“…You can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”
(from the Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff)
That Russian Guy… and Us
Ok, show of hands? How many people are contending with more anxiety now than they were before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine?
I see you. I hear you. I do understand.
And I have good news.
No, I don’t know what’s going to happen on the world stage. The good news is that we don’t need to know that in order to be ok. I promise!
What do we need?
- The practiced ability to stay off of our last nerves, (click here.)
- A fierce concentration on doing this “now” well, (see here.) And
- A Life Mission.
Oh, is that all?!?!?!
Simpler Than You Think
Many, many years ago, I attended my first training with my now-friend, Dr. J. Eric Gentry, who is an amazing traumatologist. The first course I ever took from him was Professional Resiliency. You can also blame him for most of those “get off your last nerve” techniques linked above. The core concepts of his Professional Resiliency training are self-regulation and living a life guided and directed by your “Life Mission.”
The Life Mission is the main thing you are here to do. It’s bigger than your profession or your primary relationships. The Life Mission is like a guiding beacon we head toward that keeps us on target with making decisions around how we use our time and energy. Most people who work with me for any length of time come out of it with a sense of their Life Mission.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are a few that I’ve borne witness to, starting with my own:
- I am here to soften sorrow, hold hope and encourage empowerment.
- I am here to notice, care for and give voice to marginalized people.
- I am here to help humans understand and take their place in the one-ness of all things.
- I am here to help people find relief from suffering through creative expressions of joy.
- I am here to help the planet heal.
- I am here to help people remember how important kindness is.
When we make decisions based on whether what we are doing moves us toward our Life Mission, moves away from our Life Mission, or creates a sidestep that helps us better do our Life Mission, that targeting shores up our sense of purposefulness.
The Power of Purposefulness
Purposefulness can be an amazing antidepressant! Purposefulness serves as a concrete statement that we have a place in the world; That we matter and can contribute positively in the world.
A sense of “belonging” is not just a nice idea. When we don’t have a sense of belonging, whether to a family, a community, an ethnic group, a special someone, a furry friend, or what have you, the brain and body respond with the same primal stress response that we do when we are under physical threat. (See link.) If we stay in that state for long periods of time, our brains consume themselves with survival. There isn’t room for things like hope, creativity and the belief that we can change the future.
On the other hand, when we have a sense of belonging, we have more gray matter available for social connections, and for trusting that we have something to offer to the world around us, regardless of what that world might look like.
So Back to World Crisis
What does that have to do with Vladimir Putin?
In addition to being an amazing antidepressant and tremendous boost to our physical stamina, purposefulness can be a huge piece of our resiliency when the world around us seems so uncertain, painful and frightening.
Look back at the Life Mission statements I listed above.
I can’t speak for the others, but when I first pinpointed mine, I had at least a rough idea about what the world I was doing that in might look like. I was totally wrong. And that’s weirdly ok. Whether we come to place of greater stability, fall apart into a dystopian nightmare or something in between, I will still be targeting my energy on “softening sorrow, holding hope and encouraging empowerment.”
I certainly have my preferences about what we will and will not experience, and I will certainly make whatever political decisions I can in an effort to support those (strong) preferences. At the same time, I’m going to be doing my thing for whoever I can regardless of my environment.
There’s that “Internal Locus of Control” again
I’m wrapping my life around my Mission, not around how I will play it out. I can’t control a lot of what happens outside of me. I can control whether or not I live a life that is targeted on doing the thing I am here to do as faithfully as I can, for as long as I possibly can.
I love my Life Mission! Living by that guiding light has afforded me this amazing life where I get to do that thing that feels so important to me as a therapist, as a Mom, as a wife, as friend, as a colleague, a sister, a daughter… In every single area of my life, I can choose to do the thing that sits closest to my bones. No one and not a single situation short of my death can take it away from me.
That joy is available to each and every one of us.
The Ripple Effect
If we are each out here living out our Life Missions to the best of our abilities, touching the world for the good, infectiously inspiring others to do likewise, we are subversively creating a better world right under the noses of the power drunk and destructive. We will not live in despair. We will live in a genuinely empowered way that genuinely empowers others.
We refuse to be fearful, we refuse to be reduced or controlled. There is not a single political figure in the world that has dominion over our inner lives unless we let them. When we aren’t made fragile by fear and anxiety, we can be creative and resourceful. Don’t be surprised if you find you have ways to help globally, even if they are small.
Regardless of whether those opportunities come to you, there are ample opportunities in front of you right now, to live out your Life Mission, change the world for good, and live in a state of fulfillment that no one can take away from you.
Your Life Mission is a Superpower. Use it for good!
Do you know what your Life Mission is? Want help figuring it out? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s change the world!