Self Work is Part of System Change

Self Work is Part of System Change

One of our greatest necessities in the age of climate change is to shift our focus from the individual to the collective.

From solo tweaks to widespread system change.

As changemakers, this means our work is two-fold: working at the external level of the system, and also at the level of self.

Because every system has a mindset attached to it.

A set of values and beliefs that perpetuate and uphold it.

Much of the time, this belief system is unconscious. It operates in the background, with the sole aim of its self-perpetuation.

I call this work the work of getting free.

Of understanding the ways we’ve internalised systems, and challenging our participation.

Getting free is what allows us to reimagine the world.

To move beyond shifting dials and levers, to transforming the system and paradigm itself.

History is only destined to repeat itself when the root has never been examined and healed.

So the questions I’m holding for you are:

  1. What system are you wanting to transform?
  2. What thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and values uphold this system?
  3. What would it mean to challenge it from the inside out?

Laura x

The Language of Separation

The Language of Separation

I saw this sign in Montreal recently, & want to talk about why rhetoric like this is so problematic.

Humans and nature are not on a collision course – because humans are not separate from nature. We never have been and never can be.

Language like this implies that somehow we are separate, and feeds into the very paradigm of domination (man v wild / ‘man was giveth dominion’ / humans & the ‘natural’ world) that is at the root of the climate crisis.

The separation of humans from the more-than-human world is what has fed extraction, separation and colonialism for centuries.

There’s no collision ahead of us. There’s no ‘one moment’ of climate change, as the language implies. And there’s also no world in which we flourish, and the land around us suffers.

It might seem pernickety to care about language here – there’s more important things to focus on right?

But language shapes our understanding of the world. For each sentence we read we unconsciously absorb layers of meaning behind it.

Language that separates us is a symptom of the disease, and fails to understand the level of healing we actually require: an end to the paradigm of separation.

Other similar toxic ideas that get thrown around: “humans don’t deserve…”, “the Earth will be better without humans…”

The problems we face don’t stem from our humanity, they stem from our systems: from capitalism, neocolonialism and a mindset that sees us as separate and in opposition to everything around us.

Until we heal that mindset in ourselves and our communities, we will continue to recreate it in our wider systems.

So today, I invite you to take a few moments outside.

Put your feet on the grass.

Feel the air on your skin.

Take a few deep breath and remember that we are nature.

Ask yourself from this space: where am I being called to act? And what is my next best step in that direction?

What’s Your Role in Remaking the World?

What’s Your Role in Remaking the World?








Here’s the thing about change and remaking the world: it requires each of us to play our role. And not just any role – the role that we feel called to.

To do otherwise plays into the paradigm of right/wrong, good/bad and urgency as rejection of needs.

With this in mind, its helpful to know there’s a framework for changemakers of 3 major callings:

1. Disrupt: to shine a light on injustice, and halt it in its tracks. Activists, law professions or journalism are just some examples. So too are disruptors within mainstream companies, who challenge them to change policies or do better.

2. Aid & Heal: to help those who are impacted by injustice. Healers, medical workers, conservationists, herbalists, nonprofits and volunteers often do great work in this space.

3. Build: to create the systems – businesses, movements, networks – that stand when the current structures fall (history teaches us that all structures do). This space is about planting the seeds of a more just & regenerative world.

The role of our inner compass (read through our body, emotions and desires) is to direct you into the area in which you best thrive.

Because none of us should be burnt out and exhausted while helping the world.

If we’re called to build, but we find ourselves in systems trying to aid, butting up against structures still resistant to change, we’re gonna get tired.

If we’re called to aid, but we find ourselves trying to disrupt, we’re gonna feel heavy, lost, out-of-place, anxious.

And while following your callings is not a magic bullet for thriving, it’s one part of what’s needed.

Are you a builder, disruptor or healer?

Bell Hooks taught us that “To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just romantic bonds.”. And Lilla Watson reminded us that “our liberation is bound together.”

That’s why I write Love Notes to Liberation, a weekly-ish email empowering changemakers with the skills to get free, get power and wage love as a robust, public good.  Join us here.

