The great paradox of change is that while it must begin and end with ourselves, we absolutely cannot do it alone. Of course, no one can do self-care for us, but we also can't fully care for ourselves without receiving the support we need from others.
Often taking care of our bodies and learning to be at peace with our minds requires assistance from others, be they doctors, therapists, spiritual teachers, friends, neighbors, or complete strangers whose words happen to arrive at our ears at just the right moment.
Here is a list of folks to consider recognizing and/or recruiting to help you become the change agent you wish to be.
Part Three: Engage allies
- Cheerleaders. These might be friends or family members, or they might be patrons, donors, or advocates. Through their actions they say "I believe in you. Keep going."
- Confidantes. These are the people you generally go to in crisis. They might be counselors, faith leaders, or coaches. Their expert listening ears allow you to hear yourself say exactly what you need to hear.
- Role models. These folks might be employers, mentors, teachers, or anyone else who is knowingly or unknowingly showing you the way. Because these people are more like who you want to be than who you have been, they may be likely to come and go as you continue to change. Personally I think they may be the most important influences, especially during a process of change.
- Messengers. These are the people you often meet while perhaps-reluctantly networking. Or they might be neighbors, coworkers, podcasters, bloggers, or anyone else who has some information that might be useful. In our information age, these individuals are easier to find than any of the others.
- Antagonists. There is a Chinese saying: “You have no friends. You have no enemies. You have only teachers.” I know this is a hard attitude to adopt in our competitive culture, but I think we can at least admit that we need to be challenged in order to grow. So whether it's a difficult family member, a business rival, or a vocal member of the other political party, recognizing that this person can be a necessary catalyst will help you learn what they are there to teach so you can move forward.
- Beneficiaries. Often when we can see how our hard-learned lessons might serve the growth of others, we can find deeper meaning in the experience. Fully understanding the true purpose of our transformational efforts starts with becoming more fully conscious of how we might be any of the above roles for others in their lives. For example, when I'm really feeling down, I volunteer to serve meals or give blood or perform some other act of generosity and it always puts things back in their proper perspective.
- Inner master teacher. You might notice that none of the people above are "experts" per se, and that is because only you are the expert of your life. It is my belief that ultimately other people are valuable in helping you improve your relationship with yourself - and in showing you how you are valuable to them just the same. You are the best ally you can have, whether you have any of the others above or not.
Who do you think might be missing from the landscape of your life? Got ideas on how you might bring more into the fold? Feel free to leave any comments below.
While I definitely aim to cheer you on, provide useful information, and show you ways to meet your inner teacher all through this blog, if you want the real gems be sure to sign up to get them delivered straight to you here.