Since the pandemic began we’ve heard a lot about “rights.” The fear that all rights are being infringed upon and you’ll never get any of them back, ever. That you don’t actually have any rights when there is the greater good to consider and that arrangement should be ok. LOTS of talk about freedom and independence and lots of infighting about what that should look like. So since we’re in the seasons of both Juneteenth and the Fourth of July, let’s declare ourselves independent from what actually binds us, so we can launch into this next season with unbridled glee.
In the summer of 2021, I’m laying down a few rights that do not liberate, but instead hold me captive. To start, I’m laying down the right to control all the things. How exhausting is it to think we have to hold the whole world in our hands? Last I checked, no one gave us that role, but man–are we good at self assigning it! We fret if elections aren’t going our way and we wonder how we are to fix it (as if the White House is calling us directly for advice). We wring our hands when we can’t single handedly stop a virus and how dare that neighbor not be as lost in anxiety as we are! We lose sleep when our kids (who are tiny humans) make normal, human mistakes. Are they doomed???
Ladies, breathe deeply with me. We can put all this down. Some anxiety is unavoidable, but a lot of it we nurture and grow for no good reason. Even if we could control every last detail of all that happens in the world, does that ensure unshakeable peace? No. We don’t need to control others or outcomes. We can chose release. We can become independent of the fear-motivated responses.
I’m also laying down my right to judge others and their choices. I mean, do we know all the intimate details of why someone made a decision different from ours? Nope. And even if we did, are we the authority in their life? Obviously not. If I see a friend making (what I think) is an unwise choice or I see an injustice occurring, I can be a part of the solution through listening, peaceful dialogue, offering resources and finding ways to help. I do not help by casting them aside out of a spirit of haughty judgement. Unless I’ve been invited into the change process, my role is to live my life with integrity doing the best I can, and then sacrificially loving those around me. I live for an audience of One. Looking down my nose at people does not improve an-y-thang or help the state of the world. If I don’t think I can interact with the person without judgement, I need to move away from the screen or leave the room until I am in a better head space.
The last thing I need to wrestle free from is how I treat myself. For as many words as we say to others during the day, we tend to say twice as many to ourselves. And those words are not always very kind or loving. For as much as I am judging others, I am judging myself twice as harshly. I expect unreasonable productivity and absolute perfection from Becky Clark, which is more than I would hold anyone else to. Why would I do that to me? I spend all day at my practice encouraging my clients to re-record in their brain rational, positive and gracious thoughts. So I should give myself space and freedom to do the same.
Researchers tell us that after a tragedy, such as a pandemic or a war, innovation and change follows. It’s human nature to wag our finger at those around us, wanting to know how they are going to change. But, I propose that instead of looking outward (for the first time in a year), we look inward at what we need to become independent from. The above is a good place to start. And beyond that, there is room for even more growth!
I love these words by the amazing Maya Angelou and my prayer is that the women of the Quad Cities embody these principals this summer. Let’s shed what held us down during COVID and emerge healthier, more joyful, more welcoming and less imprisoned by what is evil. Cling to what is good and proclaim your independence!
Let freedom ring.
“Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your act of kindness.
Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.
Continue to remind people that each is as good as the other.
That no one is beneath you, nor above you. “