Feeling helpless in the face of the world’s problems? These 5 simple steps will help.
August 17, 2020
This week’s blog post is a deeply personal message from our CEO Tara Powers
I meet many people in my work. People who are entrepreneurs, consultants and trainers. They work full-time and part-time while juggling work and family commitments and volunteering in their communities. Many of them have a strong desire to make an impact in their communities, and do some good in the world. Because so much of my work focuses on the balance between our professional and personal lives, and the importance of wellness and mental well-being, I often get asked questions like this:
“I want to make a meaningful difference in the world. I am worried that my impact will be negligible — the problems of the world are so huge. I am feeling a little helpless knowing where to start.”
First of all, know that you are not alone. If you listen, watch or read the news regularly, it certainly can seem like one person’s actions can’t make a bit of difference in the vast scheme of things. And to be transparent, I have felt that same hopeless, insignificant feeling myself. There are two things I focus on when I am in this mind space that helped me regain a sense of control and hope – my mindset and my actions. Here are some tips:
- Limit the negative. Mike Dooley says that “thoughts become things.” Our thoughts create energy and if we are not careful, they can very quickly attract more negative thoughts. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are likely bumping up against what your brain can process and tolerate. It’s a sign to limit your news intake and social media to 30 minutes per day. Recently, I took the following actions to limit my exposure to daily negativity:
- I stopped looking at social media every day, sometimes not checking it for days at a time. This was the single biggest game changer in my mood.
- I started looking at good news first thing in the morning. Get to know the Good News Network (https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/)and make this your news feed for a while. It’s shocking how much GOOD is happening around us that we never hear about.
- Practice mindfulness. The more present we can be in our own lives, the more beauty there is to see. When I am spending time playing with my girls, dancing or being silly, I take that moment and I savor it. I pay attention to the sounds of their laughter, their smiles, how big and open my heart feels and I become fully present. These “moments of joy” are truly magical and it’s what we need to pay more attention to on a daily basis. I believe happiness comes in waves, but if we are too overwhelmed with the negative, we can easily miss these special moments and the positive deposits they make in our emotional bank account.
- Recognize what you can and can’t control. Although I can’t stop racial injustices or climate change from happening tomorrow, I can be sure that my family supports racially diverse businesses, that we speak out when we see others being treated unfairly and that we vote for leaders that believe in equity and inclusion. My family can also engage in more sustainable practices. We can reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. We can drive electric or hybrid vehicles and buy organic or local whenever possible. We can reduce our meat consumption and only use organic fertilizers. We can make purchasing decisions based on where and how products are made. We can continue to educate ourselves. From a business perspective, I can choose to work for companies or work with companies that are doing good in the world and are in alignment with my values.
- Do one thing to help. Taking action feels helpful. Commit to choosing one thing that you can do. For example, during the winter months my family puts together care packages for the homeless that we keep in our cars and give to the homeless that we connect with during our day. My children look forward to going to the store and picking out items that will help someone stay warm, feel cared for and loved. They even write little notes that have a lot of meaning to them and tuck them in each care package. We have also “adopted” a child in another country and provide a monthly donation that allows them to attend school, get books and basic clothing and food. Involving your children in deciding where you could donate your time or money is a powerful tool that can make a big difference in mindset. Local volunteerism groups are a great way to get involved and include your kids too. It’s how we raise the next generation of thoughtful, concerned citizens and global leaders.
- Connect with community. I will admit that I have relied on support resources such as therapy when I felt like I wasn’t able to manage my stress or felt overwhelmed. Usually a few sessions do the trick to get my mindset back in a positive place. I’ve also found it useful to get involved in community school groups where parents come together to support each other and discuss how to make a difference in the lives our kids. Research a community resource where like-minded people are coming together to make a positive difference in the world, and consider how you can connect with the positive community that is being created.
In summary, it’s your daily habits, choices and actions that will have a significant impact on the world. It doesn’t matter if you work part-time, full-time or not at all. What matters most is that you recognize you can make a difference in your home and in your community and that your actions, no matter how small, will have a ripple effect out into the world.
Tara Powers has been the CEO at Powers Resource Center for close to twenty years. Tara helps conscious companies create a culture of connection, build cohesive teams and engaged leaders every day.