Friday, February 6, 2009

Are we causing our nightmares?

"Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. And lo, no one was there." -- unknown

May I coach you?

As individuals we have no control over our national or worldwide economy. Anything causing us to feel out of control is a source of anxiety to us. And anxiety is a perpetual level of fear.

I hear about people afraid to open their statements for investments. I hear about people afraid to part with their money. I hear about people living in fear of the economy.

Fear is an unsubstantial prison warden. When we fear, we shrink into ourselves. We no longer are self-actualized, although we continue to be self-determined. Look at those words, because hidden in them is the crux of the situation.

Actualization is the act of bringing dreams to reality, or in this particular moment, the act of facing reality. Self-Actualization is the realization of the basic human drive to become who and what we want to become, or the act of facing reality in this very moment and being at peace with it. As long as you are running away from your financial reality, you cannot be self-actualized.

Self-determined -- we are all self-determined whether we like it or not. This is the act of determining or causing our own reality. "To be the decisive factor in..." is the dictionary definition I'd like to focus on. We are all the final deciding factor in our own realities. We each have the last say about who and what we are. Are we fearful? Or are we faithful?

So let me say this again: When we fear we are no longer self-actualized, although we continue to be self-determined. When we fear, we impose limitations on our ability to dream & grow. When we fear, we are making ourselves into something fearful. Often, even worse, when we fear we make ourselves into something to be feared. When we fear, we are bringing our fear into reality, but it is the reality of our nightmares, not the reality of our dreams.

I listened to an interview of a financial coach the other day who said (to paraphrase) that running away from our financial reality is only going to attract more financial uncertainty. We can't get money unless we face the current reality of how much money we have. Guilty as accused, I immediately did as he suggested and made my financial map. I split a page into 4 boxes. In one, I put my current debts. In another, I put my current liquid assets & immediate accounts receivable (checks in the mail). In another I put my accounts payable (and in some cases a due date). In the 4th quadrant, where most people would put their investments & large assets (perhaps a home, retirement accounts), I jotted down decisions of where to move my liquid assets to cover bills. My whole financial picture fit on one page. My payables & debts far outweigh my income, but facing that reality is the important part. I'm not going to get out of my current financial conundrum from hiding from it or being afraid to pay the bills. The financial coach in the interview says that people who face their finances every week find that their finances correct themselves within 6 months. I'm prepared to do that, and I am prepared to remove fear from my life.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place last night. I purchased a book last night: "To Sell is Not to Sell" by Greta Schulz. One small section stands so apart from the others I flipped through so far. It's about our civic duty in the midst of wars, famines, financial hardship. It is the duty of our soldiers to fight. It is the duty of our firefighters to protect. They face overwhelming decisions in-the-moment and simply have to plow ahead and do what they do -- they cannot allow fear to immobilize them. They work to protect, to make secure. And they do not ask a leave of absence simply because they are fighting overwhelming odds, or because they may not live to see it through. In the aftermath of 9/11 Greta was immobilized. To paraphrase: How can business go on when the firefighters are digging through the ashes for survivors (I add, "or breathing toxic fumes that will haunt them for years...."), and our soldiers are being deployed? she asked. How can we do "business as usual" when our country is under attack?

Then a realization came to Greta -- she realized that it is the duty of a firefighter to find the survivors, to fight the blaze. It is the duty of the soldiers to fight for our freedom & to protect our country. Surely they have a healthy fear, but -- to get patriotic and pragmatic both -- it is the duty of the business owner to go back to business as usual, to protect the economy that funds those soldiers, to contribute to the tax base that feeds those firefighters. I will take it one step further: It's the duty of the consumer to continue to purchase services and products (no matter how much more choosy they will be about it) to complete that cycle.

Business must go on. We have a terrific country, and if you're running from financial reality through fear, you are in the way of both the progress of yourself and others. You are contributing to the financial instability of our country. It is your civic duty to purchase goods & services, to provide goods & services, to give this country economic stability. And since we're all self-determined, we must start with ourselves. We each can only change our own outcomes -- that is self-determination. I refuse to buy into the recession: I continue to purchase goods & services.

To allow the fear to control us is a lack of faith. We have a "Chinese menu" of whom we are committing our lack of faith against: God or higher powers, our President, our country, our economic system, our state, county or town, even our children's future employability. To quit spending money is a selfish act against our neighbors, it is entirely about thinking of ourselves and our family first before thinking of the needs of others. And lastly, spend it now because the value of your liquid assets may dwindle further if you don't: what good is holding on to the money? If the money isn't flowing, if people are holding on to their money, there is nothing that can stop the spiral. The only way for our money to keep its value is to keep it circulating, otherwise it's a pile of empty promises & the bad debt our money is backed with, rather than a means of economic exchange.

I face my financial reality, that frees me up to be self-actualized, because to live out my dreams, I must not fear.

I have lived my life by this memorized chant by Frank Herbert, from Dune: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

1 comment:

  1. I believe it was Dick Gregory who said that the mind cannot simultaneously embrace faith and fear.

    My master gardener mentor tells me that you will attract what you think about.

    I'm off to the garden to fill rain barrels with snow.