What to do when discouraged: Americans of Conscience Checklist

Jen Hofmann: Maybe you’ve been feeling it too—the news, the president, the border wall, the climate crisis, racist people in power, international corruption. We’re well past the two-year mark, and it’s still the same awful dudes at the top making worse decisions by the day.

Can we take a moment to just be honest about how overwhelming this is—and what to do about it?

When nothing seems to change, it’s demoralizing. It’s beyond infuriating. It’s enough to make you want to turn off the news, close the laptop, recycle the paper and just ghost it for the next two years.

At the core of this overwhelm and frustration is a flawed thought: I can change this myself.

If you’re accustomed to being listened to and respected… If you’re the kind of person who has had even fleeting success in life… If you’re like me and overcome big challenges, then we have been under the spell of the same limiting narrative.

In the words of Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here will not get you there.” While you are no doubt capable person, what we’re facing right now—nationally and globally—is like nothing we have ever seen. Solving what lies ahead of us will take more than what’s gotten us this far. Our own willpower isn’t enough. A few letters or phone calls aren’t enough. No heroes—including ourselves—will turn this ship around.

This truth takes time to accept. It takes a deep breath and a willingness to be curious. The truth is you cannot change the outcome alone. Neither can I. None of us can.

Only we can.

Only we can create that change—with skills like cooperation, community, cohesion, collaboration—that will see us through this dark night of the planet’s soul. The roots of each word is “co”, meaning together. Only with others can we create a kind, flourishing world. However (and this is hard), it means banishing the idea that your outrage and effort alone can fix this. It can’t. Only together can we right the wrongs, heal what has been broken, and overcome the obstacles ahead. Together.

So, take a breath. Pause to feel the truth of this. Notice if you’re willing to accept an invitation. Will you commit to more “co-” into your life?

Thankfully, you and I are part of a movement of people who believe strongly enough in a better future to work for it. Even if you didn’t realize it. Even if you just forgot. It’s still true. This week, pause to remember when you dial the phone or write a postcard that thousands of other hearts doing the very same.

For it’s in community that we persevere, and together we create a better, brighter future.

This is from Jen Hofmann, author of the Americans of Concience Checklist.
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