Finding Equanimity in Difficult Times
June 19, 2020
As many of you know, my performance consulting business focuses on helping individuals and teams/groups discover and strengthen the inherent gifts that are within them so that they can be influential contributors and leaders in their disciplines. The qualities that allow us to be resilient, gritty, focused, and powerful in competition and in crushing goals are the same qualities our community and world needs now more than ever.
The most impactful tool that I have found to be able to ride the waves of uncertainty and to be calm-under-pressure is the ability to be mindfully aware of our thoughts and reactivity patterns so that we can choose the very best way to respond and take action. When we are doing things for immediate results, such as a win or to argue a partial point-of-view, we miss all of the necessary ingredients that allow for well-informed and sustainable contributions. Here are some examples; the quick bait reactivity to the media’s confusing reporting of current events. I keep reminding myself that the harmful rioting being showcased should not mask the fundamental racial injustices that the peaceful protestors are working hard to change. And when someone makes a comment that differs from my own and I begin to feel all kinds of frustration, I breathe and know that this is the exact moment to listen and have an honest conversation. It is from this place of equanimity that provides that opportunity to learn what could be the most valuable way to understand each other. The intent to connect is the most important thing.
This past week I listened to a meditation on Resilience by Sebene Selassie on my 10% Happier App. She brought in Martin Luther King’s words on Peace,
“Peace is not the destination, peace is the way, equanimity is not the destination, equanimity is the way.”
I was curious about what the exact definition of Equanimity and how it applies to Resilience. It can be crucial to how we deal with and grow in difficult circumstances.
It is so very difficult to look at our shortcomings and see that we have work to do in order to become better human beings. Yet when we can mindfully become aware of our own ignorance without turning away and defending old beliefs, we then begin the courageous work of necessary change. Equanimity allows us to see what is happening without getting caught up in what we see. No need to get upset by being lost in what is going on or that we have lost our way. It is starting over at that moment, and then the next one. This is the practice of resilience.
To utilize equanimity in difficult moments when we are consumed by intense emotions can open us up to be vulnerable enough to understand our mistakes with compassion so that we can move forward as a powerful change-agents. By no means does equanimity mean indifference or in-action; it is the practice of developing right-action.
Peace, resilience, and equanimity are practices that are ongoing. If we turn away from the racial injustices that are embedded in our society by saying that it does not exist, we stop the necessary work of making our world a better and more peaceful place. For me, I am not happy with the state of my unconscious prejudices and that of our nation; therefore I want to educate myself so that I can be a better human being.
I am also tuning in, having conversations, and reading about the topics that initially make me frustrated and fearful. I will admit that at first glance, my first reaction is, “I don’t want to hear it!”, but then have gained some perspectives that are actually more objective and are more useful by practicing equanimity and really listening. My example here is defunding the police; I just don’t know enough facts on this matter and I am committed to learning more about this.
I continue to take it all in, face my emotional reactions, breathe, listen, mindfully check in with my values, and proceed with equanimity. Mind you, this is a work in progress and often these steps can take a while to finally land on the equanimity part. Letting go of the notion to be perfect and being willing to mess up is necessary to human growth and a huge part of my journey. I will make mistakes, we all will, and that is part of the painstaking process of elevating ourselves, communities, and the world.
Most importantly, it is that we compassionately and intentionally stay in touch with ourselves, recognize unconscious biases, and hold a space for inquiry and kindness.
Here are a few resources that I have found helpful. If you have ones you would like to share, please pass them along to me!
* Unlocking Us by Brene Brown, Brene with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. A fantastic conversation about Austin’s experience as a black woman growing up and working within predominantly white culture.
* Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Interview with Ibram X. Kendi. This conversation is intelligent and offers a historical and research-based perspective done with humor.
* The Mindbodygreen Podcast, How to see beyond your own bias with Light Watkins. A short and smart conversation on having effective conversations that help us come together for greater understanding and positive change.
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown – I listened to this book on Audible, which I highly recommend.
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
*Will be watching soon!
- 13th -The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary 13TH refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” View trailer here.