Last week, I came across life coach Christine Kane’s call to action: Pick your Word-of-the-Year (Word of the Year.) (This is a free download, with no call to sign up with your email.)
It’s a cool concept. Our modern culture focuses on action steps, especially during this time of year. Soon we will be making resolutions, setting goals, etc.
Christine believes simply choosing a word that resonates with us manifests our intention. Intention, she believes, comes from the heart. And it’s even more powerful when it unfolds in a more natural, organic way than saying, “I’m gonna do this, and this, and that, and then THAT will happen!” Which starts with selecting a word that resonates, even it it’s not what you think it is.
The idea did resonate with me. But I didn’t even know where to start.
This year has been a clusterfuck, personally, economically, physically, professionally, financially, in addition to the stuff that we see on the national and international stage. Everything right down to how I feel when I get up in the morning and go to bed at night is filled with anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, resentment, and confusion.
So I downloaded the free workbook, and looked over her list of words, dozens and dozens of them. Nope. Nope. Nooooope. Hope? Maybe… Joy? Well, yeah….but no. Expansion? Maybe. Power? Power!
Now why did I pick power?!
I don’t want to be the boss of anything or anyone. Yes, I love to offer advice, but don’t want to be responsible for other people’s actions and life decisions. I don’t want to be “big” or “important” or “in charge” of anything except my own life.
So where did power come from?
I thought back over this past year. Loss. Death. Discord. Grief. Fear. Physical pain.
I thought of where I got to, working through this stuff. I have explored, and almost mastered, true forgiveness. (Okay, in bits and pieces.) Letting go of the need to belong. (Doing okay, still needs work. Still hurts to be told you don’t belong…) Accepting that we may choose to be connected, but that we are also actually alone. (SCARY STUFF.)
Where does power come in?
Following the instructions, I wrote down the words that came to mind:
Brave. Integrity. Stand tall. Move forward. Work hard.
Okay. That felt more actionable. But I still wondered.
Then some incidental acts of cruelty stopped me in my tracks again. OK… I’m reading more of Brene Brown’s newest book, Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution, which is (I think) about elements of The Hero’s Journey. I think I’m in the “rumble stage”: That is, I think I know what I want. But everything seems to be conspiring against me. The stage in the Hero’s Journey where we realize it’s gonna be a heckuva lot harder than we thought. Perhaps even impossible.
With the mean remarks, I thought power might be “empowering myself to set boundaries.” Very important for creative people. We thrive and create by being open to the universe, allowing our pain to show, making our art to heal it, and then sharing it with the world.
When people respond negatively, that hurts. But we have to keep making! Hence, boundary-setting becomes imperative, a way to protect ourselves without shutting ourselves down, and shutting the world out.
So imagine my surprise when the very next chapter I read in Rising was about…..power.
Brown suggests that power has a negative connotation, because “…we automatically conflate power and power over…”
But, she continues, “The type of power I’m talking about is more in line with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s definition of it: The ability to achieve our purpose and to effect change.“
Powerless leads to fear and desperation. We are at our worst when we feel powerless.
She says moving out of powerlessness and despair requires hope. We can soften the experience of failure by asking ourselves, “Were we all in, and were we true to ourselves?” If so, then we can focus on the true lessons of regret: “We regret most our failures of courage, whether it’s the courage to be kinder, to show up to, say how we feel, to set boundaries, to be good to ourselves.”
I do not regret chosing “power” as my Word of the Year.
It’s already started me on a journey of introspection, a journey of hope, a journey of achieving my purpose….
And as fellow narrative artist/writer Teri Sloat shared after we talked in our fledgling artist support group about this, “Do you know who you meet at the end of the “Hero’s Journey?”*
Yup. I think I have the right word.
Wish me luck! (And courage, and perseverance, and most of all, patience.)
*Teri added a clarification, a lovely one, and I quote: I think my comment about the hero’s journey is a bit off, if people are thinking the the actual Joseph Campbell structure of the hero’s journey. What i should have said is that before the ‘resurrection’ we have to deal with the shadow side of what makes our strengths. Once we accept them we can accept them in others. You have made me think as I read your work that it is only when we acknowledge these shadows in ourselves do we accept them in others and neutralize their danger to us.”
Beautifully said, Teri, and thank you again!