One of the key tasks for this year is to lay a new foundation for the world, one that has at its bedrock some solidity and security, and based on values that resonate with us as a community. It means replacing the existing foundation with a new one; we can't keep papering over what we have now. To get there, we need to figure out the obstacles blocking us and what we might do about them. All that we are experiencing in the world now is urging us to pay attention. So, in no particular order, here are some I've identified.
When we judge another person or a group of people for whatever reason — lifestyle, diet, political beliefs, race, appearance, choices, anything really — we create division and separation. If we’ve thought we’re a pretty tolerant lot — “live and let live”, “nah, it’s all good, mate” — the last two years have challenged all of us. Many of us have bought into narratives of one kind or another and feel even more disconnected in our bubbles, fearful of engaging with anyone, lest they be an ‘outsider’ or we get tagged as one for daring to engage. Debate and respectful discussion are rare. Everyone has an opinion on everything and we all have to be right! Imagine holding a Festival of Dangerous Ideas nowadays! Not gonna happen! I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say so many of us are triggered by everything that we can barely get out the front door. We’ve stopped thinking freely. Either we’re fearful of being judged or we’re too quick to judge. Or, both. And that flickering screen in the corner of the lounge room or in the palm of our hands has happily fed all of it. Media, mainstream and social alike, thrive on separation and conflict.
Suggestion: Listen more, speak less; be less inclined to jump in with our twenty cents worth all the time. Create space to genuinely explore other points of view. Turn off the news, free up some space to spend time in nature (a very 6-thing to do in 2022).
Some expectation is important, society wouldn’t work very well if we couldn’t rely on people to do certain things we and they have agreed on — from two people meeting up for lunch right through to two nations agreeing to ease some dispute between them, for instance. This is more about expecting others to do things or think things because we think they should and the resulting pressure we put on them to fulfil those expectations.
Suggestion: Meet everyone where they are, not where you think they should be. Make agreements that truly reflect what you and they are prepared to do — genuinely prepared to do — without pressure or guilt.
3 Lack of gratitude
Sure we can say thanks when we’re shopping or when someone does something for us and the like. This is more about giving thanks for everything we receive, the good stuff as well as those challenging lessons. Can we acknowledge those lessons, even in hindsight — after the challenge dissipates, the emotions have quietened — when we can often recognise their value? It’s also about giving thanks for the air, sun, water, food, all the nourishment the Earth provides us. How good it feels to be in nature.
Suggestion: Be thankful, express thanks, both verbally and in writing.
4 Attachment (to people that manifests as co-dependency, a lack of boundaries)
We all get attached; it’s part of being human. We are social creatures, after all, and naturally become connected to those close to us: to family, to friends and to our communities. We are interdependent for survival, if nothing else. All well and good. The problem is when we become too dependent on each other that we lose a sense of who we are and end up defining ourselves in terms of other people. We lose boundaries, do too much, more than half our share to maintain the relationship. Doing more than half will eventually result in resentment, unless you’re a martyr. I’m suggesting that’s not a good quality to build into a new foundation.
Suggestion: Like yourself enough that you don’t do more than half the ‘work’ to keep your relationships alive and kicking. Have boundaries based on what feels good. I know, easier said than done.
5 Addiction to stuff
This is about having too much of everything and filling your life with an endless parade of stuff.
Suggestion: Declutter, sort out what you really want, need and use. See my Unstuffing Your Life page for tips. Find ways to feel fulfilled that don’t involve accumulating material things; in other words, try experiences, friendships, time in nature rather than more material stuff.
6 Worrying about others
This can be about fearing or being concerned about other people, especially those near and dear to us and what happens to them — will they be safe? will they be okay? (There’s a lot more of "take care" and "safe travels" around at the moment, a lot of keep safe especially in the aftermath of covid.) But it’s also about worrying about what others think of you, your actions, beliefs, attitudes and so forth. It's that kind of worry that I think it is especially paralysing.
