The ‘E’ of CARE refers to empowerment. Cultivating compassion, mindfulness, and the other resilience techniques you have been learning help to broaden your emotional bandwidth and your ability to cope with (and even thrive on) what life throws at you. In this sense, they are all practices that empower you. One of the dimensions of burnout is a sense of reduced personal efficacy; empowering practices help to address this. Most of the focus of our training so far has been on how you can change your own attitudes, intentions and behaviors in order to strengthen your resilience.
As you no doubt know, though, external factors can be major stresses. Sometimes, of course, it is appropriate to address these factors. For example, an abusive or hostile workplace, social injustices and so on can lead to stress. Sometimes practices like mindfulness and compassion are criticized for allegedly putting too much emphasis on the individual’s ability to cope with problematic conditions, detracting focus from external or systemic sources of stress. This is an important consideration. The premise of the CARE program is that by developing our own coping capacities we are not avoiding addressing external factors, but developing a stronger and more stable platform from which to address them.
Now you’ve watched this introductory video, let’s try to build our empowerment! We’ll try a values exercise that combines head, hand and heart.
Let’s try a version of the values exercise that we learned about in the video this week. This exercise combines ‘heart’ and ‘hand’, but you might get even more from this exercise if you settle yourself first with one of the meditations you’ve been practicing for this course.
Step One: Choose a value
Look at this list of some core values. Pick three that resonate you as being particularly meaningful for you today. There may be many that you think are important, but at this moment, which three are really speaking to you?
Out of your three values, chose one of them to focus on. Then, take a few minutes to write down:
a. Why this value means a lot to you.
b. Recall a time in your life when you were able to express and honor that value, and what it felt like to do that.
Notice how it feels to reflect on this value. If you have time, consider doing this exercise multiple times. Research shows us that reflecting on our key values gives us a boost in happiness and well-being. If you’d like to, share your experiences with this exercise in the Discussion Area below.
This week, try to do any of the meditations that have been helpful for you in the course so far, and then challenge yourself to try a new one. You can use the links in the previous modules, or you can explore some of the many guided meditations found on the web sites below.
Here are three videos that all teach something about empowerment: take a look and see what you think!
Empowerment Discussion Prompt
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Tacoma based resources: