Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is the Power that Beats Your Heart?

A few weeks ago an announcement aired on every news station and media outlet across the nation: The United States economy "officially" is in a recession. That day, the stock market plunged—down 680 points—as people reacted with fear to the label “recession,” though we all knew that the economy was in jeopardy; it had been for quite some time. What is it about a “label” that makes us fear what we already know?
I laughed as I read the article on CNN Money, not because the state of our economy is laughable—no, indeed it needs help—but because of the predictable, fear-based response that is so common to the human condition.
Then I thought about Y2K—remember that? We all knew that the year 2000 would come. It was inevitable given the forward movement of time. Yet in the months, weeks and days leading up to the turn of this century, people scrambled to stockpile food, medicine and generators, move money around and get everything in order for the crash that would turn everything upside down come January 1, 2000.
Y2K was the hot topic of conversation. Analysts speculated on the expansive reach of the looming disaster—surely it would take over our banks and corporations, cities and states, even our traffic lights and microwaves, automobiles, computers and cell phones. Valuable television, radio and newspaper space was dedicated to the worst case scenario. Caught up in the rumor mill of disaster, people carried this information with them, repeating harsh predictions as fact, spending precious time talking, worrying and stressing about the impending crash over which they had little, if any, control.
We waited with baited breath as the New Year rolled in, surprised that virtually nothing changed. Well, maybe a few burps and hiccups along the way, but no “disaster.” And soon, the whole bit faded into our collective memory as if it never even happened.
And what about the Asian Bird Flu scare in 2005? Remember that one? People were frantic--stockpiling Tamiflu like the world was about to end, buying up gas masks and rolls of duct tape to seal off the windows of their homes, basically preparing for a new world order that would have us all walking around in protective body masks, no longer safe to breathe the air; meanwhile, creating a shortage in Tamiflu that could otherwise help people who actually needed it.
That fall, the sale of hand sanitizers increased tenfold. Government officials speculated on the capacity of our nation to meet the vaccination demands of a pandemic, while news channels reported facts and figures from epidemics past—polio, the plague, and let’s not forget cholera—filling the American people with fear and dread. All the while, rumors swirled that the avian flu was nothing more than a hoax designed to create panic and line the pockets of drug manufactuers. What's wrong with this picture? Are we that easily manipulated by fear?
Well, that was three years ago and I can’t recall the last time I heard anyone speak of it, much less get treated for it. And while, true, some unfortunate souls met their demise in the wings of Asian Bird Flu, life moved on—business as usual—and soon, it was all but forgotten.
Yet here we are again, reacting with fear to the news of the day: A depression may be close at hand—a forecast eagerly supported by fearful images of the 30’s. And, once again, we find people moving money around, stockpiling food, building fall-out shelters, pointing to the “End of Days” and prophecies from the Book of Revelations as the reason for our downfall, while dropping fear-based speculation as fact into nervous conversations with friends, family and co-workers . . . even strangers in line at the market. With this mindset, why would we ever get out of bed?
Have we learned nothing from the past?
I’m all about preparation; as a lawyer I’m trained for it. But consider the difference between preparation and a fear-induced, knee-jerk reaction.
At times our natural, instinctive fear kicks in—an internal warning device—to alert us to real danger or threat of physical harm: fight or flight. Sometimes that fear gets us moving in the right direction and out of harm’s way, like when a run-away truck is racing towards us with no brakes.
Other times, our intuition sends us early warnings--messages from the Universe in the form of persistent thoughts, signs or omens--that can be quite helpful if we're tuned into its wisdom, but fear almost always distorts our ability to discern the message.
With finances, there are real and necessary precautions that we can all take to protect ourselves when the economy is uncertain. Certainly, we can live within our means and structure our holdings to offer maximum protection before disaster strikes—preventive measures, if you will, that generally work best when thought of in advance, like getting your teeth cleaned twice a year.
But we cannot predict every bend in the road--we'll make ourselves crazy trying--so a bit of detachment goes a long way. Then, if disaster strikes, we do what we can to learn from the past, get creative and forge a new path ahead instead of clinging desperately to what was and making our misfortune the "story" we tell about who we are.
Yet when we’re running around reacting to this crazy brand of manufactured fear instead of responding to life, we limit our creative potential--that dynamic spirit within that guides us with supportive solutions--which operates best when fear is absent.
Think about it—everything we think, say or do will be motivated by love or fear. They cannot co-exist. All other emotions are borne from one of these two states. Just try to hold a loving thought and a fearful one at the same time. You can’t do it, can you?
Living with love means that we must eliminate the manufactured fear from our lives and get on with the business of loving--love as a state of awareness, a way of being in the world where we see ourselves as part of a greater plan and purpose, connected to everyone and everything and perfectly equipped to deal with the ever-changing tides of life.
Sure, protect yourself. Be smart. Plan ahead if you must, but do it from a space of love and absolute trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way. Then let go. Opportunities exist at every turn to try something different and create a new reality, but you'll miss them if you're cowering in the corner with your gas mask, consumed with fears of your worst case scenario.
Either way, it’s a choice.
What is the power that beats your heart?


Tracy W said...

That's so true. When I look at my 401k I feel the fear kick in and I feel like I'm going to be broke and die homeless under a bridge somewhere. But I guess that is a short term view and definitely a fearful response? I'm going to try to be more aware of what's motivating my thoughts. Good job on this article.

Rachael M said...

Great post. We cannot live our lives in fear. The media plays on the masses and serves to basically become an instrument of furthering the fearful response of what can happen in the future. I think it is good to prepare for the future but one can't buy into the hype and base their lives around predictions. That's just what it is...predictions. Or as Wayne Dyer described FEAR as Fantasized Events Appearing Real...of which they are not and may not ever become so.

BethAnne said...

I love the reader's choice you added to your site. Look forward to your book reviews! Keep them coming.

Neen said...

After reading this, I have to send a couple of quotes your way: "History doesn't repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes" and "What we learn from history is that people don't learn from history". I'm not sure who coined the first, but second belongs to Warren Buffett. Great writing!

TR Hughes said...

Several of your books listed "that made a difference" are also on my shelf. I absolutely love Inspiration by Dr. Wayne Dyer...He says that when you are "Inspired" that you are coming from a place of being "In-Spirit". That's awesome. I have read several others on our list as well...and can't wait to get a copy of the one's I haven't. Keep up the good work on your site!

Theresa said...

I LOVE the segment "Stop the Madness: 7 Steps to Eliminate Manufactured Fear From Your Life." This is so helpful; it's a great action plan. Give us more, more, more . . .

Melissa Johnson said...

Thank you all for reading and posting comments! My goal is to empower, inspire and get people thinking independently. Please keep reading and if you know someone who might be interested in my site, pass it on . . .