not going to reach anyone that way.

 

The Solution

 

So, if you want to open the door to change, be open to dialog about the issue at hand. If you want people to wear masks, don’t demand it or try to intimidate people into wearing one. Instead, talk about your personal experience. Tell why you believe it will be helpful for people to wear one. Likewise, do the same if you believe masks are useless.

 

Similarly, if you want changes in how police interact with the community. Get the police and the community together to have a conversation. Be open. Listen to all opinions. Try to understand someone else’s perspective. And, be willing to work together for a solution that a majority of people can support.

 

The same is true if you want people to understand that information is true, false, or misleading. Don’t call them names or shut down the conversation completely. Instead, calmly discuss the information and why you believe the information is true, false, or misleading. Be prepared to provide sources and know you may be challenged.

 

In summary, the proverb “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” can be applied to change. Because “you can create more positive change with conversation than with tantrums.”

 

To Be Present Or Not To Be Present

To be present or not to be present is a question people consider when going to an event or activity. However, they don’t often consider if they are truly present once they have arrived.

 

Somewhere Else

 

People are experts at not paying attention to what is going on around them. How often have you seen someone walking down the street with their earbuds in talking away and clearly not noticing other pedestrians or motor vehicles? Or, perhaps you have seen the same kind of person texting during a meeting or a family dinner.

 

Matter of fact, at times you may have found yourself paying less than full attention. It may be that you are multi-tasking, focusing on worries or thinking about what could have been.

 

Being Present

The concept of being present is simple. You simply need to pay attention to what is going on around you and brush aside thoughts of other things. This focus, however, is very challenging for people today. Technology and the fast pace of the world contribute to this problem.

 

Yet, without focus on what is happening around you, you cannot be mindful. Likewise, if you are not present, it is very difficult to listen to others and understand the information that they are trying to convey. Additionally, it is impossible to tune into your body to understand the messages that it has for you. Therefore, by not being present, you are basically flying blind.

 

Value of Being Present

If you limit multi-tasking and focus your attention on being present, your eyes will open and you will have the opportunity for a more fulfilling life. You will have better and more meaningful conversations and relationships with people in your life. Furthermore, you will be more in touch with your true feelings and will be more attuned to your body.

 

Moreover, being present opens the door to truly experiencing life instead of simply existing. Every hour you spend being present is an hour that you spend being connected. Although you may be touching a hundred things when you are multi-tasking, you often aren’t connecting with any of them.

 

Taking Action

Therefore, the next time the telephone rings stop what you are doing and really connect to the person on the other end of the call. Likewise, put down all your electronic devices and set aside your thoughts of other things when you are meeting with other people. Whether the meeting is for business or personal reasons, you will gain so much more by actually being there.

 

Choose to be present; choose to be connected!

 

What Social Media Says

So, you may be asking yourself why what you post on social media has anything to do with connections or energy. In reality, what you post shows a lot about your connection to the world. Furthermore, why you post what you post is a pure reflection of your energy and your energetic health. Even your social media platform of choice tells a lot about you.

 

Social Media Platforms

 

The social media platforms that you choose to use are good indicators of age and personality. They tell a lot about where you put your energy. For instance, if you spend most of your time on LinkedIn, you are likely focused on moving ahead in the business world. In contrast, although Facebook allows you to promote your business,  you are much more likely to be focused on being social when using that platform.

 

Social media demographics to inform your brand’s strategy in 2020 defines many other attributes about the users of specific social media platforms. For instance, the social media platform you use can be an indicator of your age, your gender, where you live, whether you are college educated, etc. For instance, Instagram users tend to be older and have greater income than Snapchat users.

 

Even among apps that are similar, the app you choose reflects things about you. For instance, if you choose Twitter, you are more likely a conformist or simply using it out of habit. However, if you choose Parler, you are more likely a free thinker who believes that everyone should have a voice.

 

Types of Posts & Comments

 

The types of things that you choose to post, the posts that you decide to comment on, and the specific messages you share also reflect a lot about your connection to the world and other people.

 

Consider the content of your posts. Perhaps you post about family, business, politics, or nostalgia. Each post also has a style. Do you prefer educational, humorous, or critical thinking posts? Or, perhaps you like posting general posts full of encouraging words. Although you may post several types of things, generally you will find that you have a preferred style, which reflects who you are.

