Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Prevention and Protection

There has been an influx of industry centered around protection and prevention. Corporations have loss prevention departments. Our homes and cars have alarm systems. More women are carrying mace and pepper spray. Self-defense class registrations are on the rise. Fear has prompted us to take action, be prepared, and practice prevention. While we see the logic in protecting our property and physical safety, we have not taken the same level of responsibility when it comes to our mental and emotional health.

We have all encountered someone who isn't healthy for us. Whether it is a friend, former lover, sibling, parent, or other relative, at least one person demands that we create boundaries. This certainly includes those who have physically harmed us, but physical harm isn't the only sign of dysfunction. There are some who have harmed us with their negative words and sentiments. Some have harmed us with their encouragement or pressure to participate in negative behaviors. Some have harmed us by their habitual disappointment. Harm, whether physical or emotional can have a debilitating impact. It changes the way we view the world and our place in it. When we allow the same negativity into our lives, we perceive negativity in everything, including for our future and within ourselves.

If you have alarm systems for your physical property or purchased mace or pepper spray or taken a self-defense class it demonstrates that you place value on your safety. However, if you truly value your well being, you have to also value your mind and emotions. Before you digest the words and opinions of others, consider whether they are helpful or harmful and more importantly, if those words are true. As you assess levels of investment in your friendships and relationships, consider how valued and respected you feel when in the presence of those friends and love interests. Take measures to protect your mental health and prevent the theft of your joy and peace.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Climbing Lion's Head Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
All of us have a vital role. All of us! We all have the ability to make progress. Some of us make progress in court rooms, on front lines, in classrooms, in board rooms, or in non-profit organizations. Some will push their message in written word, in song, in a painting, or in orations. Some will boldly stand on the steps of government agencies and make demands. Some make progress by positively influencing those in their workplace and communities. Others will raise their families in ways that promote equality and respect.

Often times we perceive what we think is the certainty of others and interpret it to mean that we lack direction or motivation. It's easy to look at a politician or musician or actor or activist and think, "They know what they are supposed to do. I still don't know what I'm doing with my life." We all have the potential and power to do the same thing; make progress. We look at those in the spotlight and think that their lives have more meaning than our own. We diminish our own impact before we have a chance to fully recognize it and accept it. Our fight for progress must first begin within.

Progress is made over time. It's the process of repeatedly making healthy, mature, and intentional decisions. Progress involves commitment and persistence. As you look over your life, acknowledge those areas that you improved. Maybe you haven't done as much as you'd hoped by now, but recognize that you are further than you once were. Instead of using what hasn't worked as fuel for disappointment and excuses, use it as motivation to propel you further. Instead of repeating mantras of negativity and self-defeat, praise yourself for continuing. You could have given up, but you didn't. You are still here.

Everyone has something to give and a story to tell. Your gift and your story is more powerful than your doubt and insecurity. Just as we all needed the courage and bravery of generations prior, we need your courage and bravery to push us forward. Whether you're out front, behind the scenes, raising the next generation of leaders, educating young people, or providing emotional support to others, you are needed. Your role matters. You are important. Your position, your struggle, and your visibility is not to be compared to others. It is all vital. It all matters. We all have an important role. As you strive to improve the quality of your life and the lives of those around you, remember that you were created to be a progressive force and you were designed to do it in your own way.