Q Due to the current recession, my business has dropped by 50%. I feel nervous, tense and even angry that this has happened. Many hopes and dreams for the future have been put on hold. I am working hard to just pay my bills, and can’t stop worrying. Can you please advise on how to cope with these circumstances?
A These are indeed difficult times. The economy is certainly an issue, but we also face stress because of our highly individualized lives, minimal family and social support, and an inward-looking focus on personal goals, as opposed to those of our family and community. The recession has added to the growing feeling that the fabric of our society is ripping apart.
People who successfully tide over these difficult times are those who use the challenges to grow and become more creative. The human spirit is very resilient, tolerant and creative. However, positive changes don’t happen automatically; they require much personal work.
It’s easy to let your finances become the most important aspect of your life; we live in a materialistic society and are greatly influenced by its values. But now is the time to see the other riches that life offers: family, friends, health, nature, arts, silence, and simplicity.
Many of the most fulfilling aspects of life do not cost money. They simply require us to be present and enjoy what we already have. Having a larger context for your life and appreciating your achievements and the gifts that you have need to be the foundation of your existence.
Are there other reasons besides money that motivate you to work? What is creative, meaningful, challenging, and stimulating about your work? Can you let some of those aspects motivate you? They are rewards in themselves, as they enliven and refresh. Other people will feel this dynamism and will want to participate in it with you.
This is an important time to also take care of yourself in other ways. As a culture we need to restore the fundamentals of good living: slowing down for our meals; not multi-tasking; exercising and having recreation; enjoying family and friends; studying philosophy and practicing meditation, yoga, etc. These activities balance us and help us connect with deeper levels of ourselves, others, and life. The fruits of these practices replenish our work. If more individuals grew in these ways, our communities would also become healthier and more supportive. Involving ourselves in community projects extends us out of our selves and families into the larger society and helps us feel connected to the larger collective in which we live.
Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.wholenesstherapy.com