A Fine Line

The recession looms and it has been a source of stress for many. However, I have been pondering – there is a fine line between becoming a victim and blaming everything on the ‘recession’ and realizing that everyone is basically in the same boat and making the most of the situation. I don’t know about you; but, every time I turn around the recession is becoming the ‘catch all’ for everything that has taken a turn for the worse:  from house disrepair, to job unhappiness, to weight gain, to less than stellar support of charitable efforts. Frankly, I am tired of hearing the recession as the cause or the blame for everything under the sun! I have two observations to share – and would welcome your opinions.

The temptation of resignation is a mistake.

Many have chosen the course of resignation to what they see as an ‘inevitable’ situation. I understand how easy it can be to fall into a mentality of worn-out resignation. You know, it is like those of us who start a diet, and fall off the wagon early in the day with a muffin or donut, and then just write-off the rest of the day as a loss! We resign ourselves to the fact that is it over before it has actually begun! This is a mistake for many reasons. If I hear ‘it is what it is’ one more time I am going to lose it! Sure, there are things that ‘are what they are’ and yet there are also many other things that absolutely can be changed.

1. We ultimately create our own reality.

If we believe the ‘game is over’ then it will ultimately be over before the buzzer has even sounded.  I have been amazed to watch many individuals in my life, who have been dealt heavy hands, who literally and figuratively throw in the towel. This shows up as someone who resigns themselves to their ‘lot in life’ and only puts forth a half-cracker effort in everything they do: their jobs, their charity work, their appearance, their homes, etc. Then there are those who literally turn their lemons into lemonade. They play the hand they are dealt – and create their own remarkable lives. These are the ones from whom we can learn the most.

One individual I know is an exemplary example of how the power of positive thinking (thank you Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking) can literally change your life. This person lost her husband recently at a very young age, has MS, is confined to a wheel chair and most recently was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amazingly, though this may appear a bit like a Pollyanna story – she is up smiling and always has the other person’s interests ahead of her own. Period. She has never succumbed to pity. She takes charge and is the epitome of seeing the glass half full. The word victim is not in her vocabulary. Her life is full because she makes it that way. Full of life, friends, love and experiences. What we can learn from her!

2. Giving up insures your fate.

We all know people in our lives that have hung it up. They have succumbed to the temptation of resignation. They are disenchanted, have experienced rejections, believe their time has passed them by or just have lost their mojo. One thing I know, if we give up our fate is sealed. It is that simple. Giving up is not an option for those individuals who want to live their best life and to continue contributing in their most optimal way.  We must do whatever we have to do to keep on moving forward – every single one of us has their own sack of rocks. What distinguishes us is how we carry those rocks.

Choices prevail.

The name of the game, from my perspective, is to make the choice to move foward. It doesn’t matter how big the steps are, just as long as they are moving forward versus standing still or even heading backward.

It has become increasingly frustrating to me to see individuals and teams of individuals using the recession as the ultimate excuse for lack of performance, lack of contribution, lack of taking care of their homes and even lack of taking care of themselves! This is not a good excuse. We all make decisions and choices based on what we value. These choices show our priorities. How our priorities and values shift when times get tough says much about our inner strength.  Often it is to those most detrimental to our self worth, not to mention the well being of others.

I am personally experiencing neighbors letting their homes deteriorate, which I can only imagine not only affects their own pride in where and how they live, yet it also affects the neighborhood and the associated property values. I see individuals letting their health and well-being become compromised as their stress levels rise, and the poor habits they have adopted to deal with this stress escalate (i.e., over eating, drinking, not sleeping). They gain considerable weight and become unhappy with their appearance. I know others that are experiencing decreasing sales in their companies or jobs, with larger year-end quota expectations, and they are depressed. This shows in the energy levels with their clients, their co-workers and their bosses. All these scenarios can become an endless self-defeating cycle in this recessionary time.