 

Additionally, those things that you do not share, also tells about your connection with the world. Perhaps you choose to keep your political views private. This may not mean that you don’t have strong views. Instead, it may imply that you like to avoid drama, preferring harmony.

 

Reasons for Posts & Comments

 

Reflecting on the “why” behind your posts and comments can be very enlightening. Consider your motivators. It is important to realize what it is that you hope to gain from your posts. For instance, people that troll others on social media, generally desire to upset or anger others. They are looking for an explosive response.

 

Your reasons are likely more positive. You may simply desire an outlet to share news or happenings. On the other hand, you feel that it is your duty to convince people of something, such as, to wear a mask or to vote for the political candidate of your choice.

 

Energetic Health

 

As long as your motivation and your words are positive, you are likely energetically healthy. However, if you find yourself sharing negative things with others or trying to convince people that someone or something is bad, it is time to check in energetically.

 

Continual negativity is extremely unhealthy. Over time, a negative energetic focus can manifest as emotional, mental, or physical issues. Even being exposed to other people’s negativity can be harmful. Therefore, it is healthy to not only keep your posts focused on positive topics, but to also avoid other people’s negativity.

 

With social media, you can avoid negativity by limiting posts and comments on negative or emotionally charged topics. If you see something that bothers you, look at the options on that platform for limiting your exposure to those items. You may be able to hide specific content (e.g. a specific post or specific language). Likewise, you may be able to unfollow or block a user who spews negativity.

 

Remember to put your energetic health first. If you see negativity showing up often, take steps to lessen it. You will actually feel better.

 

 

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Today as I am watching the U.S. House Judiciary Committee question Attorney General Bill Barr, I am reminded of the biblical verse John 8:32, which states “… And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

Desire To Know The Truth

 

The problem I am observing during this committee hearing is the lack of desire to know the truth. Bill Barr was not called to the committee so that he could share facts or present the truth, as he believes it. Instead, the committee’s goal appears to be to grandstand and have their political points entered into the record.

 

I know this to be the case because Mr. Barr repeatedly attempted to answer questions only to have members of Congress cut him off or speak over him. They ask question after question without allowing for an answer. Thus, one must assume that they are not there to find out the truth.

 

In Your Life

 

Although this is politics, the same is often true in the lives of everyday citizens. Sometimes people try not to find out what they subconsciously and sometimes even consciously already know to be true. Consider the wife that knows or at least suspects that her husband is cheating on her. Often a woman in that position will go to great lengths not to find out the truth. Similarly, some women will sometimes defend their husband telling you that it can’t be true.

 

The same is true about other things in life. People avoid learning of heath problems, deny that their job is coming to an end, and often avoid listening to information that is contrary to their beliefs.

 

Speaking The Truth

 

People also refrain from telling others the truth about things they have done and mistakes they have made. The Urban Dictionary states, “The Truth Shall Set You Free” is “one of the LEAST “true” statements of all time.” However, their argument is that if you tell the truth then your parents or authorities may take away your freedom.

 

The problem is that the Urban Dictionary’s argument is solely based on physical freedom that can in some circumstances be restricted. It does not consider the clear conscience or the freedom that comes from acknowledging the truth.

 

Truth, Anger, and Freedom

 

Despite the desire not to know or not to share the truth, freedom and peace only come from doing so. As Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!” This is very true. Yet, knowing and sharing are necessary.

 

Once information comes to light, you can make decisions and changes to improve your life. It isn’t easy. Like with Congress, it is much easier to keep telling the story people (often including yourself) want to believe than to deal with the realities of what is really true. However, facing the facts is the only way to actually move forward.

 

With facts, you can take control of your health, your finances, your career, your relationships, and your life overall. Without facts, you are just kidding yourself. It is impossible to move forward when you don’t know and/or accept the truth.

 

Choice

 

The choice is yours. You can choose to close your ears, eyes, and mouth to avoid the truth coming to light. If you make this choice, you will be limited. You will not move forward and the truth will continue to haunt you.

