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Staying Grounded in the 'New Normal'

Every day is a new day in 2017 United States of democracy. Our 'todays' look different than our 'yesterdays' with tomorrow portending ever more surprises as democracy continues to be reshaped before our eyes. Here today...gone tomorrow is "truth, justice and the American way" as we once knew it. We struggle to stem the tide of public aggression, racism, misogyny, corporate elitism, foreign influence and fake news. Even documented footage of newsworthy events that captured the public's amazement six months ago are denied today making way for a continued loosening of fact and fiction.

Perhaps there is an upside to the apparent chaos in our lives!

Getting Grounded in Your Experience

More than ever it is important to stay grounded in your sense of self firming up the boundary between you and the craziness in the news. The world is changing around us at the speed of technology. We witness contradictory information, polarized views and changing social norms causing many of us to question our perceptions, values or changing realities. At times we look to others for grounding, or a sense of normality, but in today's environment we can feel on very shaky ground. There is an almost daily 'new normal'.

How do you begin to find your grounded sense of self - and stay there? Here is a simple, yet powerful exercise to get started.

Take a few seconds to look around you making note of any nearby furniture or objects. Close your eyes, count to five and then reopen them again. Notice that not much, if anything, has changed. Make a mental note if what you see is pleasing or causes slight discomfort.

Next, tune in to what you are feeling right now - check it out. Are you comfortable? Tense or relaxed? Calm or stimulated? Just take note - there is no right or wrong. Count to five and then tune in once again to what you are feeling. Again, not much change? Is what you feel pleasant or uncomfortable?

Imagine that you repeat this exercise tomorrow. You might find the objects in the room may have been moved or changed, or perhaps you feel differently than you did the day before. But you know what is different! You trust your perception and you know if your current environment - or body - feels pleasant to you or not. Likely you feel that you are on solid ground.

Easy peesey, yes? But here is a challenge question.

Say a trusted friend sits in the room with you. As you share that a new vase has been placed in the room - different than it was yesterday - and that you are unhappy with the change your adviser tells you that, indeed, nothing is different and that you should feel pleased, not unhappy. Who do you believe?

Our most important grounding, our deepest sense of self, takes place in our own perception and feelings. If you see a chair - it is a chair; if you feel bad, you feel bad. End of story. If you want to make a change, make a change. Keep life simple.

Perception is a Big Deal

Although these thought experiments appear all too obvious, they provide a fundamental glimpse into how we stay grounded in our rapidly changing world. If the world changes, or opinion shifts, you have the power of your perception to inform you; to keep you grounded in your sense of self - to know what you observe and how you feel about it. Perception is a big deal! But all too often if we don't trust ourselves we follow others thinking they know better.

In our 'thought experiment', the task of remaining grounded was easy. However, if you expand this practice to your work life, or your relationships, or your community the task of groundedness becomes far more complex and challenging.

Practice Grounding Yourself

Remaining grounded in your experience takes practice. Begin small, and expand your sense of feeling grounded to family and friends - what do you observe and how do you feel about it? Make a mental note - then communicate your truth to them and see how they react. Expand your sense of grounding to your colleagues or community. Again, communicate your truth and see what comes back to you - you might be surprised!

There is an incredible upside to the apparent chaos in our world and that is becoming increasingly more centered in our lives, in our own sense of self. We become more skilled in trusting our perceptions, speaking our truth and perhaps making change in the world.

As a final note - remember that your experience of groundedness - your perceptions and feelings - may be very different than someone elses. Be respectful of others' experience, no two of us are the same and it is our differences that give life broader perspective, deeper meaning and a much richer texture.


Jenifer Zetlan

For more information on how perception shapes your world read The Incredible Power of Inspiration: Creating the Life You Yearn For. I look forward to your comments!

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