What can we do to break this cycle? In a nutshell,  we need to quit feeling sorry for ourselves.  Just take a look over either shoulder and I promise, we will find someone less fortunate than we are.

A few other simple suggestions to change the frame of our view:

  • Instead of opening the refrigerator or pouring another drink – take a walk, pick up a book or magazine or call a friend.
  • Do something nice for someone else….as simple as throwing the paper closer to someone’s door or sending an unexpected email or dropping a card ‘just because’ in the mail. I have found one of the easiest ways for me to feel better is to do something nice for someone else. Write a small check ($10.00 or less!) to a charity you feel strongly about – trust me, they will appreciate it!.
  • Join the yoga/exercise/racquetball class we have been putting off until things ‘turned around.’ Newsflash: we turn things around; they don’t turn around by themselves.
  • Plant flowers in your front yard – to give your home a face lift (and perk you up each day you drive into the driveway).
  • Call the repair man to finally fix the leaky spout, the light that has gone out, or the roof that needs repair. Trust me; these repairs will not go away just because there is a recession. You will be amazed at the burst of energy you will experience by finally checking the one thing off your list that has been nagging you for weeks or months. Plus, it is like painting a room in your house- will be inspired to paint the other rooms and keep improving your home, your yard, your job progress, and ultimately, your life.

Yes, I’ll admit it – it has become a bit like a burr in my saddle when every situation that is not ideal right now is blamed upon the recession. I just flat out don’t believe that to be true. What I do believe is that the recession has forced all of us to make hard choices. What do we really value? What is important to us? What are our priorities? Funny how many increase their outflow of care, compassion and charitable contributions; while others choose a more self-focused and self-protective approach? My question: are these mutually exclusive?

Net: there is a fine line between recognizing (and appreciating) the impact the recessionary economy has had on each of us  and allowing it to become the all-encompassing whipping post for all our ills! We own how we deal with this situation – individually and collectively. We need to stop allowing the recession to be our scapegoat – and take control of our choices and decisions which will ultimately determine our life’s direction.

10 responses to “A Fine Line

  1. It seems that just about everyone is waiting for things to return to what they knew as NORMAL! What they don’t know or don’t want to know is that we are now in The NEW NORMAL!..And we may need to adjust to an even newer NORMAL many more times in our lives…it is like we are all in the Samuel Beckett’s novel Waiting for Godot,,,, we are all just sitting there together waiting for something or someone whom may already be there or not… and we really may not recognize them or it when either they or it ever arrive!

  2. Thank you for the refreshing perspective: I will not easily default to the “recession” excuse without first remembering this blog!

  3. This is the kind of thing that I have heard repeatedly over the past months. Like a broken record that skips, don’t just sit there and complain about it. I just want to shake people and say, Grow up… Put on you big girl or boy panties and deal with it!” We did this, only we can redo it.

  4. I’m going to buy those mums I’ve been thinking about for the front porch, make that dental appointment and research that niche market I need to pursue. Thank you for reminding me I have control over a lot more than I think.

  5. In every down turn there is an up turn the way we respond to this is our CHOICE? We can’t affect what has happened but we can choose what to do about it. I am of course referring to what Covey calls our 1st birth gift “the freedom to choose” and Habit 1 “be proactive”. Day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute we all have choices about the way we wish to view or see things, what we do or how we behaviour, and that determines the outcomes we get.
    That’s why some people thrive against adversity and others remain stuck in the victim or blame mindset.
    I know the path I choose what about you?

  6. Another very clear and nuanced look at how we as humans try to lay blame. It’s part of the human condition, but sometimes there are more shades to life than black and white. And if we figure that out and try to make one or two rational choices, we feel better for it.

    I think the recession excuse is part of our tendency to use emotional reasoning. The recession makes us feel bad because we tend to pick up the overall emotional temperature of our families, our communities and the country. The recession is a national form of the down and outs, so we get a bit personally low and lethargic. We don’t have to feel bad because others do, it actually just makes things worse.

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