It’s important to be aware of our surroundings in life. You should be vigilant and alert at all times in order to truly take in what life has to offer. Erica Williams Simon, author of YOU DESERVE THE TRUTH, shares her 10 rituals of resistance which helps her with paying attention to the people and things that she runs into daily.
I had to work to increase my awareness. I needed to institute habits that would help me pay attention to my thoughts and what was happening around me. And that is what we all need to do when it comes to circumventing these old stories. In order to move through the world with story smarts—alert and vigilant, paying attention to the stories that are around us and to our responses— we must institute habits that help. I call them my “rituals of resistance.”
#1. Look for the old stories.
Stories are hidden in every commercial, conversation, movie, and social media post. And they hide particularly well in your own thought patterns. It’s your job to find them. Make it a game. Like the book Where’s Waldo? Where do you see the old stories? Start to consciously evaluate your conversations and the media that you consume and see if you can find cultural narratives and myths inside of them.
#2. If you see something, say something.
You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. When you recognize unhelpful stories rearing their ugly head, call them out. And be specific. Identify what the actual story is that you are seeing or hearing. Most times, you’ll be able to name several.
#3. Question everything.
Sometimes abstract, invisible things are hard to unpack. So ask yourself questions: What is this person, place, experience, or thing telling me? In order for this to be true, what else has to be true? Do I believe that?
When confronted with ideas that don’t feel right, head right over to Google, or Siri, or whatever search engine rocks your world. Research its origin. Where did it come from? What experiences motivated this person to say this thing? Sometimes identifying the source of a story makes it easier for you to reject it.
#5. Unfollow the unhelpful.
I mean this not only in the social media sense, but also in the more metaphorical sense: Stop following the lives, ideas, and output from sources that constantly promote unhelpful stories. If there are people or outlets that drag you back into the crooked room and make you question what you now know to be true, limit your exposure to them as best you can. I know this is difficult if they happen to be your family or colleagues—people or places that you can’t avoid—but even then, don’t be afraid to institute boundaries that give them limited access to your emotions and limited power in your thoughts.
#6. Take inventory.
Life gets busy, and it’s hard to keep your mindset in check. So every now and then, maybe once a month, sit down and evaluate the seven areas of your life outlined here and see if your emotions and actions have lined up with the new stories. If not, it’s the perfect chance to explore why not.
Speech is a powerful way to help lock in new mind-sets and make the intangible more tangible. It sounds very hippy dippy to believe that words create realities, but at the very least, saying things out loud makes a difference in how you feel and what you focus on. So say what you believe as often as you need to. The Post-it notes on my mirror help me. But you can write out your own statements. Or highlight and read aloud quotes from this book that really speak to you.
#8. Find community.
We can’t change the world alone. So try to find and connect with people who believe your new stories. Join groups online and spend more time with friends who are rejecting mainstream cultural narratives. Or start a group of your own!
#9. Nurture the new.
Consume content that reinforces new stories and makes you more informed on the damaging stories that surround us. Read things that question and provide context for the realities of your life and seek out material that nurtures what you now believe.
My absolute favorite ritual. Just as I loved Testimony Sunday in church growing up, the part of the service where people take the mic and share stories of blessings and good news, so too do I love telling everyone I know about the changes that have come from my new stories. Spread the word. Speak about what you believe, speak about the new stories, speak about the new life and the stories that built it. Speak on it every chance you get. This is the ultimate act of resistance.
Discover more ways to be aware of the people and things around you in YOU DESERVE THE TRUTH by Erica Williams Simon!
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Excerpted from You Deserve the Truth by Erica Williams Simon. Copyright © 2019 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.