Finding Your Voice

13 Jun

"Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice." - Steve Jobs

2020 Relationship Status: Complicated.

This year has offered many opportunities to explore one's beliefs, values, morals, and standards. Between the shelter-in-place lifestyle, social distancing protocols, and economic strains caused by the pandemic, upcoming elections, and, now, the racial tensions fueling our country, this year has been ripe for self-reflection.

The mounting pressures of the past few months have surely tested our mental health. People have lost their jobs. People have lost their loved ones. People have lost their patience. And, now people have lost their tempers. As if the coronavirus hadn't already made life difficult, the death of George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel's back for many.

Some people smacked their foreheads. Others shook their heads. And, the rest have thrown up their hands in disgust. Americans are now asking the hard questions about their lives, their futures and the fate of our nation.

To add to this pressure, every time we turn on the news or log onto our computers, we're bombarded with images of protesters, rioters, looters, and all kinds of people speaking out in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. These events have given rise to various viewpoints and emotions from every sector of society. Furthermore, we can see the spectrum of viewpoints and emotions play out on social media as well.

As if heated political debate on TV between various politicians, representatives of law enforcement, media representatives, and various civil rights advocates weren't enough, we see it mirrored in the reflections of our loved ones, too. Facebook has become a boxing ring for friends and family to go toe to toe in round after round of debate on how to address policing and racial inequality in our country. The fires in the streets have spread while the fires in our bellies swell. We just can't escape it.

For some, it can be challenging, upsetting, and even intimidating to watch their loved ones disagree, argue, and even attack each other for sharing opposing views. As a result, these tensions cause some to hold back from sharing their opinions in fear of being criticized, scrutinized, and ostracized.

But, don't let the noise or the chaos of the outside world disturb your inner peace. Now is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness.  Mindfulness is useful in shaping your attitudes and actions. To be mindful, pay attention to your thoughts and emotions in response to the rising tensions in the outside world. To do this, practice being still to quiet your mind, calm your body, and control your emotions.

Be still before you react. Be still while you formulate your own opinions. And, be still in how you share them. This will help ensure that you use your voice as a tool - not a weapon.

Despite what's going on around you, let kindness begin with you. If we are to speak of humanity and voice our concerns for humankind, we must recognize the "human" and "kind" in it. Human lives matter. Kindness matters. And, your voice matters.

If you can be kind, compassionate, and respectful in how you present your viewpoints, your voice should be heard. No one's voice is any more important than anyone else's. Be calm, courageous, and confident, and join in the discussion. We are all in this together.

While there is strength in numbers, it is just as empowering to stand alone. If you have something to add to the conversation on any of the issues that stand before us, find the strength to share it with those who will give you the space, time, and respect.

Your voice matters. Be human. Be kind. Be heard.

Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.

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