 

On the other hand, you can choose acknowledge the truth, as difficult as it may be to accept. Then, by accepting the truth, you can move forward in your life. Even if your truth comes with temporary limits on your physical freedom, the issue will be in the open. This means that you can make decisions on how to improve your life given your truths. These decisions can taken you down any path you choose. Thus, the truth shall set you free!

 

The Power Of Energy

Everything in this universe is made of energy. The power of energy is amazing and can create wonderful things. Likewise, it can also be used to manifest the worst of things.

 

Energy manifests people, trees, mountains, houses, planets, horses, diseases, and emotions. We identify each thing as unique with specific words that describe them. However, at the core, they remain energy. With time and the right circumstances, each one can be transformed into something different.

 

Spoon Bending

 

Spoon BendingThe transformation of energy can readily be demonstrated using spoon bending. A spoon can easily be bent without a hammer or other tools by simply getting into the correct frame of mind. Some people will still need to put mild pressure on the spoon, but for others it will simply melt in their hands curling around into a new shape.

 

Some people believe this is stage magic, but it is not. I have personally bent spoons, witnessed others bending spoons, and have successfully taught people that knew nothing about spoon bending how to transform a spoon. The only magic to it is opening up your mind to the possibilities.

 

Fighting

 

Now, lets consider the current world situation. COVID-19 is still raging across the world. People are fighting about everything. Some are fighting over the effectiveness of medicines and masks to fight the virus. Others are fighting against oppression. And, others are fighting against everything American. At the same time, people aren’t allowed to gather with family and friends. Church services are prohibited or limited out of caution.

 

The bottom line is that a huge amount of the collective energy in the world is currently focused on negativity, which in turn manifests more negativity.

 

Turning It Around

 

We, as the collective citizens of earth, have the ability to turn the tide toward the positive. All we have to do is to set our intent on all the positive possibilities. For instance, focusing on statements, such as, “Americans will be wearing masks for years,” brings forward the image of masks forever. This energy holds the virus here and doesn’t allow it to be released. On the other hand, if we focus our energy on a world that is free of COVID-19, it makes room for healing and for the virus to be eliminated.

 

The same can be said of all the other negativity that is manifesting in our country. For instance, the idea of equality and equal treatment by the police is an honorable one. However, when the issue is hijacked and exploited by people with other agendas, the movement loses its original intent. Instead, it has bread violence and negativity that go far beyond the issue at hand. In this situation, we can help by focusing our energy on having a country where every person is treated with respect and dignity.

 

World Shift

 

Now, you might not believe that we really have the power to make this type of shift in the world. It is okay to be skeptical. All I would ask is that you observe your personal world and give it a try.

 

COVID-19

 

To do this, consider where you focus your energy. For COVID-19, do you focus on fear of you or a loved one getting the virus? Do you focus on whether people wear masks or do you feel compelled to pressure people to wear masks? If the answer to any of these questions is, “Yes,” then you are holding onto the virus.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to take unnecessary risks. Instead, it means that you take the proper precautions that you feel are necessary for you and your family while remaining optimistic that this virus can be beat. If you are having difficulty being optimistic, stay away from the news and the statistics. Instead, find something positive to do. Help someone or focus on personal growth.

 

Equality

 

The same can be applied to the equal treatment of people. First, be a survivor, not a victim. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into feeling things that you don’t. Otherwise, you will no longer be your authentic self. Second, check your focus. Are you focusing on how horrible the police or other people are? Do you consider all people of any group racist, horrible, or any other negative adjective? If you do, consider starting from the perspective that most people are good people. Again, don’t take unnecessary risks. There are people that will harm you. However, if you look beyond the color of the person’s skin, their politics, and their religion, you may find that the person is a good person. Amazingly, you may even find that you have a lot in common.

 

Personal Transformation

 

Self-observation, reflection, and movement toward positive energy are key steps toward transforming yourself. With this transformation, you will change your life. By changing your life, you will change the life of others around you. The change just continues to grow and grow until the energy reaches a point where it tilts the overall energy from the negative to the positive. Once that happens, you have become a part of changing the world and making it a better place to live.

 

To learn more about personal transformation, check out our articles “Opening the Door to Change” and “Look for the Good in Everything.” Additionally, you may wish to check out Charles Cox’s blog post “Essentials of Personal Transformation.”