Frameworks of Care: A Guide to Values Led Decisions

Frameworks of Care: A Guide to Values Led Decisions

In a conversation with a friend recently I was asked my opinion on the Australian Government’s response (or failure of, rather) to assist the thousands of Australians stranded overseas, who have not been able to come home for close to a year due to our closed borders, arrival limits and quarantine caps.

While I’m grateful for all the methods above which have kept Australia a unique almost COVID-free paradise in the world right now, I also feel that we cannot leave our own citizens (or anyone, but that’s another story) stranded in an indefinite limbo because of a failure of imagination or lack of political will to allow people home.  That to do so was also a detriment to those of us here, a demonstration of how little we collectively demonstrate care.

Listening to her I was surprised to learn that she felt differently– that the best and most appropriate option was not to charter flights for them or increase quarantine capacity – but rather the primary goal must be to keep the majority safe, even if it meant others were left stranded.

I felt this visceral pulling back in my body until I realised our frameworks for values-based decisions – how we decide what is most important – were different.  We all have frameworks we work our decisions through, influenced by our upbringing, our spiritual beliefs, our scarcity beliefs, our political beliefs and a thousand other factors.  Some of us choose our frameworks consciously, others form unexamined over the years, but all they are in essence is a collection of values and beliefs that we run our decisions and ideas through.spiritual tools for activists and changemakers

Unconscious frameworks are usually made up of the lies we’ve been sold throughout life, usually things along the lines of there isn’t enough, or to be afraid of ‘the other’, or we need to fight to keep what we have, that humans are greedy or naturally bad somehow – they’re based on unconscious (and often unhelpful) belief systems. Intentional frameworks are based on values – virtues we want to embody, and want our choices to reflect.

The frameworks that we use at a personal level also exist at the political and collective level – a set of values through which we make decisions.  Most western countries, including Australia, use a toxic framework, based on prioritising endless economic growth, retaining power, and perpetuating unexamined biases and prejudices.  Most of our current political frameworks lack imagination and prioritise nationalism, fear, and the illusion of security over care, generosity, and a spirit of compassion.

A few years ago I visited Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan Kingdom to learn more about its framework of Gross National Happiness.  At its simplest (and I promise it is more complex than this description), GNH is a framework their Government uses to make its decisions based on creating the conditions for happiness for its people.  Decisions run through a series of questions and scenarios to understand what is in the highest good of its people and land, and to determine the best course of action.

More recently I have been learning about the New Bottom Line from the Network of Spiritual Progressives –a framework of care that looks to shift us away from the old bottom line of profit above all else, to one that judges success by the extent to which our systems maximise justice, peace, and compassion.

So how do we begin to explore the framework we want for our own lives and choices, as well as our communities and governments?

Decision frameworks essentially come down to values – what defining value do you want to embody? Is it care, happiness, compassion, truth, justice, safety, something else completely?  Write out what this value means to you, what it would look like in real-life situations, whether that’s a relationship conflict, or a community decision of how we act together.  What would it look like in its most radical form?

What questions would we then need to ask to ensure we’re embodying this value? Who is impacted by these decisions, and how? Is this value one that aligns with their wellbeing?

We can go further too – what additional values would we want to be covering?  Who shares these values with us, and how would we explain them to others?

For me, I try to base my decisions around care, and if care is not possible, to at least minimise my participation in violence or harm.  Care by my definition is not exclusionary, it doesn’t pick and choose some people over others.  Radical care offers compassion and generosity within its toolkit, as well as accountability and justice.

From a wider lens, Australia – and other western countries – have more need to embody a framework of care than elsewhere, a balancing act long overdue after centuries of our moral neglect at the impact of colonisation, violence, and ecological destruction.  Our current guiding frameworks are deprived of an emotional robustness and lack the imagination that we humans are capable of.

I want to be clear though that embodying our values or changing our decision frameworks isn’t about perfection – it isn’t about being conflict-free, or making everyone happy, or some sort of utopia.  In the case of my example above, realising we were using different frameworks allowed me to be more mindful of my reaction, to cultivate more empathy and understanding as opposed to judgment.   It’s about aligning our vision of the world to our daily lives and community practices.  It doesn’t guarantee success or change everyone else’s opinions or beliefs – but it does begin to sow the seeds of a new world into reality.

Interested in exploring how you’re able to help the world? Check out coaching for changemakers and activists here