Suggestion: similar to #4. Value your opinion of yourself. Like who you are, what you do, how you think. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be less of a helicopter to family and friends.
7 Trying to save people
We are not here ‘save’ anyone. It’s not possible, anyway. Sure, we all influence each other, hopefully helping to draw out others' talents and powers and helping them manifest. But it’s too big an ask to be responsible for anyone other than yourself. And it’s not helping anyone if we embark on such a mission. Besides, we are denying others the capacity to step into their power and to do it themselves.
Suggestion: You’re only responsible for yourself, you can’t ‘rescue’ or ‘save’ anyone. Let go of that level of control. It’s not healthy.
8 Cognitive dissonance (failure to face changes in circumstances, the way the world is or becomes etc)
Especially since 2020, the world has become divided into different camps (for example, on covid, Ukraine, Trump v the world), all vying for ‘the truth’. If one ‘side’ of the equation ‘wins out’, those on the other ‘side’ — especially those holding their views implacably will likely experience cognitive dissonance, a failure to believe they may have been wrong. They may be faced with changing their thinking and when a lot is at stake, it’s hard to back down.
Suggestion: Stop buying into narratives, stop hoisting your flag to the mast. Be more discerning, stay grounded, observing what is happening about you, what you are seeing and being told. If it resonates, you’ll most likely take it on. But be flexible and adaptable. Things are changing more quickly now and what was gospel today may be tomorrow’s fish ’n’ chip wrapping paper. For instance, science thrives on uncertainty and requires us to be prepared to entertain the novel and the possibility that new information can sweep away even established and so-called settled views; it only takes one person with a proven discovery to demolish ‘consensus’. Be prepared to move on at a moment’s notice.
9 Poverty consciousness (obsessing over what we don’t have)
This obsession with lack has no place in laying a new foundation in the 2020s. If we build lack in, the structure will be weak and vulnerable to collapse.
Suggestion: First of all be content with what you do have right now (gratitude in the moment), which doesn’t mean we don’t want things to be better. Staying in each moment does not preclude us wanting something in the next moment; it just stops us fretting, stressing and being anxious so much. The other thing is if we want more or something else or something new, we will have to focus on it. We will need intention and 100% commitment and effort; even 99.5% is not good enough. Even a sliver of doubt can skittle an idea.
Five things for a new foundation
Focus on the positive and what you want to see in the world; don’t engage in negativity or gossip or doom and gloom. It doesn’t feel good and is a waste of your precious time. There is great truth in the adage: energy flows where attention goes. If we focus on the negative, that will be what our world will look like. For instance, in conversation if all the talk is whingey negative talk, walk away, or if that might be a tad impolite, steer the chat elsewhere. It’s time to change the subject. Turn off the TV news, if you haven't already.
Walk in someone else’s shoes. It may feel uncomfortable but try it for a change. The spinoff is that others may be coaxed into walking in yours for a while to better see where you’re coming from as well. A win-win. It also means you value each other.
Pause before responding. It’s a basic courtesy that's largely missing in our excessively time-poor world. If we all were to pause more when speaking and not jump in when we’re supposed to be listening, our conversations would slow down and all of us could engage in finer, less hurried thinking. And we all might learn more about each other. A 6-year (2022) supports small group hangouts and intimate discussions.
Be open to new information and perspectives. Cut the chords with what no longer resonates. Get more comfortable with uncertainty. Ironically, perhaps, that may build a better foundation, one that is adaptable and flexible. Expect new ideas and ways of seeing and doing to be coming thick and fast, just not on the TV so much! Our capacity to manifest is getting stronger: go for what you want, rather than complain about what you're unhappy about or don’t want.
A huge ask, but I’m suggesting it anyway: Let go of worry, free yourself of burdens, limitations, a sense of lack, of thinking small. Being freer is a better base for a foundation.
TL,DR*: Some new things for the build ahead: Be positive, walk in someone else's shoes, pause before responding, be open to the new, let go of worry.
* Too Long, Didn’t Read