 

Be a survivor

My grandfather believed that if something bad happened to you or your family that you simply carry on. It happened. It is a fact. Furthermore, he never thought for a moment that you should stop and wallow in what happened. You do need to process what has happened as moving on without working through the issue can be harmful. However, you can’t let the bad things in life define you if you want to be a survivor.

 

Being A Victim

 

The negative situation could be a circumstance, an event, etc. You may have been born very poor, you may have been attacked, been adopted, or may have been verbally abused. In the moment, it is reasonable to consider yourself a victim of the situation. However, you don’t have to remain a victim.

 

It is all about where you focus your energy. If you focus your energy on being a victim, you have no chance to move forward. You are guaranteed to remain a victim.

 

Anything Is Possible

 

On the other hand, you can make the choice to focus your energy on surviving and moving forward. In some circumstances, a positive focus can be extremely challenging. However, a positive focus is always an option.

 

Part of a positive focus is simply starting from the perspective of what you can do instead of what you cannot do. Be willing to take steps forward. Then, surround yourself, as much as possible, with strong people that support you.

 

Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and retired neurosurgeon, is an excellent role model for survivors. After his mother found out her husband was a bigamist, she raised him and his brother alone. They were poor and she only had a third grade education to rely on.

 

Despite those limitations, she knew education was important and she believed in her sons. She insisted Ben spend time reading and learning. He found over time that he enjoyed learning. His focus on education paid off. Ben showed that if you focus your energy on surviving and moving forward, anything is possible.

 

Ability

 

So, if someone tells you fractions are hard, you have a choice. You can unconsciously comply with their statement or you can show you are a survivor by conquering them.

 

Likewise, if you are told you can’t do something because you are a girl. Realize that being a girl is simply a fact. Some limitations do exist based on societal norms or physical limitations. However, for the most part, your gender does limit your possibilities.

 

Don’t fall victim to other people’s “rules.” If you want to do something, stand up and say, “I can do it.”

 

Medical Issues

 

The same is true when faced with a medical issue. If you find out that you have a disease, you can become a victim and assume that you have no chance to overcome it. On the other hand, you can fight it with your heart and soul.

 

Similarly, some people just know that they are going to get the common cold, the flu, or COVID-19. They are “victims” before they are ever exposed. This belief actually makes these people more susceptible the virus. On the other hand, if you are strong and take a survivor mindset, you stay safer from the virus.

 

Negative Events

 

Although anyone can be victimized, having a mindset of a victim can make a person more vulnerable to negative events. Similarly, those events can control the person’s life if they continue to have that mindset.

 

However, if the person has the mindset of a survivor, they will have a much greater chance of moving past the event – no matter how awful the event was. This doesn’t mean that there is no pain. It simply means that the pain does not control the person’s life. It is with survivor attitude that nearly everything can be conquered.

 

Be A Survivor

 

The theme song to the show Reba says, “My roots are planted in the past.” This is true for each person. You can’t escape facts and it is no use trying. You can’t change who you are or what you have experienced.

 

However, the song goes on to say, “Who I am is who I want to be.” Again, this is true for each person. You have choices and you can decide what defines you.

 

In the end, if, like Reba, you have “the heart of a fighter,” you will be able to say, “I’m a survivor!”

 

Squeaky Wheel

As you interact with people, you likely recognize some people as very quiet. Meanwhile, others are vocal Some of these people may express their opinion whether you want it or not. And, others will be insistent that the conversation and focus is on them and only on them. These people are squeaky wheels who want to determine for you where you put your focus and energy.

 

Different Shapes and Sizes

 

Squeaky wheels come in many different forms. Sometimes the one demanding attention is the boastful star employee. Other times the overly dramatic child demands 100% of your attention. At other times, it is a small handful of customers who demand everything be done their way. Squeaky wheels can also be political activists or the news media.

 

Desire to Placate the Squeaky Wheel

 

It is understandable to want to placate the squeaky wheel. Most people want to fix what is wrong or support those who are in need. However, often people are driven to focus their energy toward the squeaky wheel for two more personal reasons. First, and simplest, they simply desire peace and quiet. The second reason is that they want to be seen as taking action on the situation.

