I have been here before. This feeling of uncertainty and not knowing. It is true that this crisis is not exactly the same as the last time, but the feelings I am having are the same. Together, we are all dealing with a great deal of uncertainty. Am I in a dream? This feels more like a bad movie.
When the financial crisis hit in 2008, I remember these same feelings. I remember the anxiety, the denial, the fear and the panic but mostly I remember watching how everyone stayed in some of these stages and yet others moved quickly through them. Why is it that some people are just more resilient and others are so much more prepared? Why was it that some people seemed to take things in stride and others were devastated after 2008? What makes someone resilient? I wanted to be more resilient and I started to take a personal inventory of my own mental reservoir. I started to focus on building that.
Resilience is basically an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune and change. When something bad happens, we often relive the event over and over in our heads. This is called rumination and I can assure you it doesn’t move you forward. You have to change your own internal narrative. One of the first steps is to just give yourself a break. Dealing with change or loss is an inevitable part of life. At some point, everyone experiences varying degrees of setback.
Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They are born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they invest in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep and they die in their sleep without ever waking up. Why is that exactly? The truth is that most of what we feel and think, we conjure up for ourselves in our heads. We fabricate our beliefs and thoughts, then we justify them.
Being awakened might be the single best thing that has ever happened to me. Looking back, I honestly thought I had a strong mental reservoir, but for many years I was fixed in my personal beliefs and thoughts, which developed my habits. Habits determine results and I wanted better results.
To be more resilient, I figured I needed to change my beliefs. Once I really considered and “owned” that my personal results were not that great, I started to awaken. The first step for me was to be honest with myself and to admit that I didn’t like my results. It all started with me. I started to observe “me.”
I learned that when you fight something, you’re tied to it forever.
What people mostly fear is loss of the known. That’s what they fear. This is because people are not prepared for the unknown. This fear today for most people is due to their lack of preparation, but most people won’t see or admit that. Most people will just try to cope and wait for it to be back to normal, focusing on everything but themselves.
Some of us get woken up by the harsh realities of life. That’s what is happening right now with this Covid-19. Give me back my job. Give me back my wife. Give me back my money. Give me back my success. This is what most people want. Most people don’t want to be cured, they want relief. They want to be happy. If they had all these things back, they would then be happy. What a crock. Most people are asleep.
In my opinion, the greatest single thing someone can do for you is to challenge your own personal beliefs and your belief system. Just try to be open to someone who is challenging your thoughts—it’s very hard to do. Your willingness to unlearn is what you really need. Your belief system gives you a lot of security. This is the real pandemic of today. Once you challenge things from an attitude of openness and not from an attitude of stubbornness, you will feel immediate relief. I promise.
If you’re ready to listen and you’re ready to be challenged, there’s one thing you can do, but no one can help you. It’s called self-observation. Self-observation is watching yourself. It means you do not personalize what is happening to you.
In the great book by Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Four Agreements,” the second agreement is “Don’t take things personally.” The basis of this agreement is that when you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs, which creates internal conflict. By taking things personally, you set yourself up to suffer for nothing. There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. Your anger, sadness, jealousy, and envy will all disappear if you can learn not to take things personally. You begin to awaken.
Do you want the world to change? How about beginning with yourself? How about transforming yourself first? Through observation. Through understanding. With no interference or judgment on your part because what you judge you cannot understand.
Who determines what it means to have success? You do. You define your own success with your own beliefs. I can assure you, having a lot of money has nothing to do with being happy or successful in life. Having a good job or being famous or having a great reputation have nothing to do with happiness or success.
Many people just want to be happy, but happiness starts in you. To acquire happiness, you don’t have to do anything. Happiness is our natural state and we are born with it. Happiness cannot be acquired because you have it already. To be happy, you need to drop something, not acquire something. You have to drop illusions, drop your greed and drop your cravings. Stop looking outward and start looking inward.
One great exercise that Eckhart Tolle talks about in his book “The Power of Now” is to close your eyes and say to yourself: I wonder what my next thought is going to be? Then become very alert and wait for that thought. What are your thoughts? They are conjured up from your own beliefs. If you can be open to changing your own beliefs, then you can ultimately change your results.
Eckhart Tolle goes on to say that most people are walking around in an ordinary unconscious state, which means they identify with their thought processes and emotions, their reactions, desires and aversions. It is generally not a state of acute pain or unhappiness, but of an almost continuous low level of unease, discontent, boredom or nervousness—a kind of background status. Most people are asleep.
As long as you identify with your thoughts in your mind, the ego will run your life. Everyone has an ego that is very vulnerable and insecure, and we all spend most of our time defending it. That is what is happening now during this crisis. The ego cannot afford to be wrong. Countless relationships have broken down over this. As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot be truly at ease.
Once you start to become aware and you can break your old agreements formed by your beliefs or thoughts, you will move toward personal and financial freedom. You will find that most of the beliefs that guided you into the wounded mind are not even true. You will start to recognize the difference between analysis and awareness. You will see that information is not insight and that analysis and knowledge are not awareness.
During this crisis, be the observer of your own life and take a hard look at your own ego. This will be the difference in reducing the stress, anxiety and fear that most people are experiencing.