“Embracing your Inner Change Maker” (Joyality 401)

In this section of the Joyality Program you will transform the way you look at what’s happening to our world, your role in it, and your power to create change. After honoring the so called “negative” emotions you experienced in 301, you will gain tools and concepts to help you channel the potential held in those feelings into positive action both in your own life and with your community.

In the last section of the Joyality Program, we explored the positive flip sides of so called “negative” emotions. Within fear lies courage, within anger there is passion for justice, within sorrow there is love, and within the emptiness of not knowing what to do there is the space to imagine and create entirely new ways of thinking and being. We hope that you are beginning to experience this for yourself, but we understand that it is a major transformation that may take some time and attention. One of the tools that can really help in transforming the potential of “negative” emotions into positive power is changing the stories we tell ourselves. This includes the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves!

So let’s start this session by connecting in with our deeper experience, by practising any of the nature connection processes you’ve already done in Joyality so far: Focusing, Walking Meditation, Elemental Being. All of these processes help us develop our “ecological self”, our identification with the natural world. Now take a moment to develop your relationship with the Earth as if it is an entity you can communicate with, who is trying to communicate with you. The Letter from Gaia process may help solidify this concept for you, plus it’s fun and, in our experience, little jewels of wisdom, compassion and courage tend to bubble to the surface.

**Try this: Letter from Gaia (Connect!) [20min]

The stories we tell ourselves about things essentially add up to our worldview. They have an immense impact on the way we see things, feel about them, and react to them. We touched briefly on the power of story in the beginning of this program when we talked about the “three stories of our time” (see Why Joyality? page). While they may seem like “just stories”, when we live by them they end up being our reality: ‘business as usual’, ‘disaster’ or ‘the great transition’. The story you choose tells you what is going on and why, who’s responsible, who’s in control, who you are in relation to what’s happening, and ultimately, what is and isn’t possible.  Just by choosing to follow one story or another, we can either create or eliminate potential, open or close doors.

“The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions.”

– Michael Margolis

So, let’s try changing our stories about a particularly frightening planetary situation: climate change.

**Try this: Climate Change As Our Ally (Stay Awake!) [20min]

Now we’ve had some practise shifting some limiting beliefs, let’s take a look at how we view ourselves. Western culture espouses a “cult of the individual”. This cultural narrative preaches individualism above all else, and encourages a very separated and competitive view of the world.

There is another way of seeing things, though! Not only are we a part of the Earth’s ecosystems, and able to connect and communicate with them, we are an ecosystem in and of ourselves! Getting to know the different parts of ourselves is vital to finding our own Joyality and to maximizing our capacity to make a difference in the world. This is a process that will continue throughout our lives; it is a never ending adventure if you allow it to be, and we encourage you to practise the Voice Dialogue exercise whenever you feel it will help you expand.

 Try this: Voice Dialogue (Community of Selves)  (Connect!) [30min]

There are some aspects of ourselves that we are not so proud of, and therefore tend to push out of consciousness. The “selves” we feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about, can be called our “shadow”. Perhaps you can identify some of your own from the Voice Dialogue exercise.

Our “shadow selves” often live in our subconscious and we try to hide these from the world, pretending they do not exist because we are afraid or ashamed of them. Yet if suppressed they may become more hazardous for us in our lives. More often than not they appear as dangerous fire breathing dragons, when in fact they are just a bunch of mischievous mice playing shadow puppets on a wall with some torches! If “shadow” is brought into the light, then the shadow itself disappears, the self is brought into conscious view and now we have the opportunity to understand the feelings and needs of this self and access the empowered ability to transform them. Working with these parts of ourselves, becoming aware of them and learning about them, can bring great insight and liberate positive personal power in surprising ways.

Such awareness can also prevent us from projecting these “shadow” parts of ourselves onto other people and thereby causing conflict and division.  In working to create change, taking an “us and them” attitude – making “us” right and “them” wrong – can be tempting but is ultimately unproductive.

“Realising that we are a community of selves with different needs, feelings, and perspectives on the situation, helps us to explain the horribly tangled and uncertain emotions that we often feel at such times. This, in itself, can offer a big sense of relief.”

– Meg-John Barker

A crucial first step in creating social change is getting to know the communities of which we are a part and how we all contribute towards change. Our culture tells us that we are individuals first, that what we do for ourselves, what we make on our own, is the most important thing and the measure of our success. This story is a recipe for loneliness, disempowerment, and lack of fulfillment. We need each other. Despite our impressive ability to differentiate ourselves from one another and create unique identities and lives, human beings are fundamentally social creatures. We seek connection, love, and understanding, and when we find it we are expanded, deepened, enriched, and at peace; our capacity to be ourselves and to shine our light into the darkness of the world is at its greatest when we are together. 

Involving and utilizing your community to create positive change will strengthen your chances of success, help integrate the importance of the issues in people’s everyday lives, and support you as a person and a change maker in a vital way. As they say, two heads are better than one, and in the case of changing the world, you want as many heads, hearts and hands as you can get.

There are many models or metaphors for how social change happens, that help us understand how to tap into the natural processes of systemic change.  The Tag Team is a simple one, based on theories about “innovation diffusion” – how new products, technologies, behaviours and ideas spread through society.  Its main message is that we don’t have to convert everyone to our own belief and value system in order to achieve large scale behaviour change.

 Try this: Tag Team – Social Change is a Ripple Effect (Act!) [50min]

We hope this exercise has given you some insight into some of the ways widespread social change can take place, tapping into people’s existing motivations and values.  We are natural change makers!  By fully engaging in our society, building relationships, making connections, communicating, thinking strategically and understanding the multiple benefits that any positive change can have, we can affect far-reaching change.

There is much work to be done, but we have the incredible opportunity right now to change the course of history and create a sustainable and joyful future. Let’s make that work creative, collaborative and fun … and tap into the extraordinary power of living and social systems we are a part of.

Read more: Joyality 501 (“Creating a More Beautiful World”)

© Copyright 2015 Eshana Bragg and Rachel Taylor

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