Soul Tickler – The 5F Program to Empowerment
The third in a series, Suzanne Zoglio, life-balance expert and author of the award-winning Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul offers these tips for staying “up” during the economic downturn:
“When economic uncertainty swirls around us, I’ve found a few simple things help to keep us on keel. Together they make up a five-pronged response to the threat of lessened security and happiness.You might call it the 5- F survival kit.”
1. Facts. These are scary times and when we’re frightened we all tend to catastrophize. From “my 401K is down 40%” our thoughts quickly leap to “I’ll have to work at MacDonald’s until I’m 80.” From “I’ve been laid off” to “I’ll never get another job.” From my house is worth so little,” to “I’ll never be able to buy my dream house.” Instead, we need to get perspective, look at the facts, and plan our next steps realistically-not pessimistically. No hope equals depression. Catastrophizing makes us feel hopeless, like victims. Factualizing allows us to plan and act. It motivates us as we see that we’ve survived low points before and we will again. We feel more empowered.
2. Feelings. Changes like these engender feelings of fear, anger, and impotence. To bury them or get mired in them is unhealthy. To explore them is healthy and healing. First, finish this unfinished sentence, “I’m scared to death that…” listing all the things that pop into your head (I’ll get divorced, won’t be able to send the kids to college, will get fired, won’t be able to care for my elderly mom, etc.). Now the boogey man -or men-are out from under the bed. In the light, they look a bit less threatening. Identified, we now can look at what we can do to protect ourselves from the worst. Fear of the unknown lessens to uneasiness as we mentally imagine how we might cope. Our control and confidence rise and our stress goes down a notch.
3. Focus. One of the worst things we can do right now is add to the global whining. Focusing on what’s wrong, what we lost, and how bad things are is only good for data-gathering and a little emotional venting with friends. Past that, we must consciously shift our focus to what we have, what we’re grateful for, what we can still enjoy, and what we can do now, given the current reality. It’s called accepting what is, being grateful for all the joy that is free, and focusing forward on whatever we can control. Doing things that you love to do, things that engage you is an important element of life satisfaction.
4. Friends. All research on happiness indicates that having a good support circle of friends is a major contributor to positive emotions. Wealth and status and even being married do not make us happier or healthier. Positive relationships do. So, reaching out, laughing with people you care about, listening, being validated for who you are not what you do are what you have…that is uplifting.
5. Family. Research tells us that using your days in meaningful ways is critical to high levels of happiness. That contributing in some way to the well-being of others, making the world the family of man-a little better place is what makes us go to sleep with a smile on our faces at night. If we’d count our good deeds instead of sheep, we’d all being getting a better night’s sleep.
To find balance as we all traverse this shaky territory, remember the hurdles you’ve handled before. Identify how you feel and what might make you feel better,. Focus on what you CAN do, and accept what you can’t. Invest in relationships, and make a difference every day.”
My soul feels more than tickled. It’s downright alert after reading Suzanne’s wisdom. The economic downturn can mean an emotional upturn for us all.
If we let it.