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Creating Change Through Self-Actualization
Teri Brown - Young Adult Author

Creating Change Through Self-Actualization

I recently applied to New Leadership Oregon, a PSU residency program that will help me take my skills to a whole new kickass level in terms of leadership, activism and community engagement/involvement. Cross your fingers for me, because I really want to get in. Why? Because I believe that all women need to learn to be better leaders and I believe all people need to concern themselves with self-actualization. I see this as one path I can take to turn my self-actualization into change. I know myself pretty well and I know what my strengths are. I believe this residency will help me turn those strengths into weapons for  progress.

In my job as a transition specialist, I emphasize self-actualization to my students. Why? Because by knowing yourself, you can manage yourself. It’s only by recognizing patterns of behavior or emotional reactions to stimuli that you can change your behavior. So it’s incredibly important that you be authentic… at least to yourself. What do you value? What do you like? What works for you? What doesn’t? I find that for many people, (not including my students, because they’re just beginning their journeys) it’s almost impossible to successfully manage themselves because they have no idea who they are. Yes, we change, yes, learning who we are is a life-long process, but too many people adopt whatever mode of thought happens to be popular at the time. They mimic trends and the people who start those trends, as if being like Marie Kondo, Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah Winfrey, Danielle LaPorte, Natalie Goldberg or Cheryl Strayed, etc., will make them happy. Spoiler alert: It won’t—because you are not that person. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have heroes or even learn from the experiences of others, (I adore and study the works of Strayed, Goldberg and Gilbert, for instance), but if you’re busy trying to be someone else, you will never learn who you are.

Getting to know yourself is a beautiful commitment. It includes finding the tools that work for you and applying them to your life. Setting long and short term personal goals and checking in on them is one method I use to get to know myself. My hits and misses show me where my priorities are, where my strengths lie and what weaknesses I’m either ignoring or abetting. For instance, if health is a goal and I’m continually sneaking in to McDonalds for fries, (true story) I have a weakness. Once I spot the weakness I can recreate the circumstances that led up to my enabling it. Am I stressed? Why? Am I too busy? Why? And more… did I fail to plan healthy snacks or lunches? What caused the failure to plan? Did I collapse into an exhausted heap and play on social media too long instead of cooking my lunches or packing snacks? What is the science behind choosing unhealthy fries instead of the fruit and yogurt plate (Tired people often go for carbs). Once I recreate the scenario, I can create positive systems to change it.

So yeah, self-actualization rocks.

It’s my hope that the leadership residency will broaden my horizons and deepen my commitment to being an agent of change. Why? Because I want to change the world for the better, or at least a small portion of it. In this shit show of a world, I want to work to decrease the world-wide suckage and make it a better, more just, place for all living things to dwell. Overreaching much? Probably. But nothing of import has been accomplished by thinking small.

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