 

In the second scenario, often the person reacts and takes a stab at doing something very quickly to address the situation. This action is any action that appears to address the situation. However, it is typically an action taken without thoroughly thinking through the situation, the true causes of the situation, or the consequences of the action being taken.

 

For example, a CEO may commit in a meeting with a large client to making a change that the client is advocating be made. However, often that CEO hasn’t taken time to understand the problem that the client is attempting to solve. Likewise, often they do not understand enough about the details of their product to know the effort, cost of such a change, and impact to other customers. In the long run, the requested change may not solve the customer’s problem. However, they are the hero(ine) in the moment.

 

Real Solutions

 

Real solutions require much more effort than solutions decided in the spur of the moment. It is critical to search for the underlying problem instead of acting in the moment or simply giving the squeaky wheel what they are demanding. Without taking time to search for the underlying problem, the likelihood of a “solution” actually solving the problem is low. In some cases, the solution may actually worsen the problem.

 

You can be more successful when you take time to investigate the issue at hand.   Looking deeply at issues and understanding true cause and effect can lead to a more complete understanding of the underlying problems.  By understanding these problems, you can create real, lasting solutions.

 

That said, at times, it can be a struggle to hold out for a real solution because the squeaky wheel often ratchets up their pressure to meet their demands. However, it is critical not to simply give in to get the squeaky wheel to quiet down. Doing so, can cost time, money, and even your way of life. And, to what benefit? If you take this path, in the future, you will likely be right back where you are today doing it all over again.

 

Missing The Important

 

An often-overlooked aspect of listening only to the squeaky wheel is what you are missing. If you just listen to one child, what do you miss with other children? How does it affect your relationship with them? Similar questions can be said about your quiet clients, friends, constituents, members of your congregation, and members of society in general. If you only listen to those that squeak, what are you missing?

 

Things you may be missing are as diverse as our population. You may miss developing an employee with great potential, you may miss that a friend or child is struggling with drugs or alcohol, you may miss signs of mental health issues, and you may miss the desires of the majority. By not listening to the broader community, it is almost guaranteed that you are missing a part of the picture.

 

All the Voices

 

Thus, it is imperative to focus your energy on listening to all the voices. It is important to list to the child who is experiencing many issues, but it cannot be at the cost of ignoring your other children. Likewise, you cannot listen only a select few employees, ignoring all others.

 

The key here is to really listen. It is important to explore and get to the bottom of the issue. After understanding, consider options, get input, and take thoughtful action. It is only through thoughtful action that addresses real issues that effective change can be made!

 

An Authentic Life

Living an authentic life is a concept that is easy to understand, but often challenging to implement. This year has presented more challenges for the general population than the typical year. Thus, living an authentic life today is even more challenging than ever.

 

Living Authentically

 

In the simplest terms, living an authentic life means being who you really are. This means that you let go of who others say you are and who they want you to be. You are also honest with yourself about both your positive and negative attributes.

 

You can start by defining basic attributes that someone might use to describe you. Perhaps you are tall, have medium skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. You can dye your hair, wear contacts that change your eyes color, and go to a tanning salon. Still, your DNA will indicate that you are tall with medium skin, blue eyes, and brown hair. You can pretend to be different, but that isn’t who you are underneath.

 

Additionally, when living authentically, you recognize your achievements, give credit to others where credit is due, and take the blame when appropriate. This relates very much to the concept of taking 100% responsibility. Taking too much or too little responsibility never leads you to authenticity or happiness. If you take responsibility or claim credit when someone else should be doing the work, did the work, or is to blame, you are cheating the other person and yourself. Thus, 100% responsibility is a key ingredient to living authentically.

 

2020 Challenges

 

Under the best of circumstances, living an authentic life takes work. 2020 has added challenges that make it even more difficult to maintain the focus and internal personal view that is required to create and maintain an authentic life.

 

COVID-19

 

COVID-19 has brought out interesting behaviors in people. Most of which have been brought about because of fear, as we discussed in a recent article, “Why Fear?” The combination of fear, ever-changing rules, and unknowns present challenges to people. As a result, people end up with differing opinions and different interpretations of the rules. Some of these people choose to chastise those who see things differently than they do.

 

Even when pressure is applied with the best intention, it often results in the other person fighting back – at least mentally. You may find that although you are acting and even believing things that are not aligned with who you really are. You may even push back against them although you agree with the person in principle.

 

Likewise, the COVID rules may drive you to behave in ways that are not aligned with your experience or desires. For instance, if you are an extrovert or a person who likes lots of physical touch, you may not be behaving in alignment with those qualities. It is important to recognize those attributes of yourself and find a way to honor them.

 

The History of Our Country

 

Protests, riots, and destruction have also created pressure to destroy our past and for the country to become something it is not. Like it or not, the country was not formed by people that simply came together, sang “Imagine,” and lived in perfect harmony. Instead, it was a hard fight. People had different perspectives, but in the end the people came together as one country.

 

Like it or not, our country’s history is our country’s history. Owning up to the country’s history is just as important as owning up to your own personal history. Without both, you can’t live an authentic life. Like with historical statues that have been dismantled, you can ignore and take your history out of sight, but it is still part of who you are.

 

Pretending that your past isn’t your past never leads to an authentic life. Now, you can do internal work to grow from your past and it is something that you don’t have to outwardly share in all situations. However, you should never hide from it.

 

Race Wars

 

In addition, there is pressure to see our country in the midst of a race war despite the fact that people of all backgrounds have many positive interactions each day. This is not to say that prejudice does not exist. It does. Our article “Retraining the Brain” discusses bias and how it plays a part of everybody’s life.

 

With awareness, everyone can make better decisions and limit how bias affects decisions that they make. This does not, however, mean that anyone needs to denounce their ethnic background – even people of European heritage with a long history in this country. Instead, consider that each person has their own story that is made up of many attributes.  A portion of that story is the history of their ancestors.  But, the most important part of their story is their personal story and the life they have lived.  Facts of the past cannot be changed.

 

Similarly, an African American police officer can be proud to be African American and simultaneously be proud to serve as a police officer. According to some people, these officers are “no longer black;” they are blue. Again, their heritage and their occupation are both facts. They are what they are.

 

A person who is authentic will not apologize for facts about themselves. Additionally, an authentic life does not include guilt or victim-hood for events that occurred years before the person’s birth. They can be considerate and can make good decisions in their life with regards to people of all backgrounds. No one needs to take on the burden of the past. It is fact and it cannot be changed.

 

Cancel Culture

 

The current trend toward “cancelling” anything that someone dislikes also pressures people to be less than authentic. People are afraid that if they don’t outwardly support certain opinions that they, too, will be cancelled. They know that in today’s world, they don’t even have the option to remain silent. It is almost as if the right to remain silent has been stricken from the law books.

 

This pressure is very strong, especially for people in the public eye. Yet, according to Psychology Today, “The authentic person will not . . . let others bully them into taking a position they don’t agree with.” They go on to say, “Authenticity requires us to be able to overcome our desire to fit in and be part of the crowd.”

 

So, if you are feeling like you need to take up a position that you wouldn’t have considered taking up six months ago, you might want to ask yourself if you are being authentic. It is possible that you have become aware of an issue and now feel driven to support that position. However, it is also possible that you are simply being intimidated into a position that you don’t really support.

 

Leading An Authentic Life

 

It is more important than ever to focus on who you really are at the core. Act based on your life, your beliefs, your values, your opinions, and your knowledge. At this time, it is critical that you really think things through. Know that you are 100% responsible for your life and your decisions. However, you are not responsible for other people’s life choices.

 

You can be compassionate and empathetic. Listen. Learn. Those are good things that enhance our lives and help us to be more authentic. Just be careful of the trap of taking on someone else’s view of who you are. By doing so, you nearly always become less authentic.

 

If you would like to work toward a more authentic life, consider our “Finding Your Authentic Self” coaching sessions.

 

 

The Salem Witch Trials

I have always been fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials. The belief that witchcraft was behind unexplained fits of young girls resulted in accusations of witchcraft being thrown in every direction is quite intriguing. I would love to know what “caused” those symptoms the girls displayed. The bigger question, however, is . . . Why did accusations of witchery become popular in 1692?

