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Remember way back in 2013 when:
Janelle Monae’s album The Electric Lady shot to number 5 on the Billboard charts, despite the crap from professional critics?
Beyoncé secretly released the visual album she wanted to, and with no promotion, outsold her last album in just one month?
Every one of these fierce women of color faced hurdles (/shade-throwing) by folks who wanted to hold them back.
(Each of their albums included revolutionary themes, like M.I.A.’s “Bring Da Noize,” Bey’s “Superpower” and Janelle’s “Q.U.E.E.N.” Coincidence?)
Jealous/insecure/power-over kinda folx will talk mad shit about you and your work.
Don’t let them hold you back.
Follow your dreams.
If someone else won’t make a path for you, make your own. You are unstoppable.
When I was young, my dad used to say “Don’t be scared. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Um, hello, there are *lots* of things to be afraid of.
Fear is a powerful gift your body gives you for survival.
So, it’s ok to be afraid. It’s great to be afraid.
My introduction to activism was through supporting survivors of hate violence from anti-queer, white supremacists in my small town. My friends’ home addresses were posted on hate groups’ web sites. Most nights, I didn’t think I’d wake up the next morning.
A mentor told me to suck it up and keep moving, because “It’s unhealthy and dangerous to let the fear take control of your life.”
To which I say, yes…and:
Sometimes it’s unhealthy and even more dangerous to suppress fear (or any authentic emotion).
The key is to pause, listen to the energy, and then use it as a compass to guide you to a place that better meets your needs.
Next time you’re feeling fear, if you’re in immediate danger, of course get to a safe physical/emotional/etc. place.
But if it’s lower-risk, try this:
1) Notice how it moves in your body initially. Does it wash over you? Stay in your shoulders as a heavy numb feeling? Feel like a sharp pain in the pit of your stomach?
2) Stay present with the sensations in your body. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out your mouth, with your jaw relaxed. Notice what comes up.
3) Look for the wisdom the fear is trying to teach you. Ask yourself what you are truly afraid of. If it helps, pose it as a statement of unmet needs: “I feel [scared/nervous/anxious, etc.] because I have a need [for harmony/ for personal health/for independence/ to be seen/ to be loved].”
I started integrating these things into my life slowly, with lower-risk situations. Now, they’re becoming more habitual and the process takes less time, so I can do it (sometimes) even when I’m in a higher-risk crisis mode.
How do you work with fear?
Hey intergalactivists! Try this ritual to start the new year with the best intentions
(Feel free to share this! Please credit The Intergalactivist: Life Coaching for Visionary Activists for this post and email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how it goes!)
* Depending on the size of the group, it could take 90 minutes or more.
* a group of friends (can be done with everyone in the same physical location or with folks in different locations using Skype/Google Hangout/etc.)
* some sheets of paper (at least 2 sheets per person)
* markers (I recommend using scent-free/low-scent non-toxic ones so folks with cancer, AIDS, etc. don’t get sick from the fumes of a sharpie or scented markers. standard Crayola ones seem to work for me.)
* supplies for a visual art piece: crayons, watercolor paint, color pencils, stickers, magazines, etc.
* a crap ton of bright index cards (enough for at least 10 per person)
* printouts for each person of the document at http://www.baynvc.org/materials/UNIVERSAL_HUMAN_NEEDS.pdf
* a timer (online, on your phone, etc.)
* a lighter
* a place to burn stuff safely and legally or whatever. ps don’t hold me responsible for your fire, ok?
1) Have someone in your group of friends set a timer for 5 minutes. On a sheet of paper, make three columns. Label the first column “What I’m letting go of.”
2) Start the clock! In that first column, make a list of everything from the past year or earlier that you want to let go of.
3) At the end of the 5 minutes, set the timer to 10 minutes. Label the third column “What I’m inviting in the new year.”
4) Start the clock! List everything you intend to do and everything you intend to be in the coming year.
5) At the end of the 10 minutes, set the timer to 10 minutes. Label the fourth column “Because what matters most to me is…”
6) Start the clock! Take your Universal Human Needs document and match each item you want to invite into the new year with the reason you’re you’re inviting it in. For example, if you’re inviting in that dream job, are you inviting it in because what matters most to you is Peace of mind? Dignity? Expression? You may also want to list in this column the needs that are met by letting go of the items in the first column.
7) At the end of the 10 minutes, set the timer for 5 minutes.
8) Start the clock! On each index card, write one thing you’re letting go of.
9) At the end of the 5 minutes, have each person gather with their newly filled-out index cards around whatever makeshift safely burning fire you’ve created (or separate fires or a youtube video of a fire, if you’re doing it online). Each person can cast their cards into the fire at their own pace, with or without reading aloud what’s on the cards.
10) When that’s done, set the timer to 20 minutes.
11) Start the clock! Take a blank sheet of paper and make a visual representation of what you’re inviting in the new year and what needs and values matter most to you. Drawings, word clouds, stickers,…I like to put a few drops of a plant essence like Shootingstar Botanicals’ Activist Support essence on mine. Get creative
12) At the end of the 20 minutes, take 15 minutes or as much time as you need to share your collages with the group. Ask if anyone in the group can help you accomplish your goals: Can they be a buddy to support you and hold you accountable to these goals (and if so, how and how often will you check in?)? Can they hook you up with a resource? Do they want to get involved with your project? Get bold with this; your friends are here to support your dreams!