This hash-tag has gained prominence lately in the political realm to denote women who are standing up to blatant sexism in the halls of Congress and persisting despite attempts by colleagues to silence them on the floor and in various hearings. Most notably it has been applied to Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, the former after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the phrase to explain why he took action against her. Gleefully, it has been co-opted by feminists everywhere and used as a rallying cry. This post is not going to be about politics though, despite the fact that so much is happening right now. That’s not my gig.
The phrase came to mind this morning as I was thinking about what myself and some of my coaching clients and friends have overcome. Perhaps you can identify with some of these as well. We are all faced with a number of challenges in our lives, and yet, we persist. I am awed by the courage, determination, resilience and even vulnerability required to do so. I learned a few years ago that traumas come in all shapes and sizes. Something small and seemingly insignificant that happened during our younger, formative years, could have dramatically shaped our story because it was felt as traumatic at the time, even if it seems like a small thing in retrospect. Comparison is not helpful to our healing process (or anytime) because each circumstance, person and act of healing is unique.
I am sharing just a few of these challenges, not to dwell on the negative, but to point out that, actually, simply persisting is an act of heroism. Persisting in a world where we hear such negative news every single day about terrorism, bombings, shootings, the devastating impacts of war and poverty and abuse is extraordinary. I am not including names in this list to protect privacy and because many of them happened to more than one person. After each, I invite you to add in your mind . . . nevertheless she/he persisted.
. . . in a car accident requiring multiple surgeries including facial reconstruction
. . . felt abandoned by family at a young age
. . . diagnosed with a life-threatening illness (sometimes more than once)
. . . consistent financial struggles and occasional trouble paying regular bills
. . . living with constant physical and psychological pain
. . . difficulties accessing health care and/or paying medical bills even with insurance
. . . being perpetually single, and sometimes fearing this will always be the case
. . . feeling alone with major life decisions
. . . suffering from persistent side effects and worrying about leaving a clinical trial
. . . being sexually assaulted multiple times starting at age 8
. . . carries multiple scars from surgeries
Though these circumstances seem impossible and overwhelming, in every case the individuals facing them survived and often even thrived through them. It is important not to slide into victimhood around the external circumstances of life, but rather to rest comfortably in the certainty of our wholeness. Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield believes quieting our minds is one of the most healing actions we can take. He tweeted this quote after the recent Congressional shooting, “The quieting of our mind is a political act.”
In the midst of the rawness and pain I felt watching news coverage of yet another shooting, and reliving all the trauma of past incidents - all of which have us asking, “why?” - my first instinct was to engage mindfulness tools including meditation, forgiveness practice and quieting my own racing thoughts and painful feelings. When each of us does this instead of immersing ourselves and getting stuck in the destructive energies, we actually raise the vibration in not just our families and communities, but indeed, the entire world. I have written about this before here and here.
Our helplessness, frustration and fear in the face of our own personal circumstances and those facing the larger world can definitely be overwhelming, and staying in them for too long doesn’t serve us. It’s important to feel our feelings, resist the urge to simply distract, and then to find inner stillness using our best tools and practices.
I can recommend several if you don’t already have your own – just ask – or sign up for a free coaching session to talk more about how mindfulness can play a big role in ongoing health and well-being.
And most importantly of all, persist.