Unless you have been hiding behind a rock (or you're a merchant banker) you may have noticed a great deal of talk again about recession, unemployment, market slumps, sovereign debt crisis, credit crisis, housing bubble bursts, increased cost of living and a host of other economic and social problems which all add to a general public sentiment that says 'we've had it!.' Our natural reaction to all this negativity is to bunker down and hope the storm passes without hurting us too much.
Save, cut our spending, and pay off debts. Ironically, it's this very attitude which acts as a catalyst for further economic woes as low consumer confidence causes businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages and cut spending. 'We've had it – The Sequel!'
Yet, how can we as individuals respond otherwise in the face of such powerful and complex global economic forces? If politicians, with multi-billion budgets can't work out the answer, then how can we?
LET GO OF BLIND FEAR(OR GREED) AND BECOME A CONSCIOUS INITIATOR
Warren Buffet, a famous economic investor attributed his success to a simple maxim – 'We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.' Personally, I don't like the idea of being either fearful or greedy, but I do agree with the basic wisdom behind this statement, that sheepishly conforming to the collective mentality of the time is not intelligent. In this sense, it is not greed or fear that is required during hard economic times - most of us don't have the cash to be greedy anyhow! Instead, it is about shifting our paradigm - our way of thinking. It is about recognising that while others 'duck for cover' in fear, waiting for the storm to pass, there are many opportunities to be taken advantage of. Yes, 1 in 10 people are unemployed, but 9 in 10 are still in employment. Yes, housing prices have plummeted, but interest rates are at record lows. When we start to get out of the fear mentality, we can begin to see opportunities others have missed. In most cases, fear and greed make us blind and unconscious. We become like those helpless lemmings falling off the cliff.
DON'T BE A 9-5 WAGE SLAVE
Having a wage doesn't mean you have to be a wage slave. Again, this is a question of mentality and paradigm. In times of high unemployment, many of us are just grateful we still have a job. Many people begin to live in fear of losing their job. This attitude leads us to hunker down and shy away from any change. We stop thinking in terms of career progression and start thinking in terms of career survival. Such a mentality is deeply unsatisfying. We stop feeling we are at work because we want to be there, but because we have to be there. Our job becomes a chore, an exercise in clock watching. We find ourselves unmotivated and lacking energy, but at the same time feeling stressed because of the possible threat of job loss.
Thriving in difficult economic times requires us to let go of comfort zones and security boxes, because in the end, these kind of comfort zones end up becoming financial and career prisons. I'm not suggesting you quit your job straight away, but rather look honestly at how much of a victim you may have become to your own fears. Sometimes the simple act of confronting this truth is the most important first step.
NURTURE YOUR NETWORK OF SUCCESS
Ok, so we have now worked out that we want to be 'conscious initiators' and don't want to be '9-5 wage slaves' but this doesn't happen by just tapping our shoes and thinking of Kansas. It is so easy to set positive intentions one day and then simply slip back into the old patterns and routines the next. Many people have 'Eureka' moments where they see things clearly, but few hold on to these moments and make them happen. If you want your life to thrive, it requires consistent nurturing and support. If positive change is just a plan in your head or a 'to-do list', then more likely at some point your plan will dissipate or fade into a hazy daydream.
It is vital to bring people and relationships into your life who also share your intention. Often I talk to clients whose main problem is that they are drained by the negativity or politics of other people at work. In such situations it is vital to seek out other 'conscious initiators'. This in itself may feel like a daunting task, but with the ascendency of social media, there are now many forums where people seeking a more empowered life interact and connect. It is cliché, but still true to say, that we live in a world today that is more interconnected than ever. Consciously linking into this network is a critical element to thriving in difficult economic times. In sociology, this process is referred to as building up 'social capital.' In the same way psychical things like money, assets etc build up a value, our relationships also build up a value. Unsurprisingly, social and physical capital are strongly related.
From a psychic perspective, I see this process as linking in to the power of the oneness in the world. This is a perspective we have lost touch with in a modern capitalist paradigm built on the idea that we are all selfish individuals competing for survival in a hostile world. The more we view life this way, the more we become trapped in the boom/bust cycle of fear and greed.
The more deeply we start being conscious initiators, bringing ourselves into clear alignment with others who want a more positive, creative and free world, the more powerful we will become both financially and emotionally.
Try this exercise to develop your confidence in being a 'mindful initiator'. Sit comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor, and just take a few moments to relax. Rest your hands gently on your belly. Slow your breathing down. With each outward breath, see any stress or tension flowing down through your body and into the earth.
When you are feeling relaxed, take your attention to your belly. This is the dark space of your creativity. As you breathe in, see a small spark of light in this space. This is the spark of your own creativity. Breathe in and out gently, and as you do, see this small light slowly becoming larger. You are nourishing your knowing about your own creativity.
Stay with this space as long as you want to. When you are ready, gently press your heels into the earth, take a deep breath, and open your eyes.