I recently participated in the 5 Day of You Challenge through Collective Evolution , an organization that inspires change. Their motto is “action is everything – both within us and in our communities.” Collective Evolution is a popular alternative media outlet for people to engage in conscious content that expands our everyday way of thinking.
This global five day challenge was a motivational jumpstart for anyone wanting to live more consciously and introduced meditation, mindfulness and journaling as effective tools for self improvement. We were also encouraged to envision what each of us could do to make meaningful positive contributions to humankind and challenged to begin taking daily small steps toward that common goal.
Members of the group came from all over the globe, were diverse in cultures, beliefs, ages and experiences. Many posted photos of their homeland with detailed descriptions of their way of life. We all found much common ground in our basic human needs regardless of our diversities, It was that human connection and shared desire for positive change that united us.
Each day, participants were encouraged to post about their experiences or thoughts on each challenge assignment. What I found to be so heartwarming was how supportive this group of strangers was to others who openly shared their stories, their obstacles and their goals for personal growth.
While a large number of the participants were already working on better versions of themselves, there were many brave souls just starting out or starting again (some for umpteenth time). Those people who were struggling and were courageous enough to admit it, received an outpouring of support and encouragement . Quite often they received meaningful commentary from empathetic people who had faced similar life experiences.
It is rather remarkable that it can be easier to tell a complete stranger things that are so difficult to share with your closest friend or family member.
In this case, each member knew that they were part of a collective group that was committed to self-improvement and more conscious living. Without judgment and criticism, participants could openly share their fear and struggles. It was a safe place.
Just let that sink in for a moment — it was a safe place to be vulnerable — without judgment.
When we go through life with suppressed feelings, insecurities and unspoken dreams, a lot of emotional pressure builds up. So being able to pour it all out and have others respond kindly and empathically provides tremendous relief.
In this group, there was a groundswell of encouragement and enlightenment as people shared their own stories, often admitting how hard it was to get on the other side of a tough life experience or to commit to positive behavioral changes. Compassion and understanding were the stepping stones. The focus was on helping.
Now here is where things got really interesting for me. Many of you already know that I am a huge fan of Brene Brown and her research on vulnerability and shame. Brene encourages us to own our stories and to eventually share our stories but only with those who have earned the right to hear them.
I thought that this must mean, someone close to you, who really knows you, who has your best interests at heart. Someone you know well and whom you can trust completely.
So how was it that all these strangers across the globe, of all ages and diverse cultural backgrounds, could so openly hear another’s story and compassionately extend encouragement and support?
Here are some valuable observations:
A lot of participants in the 5 Day Challenge are committed to making the world a better place and recognize that each of us can contribute something to the greater good. Many participants have spent years working on their own improvements and have a strong desire to help others especially those who might have similar circumstances. Businesses, non-profits, online sites and community outreach programs have all been born out of their life experiences coupled with a desire to give back and make a difference. So in this regard, anyone who was struggling had the confidence to know that this was a very supportive collective group of people with a myriad of life trials and successes of their own. Noteworthy: This diverse collection of people became a fluid support group for survivors, strugglers and works-in-progress. By its very nature, it was a safe place to bring up any issue. People finding common ground with each other can break down barriers.
Another key factor is that a person in need actually took personal responsibility and recognized that they wanted to make positive life changes. It may be why they signed up to participate in the 5 Day Challenge in the first place. They were willing to directly ask for help, or at the very least admit that they were having a difficult time getting started. Noteworthy: When someone asks for help, recognize that it took courage. Make a difference by listening to learn rather than listening to respond.
Throughout the exchange of supportive posts, one person might point out something in another that they had not seen or recognized in themselves. It might have been a positive small step forward, or an act of kindness to another. Noteworthy: Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in helping someone to see their own self worth. When someone is honestly working on positive life changes, help them see their progress — especially the baby steps.
My takeaways from this inspiring 5 Day Challenge was this: Finding common ground is like glue for relationships. Working toward a common goal is very unifying. Judgment and criticism often arise from past history (with ourselves and with others). Changes and healing will be fostered when we set aside judgment. The best gift we can give someone (even ourselves) is acknowledging their progress. Be a cheerleader and keep encouraging those changes that improve quality of life. We all have the power to make a difference for others each and every day if you keep your heart and mind open.