Here we are, less than a week away from a heated election, and still in the midst of a pandemic. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air with many opinions thrown into the mix. Additionally, the endless negative, mud-slinging headlines, and social media frenzies can leave us feeling downtrodden and divided. How can we find peace and spread kindness in such stressful and divisive times?
This topic has been very much on our minds as of late. So we have come up with 8 tips on cultivating loving kindness is these crazy and divisive times.
We may not change the headlines, but we can change how we feel and how we approach others. We all want to feel peaceful, connected, and loving. We all want to heal. And we all can!
It's up to us. There is abundant research that shows that any behavior change is far more likely to succeed when done in a safe community with others (.i.e. Our Herd!). If we can change our own perceptions, build up compassion for ourselves and others, we can positively impact those around us, and so on.
Together, our intentions and efforts are magnified. We CAN make a difference.
8 Tips for Cultivating Loving Kindness
1) Be Kind to Yourself
If you have ever attended any of our Sister Talks, we've heard us say this time and time again. You cannot pour from an empty vessel! You cannot expect to cultivate and spread loving kindness if you don’t give it to yourself first. Women are natural nurturers and we tend to put ourselves last. It’s time we switched the order and took loving care of ourselves first. We also tend to be our own worst critic. Stop ruminating over your flaws and forgive yourself for being less than perfect. You are worthy as is. In fact, you are pretty damned awesome. Start treating yourself that way.
If you'd like some tips on how to be kind to yourself, please check out our blog posts on Self Care.
2) Find Common Ground
Focusing on things we can agree on, makes it easier to come to an understanding on the issues in which we don’t see eye to eye. Everything is not just black or white; there’s lots of gray and we can choose to meet there.
The idea is to find those areas where you may overlap. This approach bridges the gap of Us vs. Them. You can do this by asking questions with the goal of finding some common ground. If that is too far a reach, divert to a subject where you are sure to find common ground or at least not find resistance such as, “Hey, I need a new show. What are you watching on Netflix?” Remember, the goal is loving kindness -- not to win an argument or change someone’s mind.
3) There is Power in the Pause
Mindfulness can help by increasing our awareness of how stress affects us. When we are stressed, we REACT instead of RESPOND. Take a beat when you are triggered by something or someone. Focus on your breath or count on your fingers as you allow the reaction to subside. I tend to purse my lips and my clenches her hands. Whatever works, people!
Check out our blog post on this topic (When the Shizzle Hits the Fan)
4) Ask Questions
Ask yourself: Am I putting my own judgments on top of this experience/conversation? Am I making assumptions or jumping to conclusions? Is what I am DYING to blurt out: true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind (THINK)?
Ask questions of the other party. Find out how they came to form their conclusions. Why do they feel this way? If nothing else, you’ll gain some insight into their thought process. Also, if you are asking questions, you are not engaging in an argument or being judgy. It shows that you are LISTENING.
5) Get out of your head and into your body
Our brains are wired for negativity. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The salacious headlines, the outrageous comments on our feeds that keep us scrolling and curious for more. Negativity just makes for a far more compelling story which is why gossip is so alluring. Our heads love to fan the flames of negativity. You can work yourself into a tizzy and not even utter a single word.
One way to get out of your head is to notice where you are feeling the stress, anxiety or anger. Is it in your chest, cheeks, or belly? Are you clenching your fists, pulling your hair out?
If you get out of your head and direct your focus on where you are feeling it in your body, the tension will shift. You’ll literally disrupt the connection between your mind and the trigger. Also once you notice where and how you carry the tension, it will start to dissipate.
6) Flex your empathy muscle
So, we’re all human, right? At one point or another, we’ve all said something we’ve regretted, hurt someone’s feelings, or done something really stupid. When others act out with angry words and hurtful behavior, it usually comes from a place of stress or fear. The point is we don’t know what the person experienced to make them act or say what they did. We don’t know what they are going through.
We are not suggesting that we condone or even accept the hurtful behavior, but we can try and understand there may be some personal history there or another challenge facing that person. When we can channel our anger into compassion and understanding, we become more peaceful and know not to take it personally. Always keep in mind that another’s words and actions are a reflection of them, not of you!
7) Use Contrast to Create Your Ideal Reality
Contrast (all the stuff you don’t like) shows up in your life so you can realize what you do want and appreciate what you already have. While experiencing contrast is never fun, you can utilize the contrast in your life by turning it 180 degrees to realize what you do want and then take inspired action.
For example, let's say you don’t like the rampant discord on your social media feeds. You realize you really miss the days of cute family pics and funny posts. How can you have that again? Unfollow the troublemakers like Ranting Robin, Political Patty, and Shaming Sheri and find your peace-loving, comedic tribe online. Start posting positivity (like your own cute family pics) instead of sharing the negativity. See what we mean? Contrast when used as a tool can be very enlightening and empowering!
If you haven't already, check out our blog post on Contrast (How to go from feeling helpless to empowered) for more info!
8) See the Good
See the good in people. We are all inextricably connected, and have moments of joy and pain, both of which unite us. Think of natural disasters like fires or hurricanes and the way people help each other around the world regardless of their beliefs or opinions.
Think of the way folks rally around people in need in your community. When I choose to see the good in a person or situation (i.e. looking for the helpers) , it restores my faith in humanity. Even though we may disagree on a lot, we are still very much connected.
Every situation, circumstance and person has 2 sides in any given moment. We’ll use the visual of a stick you find on the ground. Every stick has two ends. Which end of the stick will you pick up? The positive or negative? Remember that what you focus on grows so choose wisely!
Please give one of more of these a try and let us know how it goes for you by commenting below.
Do you have suggestions? Please share with our Herd here. Remember, together we can!
Peace, love, & happiness for ALL,