 

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

 

Looking back at what is known about the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials, we find young girls behaving in an unusual manner. Not knowing what caused the behavior, it was believed that the girls were possessed by the devil. They then accused three women of being witches and bringing this upon them. Thus, the first case of witchery came to trial.

 

Oddly, there were other girls that soon exhibited the same symptoms. Hence more cases. Still, more and more accusations abounded in Salem and other areas more distant. By May of that year, there were so many cases that a special court was appointed to handle them.

 

Even upstanding members of the community were accused and found guilty of being witches. Rebecca Nurse, a possible distant relative of mine, was one of those people. In her case, they found her not guilty, then guilty, then she received a reprieve, and finally she was hung. She was 71 and was supported by a large number of people in the community. Yet, it didn’t save her.

 

In most cases, however, men and women were found guilty based solely on the accusation. None of them were allowed to have lawyers and had a difficult time defending themselves. Have you ever tried proving that you aren’t a witch?

 

The question was . . . Why were so many people so willing to believe that members of the community were witches? Speculation includes that the people funneled their fear of outsiders and other fears into the witchcraft hysteria.

 

The hysteria quickly wound down and dissipated in 1693. Many of the convicted witches were later fully exonerated. Unfortunately, it was too late for those who were hung or died in prison.

 

McCarthyism

 

In 1953, Arthur Miller brought the Salem Witch Trials to life in his play “The Crucible.” He was driven to write the play because of current events. At the time, Senator Joseph McCarthy used “witch hunts” in the name of stopping the spread of communism.

 

McCarthy was a fearmonger, constantly stirring the fear of Communism, which was very pervasive in the 1950s. The fear was so strong that many people were accused of being communist or communist sympathizers. Many of them lost their jobs or were blacklisted despite not belonging to the Communist Party. Others were afraid to object for fear that they, too, would be given the badge of communist.

 

Those accused were investigated or questioned before panels. Like the Salem Witch Trials, accusations were often accepted even when there was a lack of evidence. Likewise, the risk the person posed to the country was often elevated. Still, the damage was done although many decisions would later be reversed or determined to be illegal.

 

Repeating The Past

 

It is 2020 and despite the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution guaranteeing due process we are again repeating the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials have been modernized, but they still have the same principle of guilt by accusation.

 

In today’s world, you aren’t likely to be hung after an unfair trial where you have to defend yourself. Instead you are “cancelled” by a decision of the Internet mob. In cancel culture, you aren’t given a chance to defend yourself at all. The Internet mob decides what is right and what is wrong. You can be found guilty by association. Worse yet, you can be found guilty for not publicly taking a stance on an issue at all.

 

It seems that like in 1692, fear has driven the world a bit mad. Today it isn’t a fear of witches or communism that is behind the accusations. Yet, it remains a fear based on people being different and having different perspectives.

 

The Tech Giants and the mob rule simply do not allow for free thought and conversation. They have decided to take the law into their own hands and change all the rules. One and only one opinion is allowed in the social media court. Wish to explain yourself or even to apologize and you just may find yourself banned from the platform.

 

If you think it is only people with extremist viewpoints that are banned, I suggest you do more research. Like Rebecca Nurse, who was an upstanding citizen respected by many, you may be accused if you don’t parrot “the stance” perfectly.

 

What We Can Learn?

 

So, what can we learn from our current situation? First, history does repeat itself unless you learn from it. Clearly, we have not yet learned this lesson.

 

Second, there are many dimensions to being different. Anytime someone is condemned simply because they are different it is wrong.

 

Third, judging without a fair trial or worse without any facts is a disgrace. And, it means that a majority of the time you will be wrong.

 

And, fourth, fear can drive people to act a little crazy. As discussed in our recent article “Why Fear,” Franklin D. Roosevelt was correct when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

 

The bottom line is that we need to learn to accept people who are different – no matter what that difference may be. They may look different, act different, express their feelings in a different way, have different religious beliefs, have different political beliefs, raise their family in a different way, etc.

 

This sentiment was echoed on a Little House on the Prairie rerun as I was writing this article. Laura was pleading with the people of Walnut Grove to stop a woman who was considered odd from leaving town. Laura said, “So what if she was different? We’re all different!”